Jack Straw’s comments were simply idiotic….

Jack Straw's brain is obviously still on vacation....

Sometimes politicians should remember that saying nothing is better than saying something that is completely destructive and patently ridiculous. You can almost imagine the printing presses of the British National Party whirring to life to faithfully reproduce the comments of Jack Straw today. How idiotic his comments are can be seen by the fact that in the space of two sentences he descends into intellectual incoherency on a scale which makes an amoeba look like a genius:

Pakistanis, let’s be clear, are not the only people who commit sexual offences, and overwhelmingly the sex offenders’ wings of prisons are full of white sex offenders.

But there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men … who target vulnerable young white girls.”

Logically, if the first statement is held to be true, then there is a huge, and incidentally much greater, ‘specific problem’ with white men who  target ‘vulnerable young white girls’ too. However, since Mr Straw’s brain is obviously enjoying an extended recess and this point obviously escaped his attention. Having ticked the racist box Straw then decided to dabble in sexist machismo;

“These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they’re fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically”

Straw is coming dangerously close to justifying rape. Remind me again which post Straw used to hold in government? Sadly, however, I think his comments are indicative of deeper cultural problems; especially with regard to race that the Labour Party has which are brought to the surface by the likes of Straw and latterly the late and unlamented Phil Woolas. Having jettisoned what was a commitment to progressive internationalism and turned into a horrific caricature, the creed of ‘liberal interventionism’, the leadership is quite happy to pander to racism and bigotry in a quest to win the votes of those it has disappointed and betrayed by pandering to their worst prejudices. They are aided and abetted by an undercurrent of nationalism which has always existed on the Labourite left, committed to top-down socialism delivered from on high.

The answer to this problem lies not in the adoption of liberal solutions which don’t work and entrench discrimination, like ‘positive discrimination’ but the creation of a consistently democratic opposition and therefore internationalist to both the overt and covert manifestations of prejudice and intolerance within the Labour Party and wider labour movement.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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12 responses to “Jack Straw’s comments were simply idiotic….”

  1. John Reid says :

    I don’t agree with What Jack straw said, but look at what Trevor Philips said when statistics proved a couple of weeks ago that young White men were descriminated agaisnt as they got worse exam results, the BNP would pick up with them,Similar Bernie Grant was the greatest Ally the Tories ever had,but If the Tories had’nt bee that ally for Bernie Grant,then he would have been an ally for the BNP ,but I’m not criticisng bernie Grants freedom of speech, even if what he said was idiotic,

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  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    John,

    Maybe it would but that is besides the point of this post. I havent seen the stats but for my money telling the working class its discriminated against because it happens to have a paler shade of skin is complete and utter reactionary rubbish. The working (and indeed the middle) classes are treated like rubbish and exploited because that is what capitalism has and still does demand.

    But freedom of speech also demands the freedom to call somebody an idiot. And I would also say that Straw’s position demands a certain amount of responsibility (like that to engage your brain before you speak, for example) and so censoring him on the grounds of idiocy is slightly more acceptable though not something I would seriously advocate.

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  3. Kate says :

    Nobody can actually deny that there are some groups of young Asian men who are grooming under-aged girls for sex in certain areas of the country. The recent convictions have highlighted this problem, and yes they seem to have selected the victims who they thought would be “easy meat” – young girls who were free to socialise outside their homes without parental intervention/supervision . It doesn’t matter whether the girls were white, brown, black or sky blue purple, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

    Yes the prisons are full of white sex offenders, and the police are constantly arresting groups of white paedophiles, and constantly working on methods to identify and apprehend the members of these gangs. If some young Asian men are also forming predatory groups to sexually abuse minors, of course these groups also need to be investigated and apprehended.

    As to the causes of the problem. Well I lived and worked in the Middle East for years, the majority of the Arab men I encountered were polite and respectful, there was however a minority who continually harassed non Arab women (of all different nationalities & ethnicities), and seemed to think that because we were foreigners, we’d be happy to engage in casual sex with them. Why did they do this ? Perhaps it was because our lifestyles were different from the women in their own families, perhaps it was because of media potrayals of foreign women and their “free lifestyles”, or (given that they also targeted non Arab Muslim women ) perhaps they just thought we were all “easy meat” if we had no male family members around to “protect us”.

