After Brexit achieved what is now the second-most idiotic and self-destructive political outcome of recent decades, many immigrants and other vulnerable people in the UK were fearful for their physical as well as political safety. Decent people started wearing safety pins as a visible signal that here was someone willing to give assistance and comfort, to help deescalate a situation flaring up in public, and to work for justice for all humans and not just the nativists. Well, now the safety-pin movement has come to America.
I’m glad it’s here, though I’m sad it’s needed here. Sad, but not really surprised. The racists and xenophobes have been heating up like tea in a microwave, Trump is just the spoonful of sugar* that makes it all go PLOOSH! And people get burned.
If I can be the shelter from one difficult situation for one immigrant, black, Muslim, LGBTQ person or woman, it will be worth it. I think of this as an obligation incurred by my unasked-for but undeniable privilege as a white, male, American-born person of no obvious religious affiliation. Equally important to the desire to do this is to have a plan of how to act in the moment. This article goes into detail and you should read it all. But the outline is:
- Be aware of how your companions feel about “getting involved.” If someone tries to deter you, it may create a worse problem than you already face.
- Be aware if you are with others who increase the “attack surface”, e.g., children.
- Be sure the apparent target actually wants help. You will have to read the situation carefully.
- Be able to respond, to whatever limit you know you are capable and willing. For example, are able to, and willing to, oppose a violent physical attack?
- Plan to employ deescalation of the situation, first and foremost. Here’s a good basic guide to that principle:
Until President Pumpkin is exiled to whatever St. Helena will have him, I will be wearing a safety pin.
* – warning: do NOT try heating tea in a microwave and then adding sugar, unless you like first- and second-degree burns from scalding. The water is superheated in spots, and the sugar crystals result in the instant formation of steam that propels hotter-than-boiling teas in all directions.