Surprise! Woman who started viral "I'll ride with you" story admits it was a complete fake
And here we go with yet another viral story that virtually every media outlet drooled over, and none of them cared to fact check it. As it turns out, that viral story about an Australian woman offering to ride the train with a Muslim woman who was self-conscious about wearing her hijab after the Sydney Siege never happened.
The story is a complete fantasy, so admits Rachael Jacobs, the woman who started the whole thing.
Confession time. In my Facebook status, I editorialised. She wasn’t sitting next to me. She was a bit away, towards the other end of the carriage. Like most people she had been looking at her phone, then slowly started to unpin her scarf.
Tears sprang to my eyes and I was struck by feelings of anger, sadness and bitterness. It was in this mindset that I punched the first status update into my phone, hoping my friends would take a moment to think about the victims of the siege who were not in the cafe.
I spent the rest of the journey staring—rudely—at the back of her uncovered head. I wanted to talk to her, but had no idea what to say. Anything that came to mind seemed tokenistic and patronising. She might not even be Muslim or she could have just been warm! Besides, I was in the “quiet carriage” where even conversation is banned.
By sheer fluke, we got off at the same station, and some part of me decided saying something would be a good thing. Rather than quiz her about her choice of clothing, I thought if I simply offered to walk her to her destination, it might help.
It’s hard to describe the moment when humans, and complete strangers, have a conversation with no words. I wanted to tell her I was sorry for so many things—for overstepping the mark, for making assumptions about a complete stranger and for belonging to a culture where racism was part of her everyday experience.
But none of those words came out, and our near silent encounter was over in a moment.
My second status was written as a heartbreaking postscript to my first. While the woman appeared to appreciate my gesture, we had both left defeated and deflated. What good is one small action against an avalanche of ignorance?
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So, the woman’s head scarf may not have been a hijab, and she may not have been a Muslim, and she may not have been self-conscious about riding the train. All of that was pure bleeding-heart fantasy from a university professor who wanted some attention online.
And boy, did she get it!
I could keep going, but you get the picture. Virtually every news outlet in America covered the story and reported Rachael Jacobs’s story as if it were fact. None of them bothered to fact check the story. They swallowed a lie that fit a narrative they liked and then regurgitated it all over the world.
This is the state of “journalism” today.
UPDATE: Just for comparison’s sake, here’s her original story:
There was no “put it back on.” There was no crying. There was no hugging. This story simply did not happen.