The Trojan Horse event of 2014 in Birmingham, which saw a political and media campaign to prove a “Islamist plot” to “takeover” state schools, and its fallout will go down in history as an eerily textbook implementation of neoconservative “father” Leo Strauss’ vision of the closed society. Briefly, the fascist thinking of neoconservatism has exploitation of fear, public deception, ruthless militarism and a totalitarian society as its tools and aims. As I have covered in some detail citing neoconservative writers and thinkers, the idea is that an active military abroad will result in people handing their freedoms here at home on a platter to an intrusive, all-encompassing state controlled by a small elite. Ultimately, a society willing to sacrifice its life for the neoconservative state is the ideal. This seemingly dystopian vision however has more than flavour of reality in Britain.
The Trojan Horse fiasco – now known by Muslims as the “Trojan Hoax” – entrenched the far-right myth of the “Muslim takeover”. This was done by employing lying journalists to cook up stories of “extremism”, whilst neocon infiltrated education departments and regulators (Ofsted) were weaponised into feeding the myth of the Trojan Horse. Muslim teachers were purged on the flimsiest of reasons – privately held beliefs – in order to fulfil the interconnected purposes of providing a pretext for regulatory measures (PREVENT), and constructing the fifth column Muslim enemy archetype. Of course, Ofsted was criticised by a host of academics early on, the “Trojan horse plot” turned out to be an elaborate piñata constructed by neocons, and courts are now overturning bans on Muslim teachers.
Rockwood Academy Militarisation
Despite the slow but steady disintegration of the Trojan hoax pretext, the neoconservative machine is chugging away at chipping and socially re-engineering the open society into a closed one. Leading the way is the Muslim-majority, Birmingham-based Rockwood Academy, formerly known as Park View School – the first victim of the Trojan Hoax political Islamophobia in the education sector.
The government over the past year has been making a number of pay-outs to help fund military-style education to “build character”. Last year George Osborne announced a £50 million grant to create cadet forces in 500 schools by 2020. The issue for the Government is that schools are not exactly rushing to implement the Cadet Expansion Programme due to a lack of demand for “military ethos”. Emma Sangster, a coordinator for campaign group ForcesWatch expressed concern,
“As a parent, I’d also be concerned about how the presence of someone in a military uniform at the school affected the environment… Often there are people in the community that come from all kinds of backgrounds, like refugees. Such visibility is worrying.”
There have been number of schools which have implemented the militarisation scheme, however, only Rockwood has been paraded in the media to promote both the scheme and the underlying message that its transmutation is “progress” and “success” for the “Trojan horse” school. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon himself has visited the school to render legitimacy and prestige to the school’s initiatives, describing the changes as “phoenix from the ashes” – the ashes being a school which was receptive to the religious needs of the Muslim community and statistically the best of its type nationally, and the phoenix being the creation of state-worshipping, brainwashed Muslim children who are now performing considerably worse – below local and national average in English and Maths – educationally.
CORE Education Trust – Adrian Packer
Rockwood Academy is run by CORE Education Trust, which is constituted of those linked to the persecution of the Muslim minority during the Trojan Hoax fiasco.
The CEO of the Trust is Adrian Packer, a former Mexican circus dancer who later entered the education sector.
Handling the school’s aftermath was Colin Diamond, the then Deputy Education Commissioner in Birmingham for Department for Education. He had promised parents and former governors at Park View School, Golden Hillock School and Nansen Primary (latter both being under Park View Educational Trust), that the process of choosing governors would be influenced and driven by the community and parents. Amongst the bevy of allegations made against Muslim teachers was that of nepotism, pushed by conflicting leaks by questionable teachers, and fuelling the “Muslim takeover” narrative. However, soon after the Muslim governors and teachers were removed, new appointments were made in opaque and exclusionary fashion. Appointed among them as Trust Governor was Ammo Talwar, owner of Punch records. As I revealed in December 2014, the Trojan Horse allegation of nepotism against the state-picked Packer was being conveniently ignored.
