html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I can live with that.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I can live with that.

The older engineer who made the anti-Semitic comment to me back in March still cringes and avoids me in the hall. She should avoid me, since I am the walking incarnation of a shameful end to her career. I'm not going to make trouble for her, but I do enjoy staring her down when we make the occasional eye contact.


Anonymous quirkybook said...

You are braver than I, and I admire you for your attitude. I had a similar thing happen to me at my old job, except that it was my boss who made the stupid comment about my religion in the large group setting. At the time, I thought I was doing both of us a favor by giving her the benefit of the doubt and not calling her on her offensive language. But during 4 years of working with her, I came to believe that her inner prejudices affected her relationship with me, and god, do I wish I had done something about that initial bad interaction.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous ptm said...


Your dad's plan is pretty awesome, though.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must need some anger management because my first reaction was to think that it would be cool if someone said that to me because then I could really open up a can on them. I usually don't get such an obvious reason to open up cans on people, and sometimes it's nice to have a little release, you know?

2:26 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I was too startled to do anything and I don't know whether I would have anyway, on account of being a huge coward. If she were important to me somehow, Quirkybook, I might want better resolution. But since I don't work with her and she scuttles away when she sees me, I'm fine with the situation.

2:29 PM  
Blogger a little mouser said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

My sister sent me:

i found him NOT just in the freezer, microwave, hanging from the livingroom ceiling VERY high, but also floating on a kickboard in the middle of the pool. not at the edge of the pool, but in the middle of the pool. stuffed animals do not LIKE being in the middle of large bodies of water.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused. Was the group in a bad mood, or did the ineptness of the joke just complicate things? I mean, the comment wasn't funny (and betrays a lack of skill with humor--maybe tact too), but I'm not sure there's enough reason to go hating on her forever.

I imagine if the group were inebriated, it might just roll off with only a couple chuckles. Otoh, this seems to at some work related (training?) session, so maybe people were just grumpy. Then again, IANAJ and don't have much experience with bigotry, so maybe I would just've had to be there.

Did you find anything else about her company enjoyable, at the time?


6:40 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

She wasn't joking, and only realized from our shocked reactions that she had said something wrong.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a little confused.

Yes, yes you are.

Don't make me come over there and open up a can!

7:44 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Dude, Dubin. If you were a guy, that would have been totally funny and I would have laughed out loud as I read it.

7:49 PM  
Blogger CharleyCarp said...

Does her shame teach her anything? I would guess yes, but maybe there's a diminishing return on that, and if you are too long in this mode, she'll just add another unfair adjective to her prejudice.

I wonder if you shouldn't approach after a few months more, tell how hurt you were, but that you're not going to go through life being mad about stupidity -- and give her another chance to apologize. She'll be further in your debt because you'll have taken the initiative . . .

8:48 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

See folks? My friends do this to me in real-life, too. I'll be going along, not actively mean, and think I'm doing fine. Then someone like CharleyCarp comes along, and talks in his voice of goodness and sets the bar higher again. Maybe I'll aspire to constructive kindness like his for a little while longer before I decide that I really am capable of that.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are always personal decisions, but I'm with Charleycarp a little on this. And I'm Jewish, for what it's worth. You would never have said something like this, but what is the worst thing you have ever said? Wouldn't you want to be forgiven for it?

Perhaps the woman simply grew up in an environment where that was the stereotype. It is not necessarily a hateful stereotype. Among some people, it can even be a sort of admiring one -- the Jews are good businesspeople, responsible, and thrifty, etc.


10:59 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

I'm with Marcus and Charleycarp (but less diplomatic). She said something that you found inappropriate, but it isn't that big a deal. Go watch the Borat movie. He's Jewish, and not afraid to poke fun at Jewish stereotypes. Whose life you do improve by carrying this grudge around? Lighten up and get over it.

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noel, there's a big difference between someone making fun of *their own* and someone from the outside doing it.

And the same goes with certain words and comments...some of my friends use the word "paki" all the time but if someone else did, that *could* be thought of in a very different way.

"lighten up"?
don't think so...why should jews or muslims or anyone else have to put up with such words? It's not just about what *she* thought to be inappropraite but , I think, about public norms and private awareness of what is decent behaviour.

2:04 AM  
Blogger CharleyCarp said...

"Goodness"? My goodness gracious no! (as a certain former government employee would say). I'm talking about winning.

5:02 AM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

AS, I'm confused, too. I don't get the joke part. The whole "jews love money" line is both dated and anti-semetic, but last time I checked, the Jewish mob stereotype hadn't really taken hold. So not only is she anti-semetic, she's mixing sterotypes. That shit is as bad as mixing metaphors.

I have these two stories that I want to weave together somehow into a challenge to you. The Hasids are a very visible real estate development force in my corner of Brooklyn, and a group of same wanted to buy the lot where our garden now stands. The purchase was the subject of some controversy in the neighborhood, and when we started clearing the weeds for the garden, more than one neighbor stopped by to tell Zach, Noah and I how glad they were that the Jews hadn't gotten ahold of the lot. Not one of us (both of them are Jewish) said anything, as I recall.

And then, as a twelve or thirteen year old, I thought that B.F.E. was the greatest acronym ever. As I recall, there was a general breakdown between kids that said R.F.E. and those that favored B.F.E. but I don't recall the distinction. So many people asked you to travel so far, it was handy to be able to clarify that they were dragging you to B.F.E. and this better be good. And then at some point my father figured out what I was saying and started grilling me about what it meant and what kind of stereotypes about Egyptians I was alluding to. I lost my argument entirely ("but it isn't even about actual Egypt at all, dad") and was shamed into finding a new way to hyperbolize distance.

And so what I am saying is that you should call her out on it, but also think about what it would take to coax her into thinking through her prejudices. It might fail miserably. Some people's hatred of Jews is so deeply ingrained that you can't logic them out of it, but if she grew up with a lot of stereotypes and Jew jokes, you can do us all a big favor by actually starting a conversation about how her stereotypes are holding her back. Or at least leading her to insult people who she presumably otherwise enjoys the company of. You'd have to really think through what you want her to get out of it, but I think it very well might be worth talking to her and saying that you are still smarting from that comment because you really were raised to believe that anti-semitism was a thing of the past, but that you are sure she's had months to think about how fucked up that was to say and where in her own stereotypes about Jews that comment orriginated and ...

I think it is possible to say it in a way that helps her look inward at her own prejudices and evaluate them with the clarity of adulthood. We all grow up with stereotypes of all sorts, who you can trust, who is fair game as a punching bag, who drives badly, works hard or pays the rent regularly. Until you look closely at them, they form a part of the lens through which you view everyone around you (and even after that, but hopefully you can be more honest with yourself about the lenses you are using).

Some people need a little help looking at their own prejudices.

7:03 AM  

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