UK: I served in the Met. The lack of progress on diversity is disgusting

Canadian police forces also struggle with recruitment of visible minorities:

The question that needs to be asked is not “are the Metropolitan police institutionally racist?”, or “why does black and minority ethnic recruitment for the police still lag so far behind the diversity of London as a whole?” It should simply be: “Why do young black and minority ethnic people reject the Metropolitan police as a career choice?”

This week, marking 20 years since the landmark Macpherson report on institutional racism in the police, the Met said it would take 100 years for the force to mirror the wider diversity of London and will remain disproportionately white. Why?

The answer can be found in the experiences of black and minority ethnic communities of the police, which continues far too often to be marked by incivility, suspicion and distrust. The continued disproportionate use of stop and search and the vanishingly low numbers of stops that result in a substantive charge, never mind conviction, cements in young black consciousness an underlying enmity – a feeling that the police are “other”.

From those new recruits who manage to overcome this feeling of alienation, I’ve heard how the recruitment process can often make BAME individuals feel unwelcome.

Those who make it to become serving officers also experience a continued canteen culture which, while muted in its vocal expressions of racism compared with 35 years ago when I joined, nevertheless still has subtle ways of excluding BAME staff as well as LGBT officers. There has been significant progress both in terms of the initial recruitment and promotion of female officers, but this has not been mirrored for BAME staff. Promotion for black, Asian and minority ethnic officers continues to take longer, and come up against more obstacles than for white colleagues. As recently as 2008, I set up a mentoring and coaching programme to raise promotion rates for BAME officers, which had some early successes. Unfortunately, when I tried to extend the programme, the initiative was rubbished by senior officers.

Access to further and specialist training, and hence jobs with special squads, is holding BAME officers back: selection continues to be based on who you know rather than what you can do. That means the police service is missing out on talented individuals who could contribute to specialist teams, and help reduce the impression, for example, that responders are less careful about the safety of BAME suspects.

This depressing picture reflects a failure to fully engage with the Macpherson message that “processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping disadvantages minority ethnic people”.

This week Cressida Dick, the force’s head, claimed the Met is not institutionally racist: “I don’t feel it is now a useful way to describe the service and I don’t believe we are,” she said. “I simply don’t see it as a helpful or accurate description.”

But in saying this, the commissioner is effectively rejecting the reality of the unconscious bias that certainly exists. She is also fostering the unhelpful idea that naming the problem amounts to a slur on individuals. This failure to recognise discrimination where it exists has stymied the progress that the Met could and should have made, both in its attitude to the general public and to BAME recruits and officers. It has sabotaged attempts to bring the Met into the 21st century, and will continue to do so.

Only when discrimination – whether implicit or explicit, wilful or unwitting – is recognised can it start to be addressed. And only when it is addressed will the daily experience of black and minority ethnic Londoners encourage them to join the police to create a virtuous upward spiral of respect, acceptance and diversity.

Source: I served in the Met. The lack of progress on diversity is disgusting

UK: Shaun Bailey’s views on multiculturalism are toxic to Londoners and his response is worse

Sigh …

Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for the London mayoralty, is under fire after the Guardian obtained an old Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet in which Bailey said that allowing Hindu and Muslim families time off to celebrate their religious festivals would rob Britain of its community and turn the country into a “crime-ridden cesspool”.

The policy is toxic. No, having days off to accommodate religious festivals doesn’t divide communities and in fact the reverse situation (keeping schools open but having religious absences or parents opting out of mainstream education as a result) does. Added to that, for Bailey, the politics are more toxic still.

There is no plausible path for any Conservative candidate to 50 per cent of the vote plus one – necessary under London’s supplementary vote system – that doesn’t run through London’s affluent Hindu communities in west and north-west London. How is he going to get their votes if he is on the record saying their religious holidays risk turning the country into a “cesspool”?

His campaign’s response is a revealing insight into why Sadiq Khan’s aides believe that Bailey will be an error-prone and vulnerable candidate. Here’s their response to the Guardian in full:

“As a descendant of the Windrush generation, and someone who has worked with diverse communities for over 20 years, Shaun knows full well the challenges faced by BAME communities. Shaun has made it his life’s work to help those from migrant and disadvantaged communities, and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous. As someone who has received racist abuse from the Labour party, who let’s not forget branded the community worker a ‘token ghetto boy’, this is a little rich.”

