There are no words for the horror of Rotherham.
More than 1,400 young girls have been raped and brutally exploited in the northern England town of roughly 250,000 over the past 16 years, while nearly everyone in authority did all he or she could to look the other way.
An independent investigation released last week says: “It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered. They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated.”
In other words, the local government tolerated sexual violence on a vast scale. Why? In part, because the criminals who committed these sickening acts were Muslims from the local Pakistani community, and noticing their depravity was considered insensitive at best, racist at worst.
The British home secretary says “institutionalized political correctness” contributed to the abandonment of hundreds of girls to their tormentors. Imagine something out of the nightmarish world of Stieg Larsson, brought to life and abetted by the muddle-headed cowardice of people who fear the disapproval of the diversity police.
In Rotherham, multiculturalism triumphed over not just feminism, but over the law, over basic human decency, and over civilization itself.
The victims were white and overwhelmingly from broken homes. They were groomed by young men who would ply them with cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, and, after initiating a sexual relationship, force them to have sex with other men and make violent threats to keep them subservient.
The New York Times interviewed a girl who was first gang-raped at age 13. Thereafter, it became a regular occurrence. To keep her in line, her torturers threatened to rape her mother and firebomb her house. Once, they carried out a mock execution with a gun clapped to her head.
This isn’t Romania or Sierra Leone. It isn’t a strife-torn land of desperate poverty and violence. It is the country that, despite its backsliding, still stands for propriety and lawfulness.
Even though reports were reaching social workers of the crimes in Rotherham as far back as the 1990s, nothing of consequence was done for more than a decade. The police were pigheaded and clueless, and the fear of being called “racist” paralyzed the very social workers and local officials who were supposed to protect the girls.
In a BBC documentary, the author of a 2002 report to the Rotherham council on the scandal said her work was quashed. When she noted that the perpetrators were from the Pakistani community, a colleague told her “you must never refer to that again — you must never refer to Asian men.” She was sent to diversity training and, by her account, nearly fired.
The reports kept coming every few years, to no effect. A 2006 report noted that “one of the difficulties that prevents this issue being dealt with effectively is the ethnicity of the main perpetrators.”
It should be taken as a given that a rapist is a rapist, no matter what his religion or ethnicity. But British multiculturalism isn’t so simple-minded. The member of Parliament who represented Rotherham admitted that as a “liberal leftie” he didn’t want “to rock the multicultural community boat.”
And so the rapists did their vile worst, protected by the appalling assumption that violating and exploiting young girls is just another ethnic folkway that tolerant people have to learn to accept, or at least to ignore.
In this country, there is a feminist cottage industry in identifying nearly everything as part of “rape culture.” In Rotherham, there was a terrifyingly real and endemic rape culture. Yet Rotherham doesn’t have a fashionable hashtag. It hasn’t prompted feminist hand-wringing about how multiculturalism effectively empowered a criminal patriarchy. It has barely caused a peep.
It is the wrong perpetrators, wrong victims, wrong narrative. Which is why so many young, innocent lives were allowed to be ruined in the first place. There are no words.
— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: email@example.com. © 2014 King Features Syndicate