Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, June 24, 2021
The Cajun wings at the Penn Hotel Sports & Raw Bar had always been a big favorite on Yelp. Now, it seems, all anyone wants to talk about is politics.
Eric Nyman, the owner of the restaurant in Hershey, Pennsylvania, has been fending off jabs from political activists trying to drive away business after he led a lawsuit that helped block special COVID-19 relief privileges for minority-owned restaurants.
A Google reviewer said his lawsuit had taken away “the measley[sic] 13k we were approved for.” One Yelper took to talking about the size of his genitals. Over email, Mr. Nyman has been called a tool of “White supremacy.” One man has harassed him with repeated messages, one of which included the ominous promise that “I’ll figure out a way to get your attention.”
From Mr. Nyman‘s perspective, he was fighting for his business and his employees when he went to court arguing that the racial preference program Congress and President Biden created for pandemic bailout money for restaurants was unconstitutional.
“That’s frustrating to see they were going to push somebody to the back of the line. If my application came in at 5,000th or 500th, that’s where it should have been processed,” he said.
A series of federal judges reached the same conclusion and blocked the program on grounds that it violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
Now political activists are furious at Mr. Nyman.
“This place sued the government to take COVID relief money away from struggling minority businesses. Give your business to restaurants not owned by resentful snowflakes,” Luke M., a resident of Virginia, wrote on Yelp.
A wave of one-star reviews poured in on Google. Like Luke M., the bad ratings came from folks who appear to live far from Hershey, and Mr. Nyman doubts they are actual customers.
Still, online brigading is a symptom of modern-day cancel culture politics, when trying to hurt a business is as easy as clicking a mouse button on a down arrow.
And unloading on Mr. Nyman is as easy as hitting “send” on an email.
“Affirmative action to aid groups and individuals who face structural discrimination is not itself discrimination. Undermining attempts at redress for historical discrimination upholds White supremacy,” one emailer wrote.
Another wrote: “Sure hope you’ll be able to struggle through with $640,000 of American taxpayer dollars as you sue to make sure that minority owners don’t get the same benefits of MY tax dollars.”
“It’s unfathomable that — in the year 2021 — we are actually having to fight the government about whether it can send one American to the back of a line based on the color of their skin, and send another American to the front of the line based on the color of their skin,” said Gene Hamilton of America First Legal, an outfit of senior Trump aides that now is involved in a number of lawsuits against the Biden administration, including Mr. Nyman’s case.
Mr. Nyman was approved for more than $640,000 from the restaurant relief fund, though his legal team says that appears to have happened only after he sued. The money was disbursed only after a judge issued an injunction ordering the SBA not to penalize owners for being White.
Similar rulings were issued in two other cases.