There are a lot of bad political choices to unpack in a single paragraph, but let’s start with the last sentence. Put yourselves in the shoes of one of Harrow’s Hindu swing voters. You backed Sadiq Khan in 2016 but re-elected Bob Blackman, a Conservative, in 2017. You’ve heard that Bailey thinks that teaching people about Diwali in schools will rob Britain of its community and turn the country into a “cesspool”. Why do you give a flying one about Emma Dent Coad saying something racist about Shaun Bailey? Why is that relevant to your life? That’s not an apology.

But it’s not the only bad decision being made here.

Let’s imagine you are instead an older white voter in Bow. You voted for Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith. You were suspicious about Sadiq Khan and you still aren’t wholly sold on him. Why do you care about Bailey being “a descendant of the Windrush generation”? Why’s he focussing on helping migrants? What about your grandkids? Who even is this guy who hasn’t even made it to Westminster who thinks he can become your mayor?

Or perhaps you’re a graduate in, say, Richmond. You backed Boris Johnson but you now have complicated feelings about him thanks to the referendum. You voted Liberal Democrat in Westminster and gave Sadiq Khan your second preference in London as you disliked Zac Goldsmith’s campaign. You think Khan is a decent guy but you aren’t sure what he’s actually done. You aren’t entirely sure what Diwali is about but you like living in a city where different things go on.

I just named three groups without which a Conservative candidate cannot win the London mayoralty and Bailey is appealing to none of them. And among liberal graduates and affluent Hindus he has probably suffered a wound that Khan will seek to widen and deepen over the next two years.

Source: Shaun Bailey’s views on multiculturalism are toxic to Londoners and his response is worse

Newly arrived Yazidis who escaped sex slavery of ISIS eager to build better future in Canada

Another article on Yazidis in Canada, focussed on London:

It’s here in London — where about 300 Yazidis have formed a small but tight-knit community since the early 1980s when they fled the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein — that Bhasa and other recently arrived Yazidis hope to start building a new life for their families and try to move beyond the horrors they suffered in captivity.

Dalal Abdallah, a Yazidi human rights activist who lives in London, says members of her community have been donating clothing, hygiene products and toys for the families who have arrived and look forward to absorbing more into their community.

“For many, many years, we have been struggling [to grow] as a community because no Yazidis were coming through,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to build our community, and the more people, the merrier.”

She said London has already accepted and integrated Syrian refugees and that there’s enough support for Yazidis, including a program at Victoria Hospital to help refugees deal with trauma.

Other support comes from London’s Cross Cultural Learner Centre, where Yazidis can learn some basic tools for integrating in Canada: how to get housing, set up bank accounts, apply for health cards.

“We are here to support them, welcome them, make them feel comfortable, that they are not alone here,” said Omar Khoudeida, a Yazidi interpreter who works at the centre and who himself came to London nearly 20 years ago as a refugee.

“There’s a community behind them and supporting them.”

But even with that support, Bhasa must still cope with the emotional fallout of a family torn apart by genocide.

She fears being identified. Although she doesn’t know the fate of family members in Iraq, she’s worried that going public could put them in danger. She hasn’t seen her husband and other male relatives since ISIS invaded her home in August 2014.

Daughter still missing

She also fears for her daughter, who was nine years old when she was snatched by the Islamist militant group.

“They took her. She doesn’t know anything about her,”  Khoudeida said.

While ISIS targets all communities, it has particular antipathy for Yazidis, whom it considers to be infidels.

Iraq Cda Yazidis 20170222

ISIS survivors Suham Haji, from left, Samira Hasan and Saud Khalid sit in the Dohuk Girls and Women Treatment and Support Centre in Dohuk, Iraq. The three women are among 900 being treated at the centre after escaping ISIS captivity. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Last June, a UN commission declared in a report that ISIS was committing genocide against the religious group of about 400,000. ISIS, it said, was subjecting “every Yazidi woman, child or man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities.”

