in Politics

London must not allow hate to be normalised.

This evening, I travelled home as usual on the eastbound Central line.

As the train left Stratford, things took a turn for the unexpected.

A fellow passenger turned and started talking to me, seemingly at random. Like any seasoned tube commuter, I immediately started to curse my lack of defensive earphones, and readied myself for an unwanted exchange of small-talk.

The next thing I knew, the words “bloody foreigners” had passed her lips as if it was a completely acceptable thing, and I suddenly felt like I was going to explode.

As if Brexit wasn’t traumatic enough, the last fortnight has seen the election of a well-documented fascist and racist as American president-elect.

For those amongst us who have long repressed toxic views of many flavours, the combination of this victory with months of dangerous, deeply offensive rhetoric amounts to nothing more than self-validation.

And our so-called leaders’ pathetic posturing towards Trump does nothing but compound this further.

I’ve lived in London for seven years. Of course racism has never been far beneath the surface, but I’ve never overheard a racist comment on the tube before now. This might be too small a sample to discern a trend, but I fear that is exactly what we are going to see.

In the past I might have tutted and let the comment pass, but my blood boiled and I informed the woman as politely but loudly as I could that I found her comments deeply offensive, to the general murmured agreement of several nearby commuters.

With our political class behaving as if it’s business as usual in the world, grass-roots resistance to prejudice and hatred is the only hope we have. If you overhear throwaway bigotry being aired in public as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, please don’t let it go unchallenged either.

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