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 girls .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 families .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. (continue reading...)(...more)