Source: Newly arrived Yazidis who escaped sex slavery of ISIS eager to build better future in Canada – Canada – CBC News

How a spat over PC culture in philosophy betrayed philosophy itself

Good and thoughtful commentary by Adrian Lee over the controversy University of London Student Union’s demand that the School of Oriental and African Studies remove philosophers like Plato, Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant “because they are white” in a mandate that sought to “decolonize” SOAS:

The whole thing is a missed opportunity: A missed opportunity for academics to give the story little credence and prove that philosophy was above the fray of the overly personal bickering that has infected the political climate. A missed opportunity from reporters to find out from the angriest of these academics why they think that teaching more diverse voices means teaching Western European voices less. (In fact, that’s the kind of defensive mentality—that addition must mean subtraction—that’s awful familiar from the most blinkered responses to the Black Lives Matter movement, or to any urge for equality that touches a frayed nerve.) Hell, it was even an opportunity to simply acknowledge that philosophers owe a lot to non-white thinkers. It would be hard, for instance, to imagine a legacy for Aristotle without the efforts of the Islamic scholar Averroes, whose work then inspired Thomas Aquinas. Plato’s legacy was continued and refined by Plotinus, who was born in Egypt. St. Augustine, best known for his Confessions, was an Algerian; Voltaire’s political writings were influenced by what he saw on visits to China.

And even if we were to take the story on its face value—that indeed, philosophy students from the University of London, rather than a specialized school like SOAS, wanted to learn more about philosophers outside of the Western canon and sought a critical take on hoary canonical icons. How is that so wrong? How could students taking an active and expansive interest in what they’re being taught scare teachers, when sparking thoughtful considerations like that is the very goal of education? Wanting to learn more about historical contexts and seeking to think critically and contextually about what they’re studying aren’t signs of a dismissible “snowflake” student. It’s actually the sign of a good one.

But mostly, the whole philosophy fracas is a depressing vision. How sad that academics—the high-minded thinkers who think they have themselves escaped the cave—thought defending philosophy meant parroting easy outrage and succumbing to overly simplistic falsehoods. How tragic that teachers appeared to so quickly abandon their students for the most bargain-bin of straw men. And that may be the saddest thing of all: if falsehoods and polarized politics and manufactured outrage and the leaping to simple fallacies can infect philosophy’s lofty rafters, then what hope do the rest of us have?

After all, if those philosophers had indeed re-read Plato, they would have known better. The characters in the imagined conversations in The Republic are more than mere fools built up to be knocked down. They challenge Socrates’ proofs, urge him on, and make them better. They wield ideas, not personal attacks. They are rhetorical dance partners, not useful idiots. Socrates, the book’s Platonic mouthpiece, even acknowledges that he is willing to be convinced otherwise on various points. Philosophy of the sort in The Republic is, in short, not a project of balkanization, where ideas are heroic or villainous. It’s a dialogue, the kind we need more of, from all of us—but especiallyour philosophers.

Source: How a spat over PC culture in philosophy betrayed philosophy itself –

Security agencies face ‘real challenge’ fighting terrorism: London police head

Worth noting:

Identifying and tracking people who could turn into terrorists remains a challenge. At least 800 people from Britain went to Syria in recent years, with many joining the Islamic State and others in the fight against the Syrian government. Roughly 400 have returned to Britain and the police now have to assess their potential threat. They are ranked on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being the most dangerous.

Many of those who returned from Syria were legitimate aid workers or IS fighters who became frightened of the conflict, he said. “You could, therefore, regard them as a lower-risk group. But we can’t absolutely guarantee that,” he added. “They remain a continuing concern.”

He had praise for controversial programs such as Prevent, which obliges teachers and others in Britain to report people engaging in radical behaviour. Critics have said Prevent stigmatizes those who have been reported and unfairly targets Muslims. Sir Bernard said that while it isn’t perfect, the program can offer help to vulnerable people and families.

Putting guns in the hands of police officers isn’t a solution, he added, because that only increases barriers between cops and communities. The Metropolitan force remains one of the few in the world where the vast majority of officers do not carry guns. Of the city’s more than 32,000 officers, only 2,100 are armed. However, that number is slated to increase by 600 because of the attacks in Paris last November that killed 130 people.

