Imagine that in some Middle Eastern or African country 1,400 girls, some as young as 11, are abducted, gang-raped, beaten, threatened with death and trafficked by a Muslim gang. Some are doused with petrol, and threatened with being burned to death if they try to escape or tell anyone about their ordeal. They have been targeted because they are members of a different ethnic or religious group.
You don’t have to imagine the outcry that would ensue, because something similar to what I describe above (with the possible exception of the petrol dousing) happened only recently, when hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped by the Islamist Boko Haram group in Nigeria. The international outrage was unanimous, and when the Nigerian authorities appealed for help the response was swift, with President Obama sending troops and drones to hunt for the girls; meanwhile his wife and various celebrities lent their support to a facile and self-indulgent social media campaign to “Bring Back Our Girls.”
In the last few days we’ve learned that something of only a slightly lesser order of magnitude happened not in Africa but in Rotherham, a former steel and mill town in the north of England. The abuse continued for 16 years, and the perpetrators were not some elusive and heavily armed terrorist group who threatened to kill their victims at the first sign of a rescue attempt, but ordinary members of the local Muslim community.
Ending the girls’ ordeal should have been a relatively simple and risk-free matter. But not only did the authorities fail to stop the abuse and prosecute the offenders, they didn’t even try. They ignored pleas for help from the young victims and their families, and covered up their failure to act; and for good measure they arrested some of the victims and their families when they sought help.
Other than the starkly different locations and the fact that Boko Haram is a recognized terrorist group, the notable difference between the two episodes is that the Nigerian schoolgirls were black, and the Rotherham abuse victims were white.
The horrific details of the Rotherham “grooming” scandal were laid out in a report published by Professor Alexis Jay, a former senior social worker. Professor Jay wrote: “It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered. They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated.”
Just five men have been jailed for abusing girls in Rotherham; police are currently dealing with 32 investigations into child sexual exploitation in the town.
Rotherham isn’t the UK’s first “grooming” scandal. I wrote about the first major instance to come to light, in Rochdale, around 30 miles from Rotherham, in 2012, and there have been several other cases, predominantly in deprived areas of northern towns where working class whites and immigrants live in close proximity. Rotherham is the most extensive case to emerge, but it’s thought the problem is even more widespread, with perhaps thousands more girls being abused by predominantly Muslim men of Pakistani extraction across Britain.
The main elements are the same in every case. The victims are vulnerable young white girls from poor backgrounds, and their assailants target them because they view them as worthless and immoral, and, in the words of former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw, “easy meat” (Straw was vilified by many on the left for speaking out about the extent of “grooming”).
In every case the same explanation for official inaction is offered: no one wanted to look too closely into complaints against “Asian” men because they were afraid of being accused of racism, and because they were concerned about the effect of arrests and prosecutions on “community cohesion.” The fact that most media reports still describe the offenders as “Asian” rather than as Pakistani Muslims is itself a disgraceful evasion, and one which the north of England’s Chinese, Hindu and Sikh communities no doubt resent.
The report, published by Professor Jay, a former senior social worker, says staff at Rotherham Council “described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.”
This isn’t just a problem with political correctness or multiculturalism. It’s a failure of every component of the modern bureaucratic state, and every element of modern liberalism, from an education system that fails many poor youngsters and a welfare state that traps its dependents in poverty (both of which systems the current Conservative-led government are slowly reforming), to inertia and unaccountability of public sector bureaucracies, and the dynastic and often corrupt culture of the “Old Labour” political machines that dominate the UK’s northern cities.
One of the many disturbing aspects of the Rotherham scandal is that virtually no one has been held to account for the multiple failings that allowed the abuse to continue for so long. Many of those responsible have simply disappeared into the public sector morass, with some moving to other councils and some still involved in child “protection,” where they will continue to pull down their six-figure salaries before retiring on six-figure pensions.
The poster boy for these shameless public servants is Shaun Wright, a former Labour councillor who was responsible for children’s services in Rotherham between 2005 and 2010, when hundreds of children were being abused. He resigned from the council, only to continue failing the victims in his new post as police and crime commissioner. Wright has so far refused to resign from that position, insisting that he is “part of the solution.”
Then there’s Joyce Thacker, who presided over the last five years of failure as the head of children’s services at Rotherham Council. But Thacker wasn’t entirely idle as the abuse continued – this is the same Joyce Thacker who, in 2012, removed three children from their foster parents because they supported the conservative UK Independence Party, or UKIP.
It’s almost too appalling a notion to process: while girls were being physically abused under their noses, child protection officials were busy removing children from decent and loving foster parents because they viewed being brought up by conservatives as a form of psychological abuse.
The Rotherham victims were also failed by many of the police officers for whom Shaun Wright is now responsible. Officers didn’t take child sex exploitation seriously, and regarded child victims with as much contempt as their abusers did. In some of the few cases in which police did become involved, victims or their parents were arrested, rather than the offenders.
As in the U.S., Britain’s police are increasingly being transformed from protectors of the public to the enforcement division of the state (albeit without the military hardware), and in recent years UK police forces have been more preoccupied with prosecuting the vaguest suggestion of racism or homophobia on the part of white men than with tackling far worse crimes within sections of the Muslim community.
The scandals can also be blamed in part on the modern left’s contempt for the white working classes. Most of the time leftists do a good job of concealing it, affecting deep compassion for the “underclass” when it’s useful for demonizing conservative opponents and winning votes. Every now and then, however, the mask slips, as in 2010 when then Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown described a voter in Rochdale, scene of the 2012 abuse scandal, as a “bigoted woman” after she expressed concerns over immigration. And in Rotherham it isn’t just a case of the mask slipping; the entire facade of big state liberalism has come crashing to the ground.
But there’s no escaping the fact that the defining characteristics of the Rotherham and other “grooming” scandals are the skin color of the victims, and the religious and culture backgrounds of the perpetrators. Compare these cases to pedophile rings of white men or sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, both of which are widely reported on by the media, and aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the authorities.
The “grooming” scandals are a direct and inevitable consequence of the left’s failed experiment with multiculturalism and mass immigration, and its obsession with political correctness and “diversity.” I make no apologies for trotting out this quote again, but a former advisor to Tony Blair, whose New Labour government imposed multiculturalism and political correctness on Britain with religious zeal starting in 1997, has admitted that Labour championed mass immigration, including from Pakistan, in order to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity.”
Liberals have tolerated and excused segregation, forced marriage and veiling in Britain’s Muslim communities in the name of “community cohesion.” They’ve fetishized diversity, and they’ve got more diversity than they could ever have imagined – after all, you won’t find a more diverse community than one in which a sizable minority of one ethnic group think it’s perfectly acceptable to rape and torture teenage girls, and everyone else thinks it isn’t.
With Islamic State terrorists on the march in Syria and Iraq, we in the West are again being told that the battle against Islamic extremism will be a “multi-generational” one. That’s true, but the West also needs to embark on another campaign that will be just as long and difficult — against the failed and dangerous forces of modern liberalism that force us to fight Islamist evil, whether in Tikrit or Rotherham, with one hand tied behind our backs, if we’re permitted to fight it at all.
It’s too much to expect that liberalism will be chastised by its latest setback, but at the very least the progressive ideas that created the conditions for the Rotherham scandal should be thoroughly discredited. More pressingly, every one of the hundreds of leftist ideologues and statist functionaries responsible for Rotherham should be named and shamed, and their careers and reputations ruined as thoroughly as the young lives of the girls they failed.