Around about 400 years ago an Italian Astronomer named Galileo Galilei made a big mistake, he had confirmed the observations and checked the maths of another astronomer, from Silesia of about a century earlier, a certain Nicolaus Copernicus, and concluded that despite what scripture said, the Earth went round the sun, and that was that. This wasn’t Galileo’s mistake, the mistake was going to Rome to try to persuade the Catholic Church authorities not to ban Copernicus’ ideas. The Inquisition became involved, and ultimately Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, sentenced to formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Inquisition, though the next day this was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life, and his offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of his works was forbidden, including any future books he might write.
Firstly this shows that ‘no one expects – – – – the Spanish inquisition.’ Secondly that telling the truth can be a dangerous business. And thirdly that sometimes no matter how obvious and seemingly supported by evidence a conclusion might seem, a proper examination can show it to be absolutely and conclusively wrong.
It is wrong to imagine that Galileo was arguing against an established world view, part of the problem for him was that one minute Pope Urban VIII was for him, authorising the publication of his book and the next, was unleashing the Inquisition against him. In the end it was a belief that just looking at what seemed obvious, ie. That the earth appeared to stand still and the sun appeared to move which was true, this was after all just common sense. Which only goes to show that there’s ‘Nothing common about sense’.
Get to the point! I here you cry.
And I am: promise.
Anti-Islamists are very quick to pick up on media reporting, and then putting two and two together to get five. A recent example of this included A report by Marc Schenker in the Vancouver Examiner
http://www.examiner.com in a piece titled ‘All rapes in Norway over last 5 years committed by Muslims, says report’, Interestingly this piece is no longer available on line, though the title turns up when searching the page above. Clearly the writer had heard a report from Norway and drawn all sorts of conclusions, and where he referenced the report singularly got almost every important point wrong, simply by generalising in a way which to him was obvious. Interestingly even the original Newspaper report was pulled by the paper which published it ‘Aftenposten.’ Though it’s language was very much more temperate than Schenkers, describing ‘Men of non western appearance,’ as responsible for the crimes. A report which replaced it noted that only 10% of rapes are ever reported, and gave a much more rounded view of the problem.
Ok so here I am at the point, today 30/6/11, the BBC and others are reporting in the UK concerning a report into ‘street grooming’ conducted by CEOP the ‘Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.‘ The report was provoked by comments by Jack Straw a former UK Home Secretary on the BBC 2 Newsnight Program.
“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. So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care… who they think are easy meat.”
The executive summary of the report is available here.
Today the headline is that a quarter of offenders in these ‘street grooming’ incidents, were asian. Even on the BBC (Normally quite temperate in these matters) the figures quoted are as follows
32% Unknown ethnicity
The BBC reports clearly that in the available figures, half of offenders were excluded because of insufficient information about them. Which raises the questions:
Which men in which communities are most unwilling to reveal, or most capable of concealing their ethnicity?
And: Is it the case that ethnicity isn’t an issue if the offenders are White?
Although this detail is also included in most other reporting, it is somewhat buried and obscured behind the headline, and even the BBC does not really explore what this might mean for the quoted headline figures.
The office of national statistics estimates the demographic breakdown of ‘Asian’ ethnicity in the UK as follows
Other Asian (non-Chinese) 0.4%
Mixed Asian Background about 1%
All Asian = 5.3%
The total number of offenders in the sample were 2,379 since the start of 2008, the actual proprtion about whom there wass any information was 40% this means that only 10.4% of the available sample of offenders could be tentatively identified as Asian, or about twice the average within the population as a whole.
I say tentatively because the Metropolitan police managed to shoot dead a Brazilian man they mistook for an Asian suicide bomber, so other communities might be also included in this figure.
These figures suggest that Asians might be disproportionately represented in the numbers of offenders involved in ’street grooming’. Based on the above figures however we would need further research to show if any more than half of these were Muslims, or even if as many as half were Muslims.
So from our headline figure we are reduced to a suggestion that there might be an issue in the Asain community in the UK, though if it exists it is much less significant than suggested by the Headline figure, and evidence that any given proportion of these Asians are Muslim does not apparently exist.
It could reasonably be argued that the whole issue rests on media reporting of a single high profile case which saw a number of Asian men convicted of sexually abusing girls in Derby.
One of the more useful aspects of the Executive summary of the CEOP report, concerns Offender behaviour
“ The cases submitted to CEOP identified 230 networks of offenders ranging in size from just two offenders to much larger groups, the full extent of which was not known. Some offenders were core network members, responsible for identifying and grooming victims for exploitation by a group of their friends and associates. Other offenders were more peripheral members of a network, less heavily involved and more opportunistic in their activity.
