A white woman in Portland unleashed a torrent of racist abuse against an American man of Lebanese descent after allegedly sideswiping his car. Video of the confrontation was captured by the man and is being widely shared on social media.
The footage begins with 23-year-old Portland State University student Bassel Hamieh discussing his heritage with the woman. He asks, “You don’t think I was born in Portland?” To which the woman responds, “You don’t look like a Portland guy.” Hamieh replies, somewhat incredulously, “I don’t look like a Portland guy?” The woman confirms, “Not to me.”
After that, the two argue about whether the woman hit Hamieh’s car. He insists that she did; the woman remains adamant that she did nothing wrong. The discussion quickly shifts back to issues of race and origin.
At one point in the video, the woman says, “I am late for an appointment. You have a huge accent. I have an American accent. I’ve been all over the world my own self.” Hamieh attempts to focus the discussion on the hit-and-run issue by noting that there is security camera footage to prove the incident occurred. The woman is at first unmoved but after a bit more back-and-forth, she eventually accedes to Hamieh’s request for her identification.
After that, Hamieh asks for her insurance card as well. The conversation quickly devolves from there.
While begrudgingly heading back to her car in an effort to retrieve her insurance information, the woman implores, “Who the [deleted] are you, anyway? God! Who are you? What’s your name?” Hamieh responds with his full name.
The woman says, “I knew it!” Hamieh mocks her briefly and asks, “Can you even say that?” The woman ignores this question and repeats her eureka line, before announcing, “I know where you’re from.” This prompts Hamieh to ask, “Where am I from?” The woman, responds, “The Middle East.”
“What’s wrong with Middle-Easterners?” Hamieh asks her. She says:
What do you think? Some of you are terrorists.
The three-and-a-half-minute-long clip goes on for awhile after that, wherein Hamieh reveals he was born in Portland, Oregon and that his mother, like the woman who verbally abused him, is a Christian. The video ends with Hamieh and a female friend castigating the woman for her driving etiquette and racially-focused behavior.
In comments to The Oregonian, Hamieh said:
She made the wrong decision to speak to me the way she did, but the issue is a systemic one. I ultimately decided to post the video to show that people like me have to deal with this kind of hate all the time for no reason other than we exist.
Law enforcement later arrived. The officer on the scene listened to both sides and the insurance dispute was eventually settled without incident. The woman went on to a dentist appointment.
[image via screengrab/The Oregonian/Bassel Hamieh]