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The Latter Day Lunch Counter

Not all wars need be fought with muskets or pitchforks. Simple non-compliance and unceasing testing of our jailors to grab those incremental wins can be enough, if not a great start.

Consider: Was Rosa Parks a violent protestor hell-bent on sitting at the front of a bus? Or was she simply refusing to comply with racist ‘policies’ that robbed her and other blacks of their dignity? Were the black men eating at the whites only lunch counter in 1960 Greensboro, North Carolina violent? Or did they simply make a statement that echoes even today through their non-compliance?

By now you may have heard of the arrests that occurred in New Jersey and New York of patrons at a Cheesecake Factory and Applebee’s. The management at these businesses called the police and had their own customers arrested because, according to reports, the patrons failed to maintain social distancing, wear a mask or provide their “injection papers.”

Looking at this episode through the lens of POW survival as I have discussed in previous essays, we have a method to assess and learn from their example. Remember, the purpose of those techniques is to physically survive captivity while maintaining your sanity and self-respect. We can all agree that taking the McCain route of survival by selling out your fellow prisoners is a failure by any measure. So how do we assess what happened in this instance?

In the Covid prison we find ourselves in now, ‘survival’ is defined a little differently, isn’t it? We’ are no longer talking about staying alive or avoiding permanent disfigurement as if we were in an actual Imperial Japanese or NAZI POW camp. No, ‘survival’ in the Wuhan cell block that is our reality (for the moment) is redefined to maintaining our ability to freely move about, remain employed and keep food on the table when faced with constant encroachments upon our Liberty.

Can we call their arrest a win in a Wuhan world? The fact that those New York and New Jersey patriots fought the good fight at Applebee’s and the Cheesecake factory should be applauded, yes. Don’t forget, we prisoners must live by the cardinal rule to keep faith with our fellow prisoners; No armchair quarterbacking, second-guessing or criticizing your fellow prisoner’s decisions on his own limits of how much ‘torture’ he should withstand. We are all in this together.

However, if their night out was not to make a statement of protest which included the possibility of arrest, and they simply gave a loud and defiant ‘NO!’ to an unjust and illegal mandate, their arrest could be seen as a failure.

Why? Because their arrest (assuming they were not prepared to BE arrested) is the modern-day equivalent of being executed in a real POW camp for recalcitrance or simply being a ‘difficult prisoner.’

Remember, the name of the game is to survive with honor.

Yes, it could be claimed that their sacrifice (arrest) to make a statement maintained their honor. Absolutely and unequivocally. But that is only half of the equation. The method of survival, whether in a real POW camp or in a locked-down state such as New York or California is to resist up to the point that ‘execution’ is imminent. It is at this point that you are ‘allowed’ to break or knuckle under to the threats to your life (or ability to earn a living). This allows you to not only survive with your honor intact.

Did the Cheesecake Factory Sextet intend to get arrested by their defiance just as the blacks sitting at a North Carolina lunch counter did in 1960? I don’t know. But I do know that regardless of their intent that night I tip my hat to them. They have my respect for their willingness to resist.

So, the question before us now is: What now? How do we, as fellow prisoners keeping faith with the arrestees, respond?

Well, if BreathEasy were released already, the answer would be easy and resounding. Cheesecake factory and Applebee’s would receive a failing grade by its customers and a nationwide boycott would result.

But unfortunately, we are still a few weeks away from BreathEasy’s release. Therefore we must act as individuals and avoid giving any further business to Cheesecake Factory or Applebee’s. I know I won’t.

Make them feel the results of their Vichy policies, patriots.

Yours in the Fight,

Robert Altomare

Founder of the BreathEasy app, coming soon.

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