Let’s all go to Birmingham!

BirminghamBus

Only if you want to, of course, but if you should so wish, there should be absolutely no trouble at all in fulfilling your desire – apart from having to negotiate some horrible traffic1 and find a car park, that is. Or you could use public transport and it would be even easier.

But during an interview on Fox News, a ‘Terror Expert’, one Steve Emerson, gave millions of people across the USA the impression that Birmingham, England was totally ruled by Muslims and that non-Muslims simple did not go there for fear of reprisals. This is pure fiction2, and whether it was a deliberate untruth or not, the likely effect will be to stir up intolerance and increase tensions. And that’s not going to help anyone.

Here’s what he said, according to one of our better newspapers, The Guardian:

“In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.

And, parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.”

Well. I was born in London and have been there quite a lot, but it’s the first I’ve heard of it!

Far from being a Muslim-controlled stronghold where non-Muslims are not welcome, Birmingham is a vibrant and thriving city, and I am not at all afraid to go there. Multicultural? Yes. High immigrant population? Probably. But it has no more trouble than any other large city anywhere in the world and probably less than most. It is a well known and much-visited business, shopping, cultural and exhibition centre. I’d be happy to let my old granny go there for the day if I had one.

BirminghamShops

Don’t see many people being beaten for not wearing the right clothing in that picture, do you?

In fact, I shall be going to the NEC in Birmingham myself in a couple of months. I will be wearing jeans and a tee shirt, but I don’t expect anyone to give me a second glance, let alone challenge me because of it. Heavens above, we probably have a comparable percentage of Muslims right here in my own city.

So, dear American friends of mine, please, please, PLEASE stop watching Fox News! I have never heard such twaddle in all my life as I heard quoted today! And it’s dangerous twaddle.

1 Quite possibly, Spaghetti Junction, depending on which direction you are coming from.

2 And reportedly caused David Cameron, our Beloved Leader, to choke on his porridge, which I would have given much to see.

Photo of West Midlands bus in Birmingham courtesy of Free Foto.

Photo of a Birmingham shopping centre courtesy of Pixabay.

14 thoughts on “Let’s all go to Birmingham!

  1. Rob Lenihan 13th January 2015 / 12:04 am

    Fux News is a curse, recklessly giving air time to all manner of reactionary psychopaths.

    They beat the drum loudly for George Bush’s disastrous war in Iraq and they tout every single lie about Obama as if it came from the Almighty. They are scum.

    • Jay 13th January 2015 / 8:59 pm

      I can’t imagine why so many people still watch it and believe what they’re told. In fact, I also have no idea why they are still operating when they could potentially cause so much trouble with stuff like this.

  2. Ron 13th January 2015 / 1:30 am

    ” I have never heard such twaddle in all my life as I heard quoted today! And it’s dangerous twaddle.”

    It’s the same here, Jay! Which is why I don’t watch the news because they either lie or don’t tell us the complete truth.

    Btw, Birmingham sounds like a very nice city. Love the photograph of the shopping center!

    • Jay 13th January 2015 / 9:01 pm

      I don’t watch the news anymore either, Ron. I often think that if I were picked up unconscious somewhere, and when I woke up in hospital they asked me those ‘is she in full possession of her faculties’ questions, they’d conclude I was brain damaged or suffering from Alzheimer’s. Current affairs? Who needs them! What day of the week is it? Who cares!

  3. nick 13th January 2015 / 8:00 pm

    From what I can gather, it’s more Fox Fantasy than Fox News. Or the “news” is what the presenter has invented today as opposed to yesterday. But some people will believe any old prejudice if it chimes with their own views, and the truth just doesn’t interest them.

    • Jay 13th January 2015 / 9:01 pm

      Sadly true, Nick. Perhaps they should rename it ‘Fox Fantasy’ and stop pretending to be reporting actual events?

  4. Valerie Daggatt 14th January 2015 / 10:50 am

    Hi Jay, as a Birmingham born-and-bred gal I can honestly say that I was disgusted with the recent remark about my multi-cultural city, one that I am extremely proud of. However, the Midlands sense of humour came into play with a vengeance… I wonder if you saw or read some of the comic responses aimed at Steve Emerson’s stupid declaration. It led to a list being published of population figures, broken into religions. Mine was top of the list by a mile!!

