By Shazia Hobbs
“Political correctness is a weapon used to silence people who tell the truth” — Ayaan Hirsi Ali
I remember being told that it was no longer politically correct to sing the nursery rhyme ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ to my son, who is now almost 24 years old. I remember being told that it was offensive to black people. The fact that I was singing about sheep and not black people was neither here nor there. Black people and black sheep were one and the same to the lefties and political correctness pioneers of the late 80s and early 90s. I carried on singing ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ to my son and ignored those who discouraged it.
Next it was the black board that was an object of offense and you could not say ‘black board’ any more. If I were a black person I would have been offended that I was being compared to sheep and a board. The saddest thing about these two changes and no doubt numerous others like it, is that black people were not even offended.
In January 2000, a nursery school in Birmingham tried to stop Baa Baa Black sheep being taught, as it was considered ‘racially offensive’. Black parents told them this was ‘ridiculous’ and the children continued to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep.
Next they went after the golliwog on the Robertson jam jars. I personally loved the gollywog, as I am sure many black people did too. In 1983 Greater London Council stopped buying the firm’s jams and marmalades because the golliwog was deemed racist. In 1984 councillors in Islington banned a road safety poster for being offensive because it featured the golliwog. The golliwog was axed from TV adverts in 1988 and then disappeared from labels in 2002.
The golliwog was not on the jar to cause offense but political correctness removed him from the jar and the golliwog was forever deemed as ‘racist and offensive.’
I remember my cousins visiting when I was a child, cousins on my mother’s side of the family, my white cousins. I remember we dressed my girl cousin up in one our shalwar kameezes, Asian clothes, gave her bangles to wear and braided her hair. She was delighted by her transformation into a little Pakistani girl and the fact that she had blonde hair and blue eyes didn’t matter to any of us. Then we didn’t know about cultural appropriation and how we should have been offended that my cousin wanted to dress like us.
Today cultural appropriation gets everyone offended. A white girl with dreadlocks, wearing bindis, saris, anything that is not part of her culture is usually slated the most. Yet a black girl can straighten her Afro and dye it blonde and wear blue contact lenses and no one shouts cultural appropriation. As with most things it works only one way, white people are accused of stealing everyone’s culture.
Today everything is offensive and everyone is racist. Racist no longer has the same meaning it did when I was a child and experienced real racism: racism, where white people would spit at my mum for wearing Asian clothes and having little mixed race children, spit at her and call her a ‘Paki lover’; racism, where the windows of my childhood home were smashed on a regular basis because some people in the predominantly white area where we had moved to were not happy with the new brown faces on their streets — a real fear of being hated because you looked different and only because you looked different to those doing the hating.
Today you are a racist if you disagree with mass immigration; that you may be an immigrant yourself makes no difference, you will still be called a racist and failing that a bigot, an Uncle Tom or deluded.
Political correctness has come so far that we now can be racist towards an idea, not people. If you criticise or mock Islam you will be labelled a racist. How did we get here? Simple. Back in the late 80s Salman Rushdie wrote ‘The Satanic Verses’, a book which Muslims around the world burned and a fatwa was issued to kill Rushdie for insulting Islam in this book. The majority of Muslims rioting and burning his book had not even read it. Blindly, they followed the orders of their mullahs and sheikhs. Rushdie had to go into hiding for many years for his own safety.
Here in the UK, they rioted on the streets of Bradford and burned an effigy of Rushdie and copies of his book. Books they would have had to purchase to burn. They burned the books outside magistrates’ courts, town halls and the police station. The police, whose job it is to protect the public, stood by and watched and allowed the angry Muslims to carry on. Since then they have been allowing ‘angry Muslims’ to carry on with a number of things that would see non-Muslims jailed.
Political correctness, fear of offending and a real of fear of angry Muslims protesting means we are allowing girls vaginas to be mutilated and not punishing the parents. So far in the UK where more than 20,000 girls are at risk of being cut every year, no one has yet been jailed for FGM. The Royal College of Midwives website states that ‘every hour a woman in England attends a medical appointment where FGM is identified.’
We say it is cultural rather than religious. We throw money at agencies that have been set up to raise awareness, deliver training and educate safe guarding agencies, instead of immediately arresting and prosecuting those guilty as we do with every other child abuse crime.
The same can be said of forced marriage and the lack of prosecutions. I was forced into a marriage in 1988 as I know many hundreds of other young Muslim girls and boys were, and it took until 2014 for the government to make it a criminal offence. Political correctness and a twisted respect to a culture allowed many young people and no doubt older people too, to be forced into a marriage and to be raped. Political correctness has allowed Islam to be protected and given special privileges.
The police are too scared of being disciplined if they criticise Islam. In his book ‘Who’d be a copper’, Jonathan Nicholson writes about how the changes were slowly implemented to protect Islam and Muslims. As a community cop he was encouraged to attend Gay Awareness Day, which he said was very good at destroying stereotypes. Other awareness days included Gypsy/Traveller, Autism, Deaf and Islam. There were no other religions that were given an awareness day, just Islam. You have to ask why? What is so special about Islam that police forces in England were encouraged to attend awareness days?
There was a ‘Draw Mohamed’ event a few years ago which had to be cancelled, as the organisers received death threats. We mock Jesus and Christianity, we sings songs about Jesus Christ being a superstar, wearing frilly knickers, etc. We do this without any fear of death or being beheaded. And we are allowed to do this, no one stops us and no one calls us racist or a phobic as does happen with Islam. The most fucked up thing about drawing Mohammed is that there are pictures of him, lots of them, drawn by Muslims before it was decided it was offensive. These pictures can be found with a simple Google search.
More than 40 years of ignoring the harmful cultural practices of Muslims has allowed many Muslims to think they are above the law. And many are; they can apply for visas for hate preachers from Pakistan to come to the UK to spread their hate in mosques all across the country. These hate preachers are banned from preaching in Pakistan yet are given a warm welcome here in the UK. Political correctness has made the British government a laughing stock in Pakistan.
Shazia Hobbs is the author of The Gori’s Daughter, her debut novel, and is currently writing her next novel, The Gori. Shazia is a full-time mum and her days are spent doing the school run, after-school activities, cooking, cleaning and walking the dog. Somewhere in between all of these chores she finds the time to write.
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