Under normal circumstances the minutiae of feminists’ quarrels with men, particularly white Anglo-Saxon men, leaves me alternating between puzzlement and boredom. But there is one issue that keeps recurring which has parallels in other parts of Leftist memes and which has piqued my interest. That is the question: ‘Why do leftist feminists seem to ignore the problem of the spread of Islamic ideas and practices towards women?’ There seems to be a conspiracy of silence from the more shouty feminists on this issue – and yet the news of FGM, wholesale rape, child marriages, the stoning of women to death for adultery and other atrocities is becoming ever more regular, especially on the internet. Those who do raise the issue are, it seems, instantly accused of “Islamophobia” as if this opprobrious labelling is sufficient to counter the fact that these things are actually happening. And furthermore, that this pejorative is sufficient to shut down the discussion. In this, we are seeing a tacit censorship spreading its tentacles into a sector of social and political thought which is extremely dangerous to the long-term health of our democracy.
So it was with interest that I spotted this post by Anne-Marie Waters, in which she responds to a New Statesman article by Laurie Penny written in the aftermath of the New Years Eve attacks in Cologne. Anne-Marie details four ‘harsh realities’ for the left-wing feminists who unreservedly support wholesale immigration into Europe from the Near East. In brief, these are a) We are not all equal; b) Not all cultures are equal; c) Not all religions are the same; and d) that such feminists are contributing to sexual assault or rape of 10,000s of women who would not otherwise have done so.
In making these points, she makes no bones about the biggest cause of the massive rise in violent crime towards women across Europe. She says: “When it comes to misogyny, the Islamic world is quite simply head and shoulders above the rest.” [Her emphasis] And she goes on to state that Women’s rights (and by extension, civil rights) are in trouble in Europe. Finally she concludes by defending her support of Pegida by saying: “those who allowed women to be sexually assaulted en-masse [in Cologne and elsewhere in Germany on New years Eve], and covered it up, are the same people who call Pegida ‘far-right'”.
There is nothing in Anne-Marie’s article that I can personally take issue with. There is plenty in Laurie Penny’s article that I think ignores the unpalatable truth and stands logic on its head. But then, that’s just Laurie Penny.
So I retweeted Anne-Marie’s article – and what happened subsequently was itself worthy of comment.
This was my opening tweet:
Naomi then tweeted:
Robert Shrimsley replied:
And I replied:
The conversation continued:
I will leave the last word to Robert:
The first thing to be noted is that Robert Shrimsley is managing editor of the Financial Times and has taken the trouble to respond to an entirely unprovoked discussion with an unknown tweep. Very few journalists in his position would have bothered to respond to my challenge. For that courtesy, I thank him.
The second point to note is that the FT is very much an establishment newspaper concentrating on economics, and upon politics insofar as they have an impact upon finance. As a result of this exchange, I went out and bought a copy of the FT for the first time in 25 years. I hope Robert is pleased with my enthusiasm. As I understand its position, the FT is in favour of UK remaining in the EU. In this edition, coinciding as it did with Cameron’s negotiations in Brussels, I found lots of reference to the heroism of Cameron’s all night negotiations. But there was perilously little analysis and comment upon what Cameron said he was going to ask for (i.e. his Bloomberg speech); what he actually asked for; what he actually got; and what was legally binding.
Only one article, written from Brussels from the viewpoint of the bureaucrats wrestling with the problem, concerned itself with the migration which is currently tearing Europe apart. This was couched in terms of a “refugee crisis”, the participants being described as “asylum seekers” and the overall effects as a “potential humanitarian disaster”. We can argue as to just how many of these people are asylum seekers and how many are economic migrants, but the point is that this how the FT glosses over the effects of this mass movement of peoples.
The magazines were full of the usual lifestyle articles that one expects from a quality newspaper, albeit the Swiss watches being advertised were more expensive than the Chinese ones advertised in, say, The Mail on Sunday. The FT is a newspaper that moves above the murderous doings of ISIS executioners and sordid gropings of North Africans running amok in European cities. It would seem that the opinions of a minor feminist on the nastier aspects of the biggest migration of peoples since the end of the Second World War are unlikely to be considered.
But what I found most interesting about Robert’s response was his attempts to dismiss Anne-Marie Waters’ allegations against the leftist feminists for attempting to diminish, and even excuse, the magnitude of the problem that now presents itself in Europe.
In the first instance, he used Anne-Marie’s association with Pegida as a means of dismissal of her points. Pegida may, or may not be, a cover for far-right thuggery. Robert would have it that it is. His tactic is to use the ‘guilt-by-association’ attack, i.e. that because Pegida is far-right, Anne-Marie’s points are invalid (or at any rate, unworthy of discussion in the FT). Here we have an example of deliberate conflation of the concerns of Pegida (which are very real) with an apparent loss of moral authority because a few thugs have latched onto their movement. The question that should be addressed is whether the problem is a real one, not who is shouting about it.
In the second instance, Robert accused Anne-Marie Waters of “dubious cultural supremacy”. Robert is here deflecting the opprobrium away from those doing the sexual assaults, to those people who are acting with revulsion towards those crimes. Laurie Penny and many others on the liberal left seem to be doing this a lot at the moment.
Finally, there is the point that Robert Shrimsley is an editor of a major newspaper and has to walk a narrow and perilous path between reporting the world as it is, and editorial guidelines which are set by the newspaper owners. In recognising the FT’s position on the EU and Brexit, we must also recognise that its position on the mayhem that is sweeping across Europe at the moment is very inconvenient for the FT. Like all those who are hoping that the British electorate will vote in favour of ‘Remain’, the FT perhaps thinks that any mention of the riots, murders and rapes now happening in Europe will frighten the electorate into voting ‘Leave’. So discussing the current chaos, in any terms, is discouraged.
And so here we have a prime example of tacit censorship. Just as David Cameron failed to mention any of this problem yesterday in his statement upon the ‘negotiations’, so the FT does not mention it either. In varying degrees, much of the mainstream media is adopting similar tactics in the hope of keeping the British public ignorant.
Twenty years ago this would have been good enough to get the answer that the establishment wanted. But now that we have the internet, the public are better informed about the doings of our political masters than ever before. Despite the elegant disdain that the metropolitan elite hold for the rest of us, the public are far more intelligent and have much better memories than they think. On average, we just don’t have time or the interest to engage in every petty manoeuvre executed by politicians or the commentariat.
But that does not mean that we are willing to be taken as fools.