Jimmy Mubenga begged passengers to help him moments before he died beneath three security guards. And yet none of the passengers went to his aid. Was it because he was a big strong man being held down by three big blokes?Was it because they are fed up with freeloaders in our country?
Maybe it was because even as we witness such incidents, we are programmed to think there must be a reason for "restraining" the person…There has been in the past, and there will be again.
When they know that if they make enough of a fuss, politically-sympathetic passengers (or those who are afraid of the consequences of a desperate man or woman going berserk at 40,000ft) will intervene, there’s always a good chance it’ll be worth it. Mubenga was unlucky.
Understandably, when getting involved at all might be dangerous – say in a street fight – we tell ourselves we'd be asking for trouble if we intervened. But that wasn't the case with this flight. At worst one might have been kicked off the flight: tedious, trying, even frightening – but certainly not life-threatening.Why should I, a law-abiding tax-paying citizen, get myself kicked off a flight for protesting about a parasite’s removal from the country?
Tell me that, Melanie? What’s in it for me?
And I suspect another element is at work here. A passenger told the Guardian that when Mubenga said "they are going to kill me" it wasn't clear if he was referring to the guards or his political adversaries in Angola, "and most of the passengers were not concerned. No one was that alarmed by what he was saying". The assumption, it seems, was that Mubenga was a failed asylum seeker.An incorrect assumption, as he was someone given leave to remain who then breached that by assaulting a man in a nightclub.
But to all intents and purposes, and as far as the man on the Clapham omnibus is probably concerned, exactly the same…
This somehow made it reasonable not to help him, because he feared death only on his return. As if that exonerates us from doing or saying anything.It does. We are not responsible for all the Third World hellholes out there. We don’t have the money or the will to do so.
Thanks to Labour’s disastrous economic mismanagement, we no longer have the armed forces to do so either…
Ever tougher government policies militate against compassion, aided and abetted by public and private agencies' contempt for due process.We are suffering compassion fatigue, it’s true. But then, we were never, ever asked if this was what we wanted to spend our meagre reserves of compassion on in the first place, were we?
… the violence goes on, and we look away even when it is happening in front of us. How much more is going on where there are no independent witnesses, in special chartered planes, behind locked doors, in vans taking people to and from airports, in detention centres and prison cells?Dunno, but as long as they continue to do their job, I’m happy…
Loth (sic) as I am to point fingers at any but those in charge, there is a finger to be pointed at all of us.Really? Is there?
When someone in a plane full of people sitting on the tarmac is saying, "they are going to kill me", why not do something, whoever we may think they are? How many of us would have remonstrated with those guards?Not me, that’s for sure.
And even the two witnesses you mention did no more than whine about it in a newspaper, did they?
That’s the reality, no matter how much your small group of politically-driven agitators scream and shout, it isn’t going to change.
Postscript: The desperation of the 'Guardian' in trying to whip this up into a cause celebre knows no bounds; in one of the most egregious attempts to mention it every single chance they get, here it is making an appeaance in a column by Gwyn Topham on how we should be understanding to animal abusers:
That famous Gandhi maxim – that the test of a civilised society is how it treats its most vulnerable – is often adopted, rightly, in defence of animals. Even if our society hadn't sent thousands of animals to the slaughterhouse in the hours one cat spent in a bin, one might question the sincerity of the outrage. Even if most news organisations hadn't ignored the story of an asylum seeker who died while being restrained on a busy BA flight, one might question the priorities.He gets it wrong, too, as we've seen. He wasn't an asylum seeker any more, but a person granted leave to remain who repaid that kindness by savagely assaulting a young girl with a bottle...