I remember some years ago, when I was in London, and first took the Underground. Before my stop was over, I recalled a man get on the subway who looked like he came from central casting for an Afghanistan cave dweller. The full beard, heard garb, the male Muslim gown, and the sandals. That will certainly get the heart pumping. And then I began to notice just how many of these men, and their female counterparts, there were in the sh*ttier sections of London and its outskirts.
Zac Goldsmith was the Tory opponent who lost the London Mayoral race to Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a Western capital. Yesterday, on NPR, was a story about Khan, which pointed out that Khan’s parents were immigrants from Pakistan who had 8 children and “lived on public assistance.” (Yes, that last fact actually made it to NPR airtime.)
When I saw The Guardian’s headline “Top Conservatives condemn Zac Goldsmith’s ‘disgusting’ mayoral campaign”, I was intrigued. What outrageous things, I wondered, drove old school Tories to label them as ‘disgusting’?
But then I was able to quickly infer who these ‘conservatives’ in fact were. Among them were Sayeeda Warsi, the former Tory co-chairman, and Mohammed Amin, the chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum, who notes:
“Isis [Islamic State] are perpetually seeking to radicalise and recruit young British Muslims to their cause. At the margin, I believe there is a risk that young impressionable British Muslims who witnessed Khan being smeared in this manner will thereby be made more vulnerable to radicalisation”.
I always find this sort of premise amazing: that Muslim youth are so thin-skinned and trigger-happy, that aspirations being cast upon, say, a Muslim mayoral candidate, are sufficient for such youth to be ‘radicalized’. While ostensibly being presented as some sort of cause-and-effect thesis, itself simplistic and troublesome, latent also is the thesis acting as an excuse for – oh, I don’t know – blowing up a subway.