I did not have the weekend I had planned (and as I have whinged my head off on my facebook page, I won’t go into it in any depth here) but suffice to say that instead of trolling round the South of the country, meeting good friends and having a much-postponed and much-looked forward to tea and coffee with a new one, I was at home with Oscar who took until after I had booked my non-refundable tickets to let me know that he was very ill indeed. He is never ill – this was only the second time I had ever taken him to Dean’s apart from vaccinations, so it took me somewhat by surprise.
One very expensive vet visit later, I knew I was going to be spending the weekend checking every hour to make sure he had peed and therefore did not have the bladder blockage the vet feared might result. I was in a complete strop but, as M said, thank goodness he got ill before I left and thank goodness I didn’t need to take him to the emergency vet for an operation over the weekend.
I can’t describe how appalling I found the events in Japan. Not working meant I was able to view things almost as they happened via the internet. There is something quite awfully transfixing about a real life horror unfolding in front of one. I have never been one for rubber-necking at accidents, nor do I get a vicarious thrill from second-hand danger. I’ve been in enough dangerous situations to know that there is nothing entertaining about them, unless your baddie trips over his feet. But there is something still compelling about the immediacy of such news, brought to you on a screen and I am sure I was not the only one who was yelling for people and animals to get out of the way as the water rushed unmercilessly towards them.
As a result of not being able to leave the house and also of the events that unfolded, I spent much more time on the PC than I would normally. Whilst facebook groups tend to attract the idiot fraternity (in fact most internet groups have two or three prize flatulents amongst their numbers) I was pretty appalled to see that some had a certain schadenfreude about the whole thing.
Apparently, the events in Japan are “karma” for Pearl Harbour; for killing whales and dolphins; for looking different; for being an uptight society; for being a successful society, etc., etc and people who professed to be human actually thought this way. I can’t imagine having someone who believed that anywhere in my personal space.
And I was rather relieved that not a single person on my friend’s list uttered such abhorrences. Then someone did. It was unrelated, a description of someone who was, at best, a nightmare to deal with, who was causing them some considerable anxiety and was clearly a prize tnuc. But added to it, was a definition that fazed me completely.
To a degree, I think we are all capable, given the wrong circumstances, of being bigoted in one way or another. It is a defence mechanism. But a nasty one. Bigotry in action means – that person is worth less than me; that person deserves less because they are a different colour/ religion/ language/culture.
But, would that person have said that to me if, for instance, I had a profile pic with me and my Jamaican boyfriend or husband in it? Would someone have laid the “Japan karma” quote at my feet if I had a Japanese child? Or would they have just thought it?
The most interesting thing I found about the comment was that I didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to go “oi” but I am not one to start a war on facebook; I wanted to say something but could not frame it in a way that was polite and nice. Also, I had never seen anything remotely racist from this person before and I was wondering if I was over-reacting. So I shuddup. Which of course made me a partner in it; it made me look like I was colluding.
And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to say something but the moment has now passed. And then another facebook friend had her own encounter with someone who managed to be patronising and racist, all at once. It seems to have been the weekend for idiots!
But truly, who can look at the news and see those people (and animals and all life caught up in that horror) and go – they deserved it? What level of moron even thinks that this is funny? Can they not see that, but for the grace of the universe, there they and their loved ones go? What exactly is so bloody funny about people dying in vast numbers and horrible ways, of the bodies of your loved ones being unrecoverable for days/ weeks/ ever? About your life being turned over, in an instant? About people losing everything they hold dear? Of having to face losing your life and livelihood or having survived, to rebuild your life, from scratch, utterly alone?
And how can one respond to such ignorance, such hate wrapped up as humour? Whilst I have the darkest sense of humour of anyone I know, I don’t find either form of racism funny. Does the attempt to cast blame (much like racism) derive from the fear response – that if we can blame someone for their misfortune, then it won’t happen to us? Should we treat all instances of ignorance with love, understanding and a gentle attempt to change their view? Is this effective? I think not.
I suggested to D, my facebook friend who was on the receiving end of the comment, that the next time this happens, she should slap the person upside the head. Then I realised I should take my own advice. Be warned racist, bigoted morons, my slapping hand is primed.