On Monday morning Sydney time, a crazy man took a number of people hostage in a chocolate shop in St Martin’s Place, and over the next seventeen or so hours we waited to see what would happen. I felt the vast distance between here (San Francisco, this week) and there much more acutely than usual, and like everybody, I was very sad that it ended with gunfire and death.
It will presumably be some time before anything more than the barest details of the event are known, and it makes me queasy that the information void is so carelessly filled with speculation, politicking and bullshit.
But against the noise, and the rank racism of the tabloid press, there was a glimmer of solidarity and compassion: the #illridewithyou hashtag, which arose in response to fears that Muslims would be targeted on public transport in retaliation for the siege. It’s a tiny gesture, and plenty of people have argued that it’s pure tokenism, but it felt real to me. I hope it gave people some comfort on a horrible day.