Under Packer and before the Rockwood rebrand, the disengagement with mainly Muslim parents reached a head when parents at Golden Hillock School were threatened that if they questioned the school too much especially around religion, they would be reported to the PREVENT team and could be arrested. This last point is particularly pertinent, and will be explored further in a follow-up blog.
Joanne “Jo” Tyler
Joanne Tyler is listed on the CORE Education website as the Director of Business and Finance and a founding member of the company. Her profile states that she “has successfully enabled the financial and resource development of a number of schools as Strategic Business Manager” and the she is “a respected professional in this field”.
Throughout 2014 Tyler was exposed as being friends with Channel 5 exclusive Trojan Horse “whistle-blower” Karen Slater. Tyler is allegedly part of the evangelical Riverside Church-linked circle, which is said to be implicated in the architecture of the original, fabricated Trojan Horse letter. Allegations that had been made against Muslim teachers at Park View, and which had resulted in investigations and suspensions, have also been made against Tyler. Purportedly, they are,
- Fast-tracked career under Matthew Scarrott, the previous head of Golden Hillock School who has allegations of having a hand in the Trojan Horse letter.
- Familial nepotism in the guise of her mother, husband, nephews and nieces working at the school.
- Botched tendering processes, which were then “covered up”
- Waste of school money
- Favours for contracts.
No investigations into Tyler have transpired. Despite this, she has fashioned herself into a “respected professional” who is currently overlooking the indoctrination of Muslim children.
Cathy O’Driscoll was listed as a board member of the Birmingham Education Partnership (BEP) in 2014. As has been covered in detail before, the BEP was headed by white supremacist head teacher and deceptive Trojan Horse agitator Tim Boyes. The BEP was a major beneficiary of the Trojan Hoax, being given millions to tackle “extremism” in Birmingham schools. Listed as Lead Education Advisor, O’Driscoll, it seems, is continuing the Trojan Horse legacy of partaking in the persecution of the Muslim minority whilst making financial gains.
The “Extremists” – Michael Fallon
The nature of the anti-Muslim agenda of the policies being perpetrated at Rockwood is indicated by the voices which have contributed to the PR campaign to paint the school as a model of success. Indeed, in the case of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, one could argue Rockwood has violated its own PREVENT policy by having him interact with children at the school.
Whilst lauding the “British values” currently being shoved by soldiers down the throats of Muslim children in Rockwood, Fallon’s “British values” assertiveness falls by the wayside in the non-Muslim context. Under PREVENT, equality, human rights, mutual respect and the rule of law are British values, a contravention of which makes one an “extremist”.
Fallon has been a prominent voice calling for warring in Iraq to fight “Islamic extremism” and support the Iraqi government, which incidentally tortures its citizens, unjustly issues death sentences, and cooperates with militias which massacre hundreds of civilians.
Last year, Fallon shockingly praised the repressive Egyptian government for its “vision of a more prosperous, more democratic society”. Under the current regime the country is witness to torture, mass death sentences and state terrorism in the form of what Human Rights Watch called “one of the largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history” that was “planned at the highest levels of the Egyptian government”. Human rights organisation Reprieve aptly called Fallon’s statement disgraceful and a “sick joke”.
Further eroding the rule of law and human rights, Fallon has advocated for the military to be exempt from the European Convention of Human Rights on spurious grounds. The policy has been criticised by rights groups like Liberty and due process advocates like CAGE for effectively providing a way for the state to protect itself from claims of abuses and torture.
Fallon also seems to have a negligence problem with people who are not like him in skin colour or beliefs. In 2014, he contributed to what is now known as the post-Brexit racism spike, by dehumanising immigrants. Pandering to UKIP, he claimed that Britain was still trying to work out how to prevent “whole towns and communities being swamped by huge numbers of migrant workers,” with residents being “under siege”. Continuing his penchant for dehumanisation and othering, Fallon recklessly smeared a respected Imam as a supporter of ISIS, which resulted in the Imam being subjected to abuse and death threats. As Peter Oborne noted, only when the Imam threatened legal action did Fallon produce a “mealy-mouthed retraction” through an “anonymous spokesman”. “Mutual tolerance and respect” do not feature high on the agenda for Fallon when it comes to the treatment of Muslims.