    I suspect that the root of the current problem is a similar mix of skewed perception and cultural mis-translation (so maybe Jack Straw hasn’t got it all wrong, however clumsy his phrasing). So perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try and find some way of addressing these skewed perceptions, in the education system and within the communities where the problems exist. We can’ avoid all problems that touch on cultural differences/perceptions, especially when they lead to criminal offences against women (think for instance about the issue of “honour killings”).

    In these recent cases, the girls involved, have been minors. So as well as addressing the problem of those offending, we also need to look at educating and protecting vulnerable young people (of both sexes and of all races/religions), to help them identify and avoid getting involved with anybody set on “grooming” them. Parents and social workers also need guidance to help them protect young people who may be in danger from this sort of abuse.

    The mixed messages the media sends out in relation to the “sexualisation” of young women need to be examined, because this plays a role both in the way young women are perceived, and because the confused messages about image, sexual behaviour and relationships it transmits to young people contributes to the problems.

    Sexual predators come in all different packages (colour/religion/social class) so do their victims, work needs to be done to identify those involved and prevent further abuse. It’s not an issue that should be swept under the carpet through fear of upsetting people of a certain class, race or religion. If some young Asian men are “grooming” minors it’s a problem that has to be dealt with, and saying that, is not the same thing as saying ALL young Asian men are rapists or paedophiles and should be criminalised as such.
    There are no easy answers to this current problem, because it involves so many different issues (I haven’t even touched on the aspects involving social services and child protection). However personally I don’t think Jack Straw should be castigated for telling us that a problem exists.

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  4. John Ried says :

    Bernie Grant was pushed to answer his comments four times ‘that it was a White police man that hacked P.C Blakelock to death’ he said on retrospect ‘it was apretty stupid thing to do’
    http://www.berniegrantarchive.co.uk
    the trouble with censoring people on idiocy is IF you’d censored Bernie grant on that comment Grant also said when a black person didn’t make a shortlist for m.p in 1987 ‘if black people aren’t allowed to stand for parliamen they will find other ways to express themsleves’ to which future labour M.P shaun woodward asked ‘do you mean violnce by this’ to which grant Nodded ,reference-
    Book – SNATCHING DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY ,HOW lABOUR LOST THE 1992 ELECTION.

    you said you haven’t seen the stats but you say that the Report Trevor Philips had saying white people are descriminated agasint is rubbish, how do you know if you haven’t seen it

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  5. darrellgoodliffe says :

    @Kate,

    Thanks for that long and thoughtful contribution. Having said that you provide us with anecdotal evidence of a problem which *is explicitly linked to somebodies culture/ethnicity’* but I find the evidence for this existing on a large scale, which ultimately is what Straw said, is still very threadbare to my mind.

    Given what you say about our media which I think is true would it not be possible for an Middle Eastern politician to generalise in exactly the same way Straw does? Imagine the outcry if they did; they would be labelled as anti-western; maybe even ‘terroristic’ and ‘anti-freedom’. This is the problem – not the idea that these people, regardless of ethnicity, need to be prevented and locked – up. Nobody is disagreeing with that; what the issue is is the implication by Straw that this problem especially afflicts a certain ethnic group and that this affliction is a *direct result of their ethnicity*.

    You say, rightly in my eyes, that “sexual predators come in all different packages (colour/religion/social class) so do their victims” and indeed point to aspects of ‘white western culture’, like the media that could equally be said to encourage these problems. Yet I wonder how we would feel if the scenario outlined above happened and a Pakistani politician blamed our ‘decadence’ for sexual abuse? Would we listen or would we dismiss them in the terms outlined above? I rather suspect the latter.

    So, not only are Straw’s premises factually shaky (there is no convincing evidence to suggest this is an especial problem in Pakistani communities) but they are counterproductive to opening up any kind of sensible dialogue. A fail all round then I would say…..

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  6. Kate says :

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/muslim-leader-blames-women-for-sex-attacks/story-e6frg6nf-1111112419114

    Not a Pakistani politician blaming our “decadence for sexual abuse”, but they were the views expressed by a Muslim religious leader in Australia, that give an unfortunate insight into how Western women are viewed, by some Muslim men.

    Also another quote, more directly related to the current issue.

    Mohammed Shafique, director of national Muslim youth group the Ramadhan Foundation said he raised concerns about the problem two years ago.

    He said: “It is a sad reality that there are Pakistan men – 53 convictions in the past few years – who have been going around grooming white teenagers aged under 16.

    “It is time for communities across the UK to stand up against this.”

    However, he added: “It is not a race issue or a Muslim issue. It is about criminality.

    “Some of these men see white girls as having not as high a moral standing as their own. That is abhorrent and a form of racism.

