Yesterday was a good day in some ways and a horrid day in other ways. We take the bus to and from work, the red and white limousine, the OC, whatever you call it. Coming home, on the crowded 98 Hawthorne, two mid-20 individuals, a little straggly and streety, decided that mouthing off was going to be their entertainment for the day, two seats from me.
Their target? Two young women in hijabs, the traditional Muslim head scarf, not the face covering (niqab) just the usual head scarf. In Ottawa, seeing a woman in a hijab is no more rare than it being Thursday.
The 20-somethings, one male, one female, decided that telling the young women to fuck off and go back where they came from was just the warm up act. Not everyone heard the two dimwits right away, so they yelled louder, the male dimwit then deciding that smashing his fist repeatedly into the glass window would garner more attention. More vile accusations, you’re terrorists, you ever kill someone, go back to your fucking country. You know the rant as well as I do. A vile, hateful, unintelligent outburst of seat kicking, window punching, swearing and standing up, threatening the two young women.
Through a little bit of maneuvering, a couple of young folks got their cameras rolling, some taking video, some taking pictures. Others decided that the behavior was no longer just fun and games and called out for the aggressors to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. A couple of folks, one I know well, who’s a six footer and looks like he should not be trifled with, stood next to their seat. A couple of other people joined in, creating a wall, keeping the aggressors away from the two girls, and advising the aggressors again to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up, a little louder this time.
One youngish woman was sent forward to alert the bus driver, another was on the phone to 911, getting the police rolling. More window smacking, more ranting, now from both of them, the female dimwit being even more hateful, with comments of you’re a Muslim cunt who just wants to fuck Indians, fucking terrorist killer, get out of Canada and so on. Then the female dimwit took a punch at one of the young women, connecting, but just barely. The wall of humans shifted, going in closer to the dimwits.
The young women and another mid-20’s Muslim woman, moved away from their aggressors, the wall of people shifting to create a formidable barrier of humans between the two. A fist was swung, nailing the female dimwit, who went ballistic, trying to claw her way out of the seat, but blocked by a few largish men. Knowing their game was up, the dimwits climbed over the seats and pushed their way to the nearest exit door, him feeling obligated to smack the glass repeatedly until it broke.
The bus stopped at Laurier and Cumberland, the doors not opening right away. A lot of people wanted off, now, not wanting to be anywhere near the situation, understandably so, but the dimwits kept punching the glass, swearing and screaming more racist bile, breaking the glass more. The door opened and they dove out, with one last string of racist hate and stupidity. Nobody felt like following them, or escalating the situation by further confrontations.
All told, the episode took a minute, perhaps two, from when the dimwits got on the bus at Mackenzie, to the stop at Laurier and Cumberland. The OCTranspo Special Constables arrived about a minute later, as uninvolved passengers got off the bus and got the hell away from the situation. The Ottawa police were another minute behind. Several of us stayed, first to protect the victims from anything else and second to give statements and share the videos and pictures of the dimwits to the various police agencies.
The rest of the passengers disappeared into the evening rush hour, not wanting to be involved.
One person, again someone I know well, took a moment with each of the victims and apologized, saying that they were sorry and this is not how my Canada behaves. He was duly thanked for standing up and standing with them. All told, there were four people who stood up, stepped in and stayed to give witness statements. A 20-something young woman, a later 20-something woman, a mid-20’s man and the late 50’s man I know.
All of the people who stepped up and stepped forward were Canadian European white folks. Two of the victims were a little darker, perhaps of African-Middle Eastern heritage and the third one was about as Canadian as you could be without wearing a red and black lumberjack-plaid hijab. All were born here, so “go back to where you came from” meant going to either Orleans or Kanata, two suburbs of the city.
The aggressors? First Nations heritage. I hated writing that down. These two dimwits have shamed themselves and their heritage. An elder would have probably taken a belt to them and given them a sound thrashing. Their actions showed what happens when you feed the dark wolf, not the light wolf. The dimwits were old enough to know better.
Are we going to make excuses, or let things slide? No. Pictures and video are with the police and the authorities are doing what they can, but they admit that there isn’t really much that can be done, from a legal standpoint, except for breaking the bus window.
The telling part, as noticed by one of the OCTranspo constables? The people who intervened and stayed were either in their 20’s or in their 50’s and uniformly white Canadians. Nobody in their 30’s or 40’s; they magically vanished, regardless of heritage.
So what did I learn? I learned that when it comes time to step up, I step up. I knew that already about myself and it’s been tested a few times as a first aid responder, but as someone who will step up and step into a racially charged violent situation? Yes, that is new to me.
I’m at odds here: Ashamed that these dimwits behaved the way they did. Proud that others stood up and stepped forward.
Would I do it again? Yes. My Canada does not tolerate stupid, racist, violent behavior against anyone.