I stood on the Birmingham bus, carrying a heavier-than-it-should-be suitcase, trying to look through the windscreen. All of the other windows were steamed up, and I didn’t really know where I was. After figuring out that I had one more stop to go, the bus jolted, and instinct made me reach for the bus handle behind me.
My hand accidentally brushed a wrinkly white hand, and I apologised in approximately three different ways. Basically, I British apologised.
The owner of the hand, glared up at me with disgust, pointed his finger in my face and sneered: “I can see you!”
My response? “That’s fab, because I can see you too”.
His response? Alot of mumbling in his best English, which was difficult to understand: “Should be banned…France…should be….ban…not welcome…go away”.
Me (with a fake smile he couldn’t see): “And that is your opinion…”
Him: “English…England…not welcome…”
Me: “Sorry, could you repeat that?” I should probably have said ‘could you repeat that in English’, but the best comebacks always hide until stupid hours later!
And then he continued muttering, waved his hand in my face, and walked off the bus. Totally made my day!
Jk! What really made my day was the other man standing next to us, who turned to me, and APOLOGISED. He actually said, with real emotion: “I’m really sorry about that. Are you okay?”
I just managed a “I’m fine. Don’t worry about it”, before he got off the bus. But seriously, I wanted to high five him, and tell him that first of all, he’s mot responsible for the idiot with the same skin colour as him, and secondly, that was a gem move and I fully appreciate it. Thanks, fashionable-beard man on the bus.
Although, I have described the man as an idiot, I am absolutely aware that his opinions do not stand in a vacuum. I recieve similar comments quite often on the street, and usually just brush them off as ignorance which would be directed at someone else if I didn’t exist. I realise the intensity of hate that a human can project to another when reading broadsheet newspaper comments. I enter the comments section with the notion that broadsheet readers are intelligent, as stereotypes suggests, and therefore the comments are worth a read. I am usually met with a barriage of misinformed quotes, unreliable statistics, and open hatred towards ‘me’. They don’t know that it is me reading, but wishing death on all Muslims is a personal attack on me.
I commend freedom of speech, and appreciate that people can hold their own opinions. But surely, we can exist in a thriving multicultural society without those opinions being expressed through intense hatred, violence or intimidation (as with the example above). This is not just for those who attack me and my faith, but to anyone displaying general disgust and hatred for any other human being. Period.