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Mark Steyn

Steyn on Britain and Europe

The Reformation of Manners

On Friday I appeared on Michael Graham's radio show to discuss, among other things, the appalling revelations from Rotherham, a drab town in South Yorkshire in which over the course of a decade and a half some 1,400 girls (as young as 11) were "groomed", drugged, raped, traded and, occasionally, doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight. All the while, the entire apparatus of the state, from the political class to the police to the "child protection" agencies, looked the other way - for fear of appearing "racist" or "Islamophobic". The BBC describes the predators' actions as "brazen", which it certainly was. They would turn up at children's homes, select the ones they wanted, and drive off with them:

The carer, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed staff were reluctant to intervene in some cases for fear of being classed as "racist".

So the individuals who presided over this regime destroyed the lives of 1,400 people in their care, and have paid no price for it. Indeed, some have been promoted, and put in charge of even more children: Sonia Sharp, who was head of child services in Rotherham, is now in an equivalent position Down Under for the entire state of Victoria.

Meantime, the fear of being perceived as "racist" prevails even in the news stories about how terrible it is that nobody did anything. As James Delingpole explains, if you have to get specific about the perpetrators, the preferred euphemism is "Asian", a word that in Fleet Street doesn't mean Chinese or oriental but persons deriving from the Indian sub-continent. This is, apart from anything else, grossly unfair to Hindus. The men who raped and tortured these girls were, in Rotherham as elsewhere, mostly Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. And their victims were not.

And the queasy reluctance among the fearless knights of the media to state the truth anywhere north of the 20th paragraph helps explain why this happened, and why it will happen again.

In After America, I have a little passage in which I look back at the early 21st century from a decade or two hence. You'll note the reference to Yorkshire and "young men in northern England":

"Forgetfulness occurs," Lee Harris wrote, "when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe." They would soon be reacquainted. Der Spiegel was fretting over the internal contradictions of sexual hedonism in a multicultural age: Can you have thousands of young men in northern England in loveless marriages to women they never previously knew from their families' home villages back in Mirpur living alongside underdressed Brit slatterns staggering around in mini-skirts and fishnets?

Not without consequences, not for a while. As a culture of unbounded sexual license for women surrendered to one of greater constraints, the sex ed and restroom copulation and hymen reconstruction faded from the scene in Berlin and Amsterdam and Yorkshire. But a world full of male frustrations will always find a market for sex slavery... We were returning to an age where crops are stolen and children enslaved.

As a headline in the impeccably non-far-right Spiegel wondered: "How Much Allah Can The Old Continent Bear..?"

As Islam well understood, for an enfeebled west, incremental pre-emptive concession was the easiest option. To do anything else would have been asking too much.

Talking with Michael Graham, I said this is the same story as those young "American" lads from Minneapolis volunteering to go to Syria and Iraq and saw the heads off anyone who gets in their way: These are young Muslim men for whom life in the west merely intensifies their revulsion to it. We wonder how it is that a seven-year-old boy raised in the Sydney suburbs can suddenly be all over Twitter holding up the trophy head his "Australian" dad has just sliced off. But for a certain segment of the population decapitation has gone mainstream: In France, according to an ICM poll, one in six people "support" ISIS. Likewise, in Rotherham, child sex slavery went mainstream - accepted as a feature of life by the police, the bureaucracy, the local council...

Old-school thugs - Mubarak and even Saddam - felt obliged to lie to the world: no, no torture going on here; we're civilized men, just like you. But, as in Rotherham, the ISIS lads are "brazen" about it - they're in your face about offing your head. And it's worked for them: The more they post decapitated victims on Twitter and Facebook, the more followers they get in the "civilized" world. In an ill advised choice of words, the Prime Minister David Cameron said, "We need to tackle the ideology of Islamist extremism head on" - because trying to do it with your head off doesn't seem to be working out for those poor fellows in Mosul.

