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The video, recorded by a cafe customer and provided to the Weekly on the condition that it not be published, shows Palo Alto resident Rebecca Parker Mankey screaming at an elderly white man wearing a red MAGA cap as he walks down the alley outside of the Starbucks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

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4 people like this
Posted by Want to see
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Apr 5, 2019 at 5:19 pm

Someone pls post the video lol

10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 5, 2019 at 5:24 pm

ABC News report with video: Web Link

11 people like this
Posted by relentlesscactus
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2019 at 9:21 pm

Seriously, what is the problem here?!! You describe the video sort of but don't have an actual link to the video, but instead have a picture of a Starbucks with a caption about the video? WTF? And don't click the link above, that's another story.

Like this comment
Posted by Note to editor
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Apr 6, 2019 at 12:22 pm

Editor: please have them send link to video and post on article, and update the article with link thanks

[Editor's note: the article states that the person who made the video made it available to the reporter on the condition that it would not be posted.]

1 person likes this
Posted by Note to editor 2
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Apr 7, 2019 at 3:30 pm

I want to see video as well please post it

13 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 8, 2019 at 8:40 am

For those of you asking the see the video, did you not read the story (or the Editor's reply to the comment? The person who took it did not want it published: "The video, recorded by a cafe customer and provided to the Weekly on the condition that it not be published"

Do we really need to see the video? It has been widely reported what happened, I personally do not need to see a woman that is out of control berating a gentleman just because she does not agree with his political viewpoint or choice of clothing.

11 people like this
Posted by I seee, I seee
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 9, 2019 at 10:29 am

To me this is equivalent of Alex Jones showing up at an Austin bbq house to berate and insult all the people there. This woman, like Jones, is just another idiot running loose in our society. They should simply be marginalized and ignored as should anyone trying to provoke or berate by using politics.

We were all doing a good job of ignoring MAGA man just as the folks in Austin ignored Jones, but one lunatic simply could not ignore the other lunatic and here we are, talking about it as if it's not between to extreme fringe freaks.

Like this comment
Posted by we need civility
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 9, 2019 at 11:10 am


Good points, but not sure she is anywhere near Alex Jones' league of freak. Isn't he the guy going through discovery in the lawsuit about his spreading the lies about Sandy Hook shooting being faked?

Hooking the freaks into believing 25 murdered 1st graders being faked is beyond even the Trumpian "fine folks on both sides" level of crazy...

Civility is a requirement. Prosecute incivility when it breaks the law.

52 people like this
Posted by menlo mom
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Apr 9, 2019 at 7:52 pm

menlo mom is a registered user.

@I Seee

"...but one lunatic simply could not ignore the other lunatic and here we are, talking about it as if it's not between two extreme fringe freaks."

Not sure what makes the guy in the hat a "lunatic" or an "extreme fringe freak". He was just reading his paper and drinking his coffee. I'm assuming it's the hat that's making you judge him so harshly. I appreciate you being against going off on strangers in coffee shops, but not sure that making assumptions based on headwear without actually talking to the person, then calling them freaks in a public forum is much better. What I was hoping people would be getting out of this story is that we need to talk to each other, hear the other side, not just assume the worst of them simply because they have different political views than you.

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

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