Unlikely allies
June 16, 2016 10:20 AM   Subscribe

I need some help regaining hope in humanity after the last few days. Something that can help is to see instances of someone standing up for someone else, when you think they wouldn't.

You know, when someone is being harassed or opressed, and you see a person approaching, and your first impression is "oh boy, this is getting ugly", but then that person does the opposite of what you feared and defends the victim.

The redneck standing up for the black person.

The religious standing up for the queer.

The nationalist standing up for the expat, I mean immigrant.

You get the idea.

Preferably candid videos of real situations. "Social experiments" only if the situation and acting are believable. I don't think there's any What Would You Do episode that I haven't watched.

Reenactments are fine. So is people telling about what happened, be it in video, audio or written form.

Anything, really.
posted by Promethea to Society & Culture (35 answers total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Pakistani Muslims Form Human Chain To Protect Christians During Mass (also happened a lot in Egypt around the time of their various recent revolutions and counterrevolutions)
posted by Etrigan at 10:24 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South
C. P. Ellis grew up in the poor white section of Durham, North Carolina, and as a young man joined the Ku Klux Klan. Ann Atwater, a single mother from the poor black part of town, quit her job as a household domestic to join the civil rights fight. During the 1960s, as the country struggled with the explosive issue of race, Atwater and Ellis met on opposite sides of the public school integration issue. Their encounters were charged with hatred and suspicion. In an amazing set of transformations, however, each of them came to see how the other had been exploited by the South's rigid power structure, and they forged a friendship that flourished against a backdrop of unrelenting bigotry.

Rich with details about the rhythms of daily life in the mid-twentieth-century South, The Best of Enemies offers a vivid portrait of a relationship that defied all odds. By placing this very personal story into broader context, Osha Gray Davidson demonstrates that race is intimately tied to issues of class, and that cooperation is possible—even in the most divisive situations—when people begin to listen to one another.
(Has also been made into a play)

This isn't about a grand gesture, but about hard work paying off over time, and about what has to be overcome to solve really difficult problems.
posted by amtho at 10:31 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

It's heartening that this doesn't seem like a big deal anymore, but people were pretty nice to me about it. Lots of people took our picture, and there were videos, too.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:37 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

There is a damp tissue on my desk right now as a result of reading this touching story.
posted by rekrap at 10:44 AM on June 16, 2016 [14 favorites]

I don't know if this is the sort of thing you're looking at, since there's no video and it's more of an ongoing action, but Seattle Pacific University, which I always assumed was full of sheltered Christian kids, hosts tent city for the homeless on their campus. Yes, it doesn't seem that unexpected that a Christian organization would be helping those less fortunate, but in this liberal city, I'm always dismayed by how horrible and small-minded people are about the homeless. It's become very outside the norm here to welcome the homeless and it makes me feel really happy that SPU students and administration are so passionate recognizing the value in every human being.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:50 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

This was a long time ago, but African-American teen Keshia Thomas, protesting at a KKK rally, threw herself in front of a man believed to be a white supremacist to save him from being beaten by angry protesters. He was wearing a confederate flag shirt and had an SS tattoo. Several months after the incident, Thomas was approached by the man's son, who thanked her. She said, ""Imagine what would have happened if they had killed his father out there. That would have just been another person filled with anger, hate and revenge." Story and gripping photograph are here.
posted by FencingGal at 10:52 AM on June 16, 2016 [13 favorites]

I wasn't there, but this made me so proud to be an Upstater: Anti-Islamberg motorcycle rally fizzles as hundreds turn out to support Catskills Muslims.
posted by jgirl at 11:21 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

I wonder if any of the "YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT THESE BIKERS DID" videos about the work of Bikers Against Child Abuse are the sort of thing you're looking for.
posted by hanov3r at 11:24 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I need to restore my faith in humanity, I think back to the day I was driving on a two lane road in the middle of nowhere Florida. I was behind a shady looking van. Suddenly, the van stopped in the middle of the road. A big, scary guy who looked like he lived in a cell block jumped out. I was worried, thinking he had purposely blocked my way and was going to car jack me or something. But no! He ran over, scooped up a tortoise that was crossing the road, and delivered it safely to the other side, waving to me as he returned to his vehicle. That memory never ceases to cheer me. I hope it makes you smile too.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 11:24 AM on June 16, 2016 [34 favorites]

