Published on: February 25, 2008
Last Friday, I ranted about an email sent by an MNB
user responding to a story concerning a Muslim woman wearing a veil who was insulted by a Wal-Mart cashier. (Wal-Mart did exactly the right thing – it apologized and sent the guy to sensitivity training.) But while I originally suggested that in today’s world, people have to be careful about what they say since even dumb jokes and statements can be interpreted as far worse, this MNB
user wrote:The "object-lesson" is that, if you want to go around looking ridiculous in public, you ought to expect to be ridiculed. This lady is the moral-equivalent of a guy with green hair, tattoos, and a nose-ring.
I was appalled. And said so.
And got more email.
user wrote:I sincerely hope these responses represent an insignificant portion of your audience. Those types of responses are more alarming than the story of the employee who perhaps (giving that person the benefit of the doubt here) unintentionally insulted a customer. Wondering who those people are, what company’s they belong to, what positions they hold, and how much they influence the day to day, hour to hour, minute by minute operations or business of their company large or small. Cripes, have they ever been in the same company and worked with me?
Because someone appears different we should discriminate? Because they may (or may not) come from a country with little tolerance of our culture we should return the ideology? Maybe arguable moral and ethical issues aren’t appealing to that mindset.
How about a “sound business decision”: Thoughts like that alienate whole segments of your consumer base. Would those who responded so callously, be the ones to earnestly apologize and send that employee to sensitivity training, receiving the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ acknowledgement of appropriately taking care of the incident? Or would they permit that behavior to continue and lose that peer group to a competitor? Hey, if don’t want to offer a nice place to shop, the place down the street will. Yes, tolerance is good business sense, but gee, understanding—profoundly understanding--your customers makes a better experience for them in your stores, fulfilling their daily needs in life, makes your business a place they want to come to/don’t avoid, enriches your employees’ lives, and by extension your locality, region, the world.
Revolution just doesn’t start at home, it also starts at work. Rant on brother!
user wrote:In reference to the person citing green hair, nose ring and tattoos: I was very disappointed in a student pastor I knew several years ago. A term was beginning at the seminary he attended, and one of the new students was heavily tattooed and bizarrely attired. He mentioned that he had fervently hoped that he would not be assigned that person as a roommate. Two seminary students, and one made a snap judgment about the other based on appearance! It certainly gave me doubts about the suitability of this person for the profession, but he has continued on and is moving up the church hierarchy to the best of my knowledge.
Hypocrisy sometimes wears a clerical collar. And it has been my experience that religious institutions aren’t different from secular institutions – often it is the most hypocritical people who move up the highest in the ranks.
user wrote:I don't have the time, nor do you have the space, to really go into it, but this is one of the answers to why the rest of the world has problems with the U.S. There is much more (economics, politics, religion, ethnicity, etc.) beyond the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (beyond state lines, and city blocks, for that matter); a little effort on our part to understand that would go a long way.MNB
user Tom Devlin had a few thoughts:While it was a very powerful and an overblown idiotic statement by the employee, It does show you that what he said has been probably been said in different ways by many people who may see someone who does not 'Fit In".... Just like that employee would if they were to walk down a street in the Middle East or somewhere in the Orient..
We take many college courses to help us in the business world but every school no matter what level should require a course in Anthropology... Not just Americans but in the world... We may all be different how we all think, act and dress ....but it is not meant to offend anyone.
Still another MNB
user wrote:It embarrasses me when Americans behave that way... I go back to my experience around 9/11 when I was on Grand Jury Duty and had to go down to the courthouse near Ground Zero. I would print out horrifying emails from friends to read as I rode the subway about their fears of minority groups from their vantage points in suburban, middle America...I would crumple the email and look around me in the subway car...never feeling safer than that moment when I saw the rainbow of faces around me...guess it's all conditioning or where/how you grew up.MNB
user Pete Marotta wrote:I agree with your stance on the Muslim customer who was insulted. In Retail, the customer is king. The store needs to apologize and the employee probably should be fired, not "re-trained". In my first years in retail, you treated every customer like a guest in your home, regardless how they looked, acted, or how you felt about them.
Customer service today barely means a manned counter or checkstand. This is not how you win in retail. No excuse here. The Customer rules supreme.
The other side of the coin, outside of the stores, we must be careful of political correctness. It has run amok and is a real threat to free speech. What has evolved is a system in which some people can say anything, while uses feel restricted. This can lead to dire consequences. Equal means equal. Lets all tone it down a little bit and just be decent to each other. Remember that?
user wrote:At what point in time did the onus for adaptability and assimilation shift from immigrants to the United States. I grew up in western PA in an area of great cultural diversity. Italians, Greeks, Croatians, Polish, Germans, Lebanese... My grandparents on my mother’s side came to this country from Syria in the early 1900s. By the time I was born in 1961, Jidoo (my grandfather) spoke perfect English without a even a hint of an accent. Yet when he got together with his family from "the old country" he took pleasure in the opportunity to converse in his native Arabic.
What these immigrants had in common was deep pride in their heritage matched only by their love for the USA. They learned our language and embraced our laws and customs. They applied their skills and work ethic in the labor force, they paid taxes, served our country in the armed forces and made tremendous contributions to the fabric of our country.
Too often today, that isn't the case.
I’m not sure I agree.
It seems to me that many, if not most, of recent immigrants to the US work hard for a living, contribute to the society, and pay taxes. It would be interesting to find out how many people serving in the Armed Forces currently are from families that have immigrated to the US during the past 30 years. (I’d guess a sizable proportion…but it’d be purely a guess.)
I do think that technology makes it possible for people to stay more connected to their origins than at any time in the past. They can use the Internet to read local newspapers from their hometowns, long-distance phone calls are cheap, cell phones are plentiful, and if you have a satellite dish you probably can get programming from the old country. The upshot may be that immigrants don't have to adapt to the same extent that your grandfather did, but I’m not sure that this means that they are any less dedicated to the ideal of being an American.
But this is almost all irrelevant.
These immigrants live in America, and the very nature of what America is supposed to be suggests that we should embrace them, not ridicule them for being different…since at some point, we were all
Furthermore, they are customers. Good business sense dictates that we be sensitive to their needs and concerns. Or they will shop somewhere else.