You’ve probably heard about Aaron Schlossberg, the lawyer who heard a couple of restaurant employees speaking Spanish to other Spanish speakers and exploded, threatening to call ICE on them. The restaurant owner posted the rant on FB (at the link) and the backlash against Schlossberg was intense. So he took to Twitter to declare that the freakout “is not the person I am … While people should be able to express themselves freely, they should do so calmly and respectfully. What the video did not convey is the real me. I am not racist.”
First point: if Schlossberg’s sorry he hurt people, he should go back to the restaurant and tell the people he threatened. Taking to Twitter feels more performative — look everyone, see how sorry and non-racist I am!
Second point: why is he even bringing up that “express themselves freely?” Nobody’s questioning Schlossberg has the legal right to speak, they’re just condemning him for being a racist jerk. I’m guessing he’s another example of someone who thinks being a douchebag is some kind of free speech stance.
But the main point of this post, the reason for the Goethe quote in the title, is Schlossberg’s insistence that the rant isn’t his real self. Sorry dude, but we are what we do. And you did it.
We are not what the wonderful person we see in our personal head canon. We are the things we do and say. Those things are the real us. Not what we wish we’d said. Not what we’re going to be some day when we get our act together or get our temper under control or we’re financially secure enough we can run an ethical business.
The things we do when we’re at our worst define us, just like the things we do when we’re at our best, or when we’re at average. They are all us. And we don’t get to pick which ones we’re judged by.