I can add to this list - as a British person, the first time I have ever been genuinely proud of a member of our royal family was today, when I found out that Prince William is the latest cover star for Attitude, to speak out against homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
posted by greenish at 11:30 AM on June 16, 2016 [9 favorites]

I was really moved after reading this FPP about a moving company that will move for free for domestic violence victims. I don't know how "unlikely" this seems, but since they are called Meathead Movers, this does somewhat contradict knee jerk expectations.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:31 AM on June 16, 2016 [11 favorites]

Self-proclaimed redneck implores white people to take white racial responsibility. The comments (on youtube!) for this video are actually quite positive, not a cesspool of crap!
posted by foxjacket at 11:35 AM on June 16, 2016

This guy looks and acts like a total redneck. His profile page shows a history of liking videos that are in favor of assault weapon ownership, and videos talking disparagingly about social justice warriors, political correctness, and feminism.

And then he made this video, calling out a church (I believe it's a Mormon church, based on the context I found it in), for being the only place in town that doesn't have their flag at half mast for the Orlando victims.

And just in case that wasn't confusing enough, way down the list he has this adorable video of a meltingly cute tiny kitten, which he has added to a playlist called "Happy".

People are so complicated.

posted by MexicanYenta at 11:36 AM on June 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

Does kindness to animals count? Because there's also the stories about prison inmates caring for and training rescue dogs, like this article describes. Similarly, inmates training dogs to become service dogs for wounded veterans.

Oh, and then there's the Animal Planet TV show, Pit bulls and Parolees, about a woman who runs a (very large) Pit bull Rescue, and also hires parolees to work with the dogs and help run the rescue. Here are a couple sample videos: one two.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:53 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's a story about a bus driver who shouts down a passenger who's harassing a woman in a niqab.
posted by foxjacket at 11:58 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Chiune Sugihara (杉原 千畝 Sugihara Chiune?, 1 January 1900 – 31 July 1986) was a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania. During World War II, he helped 6,000 Jews to leave the country by issuing transit visas so that they could travel to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family's lives. The Jews who escaped were refugees from German-occupied Western Poland or Russian-occupied Eastern Poland, as well as residents of Lithuania. In 1985, Israel named him to the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions, the only Japanese national to be so honored."
posted by praemunire at 12:02 PM on June 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

Maybe not bold enough to qualify, but today on the Here and Now program on NPR about Anderson Cooper debating the Florida Atty General (?), when Cooper's objectivity was brought to question, a second person interjected something like "You know, straight people have a sexual orientation, too. Should we question their objectivity?" (I'm paraphrasing.)
posted by puddledork at 12:13 PM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

Did you read about the Muslim women in the ice cream store in Orange County, CA last month? I found the shop assistant's response and the response of other customers heartening (as much as the Islamaphobe's response was disheartening).
posted by cecic at 12:18 PM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

In December Al-Shabaab pulled over a bus in Kenya and asked the passengers to split into Muslims and Christians so they could kill the Christians (Al-Shabaab had done exactly this thing previously in this area). The Muslims refused, passed around hijabs so it was hard to tell people apart, and said "Kill us together or leave us alone." Al-Shabaab didn't want to kill Muslims and wound up leaving and most of the people survived.
posted by hungrytiger at 12:24 PM on June 16, 2016 [15 favorites]

Many churches in Orlando have stepped forward to provide funeral services for victims, including Seventh-Day Adventist churches which aren't really known for welcoming gays and lesbians.
posted by AFABulous at 12:25 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Wesley Autrey jumped on the tracks in the New York subway to save a stranger having convulsions and had to cover the guy with his body as the train went over them. There are other subway rescuers too if you google for it.

