Let us call a spade a spade: Bobby Jindal has embarrassed himself in London with a speech that was designed to spread fear about the fake “no-go zones.” The speech was an assimilationist, Islamophobic and woefully inaccurate piece of right wing propaganda from a man rumored to be looking at a 2016 presidential run. It is difficult to say what is worse about this speech – the fact that it was so bad or the fact that he thought he could get away with it.
Controversy about Jindal’s speech began when his press team released his prepared remarks remarks to the media ahead of his speech in London. Since it was to be given to the Henry Jackson Society, a neo-conservative British think-tank, no one was surprised at the conservative tenor of the speech. What was surprising was its discussion of Muslim no-go zones in Europe and Britain. After the issue with Birmingham in which FOX News had to make an apology to the entire city, no one really expected this to continue to be an issue. In fact, FOX News itself issued a retraction in which it said, “To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country, and no credible information to support the assertion that there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion.” For most people this would be enough to show that the claims of no-go zones is spurious, false and not credible.
Except for Bobby Jindal. In his speech (a version released by his office can be seen online), Jindal argued the existence of no-go zones both in Europe and America. According to him, “non-assimilationist Muslims” are coming to Western countries and setting up special areas for themselves only where Sharia law is the only law while ignoring or even eradicating Western law and culture from their new territory. He found the idea that a country would allow Muslims this kind of power to be “hard to fathom” and went on to frame the war on terrorism as a culture war between Western countries and an entire religion. He argued that only complete assimilation is acceptable for immigrants and that if they do not fully assimilate into Western culture, then they are basically invading.
Jindal’s speech basically makes the argument that Muslims who come to any Western country should assimilate or become an enemy of the state. It is hard to see how this might work since creating ethnic communities is one of the hallmarks of American immigration. Boston has an Irish heritage stemming from the Irish immigrants who moved there and created a piece of their homeland in America. Chinatown in California is much the same idea – a place where people who no longer live in their homeland can retain that essential part of their identity. The fact that these types of “enclaves” (as Jindal puts it) are something other than part of the American culture is ridiculous.
The fact that Jindal is not declaring war on Chinese immigrants or Irish immigrants shows just how Islamophobic his entire view is. Putting aside the obvious fallacy of the no-go zones, Jindal is only arguing that Muslim immigrants be assimilated. Why? Perhaps because they are the enemy of the week. Should America and Russia suddenly become enemies at war, this speech could easily pull double duty. All he would have to do is swap the word “Muslims” for “Russians.”
Jindal has, of course, tried to deny that he was being Islamophobic in this speech by placing blame on the “radical left.” In follow up interviews, he has doubled-down on the no-go zone myth, failing to provide any evidence for it beyond “people know.” Yes, that was his defense: “We all know.” Except “we” do not know, mostly because this is not a fact that can be known because it does not exist. The fact that even FOX News issued a retraction on the concept of no-go zones says a lot. If even FOX News knows that this is wrong, then there is no excuse for the Oxford-educated Bobby Jindal.
Most politicians do not purposefully embarass themselves abroad like Bobby Jindal did in London with his mythical no-go zone speech. So why did he? The secret lies in the reaction from the conservative wing of American politics. Frank Gaffney, Jr. at the conservative Washington Times wrote an article praising the Louisiana governor for his “straight talk.” According to him, the speech “speaks volumes about the current state of this issue, as well as about the character and promise of the governor himself, that a man widely perceived to be an aspiring presidential candidate would be willing to set himself apart in this fashion and at this time.” And there you have it. That is the entire reason for this malarkey.
Jindal is one of those 2016 conservative hopefuls. In a field where the moderate leaning Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney seem to be leading the pack for the Republicans, everyone is looking for a way to stand out. The Louisiana governor is no different and he seems to have chosen the tactic of being more conservative than even FOX News. Or at least more ill-informed. Someone is going after the Tea Party vote. Hint: it’s Bobby “No, really, everyone knows that the totally non-existent no-go zones exist” Jindal. Well, here is a tip for Bobby Jindal: anyone educated at Oxford should know that this argument does not constitute evidence. Maybe while he is still in London, he can catch up with an old professor who can explain this to him.
Video by CNN
Opinion By Lydia Bradbury