Leo McKinstry, columnist for the Daily Express, returns to his pet topic on immigration, Muslims and multiculturalism with a comment piece in today's paper.
McKinstry, in his column opining 'Mass immigration is destroying the fabric of society' writes:
"In addition, there are the other social costs that arise from immigration such as the growth of political extremism and misogyny, the spread of Sharia law, the prevalence of gang violence in the inner cities and the erosion of democracy through ballot-box fraud by self-styled community leaders."
It is not difficult to see the inference to Muslims in his criticism of the 'social costs' to 'immigration'. Whether in the direct reference to 'sharia law' or the more implicit suggestion of 'political extremism and misogyny' and ' ballot-box fraud by self-styled community leaders'.
The suggestion that 'immigration' is responsible for these social ills squarely place them at the foot of ethnic communities. As though political extremism in the form of the English Defence League or British National Party were of no great significance because these are not the product of 'immigrant' cultures.
Or the idea that misogyny is something one only encounters in non-White cultures. The derision of BBC journalist John Inverdale's remark that French tennis player Marion Bartoli was 'no looker' and the BBC's apology is just one recent example of sexism in our public culture. Are these condescending remarks lesser offences because they were uttered by white British males and therefore not the same class of 'misogyny'?
The 'spread of Sharia law' as indicative of 'immigration' is another canard and betrays the principle of equality that it represents. Would any regard the Beth Din courts used by Jewish litigants preferring religious arbitration an example of 'the social cost of immigration'? Why are Sharia councils used by Muslims availing themselves of the same right to arbitration regarded as culturally inferior and a 'social cost'?
As for the 'erosion of democracy through ballot box fraud by self styled community leaders', one has to take a closer look at practices that have eroded confidence in the democratic process.
There has been much discussion in media and politics in recent days following the announcement of the Coalition's introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists to 'clean up' politics. The PM's election strategist, Lynton Crosby, has come in for particular criticism for his proximity to big business amid allegations of lobbying on their behalf to deter unfavourable policies.
The Coalition's foot dragging on the promise to fulfil a manifesto pledge to tackle 'sleazy lobbying practices', including the number of parliamentary passes made available to officers linked to corporate clients, has attracted widespread criticism for its effect on the democratic process and transparency. But it's unlikely that this 'erosion of democracy' is of much concern to McKinstry. Ballot box fraud is a serious issue and deserving of investigation and prosecution. But it is no less a threat to confidence in our political process than lobbying. It is shameful that McKinstry seeks to racialise this debate by making immigrants the scapegoats and ignoring practices that are far more pervasive and damaging to the functioning of our democracy.