Rotherham Abuse Didn’t Happen Because of Political Correctness. It Happened Because of Racism

Dan Hodges, Telegraph, December 5, 2015

This morning–as the nation is again forced to digest the full, grotesque, horror of the events in Rotherham–a well-worn phrase is doing the rounds. Political correctness.

The Telegraphs’ own report details how “Misplaced political correctness by Rotherham’s Labour led council combined with a staggering culture of denial allowed more than 1,400 vulnerable girls to be routinely abused by gangs of Asian men, a withering report has concluded”. This is based on the Casey report’s finding that “The council’s culture is unhealthy: bullying, sexism, suppression and misplaced ‘political correctness’ have cemented its failures”.

That finding is wrong. The abused children of Rotherham were not the victims of political correctness. They were the victims of racism.

My political consciousness is very much a product of the PC age. I grew up with all the urban legends. The subliminal racism of black binliners. The sexism of the Famous Five. Tufty the Squirrel’s elitism. And I laughed at the foolishness of it, along with everyone else.

But I also cringed at the casual “mind your language” style racism and sexism prevalent at that time. And I was glad that it was finally becoming socially unacceptable to hide prejudice behind a veneer of humour.

The leaders and officers of Rotherham council were not banning binliners. Or removing Enid Blyton from their libraries. They were standing back and watching while children were raped, abducted, beaten and trafficked around the country as sex slaves. And they were standing back because the victims were white and the rapists were not.

Even now–despite everything we have seen and everything we have read and everything we have heard–there is an unwillingness to accept that fact.

Race, the central factor in everything that occurred in Rotherham, is still being brushed under the carpet.

The Casey report refers to the perpetrators of the crimes in Rotherham as predominately “Pakistani heritage men”. The Jay report, which preceded it, stated: “They were described generically in the files as ‘Asian males’ without precise reference being made to their ethnicity”. But whichever definition you use, Jay was clear. “The majority of the perpetrators were from minority ethnic communities”.

The victims weren’t. They were white. Jay again: “most of the victims in the cases we sampled were white British children”. And they were targeted deliberately because they were white.

It’s now four years since Jack Straw stood up and said there was a “specific problem” in some areas of the country where Pakistani men “target vulnerable young white girls”. White girls were, he said, viewed as “easy meat”.

At that time he was pilloried for his comments. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee said it was wrong to “stereotype a whole community”. “What you can do”, he said, “is look at the facts of these national cases, give it to an agency, make a proper investigation”.

Well now we’ve had that investigation. Several investigations, actually. And they’ve proved Jack Straw was right. White girls were being targeted on the basis of their race. Significant numbers of Pakistani men did indeed view them as “easy meat”.

But still we won’t brand that racism. Indeed, we do the opposite.

The Casey report said that staff at the council did not act on the reports of systemic child abuse “for fear of appearing racist”. This echoes what the Jay report found in other agencies, in particular the police. “Young people in Rotherham believed at that time that the Police dared not act against Asian youths for fear of allegations of racism”, she said.

Let’s deconstruct that. A victim reports a crime to the authorities. They look at her and see she is white. They look at the accused and see he is not white. And on that basis–and solely on that basis–they refuse to take any action. That is not ant-racism. It is not political correctness. It is the very definition of racism itself.

In another passage in the Casey report she refers to fears within Rotherham council of “upsetting community cohesion” if action was taken against the rape gangs. This literally echoes the argument that used to be put forward by the old Citizens Councils in the deep south of the United States, as they attempted to resist desegregation. It was also the argument put forward by local law enforcement authorities and the local judiciary when challenged over their failure to prevent the lynching of black men.

The racists of the far-Right have a favoured Pavlovian, response, whenever confronted over their prejudice. “You only ever talk about white racism. What about black racism?” I’ve personally always dismissed it as Neolithic attempt at moral relativism.

But we can’t dismiss it now. If we mean what we say about challenging racism, then we have to challenge it whenever and wherever we find it. And today we have found it in Rotherham.

To dismiss what occurred there as political correctness run amok is to of itself allow political correctness to run amok. The victims of Rotherham were selected because of their race. The perpetrators were left free to continue their abuse because of their race. That is what we call racism. Because if we don’t, then the entire concept of racism ceases to have any meaning.

It was racism that allowed a British town to be turned into a rape camp, not political correctness. We must not let political correctness prevent us from saying so.

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