Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, since writing the previous blog, has additionally contributed her cries to another Guardian article. The report, ridiculously biased in its tone, continues to give the anti-Muslim head teacher space to air her unsubstantiated claims, without presenting too much of stern test of verification.
A Distraction from the Contentions Against Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson
Let me make this clear: most of the article is a deflection of the legitimate contentions I have raised against Hewitt-Clarkson’s bombastic claims. Nevertheless, I will entertain this distraction because the Trojan Hoax allegations are still being used to give credence to the totalitarian “extremism” policy announced yesterday. Theresa May, an extremist by her own definition, cited it an interview with the Beeb in which she failed to provide examples of the now widely criticised “extremism” policy would be applied. The Trojan Hoax farce was a pretext for these ridiculous measures; journalists and blustering, opportunistic teachers would do well to take note.
The Guardian article summons the powers of spin to discredit not only me (in the words of the neocon Michael Gove’s lackey Peter Clarke, “Islamist blogosphere” – what?! Now I’m an Islamist?!), but the cross-party Education Select Committee inquiry into the Trojan Hoax allegations, which found no “extremism”, bar one incident. I have clarified this one incident, but hey, why would the Guardian or any other paper regurgitating Clarke’s diatribe give a damn about the nuances when it comes to smearing Muslims. The Peter Clarke being quoted knew exactly what this one incident was; that it was allegedly PREVENT material being copied at the behest of PREVENT officers, yet he still sought to only note that the existence of an “Al-Qaeda video” at the school was “disputed” by Park View Trust.
The Committee found that the Trojan Hoax fiasco was “less about extremism than about governance”. Peter Clarke is “somewhat surprised” by the Committee’s findings, and Hewitt-Clarkson, who endorsed the fabricated “Trojan Horse” letter, based on her personal grudges with the local community, also sees it as a setback. The fact is that even Ian Kershaw’s 2014 report, which was intercepted by Clarke’s report via a leak (yes, a counter-terror expert’s report was leaked), concluded that there was no “evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism, or radicalisation in schools in east Birmingham”. If the Guardian journalist, her opportunistic interviewee, and Clarke looked at the actual Committee report they would find that the following individuals also concluded the same:
Sir Michael Wilshaw told us: “We did not see extremism in schools. What we did see was the promotion of a culture that would, if that culture continued, have made the children in those schools vulnerable to extremism because of […] the disconnection from wider society and cultural isolation”
Nicky Morgan told the House on 22 July: “There has been no evidence of direct radicalisation or violent extremism but there is a clear account in the [Clarke] report of people in positions of influence in these schools, who have a restricted and narrow interpretation of their faith, not promoting British values and failing to challenge the extremist views of others”
There was no evidence of “extremism” in schools. They made unsavoury remarks in a private social group in which teachers also called for inclusiveness, a “broad and balanced curriculum” and celebrated Muslim women entering into the educational sphere, although clearly, this is not useful evidence to justify outlandish, state policy-supporting conclusions. The point often missed by our pseudo-liberal anti-Muslim saviours is that the Department for Education (DfE) became thought-police, sanctioning individuals who held religious views not articulated in a public, employed capacity, using criteria which was not and is still not, law (Peter Clarke explicitly used the PREVENT definition of “extremism” based on “British values”, which Theresa May was unable to give a practical example for). There was no “Islamist plot” at these schools, contrary to Peter Clarke’s conclusion. Indeed the test used by Clarke to determine a plot would equally point to a “coordinated plot” by a bunch of nihilistic neocons cementing their creation of radical nationalism via the imposition of the undemocratically ascertained state religion of “British values”. Presumably, those who stated there was no evidence of “extremism” or a plot are all “Islamists” for coming to these conclusions too.
Allow me to quote some more “Islamists” Mr Clarke.
