Letter: I Have Witnessed Increase of Harassment Since Election

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Letter to the editor submitted by Allison Walsh, Greenwich, Nov 17, 2016

I’m a skeptic, so when I heard early reports of hate speech, swastikas and harassment of people after the election, I thought, let’s wait and see what really happens.

This though I am on the board of an immigrant advocacy organization, and I have since the presidential election, spoken to many scared immigrants and worked in Westchester County with advocates to set up information sessions and networks to address whatever may come. So I am shocked to report:

Last night I attended an event in downtown New York City. I work from home many days, so this was my first real foray into NY, and the real world outside the suburbs since the election.

I got on the train to go home to Greenwich, and happily found myself sitting across the aisle from my neighbors, a Turkish couple who are here because the husband works for a US multinational corporation that asked him to come lead a major business initiative.

A big guy (6’5″ or so) with the standard successful financial guy uniform – down vest under blazer, the look nowadays – sits in the seat directly across from them. My neighbors have loaned me their charger, as my cell phone is dying, and are chatting in their language to each other.

Guy loudly begins saying they shouldn’t be speaking in another language because they are in America, leans in and, spitting in my friend’s face says, “It’s rude.”

He is quite loud and people in the car have stopped to listen, look. They talk.

Friend: I’m not talking to you.

Guy: It’s rude. You’re in America, you should speak English. Guy is clearly very drunk.
YOU SHOULD GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM, guy says.

My friend says guy should apologize. Friend is calm, but not backing down either. He seems a bit scared for his wife – but not so scared that he is cowed.

My friend is tallish, but clearly will lose this one.

My daughter’s teachers have been teaching the kids to be upstanders, not bystanders. I quickly calculate this guy will not hit me, a gamble.

I step between them and say, “These people are my friends. Please stop harassing them.”

Guy says thank you and kind of backs off.

Conductor comes and says a lot of words about moving, but guy doesn’t want to move. So my friends move, and I move in solidarity two rows behind.

My friends and I live in between two stops. They get off at the first stop, after collecting their charger and me apologizing to them for this person’s conduct. I move up after they leave; from here I can see that he has changed seats so he can stare them down the whole time. It becomes clear we are getting off at same Greenwich stop. He says to an Asian woman and me also preparing to disembark, “When you have been on this train for 35 years every day working, you can laugh at me.”

Nobody had been laughing.

Point is, if this guy, who probably has not suffered in the economy or lost a job to an immigrant, is venting this anger so close to the election, what are we in for? He is probably angry about something in his life, and immigrants seem to him like a very easy target right now.

This is real. Welcome to Trump’s America.

See also:

A Lesson in Humanity: Diversity Training at Town Hall Packs the House with “Agents of Change”


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