Memo to the 11%: It’s Just a CUP!

Published: December 2, 2016

By Jim Lichtman
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Last year, Starbucks – a company well-known for its inclusive, positive message along with excellent service – became the center of a controversy that should never have taken place.

As MSNBC reported (Nov. 13, 2015), “The iconic Christmas cup has featured several winter-themed designs since it first appeared in 1997. From minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer to a winking snowman and decorative ornaments, each year the design is distinctive and different from the last.

“This year’s holiday cup design is simplistic: an ombre from bright red to dark cranberry. While some Twitter users have praised the minimalist design, others think the cups are a ‘war on Christmas.’ ”

MSNBC asked readers to vote on last year’s cup design, the results: 25 percent said, “I like them”; 11 percent said, “I didn’t like them”; 1 percent, “Not sure”; and a whopping 61 percent said, “I don’t care!”

Eleven-percenters: It’s just a cup, not the apocalypse!

Have people calmed down since last year?

“O Come all ye hateful,” Esquire’s Matt Miller writes (Nov. 1) this year, “as we once again kick off the second annual 12 Days of the War on Christmas. You might recall our maiden campaign stretched for 44 non-denominational days of gun-toting Christmas cards, Texas exorcisms, and questionably shaped candy trees.”

Last year’s social media rant against the cups kicked off by “social media personality” (Apparently, anyone with a social media account can become a “personality” it seems) Joshua Feuerstein complained – loudly – on his Facebook page about the red cup shamefully absent of any mention of Christ or Christmas:

“I think in the age of political correctness we’ve become so open minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head,” Feuerstein said. “I decided instead of simply boycotting, well why don’t we just start a movement.

“I’m challenging all great Americans and Christians around this great nation, go into Starbucks and take your own coffee selfie. … Let’s start a movement and let’s call it, I don’t know, hashtag Merry Christmas Starbucks,” said Feuerstein, who also said in the video that he wore a Jesus Christ shirt and took a gun into Starbucks with him, “since you [Starbucks] hate the 2nd amendment.”

(For the record, Josh, Starbucks does not “hate the 2nd Amendment,” they just put forth a respectful letter requesting that patrons not openly carry guns into their establishment unless they are law enforcement.)

This year, one week before the election, Starbucks, in another attempt to be inclusive (It’s “WE, the people…” for those who have forgotten) came up with a design that they believed would send another positive message, as noted by Chairman and CEO Howard Shultz:

“The green cup and the design represent the connections Starbucks has as a community with its partners (employees) and customers. During a divisive time in our county, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other.”

Frankly, I like both the design and its message. Think this solves this non-problem?

As reported by The Washington Post (Nov. 28), “On Nov. 16, a video of Miami real estate re-modeler David Sanguesa berating a Starbucks employee who he claimed refused to serve him because he was a Trump supporter went viral. (A witness said that Sanguesa got angry that his coffee order took too long.) ‘We want nothing to do with you,’ he told the barista, who appears to be a person of color. ‘You’re trash.’ ”

It gets worse.

“Two days later, political consultant Tim Treadstone posted a video of Starbucks employees allegedly calling the police on a man who insisted that baristas write ‘Trump’ on his cup. ‘Operation #TrumpCup’ was born: Treadstone encouraged Trump supporters to go to Starbucks, give their name as Trump, and take video if the barista refused to use the name.

“ ‘We have a culture war to win. I’m a Trump supporter. I thought when Trump won, I might just wake up and America would be great again. Guess what, it wasn’t,’ Treadstone told The Washington Post. ‘Obviously, a lot of people aren’t happy with us, and we need to stand up for our freedom and our First Amendment.’ ”

Someone needs to acquaint Mr. Treadstone with the fact that the First Amendment does not give you the right to act like a jerk and disrupt both a business and its customers.

“As many have pointed out on social media,” The Post continues, “the people who are offended by Starbucks cups are often the same people who accuse their political rivals of being too sensitive about things like the Confederate flag.

“It’s a transparent attempt to stir up false conflict in order to rally a certain subset of Christians against so-called liberal culture,” Erik Owens, interim director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, said.”

Here is Starbucks official 2016 Holiday Cup. Think it will stir controversy this year?


In the words of Rodney King: “Can’t we all just [have coffee and] get along?”

In the words of me: “People, please, it’s … Just … A … Friggin’ … Cup!”


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