DOES Communities Secretary Sajid Javid believe that his ethnic origin gives him a free pass to pretend that Jeremy Corbyn’s acceptance of Sarah Champion’s resignation amounts to a gag on discussion of child abuse?
Child abuse is an abominable crime that must be tackled much more effectively, but it is not the province of one community.
Nor is it acceptable to tar “British Pakistani men” as having a particular proclivity for “raping and exploiting white girls,” as Champion asserted in her notorious Sun article.
High-visibility trials have taken place across the country where networks of mainly south Asian men have preyed on under-age girls, grooming, raping and further exploiting them.
Where the authorities have learned from previous justice failures to listen to the young victims and act accordingly, convictions and appropriate prison sentences have followed.
This is not an occasion for self-congratulation, but it is a straw in the wind to indicate greater awareness of a scourge endemic in all communities.
Compartmentalising this crime and portraying it as a speciality of British Pakistani men is not only dishonest but betokens another insidious and sinister agenda.
That agenda resurfaced immediately after Champion’s ill-advised piece in Rupert Murdoch’s gutter rag when its columnist Trevor Kavanagh rushed to support her, asserting: “Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem.”
He concluded by asking Sun readers: “What will we do about The Muslim Problem,” posing the issue in a manner redolent of 1930s Germany or the Russian empire decades earlier.
Bradford West MP Naz Shah’s response in nailing the threat implicit in the Sun comment and organising a letter signed by over 100 MPs from several parties, backed strongly by Corbyn, was both timely and relevant.
She pointed out that, unfortunately, “there is no community where men don’t rape girls and we must face up to it,” noting that nearly 90 per cent of child abusers are white men.
When “celebrities” Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall, Rolf Harris and their ilk are arraigned for sexual crimes, neither their racial origin nor their religion is mentioned.
Politicians and the mass media accept that these men have committed vile deeds and must be punished, but their crimes are judged as their personal responsibilities and not reflective of their background or community.
Yet we are told that the common denominator of British-born rapists of Iraqi, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iranian and Turkish roots is “Islam.”
Since when did Islam call on believers to supply alcohol and drugs to children and force them into sexual activity? Are we to believe that the large numbers of Christian clerics who abused children also did so because of a shared religion?
It is a nonsensical suggestion that serves a nefarious Islamophobic agenda, as does the baseless claim that grooming and abuse by south Asians was ignored by police because of some variant of “political correctness.”
Police failure to take victims’ complaints seriously owed more to disregard for vulnerable working-class girls and contempt for what the authorities viewed as a lifestyle choice rather than a particular form of exploitation and domination.
Champion’s commitment to fighting child abuse ought to have guided her away from Sun-style sensationalism. Her judgement let her down. She had to resign. She was also wrong to write in Murdoch’s rag.
All Labour MPs must understand post-Hillsborough, Orgreave and several lying campaigns against their party and its leader that the Sun is no friend of the labour movement.
This article appeared in The Morning Star, Friday 18th August 2017