It’s not the neo-Fascists that I fear. It is the enemy who is far more subtle masquerading as respectable but is not. It’s those who pretend to be allies, but their dealings give succour to racists. They promote hate but subtly. Headlines like the Times exclusive on AB. The white girl that a Muslim family fostered. Instead of using the opportunity to highlight the fragility of the foster system, the Times chose the racially charged angle. Or the Sun’s explosive headline ‘British Pakistanis Are raping white girls.’ They too decided to focus on race rather than how society fails females in sexual abuse cases. With Britain being racially charged those stories fuel the racist Right.
The Times exclusive had an alarming headline. ‘Christian child forced into Muslim foster care.’ Lord what evil that bodes. The article says that AB had her necklace with Christian cross ‘removed.’ Nothing emotive there! It goes on that her foster parents did not allow her favourite food because it contained bacon. The foster family, apparently did not speak English and the foster mother wears a burka. What’s more, they wanted AB to learn Arabic.
The story has no merit
I see no harm in a child learning a second language. And Arabic is in the top ten of languages to learn. Sadly, the racism of Britain made me ashamed to want to learn the Hindu my mother would have taught me. However, being an English speaker is a fundamental term of being a foster parent. And the foster parents do speak English.
To say that the foster parent’s faith is a problem is plain silly. If Prince Charles has said he wishes to be the Defender of the Faiths, how can we find Muslim foster parents objectionable? It’s hardly Christian. And where is the harm in not encouraging a child to eat bacon? Advertisers promote pork as ‘the other white meat, ‘ but it is not a healthy option.
So, the story does nothing but provide fodder for racists. Such is the tone of the debate that putting AB back into an abusive home seems preferable.
‘Grandparents are of Muslim heritage’
The hue and cry led to a review. The Judge said that AB should be with a family that meets her needs regarding ‘ethnicity, culture, and religion.’ Accordingly, AB is now in the care of her grandmother. That was Tower Hamlet’s intention; once she passed vetting. But the story is not the victory the Times is congratulating itself on. AB’s grandparents are of Muslim heritage though they may not be practising. So, race tension just notched up another level without reason.
Race and Rape
Murdoch’s other paper, the Sun announced that ‘British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls.’ It makes me wonder is it wrong because they are Pakistani? Such a racist headline is irresponsible. It appears to be forgiving of white men’s predilection toward child abuse.
As with the article in the Times, it is also inaccurate, selectively deploying facts to imply an inescapable link between Pakistani men and child abuse. However, the Children’s Commissioner’s study finds that the majority of perpetrators involved in child sex abuse are white. And 61% of the victims are also white. So, neither victims or perpetrators are of one race.
However, by emphasising the attackers by race, normalises ‘racial determinism.’ But the idea that race by itself somehow influences a person’s behaviour is simply nonsense. It is also dangerous, regressive and offensive.
There is a disproportionate level of child sex abuse in north Wales, but we do not assume all Welsh men are child sex abusers. Of course, we must ask questions of what role culture or religion plays to create preventative strategies. But we cannot assume like the Sun’s headline that culture or religion played a role. Nonetheless, there is a recurring pattern with all child abuse cases. A ‘bullying and macho’ custom. And that is not about race.
Race Is Emphasised
The element that makes these stories sensational is race. A white girl in the care of non-white people and Pakistani men abusing white girls. Let’s not pretend it is about the victims.
The foster system is at breaking point. More children are going into care, fewer foster homes are available, and the government is not funding the system. We live in a culture that blames the victims of sexual abuse and objectifies females diminishing their humanity; where I’m Feeling Rapey tee-shirts are on sale. And as a society, we are disbelieving of women and girls.
So, the problems are far more complex than race, but heading them under the guise of race is far easier than the truth. The tragedy is these headlines create a new problem when so many already exist. They are racist propaganda masquerading as respectable journalism, but they are not.
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