News


Cellphone video captures heated MAGA confrontation that went viral

Stanford professor says political incivility, while fanned by social media, is 'abnormal'

Even as a 28-second cellphone video of an explosive April 1 confrontation in Palo Alto over a Make America Great Again hat surfaced on Thursday, a Stanford University political science professor who has researched political polarization called such behaviors "abnormal."

The video, recorded by a cafe customer and provided to the Weekly on the condition that it not be published, shows Palo Alto resident Rebecca Parker Mankey screaming at an elderly white man wearing a red MAGA cap as he walks down the alley outside of the Starbucks on California Avenue.

"Go! Leave! Nobody wants you here," Mankey, clad in all black, yells at the top of her lungs as she stalks after him. "Get your f------, Trump-loving MAGA hat out of my g--damn town, you a------!"

She continues the tirade against him as she enters the parking lot at the end of the alleyway: "It is NOT OK to be a racist!” she shouts angrily. “It's NOT OK to be a Nazi!"

The person who filmed the video, who asked not to be identified, wrote in an email to the Weekly, "I (am) not a fan of people being harassed in public places regardless of their political views, and I think everyone inside Starbucks felt the same way.

"What really surprised me was that the Starbucks staff didn't do anything," the person added.

"You can't preach your views as better ones when you are acting the exact same terrible way as what you are protesting against. In a way, MAGA hats to me are a testing time for the opposite end of the spectrum, to show where their values are," the person said.

The customer recalled hearing the man in the MAGA hat, a regular at the coffeehouse, talk loudly about politics at another time.

"But does it gives anyone the right to harass you? I think absolutely not," the customer said.

Such extreme political confrontations are increasing, but they are far from the norm, according to Morris Fiorina, a Stanford University professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow.

"This incivil behavior is unusual. It is not a trend," Fiorina said by phone on Thursday.

Most ordinary people don't engage in this type of behavior, whether it's undertaken on behalf of the political right or the left.

"The population as a whole is just going about their business and raising their kids. They only get into politics when they have to," he said.

Those who exhibit these extreme behaviors have let "partisanship become a political identity," he said.

To them, politics is no longer just about different points of view on policy. Opposing views become a personal threat and insult, he said.

"It's extremely abnormal," he said. "It's so counterproductive. It just alienates the kind of people you want to persuade."

The misconception that these extreme behaviors are widespread has been fanned by social media and television, and that's unfortunate, he said.

Fiorina added that research shows 40 percent of the population claim not to have a party affiliation in the current environment.

Like Fiorina, Samara Klar, associate professor of political science at the University of Arizona, Tucson, considers the behaviors of both Mankey and Victor -- her outburst and his wearing his MAGA hat in public and talking loudly about politics -- to be atypical.

Co-author of "Independent Politics: How American Disdain for Parties Leads to Political Inaction," Klar studies how individuals' personal identities and social surroundings influence their political attitudes and behavior.

"Survey data shows that only 15-20% of people exhibit strong political, in-group biases," said Klar, referring to people who are clearly focused on their own political group and against another.

Most people get together and are happy to talk about their children or their positions within their family, such as parenting. But not politics.

"They'd just rather not. There is a dislike of partisanship in public, and that is a trend that is escalating," she said.

Ask people how they identify themselves, and almost every other kind of identification will come before politics, she said. People identify themselves as Americans, by their race, gender, job, but rarely by their political affiliation. And most people see each other through their social identifications rather than political ones.

A minority of people who identify politically are highly vocal and are often dangerous, such as the man who sent pipe bombs to politicians through the mail, she said. But for most people, "It's hard to rationalize behavior that is rare and violates social norms," she added.

Studies have shown that Democrats and Republicans don't think it's OK to behave aggressively toward each other. But affective polarization, a concept developed at Stanford, could be on the rise, she said. Affective polarization is when members of the two parties truly dislike each other in a way that has become polarizing and toxic, she said. Still, the evidence for that in society is mixed, she added.

One trend on the upswing is more people are disliking the negative level of vitriol they are seeing in politicians' rhetoric, she said.

Many people prefer to hide their politics by being independents, but what makes them distinctive is they have a real dislike for the rancor. They won't put up a yard sign or wear a red hat or publicly discuss their preference. Displaying a party affiliation can be a real social stigma.

There is also much research showing that people think independent candidates are more trustworthy and even more attractive, she said.

