By Clay Waters ~
The New York Times’ ongoing all-front war on “Islamophobia” raged on in coverage of the election of Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London. Stephen Castle led hard with it in his Saturday story, which made the front page under a headline quoting the new liberal leader himself as making a grand triumph over hate: “Electing Their First Muslim Mayor, Londoners Chose ‘Unity Over Division.’”
In a Europe struggling with a rise in Islamophobia, riven by debates about the flood of Syrian migrants and on edge over religious, ethnic and cultural disputes, London has elected its first Muslim mayor.
Castle at least mentioned migrant troubles, but left out the obvious fact that Europe is now also struggling with Islamic terrorism, while the lead sentence in an earlier version of the article left out any possible reason why what the Times calls “Islamophobia” might be rising:
Sadiq Khan, a son of a bus driver from Pakistan, was declared the winner of London’s mayoral election on Saturday, becoming the first Muslim to lead Britain’s capital at a time of rising Islamophobia in the West.
Castle detailed anecdotes of recent “assaults” on Muslims, but skimmed over deadly Islamic terrorist attacks, not even describing the attack on the London bus and tube system in July 2005 that killed 52 people and injured 700 while implying that it was ancient history and no cause for further suspicion:
Nonetheless, Mr. Khan, 45, won a striking victory after a campaign dominated by anxieties over religion and ethnicity. Britain has not sustained a large-scale terrorist attack since 2005, and its Muslim population, in contrast to France, is considered well integrated. But an estimated 800 people have left Britain to fight for or support the Islamic State. Dozens of assaults on British Muslims were reported after the Paris terrorist attacks in November.
The Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, attacked Mr. Khan’s past advocacy for criminal defendants, including his opposition to the extradition of a man who was later convicted in the United States of supporting terrorism. Mr. Goldsmith said Mr. Khan had given “oxygen and cover” to extremists. When the Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, repeated those assertions in Parliament, he was accused of racism.
Mr. Khan defended his work as a human rights lawyer, and has said he hoped Donald J. Trump — the presumptive Republican presidential candidate who has called for barring Muslims from entering the United States — “loses badly.”
The Times buried the disintegration in Scotland of Britain’s left-wing party:
Mr. Khan’s victory was also his party’s biggest boost in a series of elections on Thursday in which Labour further lost its grip on Scotland, once a stronghold, and clung, in some cases just barely, to seats in England and Wales.
Castle at least mentioned the Labour Party embroiled in anti-Semitism controversies, a running story Castle continues to cover.
In the past week, the Labour Party was distracted by a dispute over anti-Semitism that led to the suspension of a lawmaker, Naseem Shah, and a former London mayor, Ken Livingstone.
Within Britain, the news of the collapse of the Labour Party in Scotland was almost as big as Mr. Khan’s victory.
But not in the New York Times, which emphasized the pro-Islam angle of Khan’s mayoral victory.
An April 26 article by Castle on British politics also pasted unflattering labels upon conservatives.
As Britain engages in fierce debates centered on national identity, it is also confronting challenges to traditional norms of political discourse, with issues of race and religion surfacing more overtly and provocatively.
The looming referendum on whether to leave the European Union, the place of Muslims in British society at a time when Islamic terrorists have carried out attacks in Europe, the broader question of the island nation’s openness to immigration and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict all have recently provoked heated commentary about discrimination and tolerance.
Like most European countries, many of which are facing growing populist movements on the far right, Britain has always grappled with a strain of racial and religious bias. But the political calendar and global events have combined to push the topic to center stage.
After a tangent on a controversial column by current London mayor Boris Johnson criticizing Obama for removing a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office:
All of those anxieties have surfaced in what has become a nasty campaign to succeed Mr. Johnson as mayor of London. In both the exit debate and the mayoral race, it is the side that is thought to be losing that has ratcheted up the rhetoric, at times verging on racism and Islamophobia, that has upset many Britons.
Castle flattered the humble-born “human rights activist” Khan compared to his toff Conservative opponent, and glossed over the dubious company he has kept.
The Labour Party candidate for mayor, Sadiq Khan, has been attacked by his Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith, for previous appearances alongside Islamic extremists — criticism repeated by Mr. Cameron in Parliament.
The contrast between Mr. Khan, 45, and Mr. Goldsmith, 41, is stark. Mr. Khan, the son of Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, was raised with seven siblings in a public housing unit with three bedrooms. His father drove a London bus, and his mother was a seamstress.
Mr. Goldsmith lived in an 18th-century mansion; attended Eton (where he was thrown out for smoking cannabis); and inherited a fortune from his billionaire father, the tycoon Sir James Goldsmith.