I avoid the news as often as I can these days. It’s always full of people getting outraged on other people’s behalves whilst shrilly demanding retribution: “Make him resign!” “Boycott his work!” “Cut their funding!” It’s just noise, and lots of it.
...And then there’s the BBC’s special approach to reporting which seems to involve being so terrified of being accused of bias that they go around the houses to express every side of an argument without actually giving a sense of what percentage of people ascribe to which view. Unless, that is, the powers-that-be view this view as potentially contentious, at which point it’s ruthlessly cast aside. Free speech, it seems, is defined merely as what what the BBC defines as acceptable, which, itself, is pinned to the well-tuned moral compasses of the liberal elite. And what would we do without patronising wealthy urbanites telling us how to live our lives?
I understand why it happens. We need to address the awful things which have happened in the past and the huge imbalances in society today, and, in fairness, the pendulum always has to swing in the other direction in order to find its equilibrium. And no one, of course, could be expected to turn a blind eye to prejudice and intolerance...
Or could they?
Last night, the BBC Radio 4 News led with the story that a group of men in Newcastle have been preying on “vulnerable” young women. It is, apparently, fairly likely that many other similar networks exist in towns and cities across the UK. So what do we know about these men? Well, according to the reporter, “the majority are of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian origin, but others come from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Albania and parts of Eastern Europe.” She was basically too terrified to say that they were all Muslims and, instead, spent thirty seconds of airtime going around the houses to imply this fact without offending the fragile sensitivities of the Liberal elite whom she could hear in the background sharpening their knives to accuse her of Islamophobia. We’re told that the men in question showed arrogantly little remorse for their actions, with most merely talking about Western women and their loose sexual morals. These men aren’t brutally misogynistic because they’re from Bangladesh. Where they’re from is actually irrelevant. The one thing which links all of these men is their religion. Regardless of whether they are misappropriating what they’re taught, religion has given them an excuse or a reason to dehumanise non-Muslim women.
Of course, by wanting to raise this fact, I’m not trying to argue that all Muslims hold these views. Far from it. We’re talking about a tiny minority. But we will never be able to solve a problem which has affected thousands of young women, without being able to find out what makes some young Muslim men behave like this. Shying away from identifying the single factor which links these men is putting more young people at risk.
Only when we identify the root of the issue can we take appropriate action, by which I mean careful education programmes assisted by religious leaders which attempt to reverse dangerously-ingrained views.
Tolerance is something which has to work both ways. If it doesn’t, we’re lost.