Parable on Bigotry and Citizenship Plays Out in a Supermarket – The New York Times

A good parable:

At the end of the aisle, Ms. Macksoud noticed a couple of middle-age white men talking. One in particular caught her eye with his beer belly, tattooed forearms and large golden cross. As she neared him, she heard the word “Bible.” When she passed him, he said in a raised voice: “not like the Quran those Muslims read.” He included an obscenity to describe Ms. Macksoud and 1.6 billion coreligionists.

Ms. Macksoud grew up on Staten Island, competing in soccer and track, and liked to think that she had that outer-boroughs bravado. Instead of firing back, though, she answered with forced calm: “You didn’t have to say that.”

Surface composure aside, she was shaken. Her flesh felt as if it were quivering. Her mind went so blank she made a wrong turn, and instead of heading into frozen foods, she was adrift and searching for Ms. Yu. “She was shocked and angry,” Ms. Yu recalled the other day. “More in a kind of disbelief that something like this could happen to her.”

Indeed, nothing before ever had. Even after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when Ms. Macksoud began wearing the hijab as her personal way of reclaiming Islam from jihadists, nobody had ever said a word to her. No one objected even when she was working for MTV in Times Square and her building was evacuated during a failed car bombing by a militant Muslim in May 2010.

But in the United States of 2015 — weeks before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — someone had insulted and implicitly threatened her in her favorite ShopRite. It felt to her as if all the toxic language of the Republican presidential campaign, with its various forms of Islamophobia, had infiltrated even a store she cherished for its commitment to diversity.

With Ms. Yu at her side, she went to the Customer Service counter to report what had happened. The agent there called for the store’s assistant manager, Mark Egan. “I’m not done shopping,” Ms. Macksoud recently recalled telling him, “but I don’t feel safe here.”

Mr. Egan was about as much of a Jersey guy as a Jersey guy can get. He grew up in Freehold, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, and married in the young Springsteen’s parish church, Saint Rose of Lima. Mr. Egan, his hair starting to thin at 43, has worked at ShopRite for 13 years.

He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her. And for the next half-hour, he walked alongside her on the pretense of checking inventory as she did the rest of her shopping. They never did find the man who had insulted her. Before leaving, Ms. Macksoud asked for Mr. Egan’s name so she could send a thank-you letter to the store.

The next day she wrote about the incident on Facebook. She had nearly 300 replies, some from other American Muslims on their experiences with bias — being called a “raghead” or a “Christian killer,” being almost run over, being told to go home, as if home were not here. Many offered solidarity and solace.

One of those correspondents, Sheryl Olitzky, is the wife of a rabbi and the mother of two others. Five years earlier, she and a friend, Atiya Aftab, had formed a group called the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, to bring Jewish and Muslim women together. Since then, it has grown to 20 local chapters across the country with another 15 in formation.

With Ms. Macksoud’s permission, Ms. Olitzky called Mr. Egan and told him, “I heard what happened, and you’re my hero.” He replied, “I was just doing my job.”

Modesty aside, Mr. Egan did agree to attend the Sisterhood’s annual convention last weekend to receive an award. His wife and father-in-law came with him, and the Saker family, which owns the North Brunswick ShopRite, made a donation to the group.

Source: Parable on Bigotry and Citizenship Plays Out in a Supermarket – The New York Times

Jackson Doughart: Canada’s scary intolerance obsession

A good discussion on freedom of speech and intolerance by Jackson Doughart. While I would not go quite as far as he does in his arguments, excessive political correctness is  harmful to society. So enjoy your Halloween.

Doughart comes up with his own variation of Godwin’s Law:

Perhaps we need a construction of our own to fight back against the commonplace manifestation of the intolerance obsession. The industry of manufactured offense, after all, has produced a replete share of inanities, including the recent campaign to remove the imagery of Hallowe’en in schools because of its purported intolerance. This is a silly non-issue, but one which shows how the tolerance doctrine has become the universal solvent into which all public arguments are dipped. And as the case of Professor Somerville shows, the use of the bigotry label as a means of censoring disagreement is far from unimportant or ineffectual.

Enter what we might call Doughart’s Law, or the “reductio ad bigotrum”, which declares any person who accuses her political opponent of bigotry or intolerance as the loser of a debate. Once a person has been caught, the argument is over. Just imagine how much more congenial and effective public discourse would be if empty accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and so on, were off limits.

Jackson Doughart: Canada’s scary intolerance obsession | National Post.