Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Daily Mail: here to protect you from evil, burkha-wearing, train fare avoiders

Well I suppose I have to admit it now. I sometimes read the alarming mess that is the Daily Mail. And most of the time I manage to ignore the copious amounts of racist, misogynist and almost any other -ist of which you could conceive garbage that issues forth on its pages, in part because I'm used to it; because sometimes there are actually thoughtfully-written pieces among the drivel; and because I often think that half these stories are written by random, bored people having a laugh on their lunch break. Clearly, one such person is Allison Pearson, if that's even her real name.

Ms. Pearson presents the not unfamiliar anti-immigrant condemnation of people who dare to bring their religious and cultural heritage with them when they migrate to the UK. Except she spices things up a bit by calling her particular brand of intolerance - I speak not in jest - 'Burkha Rage'. The capitalization is hers: she clearly thinks this nomenclature and the sentiment behind it not only acceptable and valid, but worthy of conversion into a proper noun. The woman means business.

On a train to London, a young woman wearing a burkha, with only her heavily made-up eyes peeping out, did not have a valid ticket.

Challenged by the guard, the young woman gave a litany of excuses. She had left her bag at her boyfriend's, he had bought the ticket, she had no money on her...

My friend Jane, who was in the same carriage, noticed how the guard became nervous as the Muslim girl presented herself as an innocent in a society she didn't understand.

Instead of issuing a penalty fine, the guard backed off, shrugging his helplessness at the other passengers.

So imagine my friend's surprise when she got off at the same station as burkha girl and saw this 'penniless innocent' whip out a credit card from under the folds of her dress with which she promptly bought a Tube ticket.

Jane was so incensed she sent me a text message, explaining what she'd witnessed. It ended: 'Attack of Burkha Rage. Grrr.'

Notice the attempt to call into question the woman's true religious conviction by mentioning that her eyes were heavily made up. She's only pretending to be Muslim, you see, because behold how she adorns herself with all manner of worldly varnish. It's clearly an elaborate ruse to avoid the train fare.

And notice how the decision of the guard not to continue challenging her on the fare is somehow mysteriously related to the fact that she's wearing a burkha, and therefore her fault. She knew what she was doing when she wore that thing! She "presented herself as an innocent in a society she didn't understand"! It's nothing at all like American tourists in their snow white trainers and baseball caps, brandishing maps the size of Cleveland, who inspire the sympathy of guards that at their discretion, might decide that they indeed sound confused, and let them off with a warning. They knew what they were doing when they wore those Dockers!

But in fact, it really is nothing like that, because in the latter case, the tourists are pleading innocence and ignorance. That is their express claim, borne of who they are: strangers in a foreign land. This woman, from Pearson's own account, made no such claim, unless simply wearing a burkha qualifies as attempting to hoodwink the authorities. Pearson certainly thinks so. The woman did not say "Islam does not allow me to buy train tickets", or "I spent all my money on this here burkha" or even "I've only been here a few days. I don't understand," which incidentally, if she had, may be deemed a perfectly understandable excuse. She gave your run-of-the-mill excuses that I've heard time and again from people who are demonstrably White and Western. She may have been lying, or nervous, or involved in a dastardly plot to steal 3 quid from TFL, but whatever she was, by the writer's own telling, it had nothing at all to do with her burkha.

Pearson not only goes on to disrespectfully refer to the subject of her rage as 'burkha girl', but she further outlines the role of the burkha in this thievery and affront to British pride. The woman, after having the misfortune of alighting at the same station as Jane, withdrew into the folds of her dress - this strange dress is a place where evil acts abound - to produce a credit card. So what did she buy, after having "presented herself" as penniless? A caramel latte? A Radley bag? A ticket to the opera? The evil, opportunistic 'burkha girl' bought a Tube ticket. Even as the plot thickens, it is never as thick as the writer and her idiot friend Jane, who seem not to allow for the possibility that this woman may have forgotten to buy a ticket at the start of her journey, and was simply taking this chance to make restitution.

Lies! This woman is just one of a small but menacing (at least sufficiently so to inspire their own syndrome complete with capital letters) minority of Muslims who come to the UK and refuse to assimilate, who hide behind religion in order to avoid train fares. She's just like that woman who sued her employer for suggesting she wear an immodest dress at work (we all know Muslims are by far the most litigious group anywhere. It's science); or the Sainsbury's employees who refused to sell alcohol. But the White or Black or Asian doctors and chemists who refuse to dispense emergency contraception or birth control pills or whatever else because of their own beliefs? Well, they don't wear burkhas, silly. And alcohol is considerably more important than preventing an unwanted pregnancy.

And Pearson, like a true, card-carrying bigot, does not neglect to recite the Bigots' Anthem. (See? I can randomly capitalize too.) The "But I'm not (or in this case Jane is not) a racist!" anthem complete with a "some of my best friends are burkha people!" refrain:

Jane is not a BNP voter. She is a university lecturer who specialises in the developing world.

I confess. I laughed at the irony of the BNP reference. Because Jane, if not already a BNP sympathizer, can I'm sure now expect a knock on her door from her local White supremacist candidate for government. She is the perfect sketch of their type of voter. At least she would be the perfect sketch, if she weren't unfortunately real. But perhaps I'm being unfair to Jane. She is, after all, a university lecturer who specialises in the developing world. She not only loves you poor, burkha-wearing people, she's an expert on you. Therefore, she is free to be an intolerant turd. It's a perk of the job, just like the free photocopying.

I have to say that if this is the face of a lecturer meant to understand developing nations and their people, anyone in her classes should get their money back. Or the BNP is going to have more than a couple seats in parliament to look forward to in a few years.


  1. Sharp analysis as always, Mar. Wondered if you'd seen this racialicious bucket of vomit over at the Daily Male?

  2. Thanks, Cait.

    The story in the link you posted has been all over the news, and the irony seems to escape everyone. The overwhelming message is: unprovoked stop-and-searches of non-Whites are collateral damage; unprovoked stop-and-searches of Whites are illegal and unacceptable. People are no longer even pretending that racial equality is a desirable goal. It really boggles the mind.

  3. Goddess help me - that's appalling. I think I'll post a link to it at my own blog, though, because I think too many people outside the UK don't know how incredibly racist a place it can be. :/

  4. That's a great idea. You're right, of course. People assume that a multicultural society that hasn't erupted in civil war must be just a swell ole place to live. And the UK does a great job of hiding behind that illusion. I'd say that racial intolerance is worsening here, not improving, because government is too soft on its message. Besides, Labour needs those racist votes too. Or else the BNP will soon get them all.

    I hope you'll leave us a link to your blog after your piece is up. (Your profile isn't public so it doesn't automatically point there.) I think other readers here would be interested to read it.

  5. I'd be glad to, thanks - it's

    I didn't mention it earlier because I didn't want to just assume it would be okay to plug my blog on yours. Seemed like a rather poor bit of manners, to have done so. :)

  6. Wait... let me get this straight. This friend is on a train when she sees someone else without a ticket, and doesn't pay the fine (which, honestly seems little more than a deterrent), She then sees this same person buy a ticket. If this person has thus absolved herself from the (heinous!) crime of travelling without a ticket, then the only thing left to be angry about is the fact that she did all this while wearing a burka :/


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