When Donald Trump’s references to women as “bitches” whom he gropes whenever he pleases were raised to the defence secretary, he refused to criticise the repulsive statements. Not exactly an assertive “British values” response.
British values, for Fallon, are only useful for asserting upon Muslims, not abiding by.
The “anti-Muslim Extremist” Maajid Nawaz
The other notable individual to celebrate Rockwood’s “success” was Maajid Nawaz. Widely derided in the Muslim community, Nawaz is known to ingratiate himself among far-right, neoconservative hate-preachers like Douglas Murray and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, both of whom are essential cogs in the transatlantic Islamophobia industry.
Earlier this week, his obsession with denigrating and attacking all things Islam and Muslims was noted in a recent publication by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a major organisation which monitors hate and erosion of civil liberties. SPLC designated Nawaz (along with Hirsi Ali) an “anti-Muslim extremist” who dedicates himself to “savage Islam”. His attacks on Islam and dubious association with hateful neocons is thoroughly documented on this blog. When an “anti-Muslim extremist” associated with warmongering haters of Islam is endorsing “educational” initiatives at a school, this should raise deep concerns among parents.
“The successful turnaround of the “Trojan horse” school Park View — now Rockwood Academy — couldn’t have proved this view more wrong. Two years after the scandal, the school has surpassed expectations, with cadet recruitment, after-school drama classes, counterextremism workshops and trips to Wimbledon.”
Firstly, the real scandal is that despite the Trojan Horse letter being fabricated, despite the Trojan Horse allegations being disproven by the Education Select Committee, and despite the implicated teachers which were banned thanks to politicised kangaroo courts being exonerated in the courts, the Trojan Horse lie is still being perpetuated.
Secondly, it is pertinent to see that Nawaz’s idea of a school prospering is one which has dropped in academic achievement and celebrates violence of the state.
His treatment of the Muslim minority is disturbingly colonialist. The whole piece suffers from the liberal saviour complex which reinforces the racist and supremacist notion that Muslims need saving from themselves. The title “Many Muslims want help to look outwards”, exemplifies this point. Further reinforcing the supremacist Orientalised outlook, Nawaz suggests that difficulty in employment, educational underachievement, disproportionate representation in prisons, and attitudes on civil liberties being “behind the rest of the country” are because there is a lack of integration and indoctrination of “liberal values”, focus on “religious identity” and preserving cultural history. Ignored is the fact that study after study after study show Muslims are integrated. Ignored also is the inconvenient research among children which shows greater prevalence of supremacist “illiberal attitudes” in the white community than Muslim communities. For Nawaz, the problems Muslims are experiencing have nothing to do with institutional discrimination and racism, political Islamophobia, and an increasingly violent anti-Muslim society. They have everything to do with Muslims themselves because of their adherence to their faith and history. One wonders how the pseudo-liberal Nawaz would square his views with the minority rights framework (specifically Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).
The Times piece on Rockwood pure is colonialist diatribe which carries the stench of the alienation rhetoric German intellectuals used in order Germanise and therefore efface the identity of Jews.
Painting a Hollywood-esque, Orientalised ending to Rockwood, he claims that “when a chance was given” to the Muslims at school, they “rushed to it” and “they embraced it all”. As we shall see in the second part of this blog, this is patently false. The white, financially-driven saviours placed above Muslims embraced it. Not the Muslims themselves. The reality is darker than what is currently known.
The follow-up piece is set to expose two things. The first is the drastic, society-wide implications of implementing such neoconservative initiatives in schools. The second will be an exploration of the reasons why parents have seemingly not protested Rockwood’s militarisation and indoctrination schemes.