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Ahlin: North Dakota nice wins

My favorite scene in the 1991 movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" occurs when unhappy, middle-aged housewife Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) is waiting for a parking space at a supermarket. Before she can drive in, two girls in a red Volkswagen convertible z...

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My favorite scene in the 1991 movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" occurs when unhappy, middle-aged housewife Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) is waiting for a parking space at a supermarket. Before she can drive in, two girls in a red Volkswagen convertible zip into the space she was waiting for. When she protests, one of the girls says, "Face it lady, we're younger and faster."

Suddenly, the housewife's frustration gives way to rage. She takes aim, hits the accelerator, and slams her car into the back of the Volkswagen. And she does it again and again. The girls come running back, screaming. She smiles and says, "Face it girls, I'm older, and I have more insurance."

One of the funniest movie moments ever, it would be far from funny in real life.

The scene came to mind when I saw the video of the Mapleton, N.D., woman going ballistic toward three young Muslim women in a parking lot-not because it was funny, but because it began for much the same reason as the movie scene: Parking space represented the refusal to be treated badly. Unfortunately, it quickly devolved into the kind of ugly anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant attack our nation has been dealing with more and more since the election of Donald Trump.

Words matter and when the president of the U.S.A. targets Muslims and immigrants, his attacks invite citizens to do the same. Sadly, they do. A report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) cited in a July 17, 2017, Newsweek article showed "a 91 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes during the first half of the year compared to the same time period in 2016."

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The young Muslim women videoed snippets of what was said in the altercation with the Mapleton woman, but not all of it. They used the word "fat" a few times and admitted to an off camera expletive they'd said to insult and taunt her.

In response, the Mapleton woman could have used a putdown, such as "Do you eat with that potty-mouth?" and gone on her way. But she didn't. Sickeningly, the scene turned as the woman spewed anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim threats-including death threats-at the young women. That part of the video was chilling.

By the next day, the video went viral, and the FM area appeared to have the same problem showing up around the nation.

Well, not quite. Fargo Police Chief Dave Todd requested the women get together, which they did. The result was heartening, showing that something good can come out of even the most divisive incidents if the parties involved are willing to put the importance of getting along above that of coming out on top.

Chief Todd's words put it best: "We are all a little different and that is okay, in fact, it's good-if we strive to understand each other, accept each other, and respect each other. If we do that, our diversity can make us stronger as a community."

Ahlin writes a Sunday column for The Forum. Email janeahlin@yahoo.com

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