In my ongoing trips to the ACE Hardware store in Anderson, I noticed that hats and other paraphernalia of the State of Jefferson and other right wing organizations were being displayed and sold. Although I didn’t give this much thought at the time, I came to realize how wrong it is for a commercial enterprise, especially a national chain, to be carrying items of politically-inspired organizations and helping them to raise funds. The January 6 insurrectionist showed the extreme dangers posed by such groups.
I returned to ACE Hardware this past week with a definite agenda. It took me a minute or so before I located the rack of State of Jefferson hats, along with those of other right wing groups, with images of guns on the hats. (I failed to identify these organizations.)
I went to the nearby office and asked to speak with the manager, who happened to be there. I politely asked her why the store was carrying items from the State of Jefferson, implying this was inappropriate. She replied, “Oh they are just hats.” I said they represented a political organization and the store shouldn’t be carrying such items. She pleasantly replied “I will take your views into consideration.” At this point I stated my views more forcefully, as I am prone to do.
I said, “NO! I want them removed. This group was represented in the insurrection in Washington that tried to overthrow the government! They are not a commercial organization, they are a political one and your store has no business carrying such items. If you don’t remove them, I won’t step foot in this store again. And I am going to contact the ACE Corporation and scream bloody murder over this.”
As a basis for my claim, the State of Jefferson flag was visible in the midst of the January 6 insurrection.
The manager, clearly shaken by the intensity of my statements, said she would remove the items. I asked if she was certain about this, she said yes.
Okay, I went about my shopping, which included having a key made. Remarkably, the young fellow in his ACE vest who made me the key was wearing a State of Jefferson hat! I told him that this group was trying to overturn the government and I was going to complain to the manager about his wearing the hat. He mumbled something that sounded defiant.
I returned to the manager and reported that an employee is wearing a State of Jefferson hat. I can’t recall her exact response to this, but she meekly said that she has contacted the HR department about how to go about removing the hats. I asked again, “So, they will be removed?” She affirmed they would. I replied that I appreciated her attitude and her actions on this matter. We parted on good terms.
I later thought about going ahead anyways and contacting the ACE Corporation about this support of a rebellious group. My wife suggested I wait to see if the store removes the materials and keep it a local matter. Although I usually support this approach, I am planning on contacting the national office, particularly since I have learned that the ACE store on Eureka Way in Redding is also carrying the State of Jefferson items. (Any other stores out there?)
In sum, I believe that like-minded persons should also complain to local store managers and the national offices of businesses supporting insurrectionists, as well as to say they will stop shopping here. Dire threats to our democracy are clearly underway, and protests by concerned citizens against these anti-democratic groups and their infiltration tactics into our lives can possibly help arrest them before it is too late. These are not “just hats.”
Bob Madgic, Shasta County