Poor Denny’s. The South Carolina-based company, with 1,600 “always-open” family restaurants, has been blindsided. After years of serving cheap, decent meals to working Americans, it is under a politico-racial attack. The aggressors are the usual suspects: the central government, the national media, civil rights leaders, and a lawyer, Guy Saperstein, from Oakland, California.

A New Age nephew of Harlem Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein, Guy consults a psychic on his former lives as a woman, according to the Wall Street Journal, which otherwise likes him. How thrilling, in the eyes of the journal, that Saperstein is a legal legend (which tells us all we need to know about the American Bar). He’s become rich and famous by draining millions from middle-class, mostly Southern and Midwestern businesses through civil rights lawsuits.

Saperstein claimed Denny’s was racist in a class-action suit earlier this year, and the search for plaintiffs began. Accompanying it was an anti-Denny’s press campaign, stoked by our media masters because Denny’s is Southern and a little old-fashioned and features charming if cranky waitresses, mostly white, who call you “honey.”

The first publicity stunt involved a table of uniformed Secret Service police. They claimed they’d gotten slow service at a Denny’s in Annapolis, Maryland, because they were black. When they complained loudly, the waitress is said to have “rolled her eyes.” Hate crime! Most customers would respond to poor service—if it was that rather than crowding caused by a presidential visit to the Naval Academy—by leaving no tip or avoiding the restaurant in the future. Most people wouldn’t sue. But that’s exactly what the federal cops did.

There’s no law telling restaurants to serve blacks within a certain time span (yet). So the agents used a familiar nightstick: the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law, which legalizes trespassing on other people’s property and rewards the trespasser if the owner protests, turns every restaurant into a federally supervised “public accommodation.”

With the cross burning before their eyes, the Racism Industry went to three shifts. In Glen Burnie, Maryland, a black woman brought a federal discrimination charge against a Denny’s because she found a foreign object in her hashbrowns. Another human rights violation. Then a 130-member black children’s choir, plus sponsors and other adults, rolled up in three buses to a Denny’s in northern Virginia at 11:00 p.m. on a Sunday night and demanded service. The manager politely explained that there would be a long wait, since he had only one cook and two waitresses on duty at the time. He suggested that a bigger Denny’s down the road might be able to help, but it was in the same situation. Racism! “We feel like if we had been a huge group of white people on buses, they would have done whatever they could . . . [to] accommodate us,” said Anita High, executive director of the choir, who promptly filed a suit.

At the same time, the Justice Department was induced to investigate a California Denny’s for supposedly making some young black men pay in advance. If so, did this have anything to do with the restaurant’s actual experience? Who knows? Who cares? Kill the manager.

“These charges against Denny’s are escalating,” said Jesse Jackson at an anti- Denny’s rally. “They say they aren’t happening, but they are lying. . . . Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And where there’s fire, there’s Jackson with a gasoline can.

In an attempt to appease its attackers, Denny’s fired the manager of the Annapolis restaurant and hired the NAACP to check its branches for slow service to blacks. (A problem: such checkers will have an incentive to act obnoxiously so as to discover “racism.”) “We’re in a very competitive business,” Denny’s vice-president Coleman Sullivan tried to explain. “Any thinking person would realize that we would not want to do anything to discourage anyone from coming to our restaurants.”

Of course, but the civil rights apparatus must generate stories of white infamy to justify its existence. That’s why Jackson and his ilk always suggest there’s a conspiracy, that Denny’s management, for example, secretly tells its employees: “We don’t want any paying black customers, so let’s harass them.” Naturally, a federal judge would agree with Jackson. Judge Kenneth Hoyt called it “racism” when he and his wife had to wait “an inordinate length of time for service” at a Eureka, California, Denny’s. Other discrimination complaints have come from Greenbelt and Gaithersburg, Maryland; Richmond, Virginia; Tampa and Ocala, Florida; and Shelby and Raleigh, North Carolina. As of this writing, Saperstein has signed up 32 black plaintiffs. Press accounts never mention it, but theseclass-action suits are orchestrated. Through the NAACP and similar organizations, blacks oppressed by ten-minute waits are alerted to the prospect of big money, and soon there are plaintiffs galore.

But even if Denny’s is guilty of bad service, why should it be a federal case? In a free society, business rudeness is subject only to the sanction of the market, that is, loss of customer. For Denny’s to be singled out by people who celebrate 2 Live Crew seems, well, uneven.

Thank goodness most customers have neither the ability nor the desire to sick fast-talking lawyers on those who irritate them. But the irritations of daily life are federal crimes if one belongs to an official victim group. And they’re a lawyers’ cash cow. Last year, Saperstein won $132 million from Shoney’s, another Southern chain serving inexpensive family meals, because it acted as if freedom of association and contract were still legal in this country.

Shoney’s, which is based in Nashville, had to institute hiring quotas for blacks and “multicultural education” for whites. Worse, the founder of the company, Raymond Danner—an entrepreneur who helped make dining out reliable and affordable—was forced to sell his stock and resign from the board. Saperstein’s share of the loot: as much as $39 million. Denny’s too will have to pay out many millions in legal fees and cash awards to the luncheon underprivileged. And it will have to establish racial quotas and indoctrination programs designed to make whites ashamed of their forefathers.

When America was free, the Raymond Danners prospered instead of the Guy Sapersteins. We’ll know we’ve restored the Old Republic when Shoney’s and Denny’s can go about their own business and Guy can’t afford a California psychic.