I had a strange experience on the plane from JFK to London. I was seated next to a Jewish Orthodox blind woman, an ex-pat from the U.K. living in the U.S. I don’t generally strike up conversations with people seated next to me on transportation because there is the inevitable awkward moment where I want to read and they’d rather continue chatting. This woman, however, kept speaking to me, regardless of my attempt to sleep or read. It was fine until she asked me if I had heard about the incident in Brazil, referencing the plane travelling from Brazil to Paris that went missing. I told her yes, but that I tried not to think about it.
She said “well, with my luck, it sure makes me nervous.”
For me, that is just not an appropriate thing to bring up on a plane. It upsets me that people are unable to recognize the fact that when you speak to someone else, you are speaking to an individual with ideas and fears of their own.
I told her “well I have enough luck for the both of us,” and went back to ignoring her. That is, until she needed help filling out her passport forms to land in the U.K.
She then told me that she was glad that she had an American passport, because “the U.K. was really going downhill because of all of those Muslims” and that “all Muslims hate Jews.”
I totally flipped. For one, that is not an appropriate thing to bring up to a stranger. For another, this woman was blind and therefore could not know for sure that I was not a Muslim. Also, that is just not true. I’m in Morocco right now, and there was once a large Jewish community here. In 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella married to unite Spain and kicked out all the Jews and Muslims. Jews were openly welcomed within the Islamic community of Morocco. This stupid sentiment of fear fuels hatred.