We’ve all been there: on the bus, in a restaurant, on a plane, in a shop; and, some asshole begins acting the fool by cursing and carrying on at a member of some marginalized group. They use racial slurs, make threats, give commands of various things to do the least offensive of which is go back to your country. It’s ugly. It’s frightening. It’s confusing.
We all want to help the targeted person — unless you’re one of THOSE assholes who secretly admire the perp and want to join in — but don’t know what to do. Worst of all, there is a constant threat of violence in these incidents, especially given the gun laws that these, undoubtedly, red-blooded, god-fearing, patriotic, Second Amendment-defending, gun-toting are taking advantage of.
Intervening in Public Harassment
Well,Marie-Shirine Yener has fixed it for us; bless her heart! She has given us this brilliant step-by-step infographic guide of how to respond to Islamophobia, but it works in all of these situations. However, the one thing that I’d add is that you should intervene early before it has a chance to escalate.
Your Favorite Drunk Uncle
We’ve discussed how things become normal, and witnessing these types of interactions — both the public verbal abuse and the creation of a safe space within it — helps them become normal. Again, the sooner you interrupt the tirade, the less likely it is to escalate and the less likely such public abuse will become normal.
But what should you do at your next Thanksgiving dinner and your favorite drunk uncle begins abusing Muslims when there ain’t even one present? Similar to when someone begins to gossip about another — any public negative comment about a group or individual if they are just abuse — coarsens our culture and makes them more likely to occur in the future. So, when someone begins to abuse another who isn’t present, say something nice about that absent person or group. It’s a good solution.