First of all, let me make it clear that I'm no fan of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. Born in Uganda, she's a British Muslim columnist who contributes regularly to the left-wing Independent, supports the Liberal Democrats, and has a habit of saying unpleasant things about white men. Her opinions on the issues of the day are, by and large, pretty much what you'd expect them to be given her religious, professional, and political affiliations. (Example: she complained on Question Time that Osama bin Laden hadn't been given a proper burial.)
Still, I had to give her a cheer -- not two or three cheers, mind you, but one -- for an article that ran in the Daily Mail on Thursday. It was occasioned by a new report from the British government's Office of the Children's Commission (OCC) summarizing the results of an investigation into the sexual abuse of young girls by gangs and groups. The report, noted Alibhai-Brown in her Daily Mail piece, "concludes that agencies that should have helped" many of these abused girls either "didn't hear their stories or look after them as they should have." Yet the OCC itself, Alibhai-Brown charged, was burdened by its own version of the same hear-no-evil affliction: as she put it, the authors of the report, headed up by Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz, "try hard to side-step some difficult facts and even warn the rest of us from going where they have chosen not to tread."
Alibhai-Brown illustrates her point by zeroing in on this sentence by Berelowitz & co.: "Perpetrators come from all ethnic groups, and so do their victims -- contrary to what some may wish to believe." In response to which Alibhai-Brown offers this comment: "Yes, we know they come from all backgrounds. But that rather cutting second line is directed at people like me who believe that in some British cities -- especially in the North of England -- circles of sexual hell for young girls are run by gangs of Muslim men (most of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage) who mostly prey on white girlsâ¦.To generalise their crimes, and lump them in with all the other abusers across the country, is to deny what the victims of these men and their families are saying about the abuse that has gone on."
Indeed. Of course, the OCC's statement about perpetrators coming "from all ethnic groups" is yet another example of the handy PC dodge whereby the link between Islam and pretty much any of its more horrific aspects can be swept away by means of a simple rhetorical formula. For example: "Honor killings occur in a wide range of religions." Or: "Female genital mutilation is not an exclusively Islamic phenomenon." Or: "The practice of forced marriages is not restricted to Muslim families." All true -- and all cynically designed to avoid the uncomfortable statistical reality, and to protect the speaker from being accused of racism or Islamophobia. (It's no surprise that ITV's brief online account of the OCC report actually made that insipid truism its headline: "Report: Child exploiters 'come from all ethnic groups.'")
"The report," notes Alibhai-Brown, "points out that 28 per cent of the victims they found were of black and Asian background. But it doesn't state what it should have: that some of the worst long-term abuse is carried out by mainly British Pakistani men targeting lost young white girls, often from troubled or poor familiesâ¦.The children are neglected and hungry for love. The men offer treats, car rides and kebabs, then drugs and alcohol; and then they corrupt them." Alibhai-Brown argues that while authorities fear "that the racial aspects of child sex gangs will be hijacked by groups such as the English Defence League," it is important to "confront some of the values that drive such men to prey on white females" and to look squarely at "some Asian cultural assumptions that make the paedophiles feel no guilt or shame about what they do."
Exactly which "values" and "Asian cultural assumptions" is Alibhai-Brown talking about? Alas, she doesn't say. That's where her article ends: with a gutsy-sounding call to face up to "values" and "Asian cultural assumptions" that, it appears, she would prefer not to identify at the present juncture.
What to say about this? Well, first of all, anyone who is genuinely interested in facing up to the truth of these matters needs to stop talking, as Alibhai-Brown does incessantly in her article, about race. This is not about race but about religion -- not about black and white but about Muslim and infidel. Alibhai-Brown wants to be seen as bravely pulling back a curtain on an ugly reality, but her repeated reference to dark-hued men and "white girls," and her use of that cowardly, dishonest (and, alas, ubiquitous) British euphemism "Asian" is nothing more than a way of skirting the truth -- namely, that the "cultural assumptions" at work here aren't "Asian" -- aren't Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mongolian, or Thai -- but Islamic. As she and most of her readers well know, countless Muslim boys are brought up to view infidel females as little more than whores whose "immodest" attire makes them legitimate targets for physical assault. Most Westerners who are seriously concerned about these matters have long since learned that the Koran itself condones such conduct, and that in cases of rape it is the victims, not the perpetrators, who are considered the guilty parties. These repulsive facts have been widely known in Europe for many years now.
For heaven's sake, as long ago as September 6, 2001 -- I've cited this article before, and I'll cite it again -- the social anthropologist Unni Wikan told the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet that it didn't surprise her that 65 percent of rapists in Oslo were "non-Western men" (that's the Norwegian version of "Asian"), because, as she explained, "many immigrants" (that's another euphemism -- she's not talking about immigrants from Canada) "think that Norwegian women are sending them signals that they want sexual contact." Wikan, while serving up a rather pro forma-ish acknowledgment that rape is "never acceptable," went on to make it sound, well, pretty darn acceptable. Noting that "rapists in most Muslim countries are hardly punished" and that most people in those places "feel that women are responsible for the rape," she argued that "it's reasonable for immigrants to bring such attitudes with them when they move here." Their misunderstandings, in short, are "understandable." By contrast, the naivete of many Norwegian women about Muslim views on rape is not understandable but, contrarily, "startling"; those women, Wikan insisted, "must realize that we live in a multicultural society, and adapt themselves to it."
Wikan's position -- she actually declared that Western women raped by Muslim men are partially responsible for their own fate -- may have been reprehensible, but in retrospect, at least, one has to admire her frankness about the Islam-rape nexus. But then, that Dagbladet article appeared before 9/11 -- a full five days before. Since that fateful day, the willingness of Westerners in the public eye to connect these particular dots has declined significantly. Back in 2007, for instance, the London Times reported that a number of "Asian" men in Britain were forcing their attentions upon perhaps hundreds of "white girls as young as twelve," but that the police weren't doing anything about it because they feared "upsetting race relations." "Asian," "white," "race": how stubbornly determined the Times was to avoid the topic of Islam! Then, in 2010, as Alibhai-Brown herself points out, a police report noted that "gangs of Asian males" were "exploiting young white females," one of whom told the Daily Mail at the time that most of these gangsters "are Asians of Pakistani origin. But very few of the authorities will say this." And in this context, needless to say, virtually none of them would breathe the word Muslim.
So it goes, year after year. All that changes is the incidence of these crimes, which continues to climb along with the population of European Muslims. And year by year the government reports keep coming -- providing a pleasant illusion that something is actually being done, even as they persist in delicately sidestepping the one little detail that explains everything.