    Thank you for visiting my blog and giving me the opportunity to join in this discussion.

    • Jay 14th January 2015 / 1:56 pm

      Hi Valerie! Thanks for popping over and commenting.

      I don’t usually get involved in politics but this made me SO angry. This man, as a supposed expert on terrorism, has a duty, not only to check his facts very carefully, but to do nothing to inflame an already difficult situation and what does he do? Incite hatred and suspicion by peddling supposition and wildly inaccurate garbage. I know, I’m preaching to the converted, but really!! If he were an ordinary ‘man in the street’ who said something like that on Facebook, he’d be up on charges. And I think he probably should be.

      Yes, I did see quite a lot of the comic responses, and I was so happy to see so many people using satire and humour to put him in his place. If he isn’t thoroughly ashamed of himself (and perhaps feeling just a tad humiliated) by now, there’s no hope.

  5. houndstooth4 14th January 2015 / 2:13 pm

    Ugh! I hate Fox News with the power of a thousand blazing suns! And people like my mom and stepdad suck it up like candy. I’m fairly certain she thinks they wrote the Bible at this point, since she believes every word they say is the Gospel. I hate that there are people naive enough to believe anything they report. I would go outside and look up if they reported that the sky was blue! Um, anyway, end rant!

    • Jay 14th January 2015 / 3:51 pm

      I am both comforted by the number of sensible Americans who hate Fox News, and disturbed by the number who watch it and lap it up without question. It’s odd how sometimes it’s the older generation who are slow to change their minds about something which used (perhaps) to be OK, but is no longer. My Mum was the same with one of the newspapers we have here and which used to be OK but is now firmly down in the dirt with the gutter press. And of course, nothing anyone says will change their minds. I think in this case the answer is to try to get the institution to change, but … well, good luck with that one.

  6. Dianne 14th January 2015 / 3:22 pm

    I saw the show where this opinion was expressed and thought at the time it was a bit over the top. Later, I read in the BBC outlet I read that it was wuite mistaken.

    The reaction of so many to this comment taken out of context is puzzling. I fear for my fellow humans who condemn an entire network because it hosts the odd crank. There are many respected ‘talking heads’ on this network, and many appear elsewhere on other networks too.

    I always know when I’m dealing with an uninformed person when they condemn Fox blindly without having all the facts.

    Otherwise, I like your piece setting the record straight on life in Birmingham. And that ‘rag pie’ you mentioned in a comment on my blog sounds disgusting. I did once like fried bread, however, or bread dipped in the grease from the pan.

    • Jay 14th January 2015 / 4:00 pm

      Hi Dianne – well, I’m not totally uninformed, because I have watched Fox News, both in America and on satellite, but I probably saw only the worst bits, judged it from those, and of course, watched no more. I suppose our problem here on this side of the Pond is that we seldom hear of Fox News unless it is to highlight yet another OTT reaction or a comment like this one, and that does tend to colour one’s judgement a tad. Point me to a good talking heads show and I’ll check it out!

      Yes, the rag pie does sound totally disgusting, doesn’t it? They have something vaguely similar in Italy which I tried by accident once in Siena. ‘Lardo’ is considered a delicacy, but I’ll be happy if I never see it again, let alone eat another calzone containing several large, greasy chunks of the stuff.

  7. Violet (as in Ain't No Shrinking!) 18th January 2015 / 4:53 am

    Jay, for the life of me I can’t figure out how to follow your blog. I’m not an ace with wordpress by any means so perhaps I’m missing something obvious. You have a lot of commenters, so how do they follow you? 🙂

    • Jay 18th January 2015 / 9:09 am

      I don’t know, Violet! Perhaps they only pop over if I’ve put in an appearance on their blogs?

      All I know is that if you have a WordPress account you can do it from your WordPress dashboard, or you can use the RSS button in my sidebar, or if you have a news reader like Net News Wire, you can simply add the URL to that. But as to this ‘follow’ thing, I have no idea. I’ve seen it associated with Blogger, but I’ve never really used Blogger. I have a placeholder there which will direct you here, but I don’t actually use it. I must see if I can find out more, because people keep asking me.

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