I had been searching in my mind for some clever internet campaign that would contribute to the idea of countering hatred with love and kindness—and along came the safety pin campaign. I wish I’d thought of it, because it’s a terrific idea.
If you wear a safety pin, you say without words to people you meet, “I’m here for you. You’re safe with me.” A lot of Americans are living in terror right now, bone-shaking, gut-clenching terror that makes them cower and dread. Muslims, Jews, women, gays, African-Americans, Latinos—any of the target groups of Trump-style hatred. I hear for instance that the director of immigration—whatever his correct title—is preparing plans to begin deportations the first day of the Trump presidency. Imagine for a moment you’re a Latino born in this country but your aged parents are illegal, though they’ve paid taxes and been contributing citizens for years. That my friends is terror. Or the Saudi who was beaten to death because his skin was the wrong color…or the gay beaten within an inch of his life. Remember that poem, “First they came for the socialists….” It seems unbelievable but it can happen to any of us.
So wear your safety pins. Show those living in fear that you support them and are there for them. It’s not your call whether or not you think the fear is justified. To those suffering from it, it’s very reeal.
I like the story behind this current safety pin campaign. It originated in the Netherlands during Nazi occupation when people did not dare speak up. Instead they wore safety pins—men tucked them under the collar, while women generally pinned them on the inside of their hems. I suppose at the right moment they flashed these surreptitiously to give reassurance and comfort.
We can do no less. A small step but an important one.