But what does "head on" mean? I was listening to Congressman Peter King on the radio the other day discuss the issue of American and other western Muslims sallying forth to fight for ISIS, and his warnings about jihadists with western passports being able to move freely within Europe and North America made a lot of sense. But I had the uneasy feeling, as with Cameron, that the upshot would be a world in which, in five or ten years' time, it will be more difficult and burdensome for law-abiding persons to fly from London to New York a two-day business meeting or from Toronto to Athens for a week in the Greek islands. In other words, the political leadership of the western world will attempt to micro-manage the problem through the panopticon security state.

Underneath the watchful eyes of the digital panopticon, however, the Islamization of the west will continue. Not every Muslim wants to chop your head off. Not every Muslim wants to "groom" your 11-year-old daughter. But these pathologies nest within Islam, and thrive at the intersection of Islam and the west. As long as Islam is your biggest source of population growth - to the point where Mohammed is now the most popular boy's name in Oslo - you're not "tackling" the issue, and certainly not "head on".

In a bizarre column even for the post-Conrad National Post, Afsun Qureshi suggests the best thing you could do to lessen the likelihood of being set upon by Muslims is to learn to recite the shahadah, "a testimony to the identity of Allah as the one true God, and Muhammad as his prophet". She might be right. Wearing a burqa might help, too. Or the shalwar kameez. On the other hand, most of those Syrian men paraded through the desert in their BVDs to their rendezvous with death knew the shahadah, and a fat lot of good it did.

To recite the shahadah when you're accosted on the streets is to accept the basic premise of your attackers - that Islam now has universal jurisdiction. There's way too much of that already. In essence, the entire establishment of a South Yorkshire town accepted that the cultural mores of Islam superseded whatever squeamishness they might otherwise have about child rape.

That's not a small concession. As recently as the 18th century, 25 per cent of all unmarried females in Britain's capital city were whores; the average age of a prostitute was 16; and many brothels prided themselves on offering only girls under the age of 14. In the 1790s, a "good man" could stroll past an 11-year-old prostitute on a London street without feeling a twinge of disgust or outrage; he accepted her as merely a feature of the landscape, like an ugly hill - as the burghers of Rotherham appear to have accepted it. A century later, there were still child prostitutes, but there were also charities and improvement societies and orphanages - and the Victorian innovation of a "social conscience".

The morality of the Victorian era was hard-won. Today happens to be the 255th birthday of William Wilberforce, the backbench Member of Parliament, about whom I have a word to say in my forthcoming book. As he wrote in 1787, "God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners."

We know about the first of those great objects: Wilberforce did more than any other single human being to help eradicate slavery from most of the world. The latter goal, which we'd now call "changing the culture", was perhaps even tougher. Then as now, the Church of England was feeble and fainthearted and, for the most part, no more use than those Aussie Anglicans who've publicly pledged this week, in the usual one-way multifaith mush, to "love Muslims". Yet Wilberforce pulled off his "reformation of manners" - to the point where we, children of the 20th century, now mock our 19th-century forebears as uptight prudes, moralists and do-gooders. In fact, 19th-century Britons were for the most part no better or worse than their great-grandparents. As I suggested to Michael Graham on the radio, most people don't think in terms of "good" or "evil", they go along with whatever the prevailing mores are.

So now, in the new multiculti Britain, the child sex trade is back, as part of the rich, vibrant tapestry of diversity - along with Jew-hate, and honor killings, and decapitation porn. The solutions to the internal contradictions of multiculturalism are (a) David Cameron's expanded security state; (b) Afsun Qureshi's universal prostration before Islam; or (c) an end to mass Muslim immigration. The last is too obvious for any viable western politician ever to propose it.

That leaves Wilberforce's "reformation of manners" - on a scale he never contemplated, and with a self-segregating community extremely resistant to outside influence. Meanwhile, leaders such as David Cameron keep hoping that somehow all these excitable young men with their surplus energies will embrace "British values", without ever being able to say what these "British values" are, other than the stuff Yorkshire schools teach as the source of all the evils in the world - imperialism, racism, colonialism, etc. And even as we dither, in Rotherham and elsewhere, Islam is already reforming our manners. As I wrote the other day, slowly, remorselessly, we are becoming them.

from Steyn on Britain and Europe, August 29, 2014

 

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