How Be a Friend

It’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day. And so, of course, Putin’s President, with the irony born of someone without a soul or a keen eye for history, chose today of all days to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

Naturally, that means anybody who “looks” Muslim will become even more of a target than they have been since Trump took us all down the gold escalator into hell.  It is now open season on “others” here in our nation of immigrants.

So what can we do about it?

I will admit that the safety pin movement left me feeling decidedly unhelpful.  It’s a nice thought, but it never made me feel like I was actually standing up for anyone.  Or like I was doing something to help people being targeted.

But a while back I saw this article that offered some practical suggestions that have some meat on the bones.  Really!  Click on the link.  Cause I’m not going to tell you everything it says.

Anyway, I like to think that I would be the kind of person who would stand up in any situation to protect those in need.  But frankly,  I’m overweight, slow moving, and cowardly.  They don’t make superheroes who look or act like me.  So the odds are NOT in my favor.  Besides, when something happens around me, I never have a clue what’s happening.  I generally stand there, looking around, confused.  Immobile.  Saying “WTF” with my mouth hanging open.  Quick witted I may be with words, but actions?  Not so much.

But the Vox article showed me a way to help when someone is being verbally assaulted, in situations where I am most likely to see it happen.  It’s brilliant.  And relatively safe.  Win-win.

Here’s an example.  Say you’re in Target, passing by the children’s section, when you hear a man harassing a woman in a hijab.  He’s big and burly, and you want to help. You also don’t want him to target you.  Still, you can’t just walk away, turn a blind eye.  You’re a good person!  You wouldn’t be able to look yourself in the mirror if you didn’t help.  But how?

Why, act like an idiot, of course.  Me, I’m a natural!  At acting the idiot, that is.  Not being one.  That’s the role of the racist.

You interrupt the jerk.  Wander in between him and his victim as if you’re looking for something, and can’t quite find it.  Request his help.  Be totally oblivious.  Give the poor target the opportunity to get away.  Think Roseann Rosanna Dana.

roseann-roseanna-dana

Gilda Radner as Roseann Rosanna Dana.

Or, in an equally ditzy way, pretend to be the friend/shopping buddy of the woman being mistreated, and in an oblivious way whisk that woman out of the children’s department and into the table linens.

“Sylvia!” said in the most nasal tone imaginable, “THERE you are.  You were supposed to meet me in the shoe department … you come with me right now before they’re out of the size 7s…”

Read the article.  Learn steps you can take to help folks who may really need your help.  Because it’s a Brave New World out there.  And it helps to be prepared.

Today of all days, it’s important to recall these words, from the U.S. Holocaust Museum:

The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words. The Museum calls on all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders, and the leadership of all branches of the government to confront racist thinking and divisive hateful speech.

41 Comments

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41 responses to “How Be a Friend

  1. Anything with Roseann Rosanna Dana in it is a winner in my book. These are great tactics to get involved without putting yourself in harm’s way. Unfortunately, there are so many angry people out there, many with guns, that you can’t be too careful, but doing nothing sucks as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Standing Ovation!!!!
    As I recently informed someone: “There’s an entire room dedicated to this behavior in the Holocaust Museum in DC … an ENTIRE ROOM!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the ideas–I really want to be brave and stalwart . . . but it isn’t really my natural state. I like these strategies that allow for intervention without letting things escalate.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jono51

    I am the son of immigrants and I have an aunt that still has the tattoo on her forearm from the death camps. The Cheeto in charge is going to have a tough time. He understands lawsuits, but not the law and he can’t stand to be ridiculed (so why does he act like a clown). We know his weaknesses. Hopefully, we can exploit them before he does too much damage to our country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome, Jono. I agree that the way to get to him is through ridicule — and he invites it with every ill thought through tweet, and really any time he shows up. What an ass. But one thing I see that I love is the Jewish community first in line to stand up for muslims and their rights. Bravo.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Our View From Iowa and commented:
    Tips for non-confrontational intervention of hate.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks. As always. Sharing and reblogging.

    Like

  7. This post reminded me of the quote, “If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way.”

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Brilliant tactics. (I read the linked article). I love the being a fake friend. I could do that in a minute.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I guess the non-confrontational approach is better than not doing anything, but unfortunately, it’s not going to deter the bully next time. I can’t promise to stand up to a bully, because I’m also overweight and cowardly, but I’m big and move fast, so I at least consider it.
    Besides, I’m pretty sure I’m on the list of undesirables as well just a couple lines below Muslims, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No it won’t. But with all the guns around confrontations take on a new meaning. I can’t advocate doing that when I’m not 100% how sure i am that I can confront someone. But I fear we will all have real life lessons in this.

