Jhe Kentucky restaurant manager said he faced backlash after raising a Ukrainian flag in support of his adopted son.
Ben Ashlock, the general manager of Colton’s Steak House & Grill in Bardstown, told the Washington Examiner that he received the first of several angry messages from a customer on April 9. Customers flooded the restaurant’s phone lines, accusing him of being unpatriotic.
“We had the flag up for a while,” Ashlock said, giving a rough estimate of 35 days.
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The trouble started when Ashlock received a Facebook message from a client who accused him of swapping an American flag for the Ukrainian flag. Ashlock and his wife, who have 13 children, raised the flag in support of their adopted son, David, whom they adopted from Ukraine and who hydrocephalusa medical condition that causes a buildup of fluid in the brain, according to today’s food.
“Yesterday was a surreal day. We were understaffed in the kitchen so myself and the other managers were all locked in duties. Suddenly a message comes through on our facebook page,” Ashlock wrote in a post. Facebook post earlier this month. “I took a minute to talk about it.”
People started sharing with him screenshots of ‘hateful’ messages posted by local Facebook groups, and the restaurant started getting calls from people asking why it ‘replaced the American flag’ before finally deciding. to stop taking calls, Ashlock said.
“As I said before, there have always been two Texas flags in the front of the store,” Ashlock explained in the post. “So no American flag was replaced. The Texan flag on the right remained and we put a Ukrainian flag in place of the one on the left. To hopefully eliminate any further confusion, last night we replaced the Texas flag on the right with an American flag.
“I think initially there was just a knee-jerk reaction to someone saying we replaced an American flag with a Ukrainian flag,” Ashlock told the Washington Examiner of the incident. “People thought I was trying to be political or controversial.”
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Ashlock said he doesn’t think the criticism of him has evaporated simply because it’s “less popular” to criticize him in light of the context of his decision.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February, displacing millions of Ukrainians and killing tens of thousands.