The Spectator: where arrogant privilege meets bigotry

Rod Liddle has managed to outdo himself this past week, with two shockingly bigoted and ignorant articles on the Spectator’s website the same day. One of them is in support of the ban on minarets which was passed the Sunday before last in Switzerland; the other is a short blast about black crime and black contribution to life in the UK, which is what has been noticed far more and caused far more offence; it was the main topic of discussion on the Vanessa Feltz show yesterday. Liddle protests that he’s not racist and was a founder member of Rock Against Racism. Let’s see if that excuse holds water. (More: Liberal Conspiracy, Five Chinese Crackers, Clive Davis, Sunny @ Pickled Politics.)

Here’s the piece about race, in full:

The first of an occasional series — those benefits of a multi-cultural Britain in full. Let me introduce you all to this human filth.

It could be an anomaly, of course. But it isn’t. The overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community. Of course, in return, we have rap music, goat curry and a far more vibrant and diverse understanding of cultures which were once alien to us. For which, many thanks.

The “human filth” in question are two rappers who tried to drown the pregnant girlfriend of one of them who thought that being a dad would harm his musical career. A shocking crime, but not exactly one that people of other races haven’t matched for brutality — take, for example, Arthur McElhill, a white man from Northern Ireland who murdered his partner and five children, aged 13 at the oldest (and killed himself) in a fire when it appeared that his partner would leave him. He had a history of domestic violence, of attacking teenage girls and grooming them on the Internet for sex. As for the preponderance of young black men in certain types of street crime in London, it was pointed out that this is only true in London; the crime rate in Glasgow was just as bad, and the perpetrators were young white men.

Nobody disputes that the problem is a real one. However, it is racist to say that all blacks contribute to this country is crime, “goat curry” and rap. (I’m reliably informed that what he meant was curried goat.) Even if we were only considering music, there is a lot more to the Black contribution to British music than rap, and much of it is more wholesome than rap by a large margin (even if there is a lot of bad stuff too). I’ve only had Caribbean food once or twice but found it very tasty (the place in Peckham which served halaal Caribbean food shut down a few years ago). The statement would offend anyone, even any white person, who has any relationship with a Black person. Really, I shouldn’t need to waste any more time explaining why it’s offensive to say this.

His longer article is in defence of the vote to ban minarets in Switzerland, in three parts here: [1], [2], [3]. He alleges that the vote was a “riposte” to complacent media and establishment figure who play down the supposed threat of “Islamification”:

If anything, the Swiss vote was a riposte not to Switzerland’s Muslim population (which is a ‘small’ 320,000, according to [Roger Hardy]), but a riposte to Rog himself, or the many berks like him. In the last ten years the people of Europe have begun to revolt against what, at one extreme, they see as the ‘Islamification’ of their countries, or else they hold the more moderate position of being disquieted by the high number of Muslim immigrants they have been forced to receive, most of whom are antithetical to the indigenous way of life and have cultural values that do not accord with the resident majority. That they are told to shut up and stop being racist and Islamophobic by the EU, their own leftish politicians and the likes of Rog and Angus [Roxburgh], only tends to inflame the rebellion.

The problem is that “Islamification” is a myth, because you only find large numbers of Muslims clustered in a few large cities; outside them, you will find mostly indigenous, white people with no other culture than their own. The fact that there are large numbers of Arabs or Turks does not mean that all, or even most, of them are observant Muslims, let alone the sort who want to “Islamify” the society. The issue of crime committed by youths of such origins who are alienated from both their own ancestral culture and that of the countries in which they settle is of at least equal importance.

Liddle gets basic facts wrong. He claims that “57 per cent of Swiss people voted to ban the building of any more minarets in their country”. In fact, the true figure was 57% of those who voted, which was 53.4% of the population — that is to say, 30.44% of the population voted for the ban. There were two other proposals on the same ballot, and the turnout for one of the others (on banning all arms exports) was 53% according to Swissinfo (that could be a rounded-down figure, of course). It certainly reflects that there was a substantial core of support for it, but even if Liddle’s figure was accurate, it is still not a thumping majority. Whether such a vote reflects bigotry or not can be gauged by the kinds of arguments and imagery used to support it, which in the case of Switzerland included a lot of irrelevances and stereotypes.

The fact is that Europe has a history of discriminating against minorities, particularly when they do display significant cultural differences and even, sometimes, when they don’t. The long history of isolation and victimisation of the Jews is the best-known example, and they were established in Europe for considerably longer than the Muslims in western Europe today have been. We all know where that led — even after the Jews had made significant efforts to integrate and had mostly left behind the shtetl and the black clothes.

A word should be said about the “minarets as bayonets” quote from the Turkish Prime Minister, which is a common trope in this debate. The fact that the leader of one Muslim country said this does not mean that this is how most Muslims, Turkish or otherwise, see minarets this way. Erdogan’s fight never was against the West anyway, but against the secularists who have a stranglehold on Turkey’s institutions. The poem itself is by Zia Gökalp (1876-1924), a reformist of the Young Turk party who advocating abolishing the religious charity (awqaaf) ministry, banning the Sufi orders, a secular state and the “modernisation” of the Muslim family. Perhaps it demonstrates that the Turkish “Islamists” are nowhere near as reactionary or as fundamentalist as they are commonly made out to be, or perhaps he was just reciting a poem which has some resonance for Turkish Muslims regardless of who wrote it. Either way, it is not an excuse to ban minarets, particularly when a fairly large percentage of Muslims in Switzerland are not even Turkish.

The overall tone of this piece is par for the Spectator’s current course — it is, as I stated in a previous piece on disabled access to the London Underground, a magazine in which the most privileged people can defend their privilege (often by claiming that measures designed to uplift disadvantaged people are in fact no good or harmful for them) and play at being persecuted. It is particularly sickening to see complaints about white Europeans thinking their country is being taken over when the minority concerned is underrepresented, widely and openly vilified and widely subjected to discrimination. The magazine is generally associated with the Conservative party, whose current shadow cabinet is dominated by public school products including David Cameron, the leader. Arrogant privilege and bigotry are, as one might expect, easy bedfellows.

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