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Comments

21 people like this
Posted by Lawsuit Bait
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 5, 2019 at 7:04 am

This whole article is just baiting the MAGA hat guy to file a lawsuit to get this video and make it public.


56 people like this
Posted by Jane Gill
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 5, 2019 at 7:10 am


I’m looking forward to getting a red cap that says MAKE ORWELL FICTION AGAIN. Tough to argue with that message.

Enjoy your weekend!


99 people like this
Posted by MAGA when?
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 5, 2019 at 7:18 am

For the MAGA crowd, just a quick question i haven't seen answered yet: when did America become not great?

Have a date on that? It would help us understand your viewpoints.

Thank you.


8 people like this
Posted by Protect people
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 5, 2019 at 7:25 am

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 5, 2019 at 7:27 am

[Post removed.]


75 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2019 at 7:33 am

@Protect:

That explains a lot about the condition of our town. A small fringe group of political bounders and loonies are creating problems for everyone.


154 people like this
Posted by Way-to-go
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2019 at 7:50 am

Loosing your mind and threatening to destroy someone's life over a hat is not a trivial matter. It is just one small step away from political violence that we would like to think only happens in other countries. [Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Way-to-go
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2019 at 7:52 am

[Post removed.]


174 people like this
Posted by MVresident2003
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 5, 2019 at 10:07 am

MVresident2003 is a registered user.

What is of more concern to me is that people are defending her. She truly needs counseling.


212 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2019 at 10:31 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ MAGA when?: It's just a slogan on a hat. Like almost every presidential candidate in modern history, the slogan was about change (or, in this case, change back from the type of "change" pushed by the Obama Administration).

Here are a few examples of campaign slogans:

2016 Bernie Sanders - "A Future to Believe in."
2008/2012 Barack Obama - "Change We Need" and "Change We Can Believe In."
2004 John Kerry - "Let America Be America Again."
2004 Ralph Nader - "People Fighting Back."
2004 Bob Dole - "A Better Man for a Better America."
1992 Bill Clinton - "It's Time to Change America."
1992 Ross Perot - "Leadership for a Change."
1984 Ronald Reagan - "It's Morning Again in America."
1984 Walter Mondale - "America Needs New Leadership."
1980 Ronald Reagan - "Let's Make America Great Again."
1976 Gerald Ford - "He's Making Us Proud Again."
1976 Jimmy Carter - "Leaders For a Change."
1972 George McGovern - "Come Home, America."
1968 Hubert Humphrey - "Some People Talk Change, Others Cause It."
1968 Eugene McCarthy - "To Begin Anew..."
1968 Richard Nixon - "This time, vote like your whole world depended on it."

Going back a little further...

1920 Warren Harding - "America First" and "Return to Normalcy."
1916 Charles Evans Hughes - "America First and America Efficient."
1916 Woodrow Wilson - "War in the East, Peace in the West, Thank God for Wilson."
1904 Teddy Roosevelt - "National Unity. Prosperity. Advancement."
1900 William McKinley - "Let Well Enough Alone."
1892 Grover Cleveland - "No Force Bill."
1888 Grover Cleveland - "Unnecessary taxation oppresses industry" and "Reduce the tariff on necessaries of life."
1864 Abe Lincoln - "Don't change horses in midstream."
1860 Abe Lincoln - "Protection to American industry."
1856 John Fremont - "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men, Fremont."

As you can see, many candidates and nominees push for change. In fact, Trump's slogan is just one that was recycled from Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign. Of course, it wasn't quite so controversial back in 1980 -- and activists didn't explode in a rage and accuse 74-year-old Jewish man of being "Nazi scum" over it.


114 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2019 at 10:36 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ MAGA when?: Also, according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (and quite a few other Democrats), America has "never been great."

Web Link


143 people like this
Posted by guiseppe montelena
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2019 at 10:36 am

guiseppe montelena is a registered user.

Some people need to be more civil in public. This kind of outburst was uncalled for & an extreme measure from the standpoint of conveying one's political opinion. It was harassment & rudeness combined.

If several people were wearing MAGA caps was she going to harangue all of them to make her point?

Following the elder to his car & calling him offensive names while referring to Palo Alto as 'her town' is not reflective of the community as a whole.

If this harasser happens to be a parent, how do you convey to your children that self-control & a personal sense of decorum is important when you go screaming & chasing some stranger down the street just because he happens to be wearing a MAGA cap?

