In 1995, I went on an Easter tour of northern France with a community orchestra. Midweek, on Wednesday 19 April, just after we had visited the killing fields of World War One, one of our tour leads suddenly announced to our entire coach that Muslims had blown up a huge building in Oklahoma City, USA, killing over one hundred and fifty people.
Of course, days later we would learn that it had nothing to do with Muslims, the perpetrator being a domestic terrorist called Timothy McVeigh, but it was too late by then to change the narrative. All that had been said could not be unsaid. The grumbles about Islam and Muslims on the tour bus had already been let rip.
To this day, I am still troubled by that incident. Even now, I don’t know why we — teenage musicians from an English town — had to be told so urgently of an event that had happened thousands of miles away. I don’t know why that seed had to be sowed in our youthful minds.
Naturally, I am wary of expressions of collective outrage. I fear what wheels are being set in motion. I fear where we are being led.