Thursday, 14 July 2005

"Insensitive" - Jann Arden, 1995

I've just had a very odd experience.

Today, throughout the UK (and hopefully in other parts of the world as well), we observed two minutes of silence at noon to honor the victims of the terrorist bombs in London just one week ago today. I had understood that people in London were being encouraged to leave their homes and offices at noon and go outside to show solidarity with the silent tribute. Here's a link to a photo, taken in London, by an Associated Press photographer. I didn't know if it would be handled in that way in other UK locations or not. But it least it was here in Oxford. My colleagues and I went outside just before noon, and we were really pleased to see that others had done the very same thing. Using my mobile's camera, I snapped this shot across St Aldates, across from our office. Even some Oxford municipal workers stopped what they were doing, pulling their vehicles over to the side of the roadway.

So you may be wondering why I've chosen "Insensitive" as the title of this Lord Celery entry. It's because of two things that happened during and just after the 2 minutes of silence, as we were standing outside.

The first was that a carload of young Muslims pulled up just in front of our building, just before noon. They stopped the car and just sat there. I thought it was a kind gesture, given that there were people standing outside on either side of the street. They weren't talking or listening to the radio or anything. I assumed that they were honoring the silence. However, just before the two minutes were up, another young Muslim woman came racing out of one of the buildings across the street. She noisily jumped into the car with the others. The driver did a screeching U-turn in the street, right in front of me, and they raced off in the opposite direction. So much for my theory about why they had stopped.

And then the second thing happened. Just as we were dispersing, a couple walked right in front of me on the pavement. They were obviously British -- English, I think, although I'm not sure enough of regional accents to say which part of the UK they were from. But as they walked by the group from my office, the man said something like, "Well, I'll bet most of the people out here are foreigners...and they are the ones who are blowing us up." My colleagues and I looked at each other in amazement.

That kind of mind-set scares the stuffing out of me at the best of times. Today, it made me feel extremely sad.



At 16 July, 2005 01:57 , Anonymous howard said...

Well, idiots walk the earth. Always have, always will. It is fortunate that most of the time and in most places they are in the minority. The man in your account condemned himself out of his own mouth. It saves us the trouble of condemning him. But he was wrong, as it turns out: the terrorists, it seems, were British.

At 21 July, 2005 15:59 , Blogger Janet said...

That's so very true, Howard. I almost shouted that at him -- "YOU STUPID MAN, IT WASN'T FOREIGNERS...IT WAS YOUR FELLOW BRITONS!" But I'm trying to be a bigger person than that.



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