Anger management counseling may be a necessity based on this unfortunate incident. Being a 'loose cannon' whether physically or verbally is very unbecoming & potentially dangerous...even more so than wearing a MAGA cap.

Hopefully this woman will learn to control her outbursts as this may not have been the first time something like this has occurred on her part.

To defend her actions is no better than a polar opposite resorting to the same type of behavior. It is boorish & uncalled for regardless of one's political leanings.

We are supposed to be living in a civil society & community. While that may appear questionable given today's political climate, it is still no excuse for bad behavior.


85 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2019 at 10:41 am

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

@ JR....I wasn't outraged over Obama Hope and Change hats and tees, I'm with her Clinton tee shirts or anything liberals had glued to their bumpers even though I didn't agree with the message. They're political slogans, that's all, and indicate support for a candidate running for office. If you think the hat wearer referred to in this story isn't the victim of a vile, unwarranted, vicious attack that included threatening language, then you're just as delusional as the attacker. [Portion removed.]


38 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 5, 2019 at 10:50 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Has the media convinced this lady that she will be vindicated is the court of public opinion? Maybe we should flood the city with people wearing red hats - doesn't SU have red and white as their colors? I have a red SU cap. I would think that current publicity on the opposing party and all of their divergent presidential hopefuls should dilute what ever position that anyone could position here. I don't think that PA is ready to go socialist - too many independent thinkers. Sorry = mob rule is out of the question, mob think is out of the question. Berkley and UC-Cal have already given up and have Antifa people running around and burning up the buildings.
[Portion removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by PB1102
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 5, 2019 at 10:56 am

PB1102 is a registered user.

From Patrick Boone, 2018 City Council candidate.

I would hope our worries in life here in Palo Alto are far beyond a hat. We have big concerns in our city, like reducing traffic, building more sensible housing, and working hard to ensure women in our community are fully respected with equal pay and work promotions.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of a MAGA hat, but we shouldn’t’t hate the person wearing it unless they’ve done or said something disrespectful or forceful towards someone.

We can’t forget we’re all on the same team, let’s work together, let’s find a way to love then hate. We can’t allow the national divide to split Palo Alto. I wish EVERYONE a wonderful weekend!


13 people like this
Posted by JohnQPublic
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2019 at 11:03 am

JohnQPublic is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


75 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 5, 2019 at 11:11 am

Jonathan Brown is a registered user.

This whole incident is sickening. We need more people to step up and express disdain for this kind of conduct. Where's the link to the video? Why are we seeing only the victim and not the alleged perpetrator? If the conduct described actually happened, Parker owes Victor F. a sincere apology. I have not seen that, either.


56 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 5, 2019 at 11:46 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The worse problem we have in the state of California is the government of the state of California. They keep trying to implicate Trump in their own incompetence in running this state. They cannot own up to what the news says every day on how every element of running the state is falling short. John Q - I am Madam Q and I am saying that the Midwest was gutted out by the Clintons. I feel sorry for the people that cannot see the hypocrisy that goes on. And if I am wearing a MAGA hat and anyone tries and mess with me they will be in trouble - gladly. And I am an old woman.


2 people like this
Posted by WeWinAgain
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2019 at 11:52 am

WeWinAgain is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2019 at 12:10 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

@ Jonathan Brown....if it actually happened? Are you serious?


42 people like this
Posted by Distorted
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 5, 2019 at 12:13 pm

Distorted is a registered user.

@JR - So the First Amendment ceases to exist within the borders of Palo Alto?

Do you really feel you are that special and entitled that only one point of view is allowed to be displayed? Sounds a lot like North Korea.

There comes a time when the extremes of either belief start to bleed into their opposing belief.


11 people like this
Posted by Downtown Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 5, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Downtown Parent is a registered user.

Here is a link to the CBS report
Web Link

Karma I guess ...


78 people like this
Posted by MidTown Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2019 at 1:08 pm

MidTown Guy is a registered user.

Isn’t this a hate crime? Isn’t this a physical threat? I don’t understand why thus wasn’t prosecuted, and let a court decide if this was a credible threat to this elder’s safety and quiet enjoyment of a coffee cafe. Why is MAGA used by everyone from Jusse Smollett to this woman as an excuse for violence? It’s not a swastika, a burning cross, a hanging noose. These people who use it to incite violence are themselves a bit crazy.


