Monday 28 August 2006

My contribution to the war on terror - suspicion

Getting on a first class coach

Suddenly, I have found that I am being subconsciously programmed into the mindset of the war on terror as subjective analysis and profiling upset my peace of mind as I travel from place to place.

On my return from Brussels, I had the unfortunate situation of not travelling light which meant I could not move between coaches that easily.

Unlike the German or French trains, the platforms for Belgian trains in the Netherlands or Belgium are not signposted to signify what part of the train has the first class carriages which are usually at one end, so one has to stand in the centre and then run either way as the train arrives to the right end.

I got on, reclined my seat and dozed off as I usually do when I get on any moving vehicle where I am not the driver.

Passengers from hell and beyond

When we got to Antwerp a group of people got on, probably eight in number all adult from middle-aged to probably pension age.

The older men had dulcet sounding tones to their conversation, the middle-aged ones were like claxons at full blast and the women were like banshees shrieking at a ghoulish congregation of fearsome festivities in a cemetery at some utterly forsaken place.

I prayed they had second class tickets, hoping the ticket conductor would move them on, but no, they had paid to be in company and be completely inconsiderate of other passengers.

Then one of their number started playing with phone tones at peak volume, at which point, I should have gotten up and shouted some abuse at them, but someone else beat me to it, it only helped the situation a little.

Crude profiling praying for action

Then all this disturbance was done in a foreign language I could not understand, it was probably Turkish or Turkic and then I suddenly had a kindred feeling with those who had two Asians thrown off a plane travelling from Malaga to Manchester and I just could not be objective about it.

If only we could get the conductor to throw these people off at the next minor train stop for not conforming to accepted first class passenger conduct and speaking a foreign language to the inconvenience of us all.

Unusual behaviour feeding suspicion

Then when going to church yesterday, some four Moroccans got on the metro and rather than sit down considering the carriage was half-empty they were walking up and down the length of the coach without any order to whatever they were doing.

That really made many of us uncomfortable, could they be planning something like a mugging on the train or some dastardly terrorist act?

Once again, I felt like calling the police to see into what they were up to and get them off the train.

What is acceptable anyway?

Why can’t people just board public transport with the modicum of decency to behave in a generally unsuspicious and civil manner?

My fear is that I am slowly getting assimilated into a mindset that suspects everything and gets weary of people if they look or act differently, the problem is I can easily fall into the category of someone who looks different, and in desperate situations would I also get betrayed on needless suspicion and by atrocious bigotry?

This war on terror does make everyone vulnerable in these uncertain and interesting times.

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