Hey, it turns out it actually is the right thing to do to sit still when people are being verbally abused and do nothing to intervene. I know, I’m surprised too! I thought it wasn’t! I thought it was pretty assholish to sit like a lump and stare while people are given shit by a stranger in a public place. But nope! Nope nope nope! That’s the correct, non-white-savior thing to do. If you speak up you’re denying agency to the people being abused. Leave them alone, you colonialist!
It’s Ashitha Nagesh who sets us straight about this, in the Independent.
You may have already seen the video from Australia that has gone viral today. It shows a middle-aged racist in a train ranting at a young Muslim couple, making some confusing links between the woman’s hijab and the Islamic State, Al-Shabaab’s attack in Garissa, and Muhammad “marrying a six-year-old” or something. She made no sense, as hardline racists never do.
But cue superwoman Stacey Eden! A white knight in shining armour swoops in to save the day, protecting the couple from the onslaught of abuse being hurled at them from across the carriage.
“She wears it for herself, OK? She wears it because she wants to be modest with her body, not because of people like you who are going to sit there and disrespect her.”
Isn’t it good Stacey was there? The couple were naturally mute and incapable of independent thought. Hell, they don’t even seem to have names, judging from most reports. They needed Stacey to save them.
Except… they didn’t.
Personally I found this video uncomfortable, but not for the reasons most other people seemed to. Yes I was disgusted by the racism, but I also felt patronised. It is just an incredibly patronising video. The couple are treated like children who can’t possibly be expected to deal with a crap situation by themselves.