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Daily View: Jack Straw's comments on abuse

Clare Spencer | 10:45 UK time, Monday, 10 January 2011

Jack Straw


Commentators dissect former Home Secretary Jack Straw's suggestion that some men of Pakistani origin see white girls as an easy target for sexual abuse. The Blackburn Labour MP spoke out after two Asian men who abused girls in Derby were given indeterminate jail terms. His use of the phrase "easy meat" prompted particular controversy.

Yasmin Alibhai Brown says in the Independent that Jack Straw was right to "ask hard questions about Asian men":

"Let's ask questions we never ask, to find out more than we ever try to. Do these men have any idea of normal, pleasurable, healthy sex between a man and a woman? Are they maddened by their own frustration and fear of females? I am not impugning those Asian or Pakistani men who love women, but those who are too messed up to understand what that means; maybe those whose key choices, including their lifelong partners, have all been made by families operating as firms. And again, is this the most appalling pay-back for white racism?...
"Shouting down Jack Straw, busying ourselves with warnings about feeding the BNP, are displacement activities that will do nothing to stop Asian groomers, who, from childhood have developed distorted ideas about themselves, society, females, vice and virtue."

Anna Chen says in her blog Madam Miaow Jack Straw's comments reflect an age-old slur:

"I believe this was also the chief fantasy of the Ku Klux Klan when they lynched black men in the Deep South during the days of Jim Crow...
"Rather than deal with the breakdown of our society as the rich suck up all the remaining wealth, and having an honest look at how the resulting stresses affect human relations, we demonise an entire race group. Is Straw seriously saying that these men would never have targeted non-white girls? That white men don't traffic and abuse women?"

In the Daily Express Leo McKinstry argues that denying an ethnic link in sex gangs is down to a "dogma of political correctness":

"In this twisted ideological world, it would seem that the hypersensitivities of an ethnic minority are more keenly protected than the rights of abused girls. The greatest crime is not the sexual brutality itself but daring to mention the ethnicity of the predators.
"It is fascinating to contrast this institutionalised eagerness to dissemble and deny with the almost celebratory glee that drove the coverage of the child abuse scandal in the Catholic church.

"It was absolutely right that a fierce light was shone on this culture of exploitation, which inflicted such suffering on the innocent and was the very antithesis of the Christian doctrine of compassion, yet the media and the political elite have shamefully failed to adopt the same vigorous approach towards Asian sex gangs."

Melanie Phillips says in the Daily Mail that this is not a race issue as Jack Straw suggests, but instead a religion issue:

"Indeed, one of the many red herrings in this debate is that - if cultural characteristics are discussed at all -the gangs tend to be described as 'Asian'. But this is to besmirch Sikhs, Hindus, Chinese and other Asians. For these particular gang members are overwhelmingly Muslim men. And the common characteristic is not ethnicity, but religion.
"For these gang members select their victims from communities which they believe to be 'unbelievers' - non-Muslims whom they view with disdain and hostility. You can see that this is not a racial but a religious animosity from the fact that, while the vast majority of the girls who are targeted are white, the victims include Sikhs and Hindus, too."

Barbara Ellen asks in the Guardian if this uncovers some inverted racial stereotyping of white girls:

"Even if Asian men tend to view white girls as easier meat, then where have they learned all this? Not only on the streets where they live, but also in the images surrounding them. There's endless coverage of drunken 'ladettes' out on the lash, young girls being sick into gutters, lying in streets, smoking, getting pregnant, looking gormless, telling people with research clipboards that "all they wanna be is famous, innit'.
"In the vast majority of cases, the girls featured are white. Not because only white girls spend a period of their youth making mistakes, living and learning, but presumably because it is less tricky to use pictures of white girls. Images of young black girls making mistakes, living and learning, could so easily look a bit racist."

Minette Marrin says in the Sunday Times that little perhaps can be done about cultural differences but argues for "slaughtering the following sacred cows":

"First, the curious western belief that it's better to have double standards and injustice than to criticise another culture. Second, the insistence of western women that they have an incontrovertible right to dress like hypersexualised jailbait, regardless of its effects. Third, the insistence of some cultures on their right to arranged marriages across continents, regardless of their antisocial consequences here. And finally, the assumption of multiculturalism that all cultures, in all their manifestations, have a right to equal respect."

Links in full

Yasmin Alibhai Brown | Independent | Jack Straw is right to ask hard questions about Asian men
Anna Chen | Madam Miaow | Jack Straw's sex fantasy about dark men and white girls
Leo McKinstry | Daily Express | Denying an ethnic link in sex gangs is blinkered
Melanie Phillips | Daily Mail | While Muslim sexual predators have been jailed, it is white Britain's hypocritical values that are to blame
Barbara Ellen | Guardian | Too many of us treat young white women as trash
Minette Marrin | Sunday Times | We're allowing white girls to become 'easy meat'

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