Our emotions aren’t always rational.
We jump at thunder and lash out when embarrassed.
The trouble, of course, is that our emotions can bleed into other people, and our instinctive reactions can hurt others if we’re not careful.
So how do we handle it when someone else spits hate at us to mask their own pain?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) aitathrowaway841 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for making fun of a girl for her dad’s 9/11 death?”
OP began with a little history.
“I go to college in New York state.”
“I am Muslim.”
“I was very young when 9/11 happened, as were the rest of the people in my year.”
“There’s a girl in one of my classes who’s father was in the World Trade Center.”
“Of course, this is very sad, and I pity the man, but not her.”
“She’s extremely racist.”
“She hates everyone who isn’t white or east asian. But she especially hates Muslims due to her father’s passing.”
“So of course, we don’t talk.”
“But today, September 11, was the day she exploded.”
“I was wearing a hijab. She told me I should take it off out of respect for the victims and that it was the equivalent of a hat.”
“I said no.”
“She said that ‘you Muslims did this, you need to take off the hijab to show respect.”‘
“I obviously told her no.”
“Then she went on a very long Islamophobic rant that I can’t entirely recall because this was hours ago.”
“But I remember she concluded by saying that Islam took away her father, so she wants to take away Islam. (I’m still confused as to what she meant.)”
“She made a few comments towards me, and I went on my phone to de-escalate.”
“She made more comments, I kept ignoring her. But then she said ‘Yeah, you’re not responding because you know I’m right”‘.
“I don’t know why that set me off, but it did.”
“I told her ‘No, I’m just busy texting my DAD’. She left the room in tears.”
“My classmates are saying that she was in the wrong, but what I said was unnecessarily cruel.”
“Now, I don’t think I’m TA, bc she started it, all I did was finish it.”
OP was left to wonder,
“So, Reddit, AITA??”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddig for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
The title had many surprised by the contents of the post.
“NTA The title had me mad but then I read the post.”
“You did not make fun of her, you snapped at her in frustration at the way she was treating you.”
“9/11 was an awful day for all of America and it does stand to reason that today would especially hard for her since she lost her dad.”
“That said, it doesn’t mean you or anyone else should take her racist abuse today or any other day.”
“You are not responsible for the acts of individuals who happen to share the same religion (and in this case it is a perversion of that religion anyway).” ~ Asshole-Expert
“Yea. I was about to blow up on OP until I actually read it. She 100% deserved it.” ~ PhoenixGalaxy25
Many pointed out that Racism cannot be tolerated.
“I mean t e c h n i c a l l y this would be an E S H”
“Buuuuuut play stupid games win stupid prizes and throwing glass at stone houses and yadda yadda you get my meaning.”
“Her grief and trauma about her dad are valid, and it is sad, but it’s no excuse for blatant racism and islamphobia.”
“Keep making the racists mad. NTA” ~ ChapelGr3y
“This is so f*cking dumb to me.”
“Muslims didn’t vote for a terrorist group to hijack planes and fly them into American landmarks.”
“They had no choice in the matter.”
“On the other hand, a democratically elected official did lead a war against a Muslim nation under false pretenses in which chemical weapons were used, including agent orange and napalm, on thousands of civilians and children.”
“I just checked and an estimated 1-3 MILLION people are disabled or have health problems because of agent orange contamination.” ~ The_Blip
“I was in lower Manhattan during 9/11.”
“I was a teenager.”
“I couldn’t get home or contact my parents and I was terrified. I ended up losing people in the towers.”
“I find this day to be extremely upsetting and it does trigger some trauma.”
“OP is NTA.”
“Not one bit.”
“The people who use a tragedy to justify xenophobia and racism are the assholes, full stop.”
“Our country is full of assholes who have led us into disastrous wars and eroded our civil rights because they used this day as a prop.”
“They’ve done huge harm to our country and our world. That thinking can’t go unchecked.” ~ RealisticVoice8
Some commenters pointed how long ago 9/11 was.
“Her dad died 19 years ago and she’s still on this rant.”
“She needs to get over herself and stop taking it out on others” ~ xeusifyy
“The girl is in college. She must have been a baby or toddler when her dad died. That’s sad, but racism was her choice. She needs to move on.” ~ Throwawayrightaway28
“Lost my mam when I was 1.”
“It still pains me even 26 years since.”
“However, that doesn’t mean I can spread hate and use her as an excuse for it.”
“Yes this girl will still have pain from the loss but all she is doing is tainting her fathers memory by making him a memorial to hatred and using him as an excuse to justify that.”
“That’s her cross to bare about how ahe is dragging her father through the mud to justify her learned beliefs.”
“Edit; Forgot to include a judgement. NTA.” ~ Edolas93
Others wondered where everyone else was during this conflict.
“Wait, why didn’t they stop her when she was going off on you?”
“Did they just sit and watch her talk sh*t to you?”
“It was a mean thing to say, but I can understand why you reached your breaking point especially if there were people there that could have helped.” ~ seenheardliveditall
“Yeah I also don’t understand how her classmates didn’t say anything to the bigot.”
“But had a go at her for the dad thing. I feel like she was just backed into a corner…” ~ desh80
“NTA – her saying shes going to take away Islam because her father gotten taken away is a dogwhistle for genocide.”
“Perhaps not a dogwhistle with how loud her Islamophobia was leading up to that.”
“Either way I have no sympathy for racists, Islamophobes, etc. 🤷♀️ If she’s bent out of shape for you mentioning your dad she shouldn’t have tried to start something”
“Your classmates have A L O T of nerve for trying to dictate how you responded to harassment while they just sat by and watched 🙄 if they had actually stepped up you wouldn’t have had to respond to her at all but they wanted to be cowards” ~ picturebook-graduate
Not everyone thought OP was entirely justified.
“Gonna go and say ESH but heavily lean towards NTA.”
“I mean it is clear she has A LOT of unresolved issues about this and this day will always be a constant reminder of what happened and it doesn’t help that its remembered all over media and is kinda put in her face ever year.”
“She clearly has a lot of anger.”
“Unfortunately she has decided to handle it in one of the worst ways possible and she had no right to use it as an excuse to bully and terrorize you.”
“That said you didn’t have to bite and that was a particularly low blow.” ~ Wookieman222
“And I say it as a Muslim.”
“Yes she’s a racist a**hole but you could’ve comeback a million different ways, that sentence you said was really uncalled for.”
“She might be more of an asshole than you, but that doesn’t justify what you did.” ~ AzizOfArabia
“Did people forget about ESH?”
“Yes, you are 100% an a**hole for celebrating the fact that your dad is around while someone else’s is not. She’s an a**hole. You’re an a**hole.”
“There’s not really a debate here.” ~ GothicToast
“I completely understand that this girl went threw an extremely traumatic experience with losing her father but it in no way entitles her to act the way she does.”
“But, I also think that your comment was a low blow and in the AH range.”
“With that said, I cannot blame you in the slightest for making that comment and I think you are in the justified AH category here.”
“I also hope that someone gets that girl some counseling (for both her grief and her anger) because she is not going to get better just running her mouth like she is.” ~ EarthBelcher
“I am going with ESH. Her for obvious reasons.”
“You for going down to her level. You didn’t HAVE to finish it. I get why you did it, but it makes you an a**hole as well.”
“‘When they go low, we go high.'” ~ aesoth
To be very clear: Hatred is not a reaction, it is a choice.
There is no place, at all, for racism in a civilized society.
That is what makes our momentary reactions so tricky, they can lead us down darker paths than we had intended.
Be tolerant where possible, but always be safe.