The conductor firmly confronted the harasser, insisting that she get off the train and warning her against further disrespectful behavior.
People are highlighting the importance of speaking up when they witness something inappropriate happening in public. As much as the accused, to a certain extent, bystanders are responsible for encouraging and not interfering with wrongdoings. In a recent incident, a fellow passenger started making Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic remarks to two Muslim women. The Connecticut train conductor who stepped up is being praised online for handling a bigoted train passenger who harassed Muslim women wearing hijabs.
When several other passengers complained about the woman, the conductor took swift action and confronted her. Sometimes keeping quiet does not make you the bigger person. The offensive comments Muslim women reported occurred before they began filming. The statements the woman spewed at them on camera were not only disgusting but appeared to stem from many of the hater's made-up accusatory theories. "It smells like feces eaters, doesn't it?" the woman was heard saying at the beginning of @mrwa043's TikTok video.
When she ran out of insults, she resorted to using hate speech against other minority groups. However, the woman who posted the video stated in her caption that before beginning to film, she had hit all of the usual Islamophobic and xenophobic bases. "As she took her seat, she looked at us and started shouting how Obama's to blame for letting foreign exchange students into this country. She made comments on how, in her opinion, they overstay their visas and don't have a right in this country. She blamed law enforcement for not checking up on the status of 'these illegal people.' That's when my mom mother turned to me and asked me, 'Does she think we're students?' I laughed at her question and said, 'I don't know.' We made a decision to ignore her ignorant commentary," the caption reads.
"However, she became increasingly more belligerent as she talked about white supremacy, FGM and the sexualization of children. I made the decision to record her as we feared for our safety. Several passengers defended us and told her to stop. Some passengers got off the train and informed train workers," the caption read further.
Passengers who supported the Hijabi women didn't seem to influence the woman. The conductor then decided to intervene. "Get off the train," he said firmly. She then refused, claiming she said nothing to her seatmates and the conductor was none too pleased. "Every person in this car said that you were talking to them that way. You need to get off the train."
When the woman continued to refuse, the conductor confronted her in a way that immediately changed her demeanor. "All right. Look at me," he said. "You will never ride my train again. I will look at you and tell you you can't ride. Do you understand that?" He further went on to say, "I can't physically remove you, but I can stop you from getting on. Get off in Hartford and do not get back on my train ever again. You see me, you walk away. Okay?"
Some context - here is what the original TikTok poster, mrwa043, said about the incident with him, his mom, and the racist Karen. pic.twitter.com/pZpm0pYsn5— Doug Palmer 🇺🇸 🇺🇦☮🌊🌊💙 (@doug_p51) July 12, 2023
People in the comments also appreciated this much-needed confrontation. "I am so glad that worker stood up in your defense! We need more bystanders to step up. I'm so sorry you experienced this!" wrote a TikTok user. "Unfortunately, things like this happen too often, but that man standing up for you is what makes it special and unique!" added @RubyK.
According to FBI data, hate crimes increased nearly 12% in 2021, the most recent year for which analysis is complete, to the highest level since the Bureau began collecting hate crime data in the 1990s — and those numbers are almost certainly incomplete due to state-level underreporting. However, when it comes to Islamophobia, things have actually been improving in recent years in the US — both the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Southern Poverty Law Center found slight decreases in 2022 in both Islamophobic sentiments and hate crimes for the first time since 1995, even as Islamophobia has been surging in Europe, particularly in France and Nordic countries such as Sweden.