The hijab was green, lime green I think, maybe a bit darker green, curled, wrapped, criss-crossed around her neck and the back part of her head, forming a green fabric circle around her face. She had olive-colored skin, dark hair, a bit poking out underneath the hijab. She looked to be in her early thirties or so and was traveling with two young children, one a baby who slept for most of the bus ride, the other, older, maybe five or six with a pair of pink moonboots on. The traveling trio sat in the row in front of me on the bus, an eight hour bus ride, bound for the States, currently sitting idle in Quebec, boarding.
The last time I had gone through Heathrow Airport, it was mostly cleared out, evacuated, on ultra high red alert(pink alert?), declared due to threats made by Al-Qaeda or ISIL or another affiliate about blowing up planes, to be carried out through the use of plastic explosives placed in the breast implants of Muslim women as well as through the use of suicide vests. I guess, because the threat was deemed credible to some, large parts of one of the world’s largest airports was shut down. For those allowed to go through, extra screening was, uh, given to the chests of women, just to be sure. That’s what I thought about over two years later, heading back to the States on a coach bus in Canada; suicide vests and plastic explosives. All while looking at this perfectly nice seeming, assumably Muslim women, sitting directly in front of me with a puffy white coat on with tasteful gold trim, with two kids, toddlers.
My thought, at least the nature of my thought, was not unique. The girl in the camouflage jacket next to me with black leggings and thick brown hair, up in a sloppy bun, elbowed me and whispered in my ear,
“What’s she up to?”
Actually, a more concise answer would be absolutely nothing, except the usual, mundane act of caring for children on a bus ride, an eight hour long bus ride, nothing besides that, but all of that nothingness was all viewed, picked at and analyzed under a high-powered microscope because of that thing, that scarf wrapped around her neck, all because of that lime-green hijab, all by itself , without a body, not very intimidating at all, but when wrapped around one, it signifies to many an enemy, perverting something so ordinary, so mundane as a mother traveling with her children as something to keep an eye on because you can never be too safe.
Thinking anything else, inviting any thoughts about potential harm or violence, thinking and/or acting on them is of course racist, which is then, I guess, hypocritical. Not to pander, but watch Fox News, watch CNN, step outside and feel the political climate, outside of your own homogenous ideologic friend group and see someone still wearing a hijab and say that it is not brave, not only that, but also an act of necessary defiance, refusing to give up one’s religion, even though the masses are openly afraid, racist and suspicious. Then again the masses are massively misinformed, but before I begin to dislocate my shoulder from patting myself on the back, I, the well-informed, well-educated person came to the same perverted assumption as the culturally ignorant or as the informed arrogant. Many other people nicer, smarter and just as or more informed will think the same thoughts, maybe even to higher degrees.
I blame the media, blasting images of Muslims, amplified by the ignorant, narrated by the arrogant, all in the attempt to add a negative connotation to a religion, a religion of peace, all in the attempt to preserve a de facto holy war, to preserve a powerful us vs. them narrative. Mentally, my list of entities and individuals to blame began to take up many pages, some loose-leaf sheets fall at my feet as the bus crawls into the city at first light. The five or six year old gets off before her mom, pink moon boots bouncing down the steps of the bus like a landing party. We are all safe, all forty passengers unharmed, but I had thought that maybe, just maybe something was going to happen. I really want to say it was all because of that lime-green hijab, but I know it was all because of me.
Originally featured on: https://listeningthroughtheblaringnoises.wordpress.com/