Bigotry is ugly and hides in packages of many sizes and shapes. The people you least expect to harbor prejudice can so easily infiltrate your life, and remain invisible until they reveal themselves.
Reddit user candlelabra456 found themselves in that very situation—accidentally hanging out with a major bigot.
Though they had no qualms at first about their reaction, they got their classmate in significant trouble. Wondering if that put them out of line, they went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for perspective.
“AITA for telling my professor that a classmate stopped being in my lab group because I’m Jewish?”
Our original poster, or OP, detailed the classroom in which this became a problem.
“A classmate (20’s male) and I (22f[emale]) happen to sit next to each other in physics and my professor did the get to know who you sit by shindig and we got to talking and exchanged numbers.”
“We also chose to be in the same lab group as well. We got pretty close during the semester and would study and go to our professors office hours together as well.”
When the topic of religion came up, the problems started.
“We go to talking about religion with our lab group and when I started talking about being Jewish he was quiet and didn’t say much the rest of the lab.”
“At the end of class as I usually walk with him to the library, he was pretty quiet again and said he wasn’t going to library and just going home.”
“After asking what was up he just straight up told me, ‘I don’t think we should hang out that much anymore.’”
The answer was rather shocking.
“When I asked why he just said ‘you’re a Jew’ and when I pressed further he just said he doesn’t hangout with Jews. I was stunned and just walked away.”
OP’s professor noticed, and OP spoke up.
“The next week he was in a different lab group. When I went to office hours during that week my professor asked where he was and why he switched lab groups.”
“This is where I think I was the a**hole…I could have said I have no idea. But instead I told my professor that he probably switched groups because I’m Jewish.”
“My professor didn’t understand and I explained that he told me the week prior that he doesn’t hang out with Jews and he doesn’t think that me and him should hangout anymore because I’m Jewish.”
“My professor told me that was disgusting behavior and he apologized on the behalf of that classmate. I didn’t think anything of it.”
The classmate got in trouble and now is blaming OP.
“Until the next week I got a text from the classmate saying that he can’t believe ‘I told on him’ and ‘he’s in trouble.’”
“I didn’t respond and blocked his number. I don’t know what happened to him but he didn’t come to class much after, then soon not at all.”
“He did end up telling on of my other lab partners that I was the reason for him to switch lab groups and that I was to blame on why he wasn’t going to class.”
“I ended up getting an email from someone on the board of the school asking for what happened but I didn’t reply.”
“And my professor told me I didn’t have to worry about him anymore.”
“AITA for telling on a classmate to my professor?”
Redditors offered their perspective on the issue by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors could not tell OP fast enough she did nothing wrong and her classmate is a dangerous bigot.
“OP, my husband is on the Alumni Board of the small liberal arts college where he was a graduate, and my boys are now students.”
“These are exactly the sorts of issues he would like to know about and handle as he works to create greater diversity and safety for all on campus.”
“Of course, it’s up to you and your comfort level, but I hope you won’t consider it tattling to respond to that e-mail.”
“Instead, you’d be actively contributing to a better campus for all who come after you, if your Board actually means well.”
“NTA, and please don’t feel responsible for any of this. You did nothing wrong.”~Organized_Khaos
“Op NTA- the reason the professor took it so seriously is because it is serious. It’s a good thing you brought it up.”
“People with that kind of prejudice rarely are only prejudiced against one group too. (You tend to find people who are racist are also homophobic and islamaphobic etc.)”
“You are likely not the only person he’s treated badly because of an identity that person has no control over, nor the last.”
“So even if you feel ‘well it’s fine I can deal with it’ if it helps you feel better think about whether you would want it reported if you saw him treat someone else like he has treated you.”
“I know I sometimes ignore abuse to myself (because I don’t want to rock the boat or get someone in trouble) that I absolutely would be furious witnessing happening to someone else, but standing up for yourself stands up for those other people.”
“He needs to be told his behavior is inappropriate and if the school decided to prevent him from attending, they did so to protect other students rights to attend the school without dealing with prejudice and bigotry. He’s the reason he is in trouble.”~General_Consequence1
“I’m half-German and grew up in Germany so the Holocaust and anti-Semitism was biiiiig in school. This was common when Hitler came to power.”
“Neighbors and friends told on each other who was a Jew and who was hiding a Jew and badmouthing people they had no problem with prior.”
“It’s just the way these people think, because it’s an easy fix and they can blame their problems on somebody else than themselves.”
“They think the Jews are responsible for all of our problems (ofc this is BS) so they don’t like them based on that. Also Hitler believed in some BS that they were inferior physically etc.”
