There is a stylish, hipster-friendly, anti-discriminatory tote bag making rounds in the United States. The bag has a few words on it that are meant to enlighten individuals who feel that the Arabic language is a threat to them. The tote bag reads, “This text has no other purpose than to terrify those who are afraid of the Arabic language.”
Sure, the comedy is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but those who are smart enough to ask before judging will be able to see the power behind the joke. There are many ways to respond to the hostility that some people in this country are showing toward people from the Middle East. A person could easily respond with hatred or violence, but this tote bag is showing just how resilient the persecuted group truly is.
There is something heroic about responding to hate with a bit of comedy. The bag could not come at a better time. There has been a rise in hostility in the U.S. toward anyone who might be from Middle-Eastern countries. Regrettably, it will not be surprising to hear that a person wearing a headscarf might be targeted by hateful slurs or even worse actions. Some people would argue that the President-Elect has nothing to do with this growing hateful disease, but there is no denying that his rise to presidency correlates with the rise of this type of discrimination.
People who are from those targeted countries (or are descendants from those countries) are understandably anxious about being in the United States when some individuals are holding hostility toward them in their hearts. One has to remember that this country’s values are at odds with the actions that some Americans are taking toward this group of people. The United States was meant to be a land where no one is judged due to things like their religion or skin color.
The tote bag might have been a joke, and it is a beautiful response to hate, but it should help start dialogue, too. What has happened to this country? Has this country forgotten what it stands for and the freedoms that it has always fought to protect?
It seems clear that some people in the United States are willing to ignore the core values of this country. There is no way to answer the reason why some people feel that it is okay to ignore these values and be hateful to a particular race. This hate could be based on fear, which means that some people do not believe the core values of this country are worth fighting for in the face of danger. One can assume that a person who thinks the values of this country should not be upheld in the face of danger are not too American. It seems like those who proudly wear the headscarf and sport this funny tote bag are more American than hateful Americans.
The bag was designed by an Israeli designer who is not afraid to take a stand, even though the atmosphere in the United States has clearly changed. The well-known designer’s company, Rock Paper Scissors, has shown the people who are being persecuted in this country a way to fight back. It is probably his hope (and the hope of many who are feeling anxious) that the tote bag might help some people reflect on the joke. It may encourage people to let go of their hate. It should be noted that the bag is kind of awesome and, if for no other reason, can be used to pick up some fresh food at a nearby farmer’s market.