Saturday, October 07, 2006

Finally! We've found them! Two men have been arrested over having the chemicals necessary to manufacture explosives, links to an extreme race-hate group and literature, along with a rocket launcher and 'a nuclear biological suit' (I think the journo means a protective suit of the kind used by nuclear or biological scientists). You'd think this would be splashed over the nations newspapers, after all, two dozen people got arrested a month ago because it was thought they were going to blow up planes flying to America (how many of those have been released now? I lost track).

Only, the two guys are white. The extreme group is the BNP. So the news barely gets picked up by local papers whilst the national news concentrates on Jack Straw wanting to see Muslim women's faces. The Sun, that bastion of support for anti-terrorism legislation (remember their huffing and puffing about the Bill to allow police to hold suspects without charges longer?), hasn't touched this story. Why?

On the Jack Straw story, it does seem as though everyone is arguing about what they think they've heard rather than what he's said. It seems to me that it's perfectly reasonable for Straw to ask a woman wearing the Niqab or a Burqa if they would mind removing it when they speak with him. I've not seen anything anywhere that says that he refuses to speak to or help his constituents if they decline. What is wrong is the attempts by him and others to turn this into a larger issue of being a stick with which to beat the Muslim community for not integrating into British society. Watching Newsnight last night I saw a white woman, who looked to be in her mid-fifties, indignantly saying something along the lines of "They've come to our country, we've accepted them, so why shouldn't they integrate with us?" (emphasis mine) Where do you start? The fact that British-born Muslims wear these clothes too? The fact that if 'we' had truly accepted 'them' then 'we' wouldn't care what 'they' wore? You could spend hours unpacking the wrongness in that one bigotted statement of belief.

In the end it seems people are more willing to read about two Asian lads who had the temerity to want to fly home by plane than two white men who were prepared to cause some genuine harm.

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