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December 19, 2014

Oh Boy: Woman Who Started #IllRideWithYou Viral Meme Admits... It Pretty Much Didn't Happen, and Was Mostly Imagined

After the Sheik killed two people, the media turned to praising Islam and highlighting the plight of Muslims in the West, because that's what we always do after a Muslim kills people in the West: We praise Islam, and then worry about what hypothetical crimes Westerners may commit against Muslims.

Kinda skipping over the actual crimes a Muslim has just committed against Westerners.

By the way: That's kind of a two-fer for al Qaeda and ISIS, isn't it? Not only do they get the terrorism and murder and fear they seek, but then they get the Western media praising Islam as the world's most peaceful faith in the aftermath of the slaughter, don't they?

Do we want to give them free two-fers like this?

Anyway, so after a bloodthirsty sheikh (is there any other kind?) murders two people and holds a coffee shop hostage, of course we have to turn to talking about how awful Westerners are to Muslim, because, obviously, that's the storyline when two non-Muslims lay dead, murdered by a Muslim.

But it turns out the story the media forced on us for twenty-four hours was pretty much a lie.

The story went like this: A woman saw a Muslim woman on a subway car. The non-Muslim people were staring at the Muslim woman hatefully, because we're full of hate, even though we don't seem to murder Muslims, but instead seem to be murdered by Muslims, but apparently we're hateful for occasionally noticing that.

So the evil Christians are staring at the Muslim woman, making her uncomfortable, until at last she removes her hajib, in a silent, shameful submission to the hateful glares of the cultural-imperialist Christians.

And then the Muslim woman gets off the subway, because she's still hounded by hate, but this nice progressive woman gets off with her, in a show of solidarity, and says to her: "I'll ride with you."

And the media read their twitter accounts on the air for 24 hours, repeating this wonderful story.

Small problem: It's not true. It never was. The woman who originally reported the story on FaceBook now "confesses" (her words) that many details were simply invented, or, as she calls it, "editorialized."

Confession time. In my Facebook status, I editorialised. She wasn't sitting next to me. She was a bit away, towards the other end of the carriage. Like most people she had been looking at her phone, then slowly started to unpin her scarf.

Tears sprang to my eyes and I was struck by feelings of anger, sadness and bitterness. It was in this mindset that I punched the first status update into my phone, hoping my friends would take a moment to think about the victims of the siege who were not in the cafe.

I spent the rest of the journey staring--rudely--at the back of her uncovered head. I wanted to talk to her, but had no idea what to say. Anything that came to mind seemed tokenistic and patronising. She might not even be Muslim or she could have just been warm! Besides, I was in the “quiet carriage” where even conversation is banned.

By sheer fluke, we got off at the same station, and some part of me decided saying something would be a good thing. Rather than quiz her about her choice of clothing, I thought if I simply offered to walk her to her destination, it might help.

It’s hard to describe the moment when humans, and complete strangers, have a conversation with no words. I wanted to tell her I was sorry for so many things—for overstepping the mark, for making assumptions about a complete stranger and for belonging to a culture where racism was part of her everyday experience.

But none of those words came out, and our near silent encounter was over in a moment.

My second status was written as a heartbreaking postscript to my first. While the woman appeared to appreciate my gesture, we had both left defeated and deflated. What good is one small action against an avalanche of ignorance?

So:

1. She's not sure the woman was Muslim.

2. She's not sure the woman took off her scarf due to the glares of hatred. She notes it could have just been hot. She also now says the woman had mostly been looking at her phone -- and it's hard to notice the scorn of the crowd when you're reading FaceBook on your phone.

3. She never actually said, "I'll ride with you" to the woman. In fact, she never said anything to her. She just wanted to say it.


But whatever.

The media doesn't do news. The media does narratives.

They're easier and they tell the story the media wants to tell, whether they're true or not.


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posted by Ace at 02:47 PM

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