Help! I Regret Letting a Nazi Threaten Someone on My Behalf.


Dear Prudence,

Tonight I was sitting on a bench waiting for public transport when an older Black woman (her race will be relevant later) walked up and asked “Is that yours?” I moved my things closer to me without looking up from what I was reading to make space for the woman to sit. The woman got upset and called me a bitch. Apparently, I had an attitude when I silently moved my things and continued reading.

A few minutes later a real Nazi skinhead walked up and put his boot on the side of the bench by me to tie his shoe. I knew what he was immediately because even though he dressed grungy, he smelled well-showered. I kept my eyes glued to what I was reading, trying to stay stony-faced, my heart pounding. Apparently, the rude woman next to me didn’t realize he was a Nazi and started laughing. She seemed to think it was funny that a grungy/homeless man was tying his shoe two inches from me. Here is where I’m not proud of my actions (or lack thereof). The Nazi heard her laughing and knew she was laughing at me. He whispered “I got you” to me and then walked over and physically threatened the woman. I continued to stare stony-faced at my phone. After terrifying the woman, he walked away and the two of us sat silently until the train came.

I keep telling myself that confronting the man would have escalated things to a dangerous level. But in the back of my mind, I think I could have stood up for her when he threatened her. I definitely don’t want Nazis “protecting my honor” when I was doing a fine job ignoring a rude person. I always thought I would stand up and fight in the face of racism, and somehow I let racism fight for me. I feel sick. What actions can I take to be better next time?

—Apparently Not a Nazi Puncher

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