    “These gangs that operate are criminals. There’s nothing in their culture, there’s nothing in their religion to suggest that this sort of thing is ingrained.

    “And for Jack Straw, a former home secretary, to suggest that this somehow is ingrained within young Pakistani men, I think is quite dangerous.”

    As you will note, Mr Shafique has also said that it is a problem within the Pakistani community that needs to be addressed . 53 convictions in the last few years (and how many victims were involved ?) – so the recent cases were not isolated incidents. He also mentioned the attitude which he thinks these men have towards their victims – which he labels as “a form of racism”. So again he is admitting that cultural predjudice is a contributory factor.

    I agree with him. It’s not an attitude that is ingrained in all Pakistani men, but it’s an attitude that this criminal minority have got, and as he said, it is time for communities to address the issue.

    Jack Straw made a clumsy speech on this issue, which was bound to upset people, and supply fuel to extremists such as the BNP. He should have just kept it short and to the point eg “A problem exists in some areas of the country involving small groups of men grooming under-age girls for sex. The Asian communities in these areas need to help us identify these offenders, and we need to identify and address any underlying cultural conflicts that might be contributing to the criminality of these young men.”. I think something along those lines would have been far less inflammatory.

    b) the racial or cultural groups concerned

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  7. John Reid says :

    So to say that catergorising all pakistani men as groomers makes jack straw a racist for bunching them all together
    does it make Diane Abbott a anti white racist for bunching all white people together when she said in the 87 election ‘all white people are racist”
    part2 5th person down,
    http://www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/pebs/con87.htm

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  8. Kate says :

    Jack Straw didn’t categorise “all pakistani men as groomers” if he had, yes it would be a remark indicative of racial predjudice. I have searched the web for the details of the “all white people are racists” remark you ascribe to Diane Abbott, and can’t find this speech at all – just a supposed isolated quote on 2 right wing sites. Did she actually say those exact words? Has the remark been taken out of context ?

    If that actually is a true representation of what she said, then yes it would also be indicative of racial predjudice.

    Just to clarify my own remarks, I’d like to point out that I’m not anti Muslim. I travelled extensively in Muslim countries, and worked and socialised with many Muslim people. On the whole, I was treated with a level of kindness and respect that is often sadly missing in Western countries. I also found it quite refreshing to live in countries were I wasn’t being constantly bombarded with images of women as sexual objects, on posters, TV, newspapers and magazines.

    However, in some Muslim communities there are issues relating to the way that women are perceived and treated. Cultural manifestations of this skewed perception include female circumcision (which is still done in some communities in Muslim countries) and “honour killings” incidents of which occur in many countries. All I am saying is that if some young Muslim men in this country are grooming under-age girls, because they have skewed perceptions of the culture, morals and lifestyle of those women, then as well as rooting out the offenders, it would also be a good idea to try and find a way to address any underlying predjudices that might motivate the abuse.

    Perhaps while we were exploring that agenda, we should also be exploring the general state of race relations between the white and asian communities in the North and Midlands, and working out any areas of friction, instead of leaving right-wingers like the BNP to stir up racial tensions between the two groups.

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  9. John Reid says :

    the diane abbott quote was from the Conservative 87 election broadcast as in the link, I recall the 87 election that election broadcast cost us nearly 1 million votes in 5 minutes.

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  10. darrellgoodliffe says :

    @Kate & John,

    I condemn unreservedly what Abbott said if its true she said that – she is also an idiot and that comment is a racist one to boot. No disagreement from me there.

    Kate, thanks for the clarification. I was not saying you were to be fair. Of course, we are all agreed that this is wrong no matter who does it. What is at dispute is a *ingrained cultural propensity* to commit these crimes. I think your own experiences reflect, if I may say so, the contradictions and tensions within an argument that this is the case with Muslim and specifically Pakistani culture. At best Straw’s comments are sweeping generalisations unsupported by little hard concrete fact.

    This puts them in the same area as the Abbott remarks. Some white people unquestionably are racist. This does not make all white people racist just as the fact that some Pakistani men commit sexual abuse does not make all Pakistani men sexually abusive or even *predisposed by their ethnic origin* to be so against white women.

    Maybe we should but it is my submission that its precisely the kind of ignorant generalisations the like of which Straw made that stir up these tensions, not just the likes of the BNP.

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  11. John Reid says :

    I agree darrell.

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  12. darrellgoodliffe says :

    @John,

    Thanks 🙂

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