The East End villains who thrive behind a veil of multiculturalism
Labour failures helped create the current climate of fear in Tower Hamlets, says Graeme Archer.
They could even, said a "community leader", be the work of that bogeyman de nos jours, the English Defence League. So important was it not to draw the obvious inference (that untackled radical Islam makes the East End an increasingly hostile environment for gay people) that when a small counter-demonstration was proposed, its organisers were smeared as a front for – you guessed it – the EDL. Don't look at the posters; move along, please.
In Tuesday's paper, we read of the trial of five Muslim men, who admitted "grievous bodily harm with intent": that is, they attacked and maimed Gary Smith, a religious education teacher from an East End school. They were recorded on the way, saying: "This is the dog we want to hit, to strike, to kill." Mr Smith, in their opinion, had been insufficiently pro-Islam. But what's the scarred face of one schoolteacher when set against the need to keep the peace?
There's more, a lot more. A young Asian chemist has received death threats for refusing to wear a veil. You know, the veil that some people tell us is a sign of female empowerment. A Muslim councillor was given similar treatment, for dressing in too Western a fashion.
So I'll tell you what I never want to hear again. I never want to listen to a politician, living somewhere far, far removed from Bethnal Green, uttering a sentence like: "On the one hand, the Islamic extremists… On the other, the equally offensive English Defence League", as though the two have independent but morally equivalent aetiologies. I don't expect philosophical grandeur from any government. But I do expect its representatives to understand the difference between cause and effect.
The cause of all this is not just Labour's immigration policy, or the Human Rights Act, or the fawning of Ken Livingstone over Yusuf al-Qaradawi (a preacher who'd like to put me, and other homosexuals, to death). First, Labour enacted legislation that taught minority groups that their grievances had legal recourse (rather than suggesting that in a good society, we all need to be able to get on). This has spiralled into today's culture of fear – you think I'm not scared to write all this down? And when – as in Tower Hamlets – minorities come into conflict, the response of the rulers is entirely predictable: the group with the most votes wins.
Last weekend, the papers convulsed over the case of a Christian GP, whose avowedly Christian approach to medical practice had been found to involve, er, discussing Christianity. I'd rather discuss antibiotics, but still: the overreaction is a displacement activity, isn't it? We can safely worry about peaceable, well-meaning Christians, and demand a more and more un-Christian state, because that's what all rational people want, isn't it?
Not me, not any more. I'm not a believer. But to paraphrase G K Chesterton, when a Christian society stops believing in God, it's not the case that it will start to believe in just anything. If you want to see what does fill the vacuum, get on the bus to the dear old East End.