My tram experience: pathetic but not shocking

When I first heard about the insulting ‘My tram experience’ video, I just happened to be fishing about online hoping that another politician had made an absurd or somewhat controversial statement in the past week or two about say, racist bankers.

It was as I scrolled further down the news home page on the Daily Mail site that I saw the headline and surprisingly, ignored it. From first glance I just assumed that it was some arrogant and unintelligent person being reported for having a petty drunken rant. I had no idea of the frenzy that the viral video had caused online or the extent to which it had angered people, and I add, angered people of all ethnicities. 

For those of you who don’t know what I’m getting at, and I’d be shocked if you hadn’t seen or at least heard it by now, 34-year-old, Emma West of New Addington, London, (she was identified and outed by press earlier this week) was secretly filmed on a packed tram as she hurled racial comments targeted at black people, “brown people”, and any other nationality that in her deranged mind wasn’t British (Polish people included). The offensive footage shocked the masses on social networking sites and users incessantly shared the Youtube link.

Piers Morgan even managed to tweet something along the lines of: “This despicable lady should be deported!”- back to where I’m unsure- unless her relentless claims to British heritage was a twisted ploy to cause trouble on public transport. Even so, fortunately for us this anonymous passenger recorded the whole uproar, which lead to the mother being charged with a Racially Aggravated Public Order offence under Section 4a- ‘intentional harassment, alarm or distress’.

Now if I’m perfectly honest, although I fully understand the international condemnation this foul-mouthed woman has received- it’s bad enough that she showed no respect for her young and impressionable son sitting on her lap or for anyone else on that unsettling journey, I can’t say that it shocked me to the extent I imagined before watching it. Maybe the fact that she sat there unnerved and not in fear of a physical attack shocked me the most, but the words themselves were no different I feel, to what is said behind closed doors, in BNP conferences and in many homes around the UK.

So what was it that really upset people? Was it the fact that she couldn’t comprehend that a non-Caucasian person could be English? “You’re not English, you’re black!” was a phrase that stood out for stupidity, and pointing behind her referring to Asian passengers as brown, of course that was disgusting. Or was it her brash language and swearing?

The crux of her argument, albeit without any tact, was that Britain had lost its ‘Britishness’. We just witnessed an intense sense of nationalism. I’m certainly not condoning her actions, but the only emotion that clip stirred in me was pity that someone of her age had not been integrated well enough to think differently, but let’s not pretend to be oblivious to the fact that attitudes like hers do still exist.

Some of you reading this may not like to tie any logic into her speech, but immigration was basically what she was getting at and it’s a serious issue, especially when it acts as a drain on social provisions and resources. Anyone within the state benefit system would certainly agree with me, and before you follow the tabloid bandwagon and call them all scroungers, bear in mind that some of those have put decades of taxes into the system.

I can only imagine how frustrating it must be when you’ve lived and grafted in any country all of your life, only to find that when you need access certain entitlements your name is placed on a waiting list way below your foreign neighbour.

If I had been there on that tram I would have undoubtedly wanted to slap the ignorance out of her brazen mouth, but she spoke for no one but herself, so leave her with her ill-informed opinion and get over it.

For more Comment: Nabaeela Zahir, Huffington Post,  Sunny Hundal, Guardian.co.uk & Anorak.co.uk

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