I don’t get angry very often, but occasionally something will happen in one of a few categories, and then my blood boils. Topics capable of sending me into a seething rage where I’m willing to set aside my fear of confrontation and get into an argument do not include such things as being right, not getting my way, being insulted, or getting bad service in a restaurant. They are generally limited to the following:
– Someone I care about being seriously wronged
– Racism and other bigotry
And the reason I’ve spent tonight stewing in a rage falls under the third heading.
Honest to God, I cannot for the life of me fathom how racism can seem OK to anyone. How, HOW can a person’s ethnicity make the slightest difference to their worth as a human being? How can the colour of their skin make them a bad person? How does this notion even enter someone’s head, let alone become a deeply-rooted belief? I genuinely have no understanding of this; I Just Do Not Get It.
Tonight, I unfriended someone on Facebook – a girl I’ve known since primary school, and with whom I’ve never had an argument. A nice girl. She didn’t make a racist comment, but one of her friends did, on a sympathetic status update she posted about the current disaster in Japan. The guy wrote like a halfwit, making more grammatical errors than you would imagine to be possible in a “sentence”. I can’t bring myself to quote his delightful sentiments, but the gist of it was that they [insert tired and pathetic slurs about the physical features of Asian people here] didn’t matter in the slightest and deserved whatever they got – that’s what you get for being Japanese, basically. Oh, and you look funny, too. (‘Cause, y’know, you look different from us.)
I am just waiting for the day that I hear a remark like this in person, because whoever says it will see a whole different side of me. As it was, all I could do was “like” a comment from someone pulling the guy up over his remark, and then unfriend the girl whose original status it was. True, she didn’t say anything wrong – in fact, she was expressing shock and sadness. But she didn’t delete the comment. Nor did she get rid of her friend. And several others noted what the bigot wrote, and said words to the effect of “ohhh you’re so bad, you heartless pig lol xxx“, for CRYING OUT LOUD!! If someone has friends like that, and thinks that those sort of comments are perfectly acceptable, then I cannot call them a friend of mine – not even on Facebook.
There are some utter, utter bastards out there, seriously.
But here’s the twist. Shortly afterwards, having stayed behind late at work to prepare some materials for next week, I was sitting in a classroom mixing paints and cutting out shapes with Jennifer, who’d come in to help me. Have you heard about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan? I asked her as we worked. She shook her head, and I filled her in on what I’d just read on my news feed.
You know, Japan has always been very bad to Korea, she said, many attacks and cruelty.
Yes, I nodded, since I know this to be true from all my studies of Korean history. I looked expectantly at her, not sure what this had to do with what I’d just said, other than being another random piece of information about the same country. She looked back at me, seeming equally expectant, as if I was meant to infer something from her remark. Then just as it began to dawn on me from her expression that she meant something along the lines of “they deserve whatever they get, it’s punishment”, it began to dawn on her that I would be unlikely to take the same position on the matter, and she gave an embarrassed laugh and moved on quickly, asking me if there had been many deaths, where the epicenter was, and all the appropriate questions like that.
And I quickly moved on with her, only too happy to pretend that she hadn’t just implied what I was fairly certain she had.
Why am I still seething with rage at that imbecile I don’t even know, and disbelieving at my ex Facebook friend for letting him be a nasty, evil little worm on her page, when I was happy to just let my boss get away with a remark with implications just as nonsensical and racist? Because she’s my boss? Because she’s also Asian and therefore somehow entitled to be bigoted towards other Asians? Because I really like her, and don’t want to lose the respect I have for her, so am choosing to give her the benefit of the doubt and see her comment as a thoughtless joke rather than a genuine belief?
Ach, the inner conflict.
I think that sometimes there are just so many pillocks to be furious with, all I can do is find a way to get mad at myself, instead.