Here in the United Kingdom, milkshakes have replaced eggs as the protest projectile of choice. Activists have poured milkshakes on right-wing candidates for the European Parliament, resulting in some heated rhetoric. The Brexit Party leader and milkshaking victim Nigel Farage, for example, characterized the fad as a sign that “civilized democracy” no longer works. Police asked a McDonald’s in Edinburgh to stop selling milkshakes; angry pundits online accused Burger King of endorsing violence because it refused to stop selling them.
This is not a new phenomenon. Political figures have long been the target of tossed foodstuffs. Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes was egged in 1917. British Prime Minister Harold Wilson was egged in 1970. The list of political figures egged, pied, caked, or tomatoed is not short. Most have taken it with good humor. Of course, one should never throw anything at anyone; that could easily amount to assault. But the idea that these acts are “mock assassinations” that could, perhaps, lead to actual assassinations, as the commentator Sam Harris seemed to suggest, is just a bit far-fetched.
I’m not sure if anyone can claim to be an expert in this exact niche, but I’ve spent more time than most worried about stuff being poured on or thrown at politicians. From 1996 to 2002, I worked for the White House Military Office as an adviser on chemical, biological, and radiological threats; and from 2002 to 2008, I was a physical-security specialist at the U.S. Secret Service, where it was my job to directly react to physical threats to the president, the White House, and other protected persons and places. I was assigned to the Hazardous Agent Mitigation and Medical Emergency Response team for more than four years, much of that as a team leader. I was the lead specialist for detection and identification equipment for most of that time.