A tacitly racist policy on Asian sex gangs can only lead to further racism

It has been reported that 1000s of white working class girls in Telford have been targeted by gangs of overwhelmingly Muslim-background, Asian-heritage men. The story was broken by the Sunday Mirror and bears all the hallmarks of other, almost identical systemic matters of abuse in places like Oldham, Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford.

Given such major news, broken on Sunday, it is staggering that the BBC only pick up the story today and it has not exactly been prominent in other papers or media outlets. Most concerningly, it couldn’t be found in the Guardian at all. Not even hidden away, quietly at the back of the ‘UK news’ section. It was just unreported altogether. How can this be?

What is even worse, there have been those who have minimised what has gone on, or at least ignored it, in favour of other issues that, although ugly, are not even on the same scale. This discussion between Andrew Neil and the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, is revealing:

It is interesting to remember that when Sarah Champion raised this issue with respect to Rotherham (follow the link to read my comments on that sorry episode), she was openly and roundly denounced as a racist. She was quickly forced to recant before her inevitable resignation was demanded simply because she stated the facts of the matter. The powers that be determined that Asian men, particularly Muslim men, could not be implicated. During that tawdry episode, Brendan O’ Neill commented:

Contrast the treatment of middle-class women who have experienced sexism with the treatment of these poorer women who have been abused and raped. When a female Labour MP is called names on Twitter or a feminist student radical overhears a sexist joke, whole new campaigns are built. War is declared on ‘lad culture’. Yvette Cooper will call on women to ‘Reclaim the Internet’. But when girls of few means and little influence are raped by Muslim men, we’d rather not know. It gets reported on, of course, but it’s soon forgotten. It’s just too complicated.

Those who suppress open discussion of Muslim grooming gangs think they’re being socially virtuous, helping to maintain peace between communities. But in truth they have made a repulsive if implicit moral decision: that protecting Islam from criticism is more important than defending the dignity of white working-class girls. They sacrifice their feminism at the altar of multiculturalism. Their concern for women and the poor evaporates in the face of Islam. No price, it seems, is too high when it comes to ringfencing Islam and aspects of Muslim culture from public questioning — even the price of letting down working-class women, or at least making them feel like second-class victims.

This whole approach has the depressing dual consequence of telling white working class girls that their victimisation doesn’t matter whilst simultaneously patronising those they hope to protect with the assumption that they are not big enough to cope with any searching questions being asked about their community or religion.

How discouraging to discover that we have, once again, singularly failed to learn any lessons whatsoever. In the wake of all the media coverage of #MeToo, the unpleasant sexual power-games going on in Hollywood and the stories coming out of Westminster, the continual refrain was of speaking out to save others, particularly those without a voice. How selfless! It is not for their own good but for the benefit of those who really are powerless and unable to speak out. As Joanna Williams notes at Spiked.com:

Jane Merrick told all because, ‘I knew that by failing to act I was letting down not only my 29-year-old self, but also any other women who may have been subjected to the same behaviour since. More importantly, I would be failing to protect other women in future.’ Kate Maltby made a similar declaration: ‘It is true that I have many privileges that other women do not. That is why I owed it to others to come forward. When we see white, financially secure women saying #MeToo, we should ask: where are the voices that we are not hearing?’

Williams, perhaps unfairly, notes that despite these comments neither woman has mentioned Telford. I don’t think these comments mean these particular women must search out and denounce every sexual abuse case involving the powerless in order to maintain their integrity. Nevertheless, a question begs to be asked: what good has their speaking out for the powerless done when, faced with such people, nobody pays any attention? Their speaking out has no more helped the working class girls in Telford than had they not spoken. If anything, it seems to have pushed out what concern there might have been in favour of the powerful, wealthy women with a voice who have continued to place their own, albeit similarly wrong but eminently less serious, issues front and centre.