Many of the detailed cases submitted to CEOP showed that grooming is used to manipulate victims, distance them from families and friends, and place them under the control of the offender. Offenders will often use flattery and attention to persuade victims to view them as a ‘boyfriend’.
Many offenders appeared to derive satisfaction from exerting control over victims through coercive and manipulative behaviour, not only to commit sexual offences, but also as an end in itself. In this respect the offender psychology appears to bear a resemblance to perpetrators of domestic abuse. Further debriefing of offenders is needed to gain a better understanding of this.”
Or put more simply Power is a huge issue for this group of offenders.
Understanding (As in the sense of comprehension, rather than sympathy) the offenders actions requires an examination of where issues of power and control might be cultivated. For the anti-Islamist the answer is ‘obvious’ for them the Quran is the source. For every criticism of the Quran however an equivalent criticism of the Jewish and Christian Bibles can be made. Now I do think there is an issue with the Abrahamic religions and power, that is not so apparent in Hinduism, and Buddhism for instance. I however think that this is not a relevant issue in this case, since there does not seem to be an issue about Christians in the context of ‘street grooming.’
There have been two main waves of immigration into Britain from Muslim Countries, the first followed the end of empire, and issues such as this one were not evident during that period, up to the mid 1970’s. The second began during the early 1990’s and essentially is continuing. In the first instance opportunity seems to have been the driving force, the chance to move to the ‘powerful seat of Empire’, in the second it seems much more concerned with escaping: firstly authoritarian states, and secondly war, but in both cases one motivation is always poverty. The most recent wave of Asian immigration into the UK (Off which a lot is illegal) has included a large proportion of people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, all states either involved in wars or dominated by Authoritarian regimes, and in the case of Pakistan, to a certain extent both.
That authoritarian regimes exist in many middle eastern countires is also taken by anti-Islamists as evidence to condemn the Quran, however this dodges the idea that most of the authoritarian regimes in the region were propped up by western powers, not for fear or love of Islam, but to prevent communist Russia or china any opportunity to gain a foothold in the region. The only state in the region which can reasonable be described as an Islamic State is Iran, and it is arguable that it’s authoritarian stance in in some senses a result of being isolated due to pressure by US and other governments.
Those escaping from Wars and from Authoritarian states are highly likely to be carrying with them Power issues. That these are being expressed in ‘street grooming’ is far more likely that any religious issue. Any reference to religion in this issue, seems to miss the point.
Now at this point it is important to note that: an explanation is not an excuse. These are awful crimes and the people responsible are exactly that, Responsible, for their actions. (Capital deliberate) That I have here demonstrated that there is at least one alternative, and better evidenced explanation, than a prejudiced reference to ‘religion,’ or ‘Asian’ or even ‘non-western’.
The second major theme of the ‘street grooming’ issue concerns the ethnicity of victims, since the Case in Derby and Jack Straws comments imply that ‘white’ girls were being targeted.
Firstly the report highlights that there is an invisible minority within children targeted, and although it does not give numbers acknowledges that the majority were girls but that in 31% of cases, the gender of the victim was unknown. The executive summary emphasises this with the following.
“Although the majority of victims in the dataset are female, difficulties in recognising sexual exploitation among boys and young men are likely to have led to an underrepresentation of male victims.”
Among the 2,083 victims, 61% are white, 33% are unknown, 3% Asian, and 1% Black. Research suggests that minority ethnic groups are likely to be under-represented due to additional barriers they face in reporting and accessing mainstream services.
I think these figures are problematic since it implies that 3% of the sample represents an accurate reflection of numbers. If however those who are unknown are excluded, and these figures are reinterpreted as percentages of those of known origin then the figures look some what different. 93.9% of the known group are white, 4.6% of the known group are Asian, and 1.5% Black, this is much closer to the national demographic. And although it can still be interpreted as a very slight bias towards white children, I doubt that a proper statistical analysis would demonstrate much statistical significance,either way.
Overall this demonstrates the old adage attributed possibly inaccurately by Mark Twain to Benjamin Disraeli, ‘There are Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.’
In the end the issue comes down to men who have power issues, exploiting vulnerable children. Depending on how the statistics are viewed either 50% or 80% of victims had been missing from home on at least one occasion, and either 15% or 35% of the victims were in care at the time of the incident. Either way these represent big numbers and identify vulnerable children as the targets of this kind of abuse. Too strong a focus on anything but the individuals responsibility for their actions both excuses the perpetrator, and clouds the issue.
Galileo knew it looked like the sun went round the earth, but that the truth was different, and he could demonstrate it.
As a reader of this report I know that it looks like there is a problem with Asian Men, but I know the truth is different, and I think I have demonstrated it here.