“Just arming all police is not always the answer,” he said. “And our way is to have well-trained specialist officers, well equipped, well led, who we’d be deploying in large numbers to deal with that type of attack.”

One of the most effective tools to combat terrorism, and most other crimes, is the city’s vast network of CCTV cameras. After rioting in 2011, which spread across several parts of London, police gathered 250,000 hours of camera footage to seek out the culprits. About 800 officers spent a year combing through the material, leading to 5,000 arrests. Of those charged with a crime, 90 per cent “pleaded guilty because [the video footage] was such powerful evidence,” he said.

Britons have become so accustomed to the proliferation of cameras in the subway, on buses, across public places and in some taxis that the country has not had a major debate about privacy issues.

Sir Bernard said that is because the cameras were introduced at the local level. “It wasn’t the government saying you’re all going to have CCTV cameras. This was local authorities saying we want it in a public space, in shopping centres, and buses wanted it,” he said, adding that for police work, the cameras are “incredibly powerful.”

Source: Security agencies face ‘real challenge’ fighting terrorism: London police head – The Globe and Mail

Why the election of London’s first Muslim mayor is a message of hope: Dominique Moisi

Tend to agree:

“I feel so proud of my city,” my interlocutor said, referring to the election of Sadiq Khan as London’s first Muslim mayor. She is Catholic, though she identifies first and foremost as British. But, like many other Londoners, she was inspired by Mr. Khan’s message of hope over fear.Mr. Khan’s election contrasts shar

“I feel so proud of my city,” my interlocutor said, referring to the election of Sadiq Khan as London’s first Muslim mayor. She is Catholic, though she identifies first and foremost as British. But, like many other Londoners, she was inspired by Mr. Khan’s message of hope over fear.

Mr. Khan’s election contrasts sharply with dynamics that seem to be at work elsewhere in the West. European populations – in Hungary and Poland, and with a close call in Austria – are falling prey to increasingly radical, openly xenophobic populism. In the United States, Donald Trump’s bombastic bigotry has made him the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Londoners certainly had the option of intolerance. They could have voted for the Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, who accused Mr. Khan of having ties with “radical Muslim figures.” The expectation that any Muslim person is linked to extremism is undeniably racist. Levelling such accusations against a Muslim running for public office has nothing to do with protecting the public interest. The purpose of such tactics is to reinforce the notion that no Muslim can be trusted to hold an important leadership position.

Many people attempt to justify this view by pointing out that the Koran makes no distinction between “what belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar.” But that implies that all Muslims behave exclusively according to the tenets of the Koran, without regard for secular law. That is simply not true.

In some cases, there are questions about how Islam’s adherents, including some of its most visible representatives, approach the subject of Islam’s role in the West. The scholar Tariq Ramadan, for example, has spoken of the rise of a “European Islam,” which anchors Islamic principles to the cultural reality of Western Europe. I fully support this notion, as long as this new Islam shares without reservation the values, beliefs and memories of Europeans, including recognition of Israel’s right to exist. (Unfortunately, when I expressed this to Mr. Ramadan in a debate years ago, he remained silent.)

The challenges that may arise when incorporating Islam into Europe’s already diverse societies do not, in any sense, mean that Muslims cannot be trusted to lead well.

Yet some, particularly in France, are now warning that Mr. Khan’s election is the first step toward a not-too-distant future in which Muslims impose Islamic law on European countries, a scenario made vivid by Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel, Submission. (The book, however, can be interpreted less as a prediction of a Muslim takeover than as a criticism of French political correctness, which seems to adhere to the mantra, “Anyone but the National Front.”)

The implications of Mr. Khan’s election are likely to contradict the bigots and fear mongers. Beyond acting as a slap in the face to Europe’s populist forces, his victory will deal a blow to the Islamic State, which for the purpose of recruitment depends on young European Muslims’ feelings of humiliation, marginalization and failure.

With a Muslim as mayor of London – a great Western city, which has suffered brutal terrorist attacks – it will be that much harder for jihadis to convince potential recruits in the West that their governments and societies are seeking to repress them. If young Muslims can succeed in the West, why would they give up their lives for IS, which is already losing ground in Iraq and Syria?

