Putting the Shoe on the Other Foot

What if it had gone down like this, instead?

“Three Somali-American women were recorded Tuesday, July 25, threatening a lone white woman in the Walmart parking lot on 13th Avenue South in Fargo because she parked too close to their car….

Woman

What if it had gone down like this, instead?

“Three Somali-American women were recorded Tuesday, July 25, threatening a lone white woman in the Walmart parking lot on 13th Avenue South in Fargo because she parked too close to their car.

“‘We’re gonna kill all of ya,’ one of the three Somali-Americans said to the woman, who recorded the encounter with her mobile phone from inside her car. ‘We’re gonna kill every one of you (expletive) Christians.’

“The woman said she started recording so there would be evidence of the Somali-Americans’ ‘unacceptable’ behavior. ‘I wanted everyone to see what happens to us every day,” she said. ‘I was so scared.’

“She called police around 5:30 p.m. ….”

If it had happened like that, losing jobs probably would have been the least of the Somali-Americans’ worries.

Considering what already showed up online when they were victims, not perpetrators, local backlash would have been a given.

Watch the Video

Read the Story

Threatening to kill Christians?
Who do they think they are?
Send ‘em back where they came from!

And those would have been among the calmer reactions.

There might have been physical threats, too.

Phrases like “security threat,” “terrorist watch list” and “deportation for non-U.S. citizens,” come to mind, along with Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Immigration and Naturalization Service. Would the Somali-Americans, their family members and friends have been subjected to heightened scrutiny, as well?

But that’s not how it happened.

Instead, the hate poured out of the white, presumably Christian, woman, who assured the Somali-Americans that an unidentified but ominous “we” would be hunting them and all Muslims in this country. They recorded her, the video went viral and she lost her job at a small Fargo firm.

It’s natural to want something positive to result from such a nasty incident.

Fargo Police Chief Todd should be commended for orchestrating the reconciliation between the parties, and they should be commended for their willingness to reconcile.

And yet….

The picture on the front page of The Forum, with the white woman’s arms draped around two of the Somali-Americans’ shoulders, was unsettling. The contrast to the revolting image from the video was striking. Hard to believe, even.

A few days later another story proclaimed, “The incident has since had a happy ending with Police Chief David Todd bringing two of the victims together with (the white woman), and they made up.”

A happy ending?

It would be nice to believe the outburst was simply the result of a really bad day, but hate like that doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It hides deep down in the heart of hearts. Its outward expression is as ugly as the video showed it to be. And, sadly, it’s not limited to one person in a parking lot.

It would be great if what we saw in the photo opp was the best desired outcome. That was a start, but there has to be more.

This and other, less publicized verbal and physical attacks against people who don’t look like the majority need to lead to something nobler than a few minutes of North Dakota or Minnesota nice.

It might be useful, for the good of our community, to start with a question:

What if it had gone down the other way, instead?

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Author: Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, proud Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger and big-time reader. (If you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff.) A ginger, too (ergo the "Red"). At age 50 I'm a newbie to tattoos - I have three now - but the kind artists at the parlor tell me it's never too late. I like hanging out with my best friend, who also happens to be my wife, watching the kids in their academic and athletic activities, writing, hiking and riding my mountain bike.

Let me know what you think!