- - Sunday, May 27, 2018

The culture war reached into the quiet Washington, D.C., exurban town of Purcellville, Va. last week.

This is how the left makes examples out of ordinary folks in order to transform America from the “home of the brave” into a nation of people deathly afraid to speak up. Who wants to be turned into an object of hate for offending one of the left’s identity groups?

On Friday, May 18, a Boy Scout and his father entered Nichols Hardware and asked for a donation for the boy’s Eagle Scout project. Nichols is uniquely retro. A family owned store established 104 years ago in Western Loudoun County, it has warped wooden floors, a tin ceiling and anything that a good hardware store would carry in 1914 or in 2018. Its staff of primarily older men painstakingly assist customers in finding whatever they need to complete a project, and the owners donate to charities, including the Scouts.

And therein lies the rub. Over the past five years, the Scouts have cratered, morally speaking. They opened their ranks to homosexual boys, homosexual leaders, transgenders and girls, and even excised the word “boy” from the program’s name, which is now Scouts USA. The newly liberated Scouts will even provide condoms at their upcoming Jamboree. Somehow, they didn’t need them before.

Anyway, a Nichols employee reportedly in his 70s allegedly responded curtly to the boy’s request and told him and his father to leave. He then allegedly told a woman customer, “You know they let homos in, right? They are not ‘boy’ scouts anymore.”

Well, these days, accuracy is no defense, not that it excuses rudeness or name-calling. The woman went straight to Facebook and posted an item titled: “I just witnessed the most ugly, rude homophobic encounter at NICHOL’S Hardware in Purcellville Va.” “I am SO upset!!!!!”

The incident became the lead story in The Washington Post Metro section. The woman described the senior citizen employee as “this vile creature.” She vowed never to set foot again in “your redneck little store.” That’s the sweet smell of love and tolerance, in case you missed it.

Store manager Glenn, who declined to provide his last name, told me over the telephone that someone else had terminated the employee. The Post carried a victory story the next day, followed by Post Metro columnist Petula Dvorak’s rant on Friday titled, “No, those weren’t the good old days.” She painted Purcellville, America itself and “nostalgia” as rotten to the core. Reciting a litany of “the ugliest pieces of our past,” she quoted an author who says, “there was no golden age of family life.” So, if you enjoy the Andy Griffith Show, you must harbor KKK sympathies.

Somehow, I recall no other stories in The Post about rude employees being given a pink slip. They did extensively cover the Starbucks imbroglio over two black non-customers being denied use of a restroom and arrested after refusing to leave. Starbucks will close its 8,000 stores next Tuesday afternoon to subject its 175,000 employees to “unconscious bias training.” Any barista who emulates Martin Luther King’s colorblind “content of their character” outlook had better instead fixate 24/7 on race, gender and sexuality.

The Nichols story wound up in national media and even overseas, according to Glenn, who said he would like to personally apologize to the Scout and his father. He said the store still supports the Scouts and that the employee had been warned previously to keep political comments to himself.

From the store’s point of view, this was mostly about an employee crossing the rudeness line, which, if the woman’s account was accurate, he should not have done. To activists, it was a delicious opportunity to crucify someone. There was so much negative comment that Yelp suspended Nichols’ page.

In 2015, during passage of Indiana’s religious freedom bill, a Christian-owned pizza shop came under vicious attack. An activist asked a girl at the counter hypothetically whether the shop would cater a same-sex wedding, and she politely replied that she didn’t think so. Cue the local TV crew. Protests erupted. One woman tweeted: “Who’s going to Walkerton with me to burn down Memories Pizza.”

Shop supporters raised more than $842,000 for it on GoFundMe, but last month, three years after being targeted, Memories Pizza closed its doors and is apparently just a memory.

The family who owned Memories Pizza had Bible verses on the wall. They said they valued all customers but drew the line at being forced to service events weighted with moral meaning.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on this very question in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It’s anyone’s bet whether the justices will honor the First Amendment’s religious freedom guarantee or add another brick to the left’s wall of cultural tyranny.

As for Nichols Hardware, it just wants to sell screwdrivers and wheelbarrows and treat all customers with respect. Maybe Nichols will be left alone. For now.

• Robert Knight is a Washington Times contributor. His latest book is “A Strong Constitution: What Would America Look Like If We Followed the Law?” (djkm.org, May 2018).

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