Quick Thought

Quick Thoughts: Interrupting Harassment

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.


7 replies »

  1. Re Muslims and such

    me again… yeah I spent almost 3 years in Turkey., an islamic country with a supposedly non religious govt,,,yeah sure,,,,, However it was a great education,, I was there with my military husband and I took full advantage of meeting the people and learning as much of the language as I could.. That was in the 60’s. Much has changed… but I digress. I was never treated badly , but then I wasn’t the average tourist. I wanted to know about them and their way of life… In the process I found out that 1, They don’t bite and are extremely courteous and hospitable..2 there are assholes everywhere you go and that included Turkey… they were a wee bit annoyed with the US … so there were some political rants etc… I was in a military bus that a crowd of college students tried to commandeer… ( and tried to tip over the bus) but Inshalla … the driver (a Turk) had his wits about him and knew where his bread was buttered and slowly eased the bus through the crown and onto the road and we were soon out of harms way heading back to the airbase… Scared? yeah… In talking with a few of my Turkish friend…. they were horiified and were very anxious for me/ us….. so I look at it this way…. Yes there are assholes as members of the islamic religion…. but then there are assholes from Christian churches here in the us too.. so ….Tit for Tat … it’s all in how you approach it

    Liked by 1 person

    • Man, what a terrific story! I’ve lived abroad and traveled extensively for the past 20 years. You’re absolutely right, 99% of the people you meet are fine, but there’s that 1% who are assholes!

      We lived in S. Korea for 10 years teaching English as a second language. There’s a huge expat population there doing just that. So many of the teachers I knew either hated Korea or had terrible experiences there. My wife and I in ten years never had a single negative experience or at least nothing that couldn’t have happened back in N. America. It really is all in the attitude that you bring to the situation.

      Thank you so much for sharing that story, I really loved it!



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