“I hope this doesn’t happen to you again but it could, so call them out and recommend a visit to a concentration camp when they visit Europe. Sorry this happened to you! NTA”~crazychemist237
“A lot of people are telling you that you must answer that email and call him out. But I’d like to offer a different point of view.”
“You are not required to take this any further unless you want to. It is not your job to chase disgusting antisemites and make sure they are punished.”
“If you want to leave this behind you and move on, you have every right to and don’t let anyone guilt trip you for that. This stuff is very unpleasant and not everyone wants to engage with the process.”
“But if you do want to stop him and get some justice, go for it. He is a pig and will deserve everything he gets.”
“It is totally your choice. Work out what feels better for you, not for all the rest of us who would love to see him punished.”
“You were treated appallingly by this racist creep, and only you know what would help you feel better about it. You deserve to heal from this in your own way.”
“I’m sorry this happened to you. NTA of course, and he is an ignorant biased idiot. I hope yo feel better soon.”~exfamilia
And people are pointing out folks like this antisemite hardly ever harbor only one prejudice.
“Wow. This sounds incredibly painful! I’m so sorry for how you’ve been treated. It’s unfair that after someone else’s bigoted treatment of you they would then try to make you feel like the a**hole here. You’re not.”
“For what it’s worth, you’re allowed to be hurt and grieve the loss of friendship, try not to be so hard on yourself for thinking someone was a friend when they later reveal themselves to be anti-Semitic trash. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“You are NTA! Report him, reply to that email, and hang onto the retaliatory messages he sent you as well. None of this is acceptable and it’s not your fault. Sending you strength.”~romeodeficient
“That’s the danger of racism. It’s not logical, it’s not factual. It’s just hate.”
“Sorry you went through this. You owe it to every Jewish victim of the Holocaust to speak the truth of what happened in this situation.”
“Especially now when some people are trying to erase (whitewash) history. NTA.”~encouragement_much
“Hey OP, leaving this here because I want to make sure you see it: I think you’ll be interested in Talia Lavin’s book Culture Warlords.”
“A big part of it is about how antisemitic ideas play into the white supremacist imagination. You are NTA and universities (and literally every other institution as well) should have zero tolerance policies for antisemitism.”
“The best you can do is respond to both your professor and the board member and don’t take shit from anyone.”
“You didn’t get your classmate in trouble and his behavior isn’t normal and should not be normalized.”~chicat59
“Yeah, it’s just an unfortunate situation.”
“I would argue that it is OP’s duty to talk to the school board so that other jewish kids don’t get hurt by this, but I also wouldn’t think badly of OP if they decided not to.”
“It’s just a sh*tty fact of life that it’s often up to the victims to deal with the people harassing them, since the victims are such a crucial part of the ‘case.'”
“NTA obviously. OP, I recommend responding to that email so that he doesn’t hurt other people (after all, who says that his antisemitism stops at unfriending people?) but ultimately it’s your call.”
“If you think it’s going to be a big burden on you or that you might be putting yourself in the line of fire, you don’t have to, though.”~litefagami
And people sympathized with OP’s predicament all too strongly.
“NTA. How did he expect this to play out? If he knew being blatantly antisemitic would get him in trouble, wouldn’t it have made more sense to…I don’t know, not be blatantly antisemitic?”
“You don’t have to turn a blind eye to bigotry. Tell the board member and let them finish handling this. At the very least, quit feeling guilty about having a problem with not being treated with basic respect.”~mm172
“NTA. He was being racist, you not only saved yourself but other Jewish people in your school.”
“‘I told on him” and ‘he’s in trouble.’”
“I don’t know what he expects.”
“‘I ended up getting an email from someone on the board of the school asking for what happened but I didn’t reply.'”
“Op you should reply because of my first reason, you did the right thing.”~FireteamComics
“NTA. Sounds like you just faced some pretty blatant antisemitism.”
“That’s not allowed in college, and if he’s comfortable telling that to you after being your friend for a bit, imagine what he would be comfortable telling Jews he hadn’t known for a month before finding out.”
“Antisemetism is hard to handle, esp when you come from a place w a lot of Jews to a lot less. I’m sorry, it’s a sucky feeling, I’ve been there before.”~subbyftmboi
“Save that text message and forward it along with your reply to prove that he does, in fact, have a problem with you being Jewish.”
“Please don’t sweep this under the rug. This is serious.”
“Don’t try to figure out why racists are racist – the basic answer is they hate themselves, their lives and they’re miserable, but instead of fixing what’s wrong with them, personally, they blame and attack a group of people that they expect can’t or won’t fight back.”
“Fight back. NTA.”~AllFatherElena
Coming up against bigotry can be paralyzing. When someone hates you just simply for who you are, there is no reasoning with that.
OP did the right thing, but will continue to deal with ugly fallout. Hopefully she finds strength in the support she found from others.