43 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ PB1102 - I think that those are some wise words. However, I'd also point out that Palo Alto (and the nation) has always been divided along political, social and economic lines. It just happens that people on the left happen to be in the majority here.

In fact, those who are part of the "resistance" to President Trump are really no different from the people who, in 2016, felt that they were "resisting" the policies and rhetoric of the previous eight years. Of course, demonizing anyone is wrong.


23 people like this
Posted by The Patriot
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 5, 2019 at 2:02 pm

The Patriot is a registered user.

> It's just a slogan on a hat. Like almost every presidential candidate in modern history, the slogan was about change.

'Let's Make America A More Affectionate Country' - Joe Biden 2020


71 people like this
Posted by menlo mom
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 5, 2019 at 2:26 pm

menlo mom is a registered user.

@MAGA When:

I'd like to answer your question as to when MAGA fans think America stopped being great. I do not own a MAGA hat, but appreciate the sentiment behind it, which has nothing to do with racism. When Trump first put forward the slogan during the 2016 election, we were coming off of eight years of Obama. Years where, for the first time in a century, the United States took a step back from being the driving force of good in the world. There was Obama's "Apology Tour", the Iran Deal, (making a deal with a known terrorist nation and receiving almost nothing in return), reopening diplomatic ties with Cuba, a country with known human rights violations and, again, nothing offered in return. There were many of us who were appalled that Obama seemed to think that we needed to apologize to the world for being the face of moral good, and, yes, occasionally being the policing force. Have we made missteps? Of course. But if no one is monitoring the playground, then the bullies will be ruling it. Obama was embarrassed that we were too bold...we were embarrassed that we were suddenly too meek.

Are there some people out there that now wear the MAGA hat because it's their subtle way to show their own racism? I'm sure there are. But most are just Trump supporters who are thrilled to see someone bring America back the strong world leader that we know we should be.

Not trying to start a political discussion, but Maga-When seemed to want a legitimate answer and since I first read his request yesterday I've been wanting to sit down and give him the perspective from the other side.


8 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 5, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


36 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 5, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

So above someone thinks wearing a MAGA hat is an incitement to violence? And a purposeful incitement to violence? Is midtown guy implying that the old lady is the victim and the hat wearer is the aggressor? Is this some type of journalistic maneuver to make the perpetrator the victim? Sorry - that appears to be a political maneuver of theatrical award - but we do know that the lady was the aggressor. We see this type of maneuver all of the time - transfer of blame. We all get to chose our rational and purpose for who we vote for and get to stand up for same. [Portion removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2019 at 3:35 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by Mohawk Man
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 5, 2019 at 3:48 pm

Mohawk Man is a registered user.

A missed opportunity. Instead of a vitriol-laden rant, a selfie depicting two extremes of the American political spectrum would have been far more insightful and entertaining.

OR

Being a Gryphon (albeit former) employee, perhaps she plays a stringed instrument.
A 'call & response' discourse over a catchy riff performed on a banjo or guitar would have lightened the moment and provided added entertainment for the other Starbucks patrons. Maybe even encouraging a group sing along.

Instead things got verbally abusive on the part of the MAGA hater and that is unfortunate.

Another consideration, people sporting mohawks have always generated a certain degree of visual scrutiny and apprehension on the part of regular onlookers. I have experienced this reaction myself & few people would ever imagine that I am a former minister.

Now many people will associate mohawks with this public outburst or consider people with them a throwback to the punk movement. Not so but stereotypes often have a way of lingering onwards.

Incidentally and perhaps ironically, I voted for Donald Trump in 2016 as I have always distrusted the Clintons along with their questionable foundation.

Unfortunately, many of the better-prepared candidates fall by the wayside during the campaign marathon leaving minimal choices.

I do not own a MAGA cap because it mashes my hair spikes + I am seriously considering voting for someone different in 2020.

Unfortunately there are few noteworthy candidates among the ones who have announced
their candidacies.

I think George Clooney could win the 2020 presidential election if he opted to run.
Women find him very appealing and he is an effective and eloquent speaker as most actors are.

The current POTUS is perhaps the least 'presidential' in the history of our country as he lacks civility and tact. #45 is also not very statesman-like which is what we have come to expect of our presidents regardless of their approval ratings.


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 5, 2019 at 4:21 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2019 at 4:26 pm

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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