In a letter to the Guardian, co-signed by leading educationalists including Gus John, Tim Brighouse and academic, Professor Arun Kundnani, it was stated that,
“Peter Clarke’s report is not “forensic”, as Nicky Morgan claims (Report, 22 July), but a biased mix of uncorroborated smear, anecdote, hoax and chatroom gossip… It reflects neoconservative assumptions about the nature of extremism; ignores significant testimony and viewpoints; implies the essential problem in Birmingham is simply the influence of certain individuals; discusses governance but not curriculum; ignores the concerns and perceptions of parents and young people; and is unlikely to bear judicial scrutiny.”
Robin Richardson, a former director of the Runnymede Trust and the manager of the Insted website on equality and diversity in education, wrote in a comment piece published in the Institute of Race Relations, that,
“…the most elementary principles underlying ‘fundamental British values’ are ignored. Hearsay is presented as fact. Assertions are made without corroborating evidence. Individuals, organisations and groups are criticised without a shred of evidence and without the elementary courtesy of a right to reply. Allegations from anonymous individuals are cited and repeated but without any attempt to get at whatever truth may lie behind them. Opinions and claims by anonymous individuals are cited but without consideration of the possibility they might be malicious, prejudiced or downright wrong. On the rare occasions that hard evidence is supplied – for example, there are quotations from social media conversations amongst a small group of teachers, and quotations from a fine publication by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) – it is open to a range of different interpretations, and therefore does not persuasively support Clarke’s conclusions. On the contrary, some of Clarke’s evidence could be considered a refutation or qualification of his arguments…
“The cumulative effect of Clarke’s report is to present the neoconservative and profoundly offensive view that Islam is ‘a swamp’ in which noisome creatures such as crocodiles and mosquitos thrive and are given nourishment and support. ‘Peter’ has delivered what his political and media friends hoped and asked for. His report is a grave disservice, however, to very many millions of others.”
These comments and statements predate the Education Select Committee report. Yes, Mr Clarke… Terrible, terrible “Islamist” bloggers!
Anti-Muslim reporting and more Misleading Statements
It is also noteworthy that once again, the Guardian, like the Birmingham Mail, omits the inconvenient point that campaigns against CHIPS was also conducted by Christian organisations in Birmingham, thus tacitly ascribing parental concerns solely to Muslim parents. Additionally, the CHIPS material is a private endeavour and is not mandated by the DfE. Hewitt-Clarkson incorrectly states that “she has to teach pupils according to the Equality Act”. Official DfE guidelines state, that the Act places an obligation on the school to not discriminate and does not directly relate to homophobic bullying. “Advancing equality of opportunity” mentioned in the Act also places a duty on the public body to remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by people which are connected to a particular characteristic they have. To tell parents opposing CHIPS – material not even mentioned in DfE’s guidance on anti-bullying materials – that she has to “teach pupils according to the Equality Act” is grossly misleading.
But then Hewitt-Clarkson seems to have a habit of making misleading statements.
A Return From the Distraction
Hewitt-Clarkson proceeds to make further claims, citing the receipt of hate mail. However, again the question is asked, where is the “incontrovertible evidence” which points to a link between these incidents and the disproven Trojan Hoax plot?
The critical part of the report – just one sentence which should have formed the basis of the headline – is buried beneath words designed to discredit me, and those who have questioned the ideological war waged by the ornery neocon Michael Gove, while providing fickle fodder for the neocon Government’s soft-totalitarian counter-extremism proposals. After navigating through the rich malarkey, one reaches the following:
Hewitt-Clarkson admits there is no evidence as to why the dead animals were left at schools or who was responsible, but fears that the aim was “to intimidate heads, cause misery”.
In other words, the link between the dead animals and the disproven and academically criticised Trojan Hoax was cooked in the mind of a deluded head teacher. Now, can we please have evidence to show that the death threats and people petitioning against CHIPS is also linked to the “Trojan Horse” allegations? And while we are at it, that crime reference number showing the complaint about death threats being made to the police around the time of the claim being made would also be great. After all, we need to establish whether Hewitt-Clarkson failed in her duty to safeguard pupils.