My respect for The Atlantic is growing exponentially these days. In few major publications will you find an article like this one alongside an article like this one. It’s awesome to see a news site give equal voice to opposing viewpoints and let their own staff discuss controversial matters and disagree respectfully.
For my part, I’m torn on the whole issue of insensitive Halloween costumes at Yale and the need for administrators to pen emails urging students to be respectful of other cultures….
On the one hand, I’ve experienced plenty of overt and subtle racism over my lifetime, and I get how aggravating it can be when someone who has never experienced the challenges you face on a near-daily basis has the audacity to tell you to just chill. Yeah, it makes you want to scream in frustration. Like this one time.
On the other hand, I cannot and will never condone behavior like this. There’s respectful dialog, and then there’s just plain bullying. And I for one agree with the first Atlantic writer’s contention that the student is the one being the bully in this video.
On a freakish third hand, there are people who are pretty bigoted in their choice of Halloween attire. I pride myself on my thick skin, but even I have encountered costumes that make me cringe. And no, I don’t want to be the one who has to call someone out on their costume. I would love if this were addressed on a societal level somehow.
On the fourth hand (holy crap, how many fucking hands do I have?!?), I want to believe that most people out there know where to draw the line between a costume that pays tribute to another culture, and one that outright mocks it. As such, I don’t believe it’s anywhere near necessary to ban all “ethnic” costumes. I’d hate to see a miniscule percentage of ignorant dumbasses ruin a fun and debaucherous holiday for everyone.
Maybe this is what it comes down to:
There are assholes on both sides of the political and social spectrum, ready to cry foul at the slightest hint of injustice, eager to pick any fight at any opportunity (like these folks). These are not people who seek rational discourse and a mutual understanding of the each other’s experiences. These are people who just want to be heard above everyone else, whether or not they have anything worthy of being heard. Most often, they don’t.
So maybe those of us who live far from the extremes, who embody the sane and rational center, just have to ignore the assholes on either side of us. And then, maybe we can generate some productive discussions and reach a happy level of understanding and empathy all around.
PS: A massive high-five to those of you who got the reference in the title of this post.