Allison Pearson of the Telegraph writes: “It is my firm belief that only when Muslim girls are allowed to be educated, raise their children and play a full part in society, just like any other British girls, that we may start to see an end to the terrorist threat which blights our country. There is nothing like maternal love (and aspiration for your children) to banish warped male hatred”.
Should such an unsubstantiated statement by a public opinion-maker that attracts far right comments on twitter, surprise? Not really!
Shortest possible definition of racism has remained as the power to define and redefine, and therefore Black and Asian (now Muslims) emerge through racist definition as not only the problem but also the cause of the problem.
Perhaps what is different now is that the characters such as Allison Pearson and the negativity they create about certain people, are more readily challenged than in 1980s.
For example, there was little challenge to the structures like ‘The Asian Mother and Baby Campaign’ (1984) based on similar premise of blame i.e. Asian mothers are somehow inadequate where a large number of them find it difficult to get care early enough in pregnancy due to language and cultural barriers, leading to increased perinatal mortality.
The relevance of the health service, or the attitudes professionals brought to treating Asian women was not questioned, but rather the professionals complained, “Asian mothers do not like to give birth in front of me. That makes our men very angry” District Medical Officer: Inner City: 10/02/1986
The theme of ‘not only the problem but also the cause of the problem’ has continued in one form or the other.
Government-backed but discredited Casey review (2017) which seems to have inspired Pearson, recommended a major new strategy to help bridge divides in UK towns and villages, with an “integration oath” to encourage immigrants to embrace British values, more focus on promoting the English language, encouraging social mixing among young people, and securing “women’s emancipation in communities where they are being held back by regressive cultural practices”, coded language for Muslim women.
It is very concerning that Pearson and alike who talk about the education/English language grip in Muslim women (predominately second or third generation – compulsory schooling till the age of 16), do so without any credible education context.
“Muslim students seem to be performing as well as the majority group, even in attending Russell group universities. Muslim girls seem to now be outperforming Muslim boys, especially in relation to their school performance. Furthermore, parental expectations and students’ own expectations play an important role in determining the attainment of students. The study concludes that the higher achievement of young Muslims may be strongly correlated with their own unusually high expectations of going to university; but a primary source of the latter is likely to be the parents’ unusually high expectations, the messages they receive and the discipline in place in relation to schoolwork at home and their relationship with their parents and their parents’ norms”: British Journal of Sociology of Education
During my school inspection of good schools, I often heard from my fellow inspectors in a gesture of surprise ‘good to see that even Muslim girls are doing so well’! On the other hand, most of the underachievement in schools, even in shire schools, was by white students, mostly girls.
Terrorism is a complex subject. These are not the ‘Muslim girls’ but socio-political policy makers who need to form sustainable policies and practices, calmly and not in panic, acknowledging the inseparable relationship between ‘cause and effect’.
One wonders who would Pearson blame for the rise in far right extremism in Britain based on the ideology of superior race: parents or the ineffectiveness of the schools social, moral, spiritual and cultural development education, a key feature of the school’s work?