What began as a trend amongst protestors following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has now spread across the United States. People are wearing safety pins as a way to fight intolerance.
For some, it’s partly a response to the presidential election results. For others, it’s simply used to show solidarity with women, immigrants, minorities, members of the LGBTQ community and others who are being targeted.
There has been backlash to the movement by people who believe the trend isn’t effective. Huffington Post contributing writer Christopher Keelty called the pins embarrassing saying, “We don’t get to make ourselves feel better by putting on safety pins and self-designating ourselves as allies.”
So, certain forms of showing support for marginalized groups is wrong?
Certainly people who have worn safety pins have had to explain why they’re wearing them. The dialogue that comes from that is important. It’s also conceivable that participants of the trend have fought against intolerance in other ways.
Nearly half our country voted for a man who has called for a ban on an entire religion from entering our country and has strengthened rape culture by bragging about sexually assaulting women. It’s evident that a good portion of those who helped elect him couldn’t care less about equal rights for all genders, ethnicities or religions.
For those who oppose what our president-elect represents, there’s solace in any from of protest. How they choose to peacefully do so shouldn’t be dismissed, especially by those who are fighting against the same enemy. All resistance against hateful beliefs and acts is courageous. Some people think the election results have given a green light to racism and bigotry.
The Southern Poverty Law Center counted more than 700 incidents of hateful harrasment since the election by collecting reports from news articles, social media and direct submissions.
There have been countless examples of racism and intolerance since election day captured and spread across social media. There’s a Facebook video of a man in Queens, New York yelling and cursing at a Muslim Uber driver and calling him a terrorist. Students from multiple colleges have jokingly posted pictures of themselves in blackface. A Brooklyn park named after the late Beastie Boys member, Adam Yauch, was one of the latest locations to be defaced by graffiti swastikas next to the words “Go Trump.” The Ku Klux Klan’s official newspaper, The Crusader, endorsed the man our country elected president.
These few examples alone should raise a red flag to anyone still denying any linkage of intolerance to our president-elect and his supporters. These acts don’t brand our future leader and all of his following as hate filled racists. But, plenty supporters are publically making their beliefs very clear to the rest of us.
Respond to people’s hate with empathy. Pity the intolerant people who are vandalizing public and private property with offensive symbols and slurs. Peacefully protest these acts any way that you can. It’s crucial for us to stand together against these non-inclusive beliefs. Remember, we’re stronger as a nation that not only accepts other cultures, but cherishes them.
Email Steve Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org