      Like

  10. I had a cable guy go all Trump on me a few weeks back. Something he heard on one of the news channels as he was fixing the TV got him agitated and he just wouldn’t stop. He seemed, well, unhinged, and all I wanted was for him to just fix the problem and go. I covertly dialed our land line from my cell, and then ran to the phone for a long and extended fake phone conversation. He naturally stopped talking and finished his work. I signed his sheet acknowledging the repair, all while “talking” on the phone. After he left, I called the cable company to complain. But I at least got him out of our house with no confrontation. – Marty

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Thanks for the suggestions. We are going to need them.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. My heart aches in outraged grief. My tongue feels mere ash.

    But the image of my blogger friend Elyse, strategically Roseann Roseanna Dana’ing like a caped ‘Ditz for Justice!’ in the Target linens department…well, I ain’t gonna lie: that image gives me hope! As well as a much-needed smile. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Thanks for sharing the link, Elyse. Not all of us are activists or have the capacity to march or handle direct confrontation, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care and want to defend others. It’s good to know alternatives that can help.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. We all need to do what we can. And this tactic? This we can all do. Besides there is the added bonus of knowing that the bad guy would be standing there for hours, scratching his head.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. You can change the environment, too. I was in the supermarket before the election. There was a National Enquirer at the checkout with some bullshit headline about Muslims. It was stupid, insulting, bigoted and untrue. I remembered reading somewhere online about a woman who complained about that paper in one of the chain supermarkets up north. With that in mind, I said (pretty loudly, because I can be like that) to the cashier something like, “How can this store display something so hateful? I’m sure you have Muslim customers, and can you imagine one of their kids seeing something like that? I’m not Muslim, and I find it offensive.” The cashier and the bagger looked at the paper and agreed that it was horrible, but they said they couldn’t do anything about it. So, I went home and did what I usually do in such situations. I looked for the store’s Facebook page and said what I said to the cashier. I added that, if they really feel the need to make a profit off such trash, they could at least put that rag behind a screen so those of us who don’t want to see that hateful crap when we go through the check-out don’t have to look at it. They didn’t answer (which surprised me, because this particular store is very sensitive to customer complaints). However, the last time I went there, I happened to notice that every National Enquirer had a screen in front of it. Was it my post on Facebook? I have no idea. After all, it’s been a few months since I wrote it. Maybe other people felt the same way and complained enough so that the store could not longer ignore it. Whatever the case, it made me feel good to make a big deal over it. I will never know exactly how many of my relatives died in the Holocaust, but I know the number is extremely large. They did nothing wrong other than being Jewish. I am not going to stand by and let other people be taunted just because they don’t fit the mold of what the shithead in the Oval Office and his band of bigots consider to be real Americans. Am I brave? Hell no! But I know how to make a stink.

    Liked by 8 people

    • Bravo. Great work.

      There are many things we can do — and I can’t cover them all! At least not all at once. That’s the beauty of both the comments section and having a blog — I fear this topic will become a recurrent theme. And of course that is quite a challenge for a humor blog. Thanks to Putin’s President.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Not just banning Muslims, but banning all refugees on this day is pretty much akin to claiming John Lewis “all talk, no action” on MLK weekend. I am getting to the point where I can’t believe it is just tone-deafness. I do now believe this is deliberate to keep us focused on the garbage and not looking at the real dangers he’s implementing. It’s just one insult after another.

    In remembrance of the German Jews, I will always stand up and intervene whenever and wherever I can.

    Good reminder Elyse. Great article.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Or, banning people who are being slaughtered in their homeland repeats one of our country’s deepest shames.

      I agree that it isn’t tone-deafness. More like slight of hand. The snake oil salesman’s shell game.

      I think you will intervene. I think I will too. But really the situation will define our actions, more likely than not. The situation in the example, though, is a perfect example of how we can use our acting training in real life. 😏

      Like

  16. It is amazing how you can intervene without intervening. I walking in the Woman’s March Chicago last week and I was so scared that something bad would happen. My daughter was with me and I told her to stay on the sidewalk. I warned her that in case of tear gas, her pussy hat could protect her eyes. We set up a meeting place in case we got separated. None of that was necessary but I still cried.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Those are smart, common sense precautions. Especially the meeting place — an important thing to do whenever going into a big crowd. But yes, I can see how the need to teach your daughter how to protect herself from teargas is just not n the list of things one expects with motherhood.

      Like

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