Adel Termos, in Beirut in November, saw an ISIS bomber heading towards a mosque during prayers, and he tackled the guy, leading to his own death but saving dozens of others.
posted by hungrytiger at 12:36 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

National treasure Charles Pierce, among others, noted a remarkable address by Utah Republican lieutenant-governor Spencer Cox:
I'm here because, yesterday morning, 49 Americans were brutally murdered. And it made me sad. And it made me angry. And it made me confused. I'm here because those 49 people were gay. I'm here because it shouldn't matter. But I'm here because it does. I am not here to tell you that I know exactly what you are going through. I am not here to tell you that I feel your pain. I don't pretend to know the depths of what you are feeling right now. But I do know what it feels like to be scared. And I do know what it feels like to be sad. And I do know what it feels like to be rejected. And, more importantly, I know what it feels like to be loved. I grew up in a small town and went to a small rural high school. There were some kids in my class that were different. Sometimes I wasn't kind to them. I didn't know it at the time, but I know now that they were gay. I will forever regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity and respect — the love — that they deserved. For that, I sincerely and humbly apologize.

Over the intervening years, my heart has changed. It has changed because of you. It has changed because I have gotten to know many of you. You have been patient with me. You helped me learn the right letters of the alphabet in the right order even though you keep adding new ones. You have been kind to me. Jim Dabakis even told me I dressed nice once, even though I know he was lying. You have treated me with the kindness, dignity, and respect — the love — that I very often did NOT deserve. And it has made me love you.

I believe that we can all agree we have come a long way as a society when it comes to our acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQ community (did I get that right?). However, there has been something about this tragedy that has very much troubled me. I believe that there is a question, two questions actually, that each of us needs to ask ourselves in our heart of hearts. And I am speaking now to the straight community. How did you feel when you heard that 49 people had been gunned down by a self-proclaimed terrorist? That's the easy question. Here is the hard one: Did that feeling change when you found out the shooting was at a gay bar at 2 a.m. in the morning? If that feeling changed, then we are doing something wrong.
posted by Gelatin at 12:36 PM on June 16, 2016 [31 favorites]

In the Pulitzer-winning photograph The Soiling of Old Glory, the anti-bussing activist Jim Kelly (who organized the anti-busing protest) appears to be pinioning Ted Landsmark. He's actually helping him up. A later photograph shows him putting himself between Landsmark and the mob.
posted by Hypatia at 1:37 PM on June 16, 2016

This recent-ish story (previously) about Megan Fox-Phelps, who left the Westboro Baptist church after one of her hate-attack subjects started a conversation with her.

Also, this is incredibly stupid but I loved it: Yeshiva students give a hand to Spongebob
posted by Mchelly at 1:38 PM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

In my high school in the early 2000s a guy I knew came to school in a skirt. When someone called him a homophobic slur, our big, beefy quarterback slammed the harasser against the wall and told him "don't ever let me hear you use that word again."

This is a great question, thank you for asking it.
posted by chaiminda at 1:44 PM on June 16, 2016 [10 favorites]

A man in New York loudly accused two Muslim women in hijabs on the subway of being terrorists and everyone else on the train rose to their defense and got him kicked off the train.
posted by O9scar at 2:37 PM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Here are 12 TED talks to restore your faith in humanity...
posted by cecic at 6:14 PM on June 16, 2016


"Just hours after a series of deadly terrorist attacks struck Paris, France, on November 13, 2015, Ted A. Hakey Jr. slipped deeper and deeper into a drunken rage. Convinced that Muslims were inherently dangerous and overcome with anger, the inebriated Hakey — a retired Marine and resident of Meriden, Connecticut — snapped. At around 2:00 a.m., he grabbed one of his high-powered rifles, pointed it out the window at a nearby mosque, and squeezed off several shots."

With happy ending!
posted by Jacen at 9:05 PM on June 16, 2016

A buddy of mine does som!e work for ABC's What Would You Do: I totally wouldn't watch it otherwise but it's actually really touching to watch strangers stand up for each other and do the right thing on hidden camera.
posted by athirstforsalt at 11:21 PM on June 16, 2016

A friend of mine (an Indian-Australian woman whose faith background I'm not familiar with) inadvertently started #IllRideWithYou, where people could volunteer to accompany Muslims on public transport if they didn't feel safe (following an attempted shooting).
posted by divabat at 3:09 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's a tumblr just for this.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:27 PM on June 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I love this story from a couple years ago. A father whose 9 year old son is being bullied on the school bus reaches out to Chicago Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long via Twitter to see if he would be willing to give his son a pep talk to make him feel better. (the parents and children are major Bears fans)

Kyle Long does something even better than that.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:31 PM on June 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

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