16 May 2007

a question of etiquette

yesterday was lovely: a madrid holiday spent barbecuing, painting and appreciating the artistic genius of my friends. but there was one stain on the day, one situation that has left me with a bad feeling, as if i didn't handle something properly, as if i was not a proper hostess. after much reflection, i can safely say that it won't happen again, but i'm wondering, what do you do in a case like this?

what do you do when a friend brings her new boyfriend who is perfectly friendly, helpful at the grill and gracious...until he removes his t-shirt to reveal a swastika tattoo on his arm? what do you do?

my first instinct was to kick him out. nazis are, plainly, not welcome in my house. but, saying something might create a scene, might force a for-the-moment benign nazi to say something really offensive, raising the stakes, upsetting the sunny fun of my party.

so instead i said nothing, did nothing. went about my business, ignoring him, whispering to other friends, being appalled. a very polite simon told me that kicking him out would only fuel his hatred, would equate to coming down to his level. and what did i expect to change? it's true that while his tattoo said one thing, his behavior was quite the opposite: there were many gay people and lots of non-aryans (not to mention jews) around and he was hanging out with everybody.

what i should have done is pulled my friend aside and asked her to ask her guest to put his shirt back on because his tattoo is offensive. safe to say, future incidents of the sort will be prevented.

although at the time i felt justified in not confronting the problem, today i feel guilty, as if i didn't do enough, didn't do my duty. what do you think? what do you do when a nazi comes to your bbq?

8 comments:

bonobo said...

what do i do when a nazi comes to my bbq? two words: nazi burger!

seriously, though... that's a very interesting dilemma. are you sure it was a nazi swastika and not a hindu/buddhist one?

in any case, it might have been funny to open up a discussion on reincarnation, and invite him to lead it.

bonobo said...

what do i do when a nazi comes to my bbq? two words: nazi burger!

seriously, though... that's a very interesting dilemma. are you sure it was a nazi swastika and not a hindu/buddhist one?

in any case, it might have been funny to open up a discussion on reincarnation, and invite him to lead it.

zoe benedict said...

I thought about the hindu symbol as well, but upon further information, it became stunningly clear that this dude was not about reincarnation. Jacki, you were a wonderful hostess that day and every other day you´ve had guests in your home. I think a nazi burger might be tough.

tami said...

i'm hoping the bonobo is right on this one and it was just a swastika-looking tattoo?

but...a related question might be--what do you do when you're digging some guy and he strips to reveal ANY bad tattoo? it might be a swastica, it might be a burning bible (saw it), it might be a really cheezy and badly drawn gekko (damone) or-god forbid-an armband. can you date someone with a bad tattoo?

jacki said...

in 2007 a swastika means one thing and one thing only, despite various origins. it is a highly insensitive symbol to permanently affix to your skin.

it's not like this dude was wandering around a monastery in orange robes.

Paul said...

Nothing says Holy like barbed wire.
Here's a photo of it:
You decide... (Link To Picture)

Ariel said...

Definately... christian youth cross, barbed wire... there´s no doubt about this one folks. But hey, he made a mean burger when no one else was stepping up to plate... of course we weren´t gonna kick him out! Put him to work!

Lance said...

Paul thank you for the pic. Photo evidence is always helpful. I too don´t know the proper Nazi BBQ etiquette being as my grandma didnt teach me about that one. I think we may have handled it correctly. I spoke with the offenders´ lady friend and she said people did ask him about it. Being there wasnt any Nazi tossed off the terrace he clearly is a moderate Nazi!!!He was helpful, i liked him in the role of slave labouring over the grill. I too agree, that since the early 30´s in the western world it clearly has one meaning. Buddists dont flower their symbol with barbed wire.