Untimely Observations

Why the Epic Tram Lady?


When I came across the Daily Telegraph’s first report about Emma West’s cri de coeur aboard the Croydon tramlink, I was reluctant to comment for the reasons already outlined in Andy Nowicki’s latest blog.

However, the Telegraph report—since updated—did suggest to me that any mainstream media coverage, especially if it went viral, would be worth commenting upon, and therefore worth keeping an eye on for developments.

My instinct was not wrong.

Mainstream media reports since have predictably emphasised the shock of West’s fellow commuters and YouTube viewers as well as the illegality of West’s speech. The early Telegraph report, preceding West’s arrest, suggested she was motivated by irrational hatred and even that she may not be in full possession of her faculties:

During the footage the mother - who at times appears to slur her words - begins by ranting

Nabeela Zahir, a 29-year-old journalist based in London, writing for the The Huffington Post, has since chipped in, deploying a familiar double tactic. With her opening sentence, hardly neutral in tone, she telegraphs that expressing views critical of immigrants and immigration has no place in decent society:

The racist torrent of abuse that spewed out of the mouth of a woman travelling on a London tram has left many Brits horrified.

Further down, Zahir, who describes herself as ‘British Asian’, repeats the tired old cliché of White racial identity being a mental illness and paints a picture of her adopted country as being riddled with nasty racism.

It seems not to matter that she was able to obtain a full education in British universities, or that she has been able to find ample professional opportunities in her chosen career as a news producer, documentary film researcher, television co-host, assistant broadcast journalist, writer and contributor, sub-editor, and communications press officer, who has worked for Channel 4, Channel 4 News, Waddell Media, the BBC, and ITN, among others, as well been published by The Guardian and received a George Viner scholarship. According to her narrative, Britain’s nasty racism is everywhere, always, under the surface, not only in violent forms, but also in all manner of subtle forms, sometimes finding expression in socially acceptable discourse.

 This is more or less the message emanating from The Guardian, where Sunny Hundal, commentator on ‘British Asian’ identity politics and committed racial activist, who questions whether West should be arrested for expressing her views, but believes

there are still far too many Westminster commentators who think racism is a thing of the past

 and that West is a product of ‘the opinions of the rightwing press’ and its ‘biased reporting’.

The Mirror, a Left-wing tabloid, lays it thick with its biased reporting, broadcasting at full volume the message that West’s views are objectionable (highlights are mine):

Viewers disgusted at her comments brought it to the attention of the British Transport Police . . . Disbelieving viewers left comments on the video sharing website . . . One said: “She makes me furious”, while another posted: “So much hate, actually ashamed to be British.” … The woman begins her x-rated outburst . . . She then ignores a polite request from a second traveller to stop swearing in front of the children on the tram. And the mum's sickening rant then goes into overdrive . . .

None of the coverage herein cited, and least of all the self-serving commentary from non-White commentators, attempts for a moment to explore the motive of West’s frustrations, even though they are not unique to her. Evidently, for the mainstream reporters there is nothing to explore: West is a sick racist and that is all there is to say about it; she needs to be prosecuted, as Colin Liddell says, ‘to the full extent of the law’, lest others feel emboldened also to express their rage.

But why do these expressions of White rage at the state-sponsored policy of immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism never have anything to do with the state-sponsored policy of immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism?

It seems obvious to me that if the rage follows a given pattern, comes from members of an identifiable group, flows in the same direction, there is an abundance of empirical evidence supporting the assertions made, and politicians, both in Britain and elsewhere across the West, are so scared of it being seen or understood that they feel the need to suppress it with heavy spin and heavy-handed legislation, there must be something to it beyond mere psychosis or irrational emotion.

The sheer popularity of the video and the amount of commentary it has elicited in the mainstream press suggests awareness that there are very many of who, put off by West’s vulgarity, dare not admit to sharing her sentiments. After nearly 6.7 million views and nearly 160,000 comments on YouTube since Monday, the evidence is clear.