Silence in the Face of Bigotry Inexcusable

Yesterday, my wife and I acted in a totally wrong manner, as a result of which we are very ashamed. We have no excuse and we certainly know better.

Let me set a bit of background. My feet hurt. I hate buying shoes because I know that my feet will be unhappy and I will suffer the pains of lousy arches and feet, generally. One result is that I tend to wear the same shoes over a long period, far beyond the point where they are presentable, far beyond the period in which they might have been stylish. The time had come, however, when my wife demanded that I get new sneakers (I still call them “sneakers” although they now have a fancier name: walking or running shoes) and a pair of dress black shoes.

I looked in the telephone book for a store that seemed to specialize in orthopedic shoes, ones that promised comfort. I found a merchant nearby and visited his store.

The owner was a pleasant enough man, certainly knowledgeable about his craft and the recipient of many years of specialized training and certifications of competence. Mr. H (as I will call him) explained all about my choices and we settled on a manufacturer whose shoes I had previously worn and found less uncomfortable that others. During the fitting process, Mr. H, saying that he didn’t know or care about our ethnic background, told a not very funny joke about three sons at their father’s funeral. However, he made the irrelevant (to the joke) remark that the people involved were Jews.

My wife and I ignored the aside and did not react to the joke. The sale was concluded and Mr. H said that the balance due was $275.00, including a pair of sandals that my wife purchased. I handed Mr. H my Visa credit card and he said that, if we were to pay in cash or by check, he would discount the amount due 7 %, to reflect the savings to him. This discount would, then, be $19.25. Since the discount idea was his, I then asked if he could just reduce the price $25.00, to make the balance due an even $250.00.

Mr. H agreed to the reduction and, then, said, “Is your name Goldstein or something?”. And here is where my wife and I did an inexcusable and unforgivable thing. We remained silent, gave Mr. H a check, and left the premises.

In the eighteenth century, Edmund Burke, an Irish politician and philosopher, said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Anti-Semitism, anti-Black, anti-Christian, anti-anything is, unfortunately, rampant. Those who remain silent without protest are more than just apathetic, they are enablers. There is no excuse for not taking action, even if it were only, as in our situation, walking out of the establishment without making a purchase. We did not tell Mr. H that his bigotry was disgusting and inexcusable. Instead, we quietly concluded the sale and, silently, resolved never to shop at this location again.

We failed the test and, for this, I am truly ashamed.

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