In the aftermath of the Rotherham Child Exploitation scandal, too much focus has been put on the ethnicity of the criminals. Andrew Lawes believes fear is the real issue. He wants to help you be brave.
The revelations that Police, Town council officials and care staff in Rotherham conspired to allow 1400 children to be sexually exploited over a 16-year period have rightly caused outcry. The demands and calls for action are understandable. Those responsible will face the reaction for their inaction, and the repercussions will echo for the rest of their lives. What is unacceptable are the media groups, political parties, UK nationalists and white supremacists using the situation as a means to push an anti-Muslim/Asian agenda.
This was not a Muslim problem, nor was it an Asian problem. This was a societal problem. The police, social services, council members and care staff that didn’t do anything about it were predominantly white, English people. They are the ones who chose to stand by and say nothing when, as Professor Alexis Jay, the writer of the report, asserts that “By April 2005, nobody could say “I didn’t know”. Manzoor Moghal, Chairman of the Muslim Forum, said the situation “was a direct consequence of the creed of multiculturalism”. I disagree. The situation was a direct consequence of people being too scared and too focused on self-preservation to stand up against the evil they knew existed.
Mr. Moghal continued “The ideologues of multiculturalism, clinging to their vision of harmonious diversity, might not like to face up to the reality, but without doubt the ethnicity of the abusers was a central factor in the reluctance of the State to tackle their vile activities”. The reality is that the ethnicity of the assailants is incidental. The details of the Rotherham sex crimes are also incidental. Crimes like this occur all over the world. The details change, but the situations don’t.
Even among the Yorkshire police this is not an isolated incident. The campaign orchestrated by the police, government and media after the Hillsborough disaster, where they covered up their own failings, misleading the general public in an attempt to blame the city of Liverpool for the 96 people who died, was another high-profile example. The people responsible for the situation find a scapegoat to blame, instead of focusing on what they need to change about their own actions in order to avoid a repeat.
It seems to me that the media and government want war—it is profitable, they can paint themselves as heroes and, most importantly, it’s easier to exert control over people when they are terrified of their neighbor. Rotherham is today’s example, but these conflicts have raged throughout time. Every war that has ever raged comes down to one thing—people believing their way of life is right. The War in Iraq and Afghanistan came down to two different ideas on how life should be lived, and followers of both trying to kill the other in an attempt to show they were right.
The Nationalist, Right-Wing agenda is focused on dividing people based on labels that do not matter, creating division among the population. Every group of people have extremists. Harold Shipman was a doctor who killed over 200 people, but to stereotype all doctors by the actions of a tiny minority would be absurd. Some extremists believe George Bush is a genocidal man with the power to destroy their entire lives, but to say that describes the entire western world would be seen as ridiculous.
When it comes to judgement, we need to focus on only one thing: was the person trying to be good, or was the person complicit in allowing evil to occur. That is the only label that matters, and it transcends any other label.
The average Muslim isn’t evil. The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, well-intentioned people, who interpret the Qur’an as an example of how to live a good life and co-exist with their fellow human. The Islamic community rightfully received criticism for failing to confront the sexual exploitation of children, but the lack of faith in the police they showed was justified. The Islamic community of Rotherham were probably just as scared of these extreme abusers as every non-Muslim that had the power to confront the criminals and chose not to.
We all need to be brave. We need to stand up to evil. Our inaction is allowing it to prosper, and until we take personal responsibility for attempting to change that, the oppressors and the people who disregard human life for their own gain will continue to grow in strength.
I believe the vast majority are trying their best to be good people. I believe that the only way to be successful in that is by on a choice-by-choice basis: Is this the right thing or the wrong thing to do? What happens in reaction to that choice is unknowable. You could have a brain hemorrhage one minute later. All that matters is the choice, and choosing to do the right thing.
As the societal focus on the evils of mankind grows, the hope within people diminishes. Governments need to stop focusing on the world and start concentrating on their own countries. The media need to stop glamorizing evil; the news, in particular, is a 24-hour advertisement of the worst of society. Friends and family need to be more encouraging, more supportive and less demanding of each other. We need to work together to create more hope in the world.
I believe the vast majority are trying their best to be good people, but they are too scared to do what they know is right. We have to start judging situations on a choice-by-choice basis: Is this the right thing or the wrong thing to do? What happens in reaction to that choice is unknowable. You could have a brain hemorrhage one minute later. All that matters is the choice, and choosing to do the right thing.
The people responsible for 1400 children being sexually exploited came from a variety of backgrounds. The one thing that connects them all is that they, individually, did the wrong thing when it mattered. At some point in the future you will have a difficult choice of your own to make. If you choose to do the thing that you believe is good, no matter how scary, that will create a small amount of hope, if only within yourself. It will feel good. You will want to do it again. As more people start making small choices to do the right thing, the bigger decisions become much less scary.
We, as a society, can stand up to the evils of the world together, and all it takes is a simple choice – choosing to do the right thing when the choice is yours.