Of course, Muslim success stories such as Mr. Khan’s remain too few and far between. But there is much to be gained from recognizing, publicizing and multiplying them. This would probably be easier to achieve in Britain than in France, where the absolute separation of church and state remains at the core of French republican identity.

In short, by rejecting Islamophobia and reiterating their belief in the values of an open society, Londoners have dealt a blow to Islamists. But it would be dangerous to overestimate the implications of Mr. Khan’s election.

For one thing, London is hardly representative of the entire United Kingdom, much less the rest of Europe or the West as a whole. The city is more cosmopolitan than New York, as culturally dynamic as Berlin and much more self-confident than Paris. It is exceptional in its energy and openness. (If only Londoners were to vote in the June 23 referendum, they would most likely choose to remain in the European Union, despite its flaws.)

For another, London’s openness and confidence is dependent, at least partly, on economic growth and prosperity. After all, it is far easier to share a large and growing pie. The stereotypical “Polish plumber” who contributed to the beautification of London starting in the early 1990s was an economic asset, never a threat, and at least indirectly paved the way for workers from other countries and cultures.

Nonetheless, the openness of Londoners – especially at a time when so many of their Western counterparts are being tempted by bigotry – is worthy of celebration. Rather than answering fear with more fear, they elected the better candidate, regardless of religion. That is how it should be.

Source: Why the election of London’s first Muslim mayor is a message of hope – The Globe and Mail

The anti-Trump: Sadiq Khan and triumph of mainstream Islam – iPolitics

Shenaz Kermalli on Sadiq Khan’s win:

Last year, we saw Muslims in Canada unite strategically for the first time in a non-partisan, grassroots organization to achieve a single goal — to increase the participation of Canadian Muslims in the democratic process. This, coupled with the former government’s crude anti-Muslim strategy (not unlike the tactics employed by Zac Goldsmith, Sadiq Khan’s Conservative Party competitor), was a key factor in bringing Justin Trudeau’s pro-immigration party to power. We’ve also seen Maryam Monsef, who came to Canada an as Afghan refugee, sworn in as minister of Democratic Institutions in Trudeau’s cabinet, and Ginella Massa, a hijab-clad journalist, become an on-camera reporter for the Toronto-based CityTV.

Britons, too, have seen a rise in the number of British Muslims taking on high-profile roles. From Nadiya Hussain — winner of the popular television program The Great British Bake-Off — to Somali-born and London-raised Mo Farah, winner of two Olympic Gold medals in 2013, it has been exhilarating to see Muslims make headlines in stories that were not about suicide attacks or beheadings.

In the U.S., we saw videos of Dalia Mogahed, director of research at a DC social policy institute, go viral after she smoothly took on contentious questions about the hijab and radicalization on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah — using U.S. polling figures as evidence that there was no correlation between the two. We also saw professional fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad become the first U.S. athlete to complete in the Olympics as an identifiable Muslim.

None of these people ever publicly condemned ISIS’s abhorrent actions during their moments of fame for a very simple reason: It wasn’t in their remit. They are all skilled professionals in their own right — recognized as Muslims but celebrated for the extraordinary skills they use to contribute to mainstream society.

Which is the way it should be. Muslims are no different from anyone else. For that reason, their achievements should be commended no more, or less, than anyone else’s.

Perhaps the next step in fostering genuine equity in society is for news outlets to drop the ‘Muslim’ descriptor altogether. Would it have made headlines across the world if a Jewish or Hindu mayor had won the London mayoral race, or The Great British Bake-Off?

Canadian journalist Muhammad Lila asked the right question after Sadiq won the mayoral race: “Wouldn’t it be nice if one day Muslims could just do stuff, without pointing out their religion?”

Source: The anti-Trump: Sadiq Khan and triumph of mainstream Islam – iPolitics

Exclusive: London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Religious Extremism, Brexit and Donald Trump | TIME

My favourite quote from London’s new mayor on the difference between tolerating and welcoming:

That shows what a wonderful city we are. We’re not simply tolerating each other — you tolerate a toothache, I don’t want to be tolerated. We respect, we embrace, and we celebrate, which is fantastic.

Source: Exclusive: London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Religious Extremism, Brexit and Donald Trump | TIME