An article in the Morning Star newspaper last week blamed the left for the rise of the right. Alex Birch said left wingers “have allowed the far right a hearing” by ignoring issues, including paedophilia.
Apparently the left fears giving “inadvertent support to racists”.
This argument accepts the racist lie that Muslim men are more likely to be child abusers.
Information on abusers’ ethnicity is patchy. But where ethnicity is known, the majority of perpetrators are white.
The most recent figures come from the first national assessment of child sexual exploitation.It identified 2,379 offenders between March 2008 and January 2011.
There was only reliable information on perpetrators’ ethnicity in 940 of the cases—under 40 percent. Of these, 26 percent were recorded as Asian.
Other types of sexual offence show an even lower percentage of Asian perpetrators.
Peter Davies of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre said, “Looking at this issue through the lens of ethnicity does not do the victims any favours.”
It is claimed the majority of “high profile” child abuse cases involve Asian men. That’s because cases involving Asian men are more high profile due to selective reporting.
In May 2018 a group of white people were convicted of offences against children, including rape and sexual assault, in Coventry. Four were members of the same family.
There were no front page headlines or politicians calling on white people to change their “culture”.
All abuse should be taken seriously. So focusing on abuse of white girls by Asian men is a problem.
It obscures the sexual abuse of children within families and other institutions such as the Church.
And it’s not true that the left has avoided the issue of abuse. We have reported on cases of child abuse involving Asian men and others, and given voice to survivors. We explained how victims were repeatedly failed by social services and the cops.
We also stood against attempts to whip up racism.
Birch says we must “tackle the issue of paedophile gangs”, arguing the left should “militantly and aggressively” oppose paedophilia.
What does this mean? Joining the vigilantes who lure suspected paedophiles to fake meetings with children to attack them?
We’ve seen before where these kinds of appeals end up.
In 2000 The Paulsgrove estate in Portsmouth saw a witch hunt, with people chased from their homes. It followed a News of the World “name and shame” campaign.
In 2013 Bijan Ebrahimi was wrongly accused of being a paedophile. He was beaten and burned to death at his home in Bristol.
What would the demands of “protests against paedophilia” be today? What forces would use those protests and for what ends?
Racists and the far right repeatedly seize on these issues. They see a chance to push the anger many people feel at how the authorities fail them in a racist direction.
It isn’t “ignoring” the issues that gives the right a hearing—conceding to their arguments does.
Abuse of children is a terrible thing that destroys lives.
Abuse happens because society is based on oppression, hierarchy and distorted sexuality.
Giving in to right wing ideas about who commits child abuse reinforces that society.
We need to build a movement with the power to get rid of that society and build a new one.
For that we need united working class struggle. Pandering to racist myths undermines unity.
It helps our rulers pass the buck for the horrors of their system.
We don’t push back the right by agreeing with them. We don’t need to concede to racist arguments to connect with working class people.
Ordinary people have a history of organising against racism. We should have confidence in them.