One unexpected cultural hallmark of the Trump era is the claim that right-wingers are under attack in the public sphere. If pundits like Tucker Carlson are to be believed, nowhere from college campuses to farm-to-table restaurants is safe for those who openly support the president.
Even as they decry the rise of liberal “safe spaces,” conservatives have begun carving out safe spaces of their own. 63red Safe, a new app that can best be described as Yelp for conservatives, is a perfect example of this. The app helps users identify MAGA-friendly (and MAGA-neutral) businesses so they don’t have to go through the indignity of being told they won’t be seated at a restaurant if they’re wearing a certain red cap.
As its name suggests, 63red Safe isn’t just about finding Trump supporter-friendly establishments — its founder appears to be worried about threats to conservatives’ physical well-being. “I’m trying to position it as an everyday ‘where can I go eat safely,’” the app’s founder, Scott Wallace, told the Daily Beast. The app uses four criteria to determine whether restaurants are “safe” for out-and-proud Trump supporters:
- Does this business serve persons of every political belief?
- Will this business protect its customers if they are attacked for political reasons?
- Does this business allow concealed carry under this state’s laws?
- Does this business avoid politics in its ads and social media postings?
In his interview with the Daily Beast, Wallace said the app, which has reportedly gotten more than 5,000 reviews on the app store since launching earlier this month, will become more popular as the 2020 presidential election nears. Wallace suspects that in the months leading up to the election, Trump supporters — or, at least, those who wear their political opinions on their heads and on their chests — will be targeted by “socialist goon squads.” According to the Daily Beast, the app’s reviewing methodology is unclear and 63red Safe doesn’t provide specific explanations as to why establishments are “safe” or “not safe.”
The app is part of a larger network of MAGA-specific services that claims to help “protect” conservatives from physical and verbal threats. There are conservative dating apps for those who feel discriminated against on Tinder or Bumble; conservative social media apps for those who think they’re being censored on Twitter and Facebook; and, of course, ultraconservative news sites, for those who think the so-called “mainstream media” is pushing a false agenda about the president and his allies. The developers behind these apps often cite the fact that several members of the Trump administration — including Sarah Sanders, Kirstjen Nielsen, Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Miller, and Scott Pruitt — have been heckled while dining out as proof that discrimination against conservatives has become rampant since 2016.
63red Safe is part of a network of right-wing apps under the 63red umbrella, which also includes a news service, a chat app, and a forthcoming event planning app. According to 63red’s website, 63red Safe has been temporarily removed from the app store and is, “Coming (back) soon!”
It’s only natural that people want to eat, date, and post where they feel comfortable. But this conservative self-segregation points to something more than a growing cultural divide: It’s emblematic of a conservative victimhood complex that has come to define the Trump era. Despite supporting the party that’s currently in power, a growing number of conservatives feel discriminated against in the public sphere. This perceived victimhood explains the rise in apps like 63red Safe, Donald Daters, and Gab. If restaurants don’t want to serve conservatives, liberals don’t want to date them, and social media users won’t let them post in peace, then why not create places for right wingers to eat, date, and post with reckless abandon?
Conservatives who feel discriminated against aren’t pulling these ideas out of thin air. The president has regularly accused social media, traditional news outlets, college campuses, and certain businesses of discriminating against those who support his policies. Tucker Carlson’s nightly Fox News show has aired interviews with guests who claim white conservatives are an “endangered” species. MAGA Twitter pundits Jacob Wohl and Ali Alexander claimed they had to travel around Minneapolis in “armored cars” in order to protect themselves from the “Islamicist forces” that had “taken over sections” of the city’s police department.
It’s worth noting, as the Daily Beast does, that the rate of hate crimes has increased since Trump’s inauguration, but the targets of those attacks have primarily been people of color, religious minorities, LGBTQ people, or immigrants. If anything, the Trump era has made everyday life more dangerous for people who are already marginalized — not for conservatives.
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