Lynton and Boris – Islamophobia isn’t news
Lynton Crosby is the Australian electioneer who ran the campaign that saw John Howard elected for four terms in office there, mostly on anti-immigration platforms. He also ran Boris Johnson’s mayoral campaign in 2008, and the Daily Mail’s report the above Islamophobia Watch entry is based on is actually about something Crosby is alleged to have said when he was running that campaign. Crosby and Johnson today both said they had no recollection of this alleged incident, which is understandable even if he did say them, because such things tend to stick in the minds of those who hear them but don’t agree with them.
Why this is news now is a mystery — the report suggests that the “source” is someone in the Tory party opposed to Crosby becoming involved in the Tory campaign at the upcoming election. Lord Ashcroft, deputy chairman of the party, is quoted as saying that Crosby’s help is not needed and he would become “a distracting influence”, while another source said Crosby is a one-trick pony whose campaigns always focus on immigration when they have other issues to campaign on and need to reach out beyond “core voters”. To those of us who have been following Tory politics since the 9/11 era, the news that Johnson hired an Islamophobe to run his campaign will come as no surprise.
As editor of the Spectator, Johnson ran Islamophobic material on numerous occasions, particularly after any disturbance involving Muslims, including the July 2005 bombings and the riots in France and elsewhere in November 2005. They ran a cover featuring the words “Eurabian nightmare”, and perhaps they had the excuse that Eurabia just meant Europe’s communities of Arab descent but the term was commonly used in the right-wing blogosphere to refer to the theory Europe being taken over by Arabs (or Muslims) with the help of “useful idiots” on the political Left. The magazine printed ludicrous stories by Charles Moore, Patrick Sookhdeo, Mark Steyn and Johnson himself about Muslims outbreeding the native population and “sacralising” spaces in western cities and setting up a “North Sea Caliphate”, exaggerating minor incidents that often had nothing to do with Islam (I filleted Sookhdevil’s nonsense here), and printed no Muslim view on the situation and no Muslim response to these bigoted rantings.
So, it is not surprising that a comment like the one attributed to Crosby went unremembered by Johnson. Perhaps Crosby had seen the content of Johnson’s magazine and realised he had no interest in attracting them, or that enough Muslims knew he was editor of the Spectator and didn’t care for Muslims. It is what convinced me that it was imperative for Muslims (long before disability rights became an interest) to oppose the Tories as they were a bigoted, nativist party dominated by rich white men, some of whom would not be out of place in a continental Far Right party. True, in government they have picked on other soft targets besides Muslims (as have their media), but some of us knew they were a vicious bunch of privileged, wealthy men with contempt for those who are not like them years before they came to power.
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