Ever since the story about the horrific and widespread sex abuse in Rotherham broke, pundits have scrambled for an explanation as to how crimes on that scale could continue unchecked for so long. Yesterday the NYT released a story on Rotherham that at least reached for an explanation. But though the NYT notes both the ethnicity of the abusers and British officials’ “fear of being accused of racism,” as Dawn Eden points out on the Get Religion site, the article conspicuously fails to mention religion:
To anyone who has been following the Rotherham story in other media outlets, especially the British press, what is striking about the Times story is not what it says, but rather what it doesn’t say. Nowhere does it mention what for many other mainstream news reports is the key issue: the investigation traced the local government officials’ inaction primarily to fears of offending the Muslim community. [...]
The religion angle is completely absent from the Times article. In other words, we have here a classic religion ghost.
To understand how crazy this is, think about how the NYT would have covered this story if a ring of Catholic priests had been responsible—or even Catholics otherwise involved in the church. Not only would the story mention the religious angle, but we would see a slew of op-eds condemning Christian theology itself for creating the abuse and calling for changes to that theology. This is a clear sign of bias, albeit not necessarily conscious or malicious, at work. The NYT is so wrapped in its own ideology that its readers don’t get the straight story.
This story points to the problem of Muslim integration in Europe (and elsewhere). Policy elites have authorized mass immigration without much public discussion or consent, and the cultures and values aren’t mixing well (exacerbated by horrible economic problems in much of Europe, thanks also to the elite’s euro fiasco). These factors combine to create a potentially explosive situation on the ground. Readers of the Times won’t understand this very well and will miss one of the key issues driving European, and therefore world, politics.
We all have biases and predispositions. Professionalism is about making sure that we hold these in check and question our assumptions. The problem with the NYT revealed here isn’t that the paper has some biases. Rather, it’s that, in this case at least, it has failed its readers by suppressing important news.