Douglas Murray has rightly called out the BBC for its deafening silence on the issue. But the Guardian, the Times and others have all similarly failed to bring it to national attention. As Murray, sadly but rightly, points out:

It is now not just abundantly but repeatedly clear that most people in positions of authority in this country never did want stories like Telford, Rochdale or Rotherham to come out. Not just because they want to continue being allowed to negotiate between the facts and the public, rather than just reporting the facts to the public. But because such stories spoil – perhaps more than any other – the pleasant, transient, but for the time-being dominant narrative which a whole generation of people in authority have come to believe in, or at least preach. Don’t forget that, as the case of the MP Sarah Champion showed last year, you can still lose your job in this country if you say this is going on.

The sad reality – as Joanna Williams so rightly pointed out – the Telford girls are the wrong sort of victims and the Asian men the wrong sort of perpetrators for the story to generate the attention it deserves. She notes:

Celebrities and journalists speaking for the #MeToo movement talk of believing the victim and helping other women find a voice. But, tragically, as far as working-class girls in Oxford, Rochester, Newcastle and now Telford are concerned, not all women are equal. The #MeToo movement demonstrates a nauseating degree of hypocrisy. Worse, it distracts time and resources away from genuine victims of abuse. Last week the MP for Grimsby, Melanie Onn, led a debate in parliament calling for wolf-whistling and catcalling to be classified as misogyny and punished as hate crime. Crusaders like Onn prefer to focus on random whistlers than confront the more difficult issue of gangs of Muslim men targeting working-class girls.

We are led to a conclusion almost impossible to avoid: if you are an abused, white working-class girl, you are a second-class victim, your perpetrator’s feelings are more important than your physical wellbeing and your dignity is simply not worth defending. This is not the consequence of a one time failing in the system. It is a pattern that has been repeated so often, with the exact same reasons for allowing reported abuse to continue without consequence, that it amounts to settled and determined official policy. It may not be stated in so many words, but it is practised with such widespread consistency that the conclusion is almost impossible to avoid.

When even an MP can say in the aftermath that the victims should, ‘shut their mouths. For the good of diversity’ without facing any consequences, yet the MP who dared raise the matter is forced to resign, the unstated yet determined policy is clearly in force. This is particularly worrying from the vantage point of an area of such high racial tension as Oldham. It was not all that long ago that we had the worst riots Britain had ever seen, centred on our area of Glodwick, because both the Asian and white British believed that the other was being unfairly supported by local government. What hope does a place like our have – with such underlying tensions that have never fully gone away – when the there is a policy to not only favour one community over another but to place one of them above the law while the other faces its full force for less serious breaches?

Glodwick, specifically the street on which our church stands, has just gotten over a murder that took place in broad daylight. The local news coverage was fulsome and the police effort swift. But how are the local population supposed to view this? An Asian man murdered in the street receives publicity – even reaching the national outlets – and the drafting in of other police from neighbouring boroughs in order to solve the crime. But white girls abused by Asian gangs barely receives a peep in press and it is clear that the authorities chose to turn a blind eye for so long.

Nobody wants to see groups such as Britain First and their ilk using such issues to spread their racist bile. But, to be brutally frank, I know they will be back in Oldham town centre (and places like these) making hay with this news, or more specifically, the total lack of it. If the matter had been dealt with swiftly and justly, their noise would come and go with few paying it any heed. Their claims would be baseless. But they will inevitably get a hearing by some. Why? Because the explicit racism of Britain First and the like has been given credible fodder by the tacit racism of those refusing to acknowledge or deal with the problem. Whilst those ensconced in their London bubble will see barely notice a ripple, areas like Oldham, Rochdale and Bradford will be affected.

Do remember this next time MPs bang on about xenophobia and the nastiness they perceive attended the Brexit vote. When MPs next pontificate about the nasty underbelly of the UK, particularly when they patronise areas full of racists in cultural backwaters, you tell me, dear reader, who caused the problem?

Postscript: having finished writing this post, I almost immediately saw the following on Twitter

I feel sorry for Rupa Huq. I am aware of two other Muslim MPs who have received similar packages. They are quite right that it is entirely unacceptable. And yet, this rather serves to underline my point. Huq has given interviews about this issue and it has been covered in the press (I originally saw the story this morning). There doesn’t seem any issue in covering this story and yet to hear anything about Telford one has to do a bit of digging around.