Not long after the terrorist violence in Paris, Fox News’ Steven Emerson had a deeply unfortunate, and internationally ridiculed, exchange with anchor Jeanine Pirro. Arguably the most problematic of Emerson’s comments, for which he later apologized, dealt with ridiculous claims about Birmingham, England.
But the conservative “expert” on counter-terrorism also made a separate, specific claim that also stood out: in Britain, he said, there are “no-go zones …where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”
Over the weekend, Fox News issued an on-air correction for this and related falsehoods. Specifically, anchor Julie Banderas retracted the network’s “discussions of so-called ‘no-go zones,’” telling viewers, “To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country, and no credible information to support the assertion that there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion.”
One wonders if a certain Republican presidential hopeful happened to be watching. USA Today’s Paul Singer had this report the other day:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, will give a speech Monday in London and reiterate the disputed claim that Muslim immigrants have created “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims are not welcome.An advance text of Jindal’s speech, circulated by his office, warns that Islamic radicals are fomenting anti-Western sentiment in “no-go zones” where they rule themselves by Islamic religious law, not the laws of their host nations.
According to the advanced text sent to reporters, on purpose, by Jindal’s aides, the Louisiana Republican intends to say today, “It is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so called ‘no-go zone.’ The idea that a free country would allow for specific areas of its country to operate in an autonomous way that is not free and is in direct opposition to its laws is hard to fathom.”
To be sure, something here is “hard to fathom,” but it’s not European policies.
The right’s preoccupation with “no-go zones” is problematic because, in a nutshell, they’re a myth. Or put another way, they’re every bit as real as “death panels,” unicorns, and ACORN’s capacity to steal the 2012 presidential election.
And yet, the imaginary nature of these areas of Europe hasn’t discouraged conservatives from repeating the nonsensical claims, over and over again.
As for Jindal, it’s important to emphasize that the governor’s aides distributed an advance version of the speech, and it’s possible he and his aides will change the prepared text before it’s delivered in London today. But if he does correct his errors, that won’t necessarily fix the problem: why did the governor circulate a copy of a speech that included discredited nonsense? What made Jindal accept a silly myth as real in the first place?
What’s more, if he delivers the text as written, why does Jindal continue to perpetrate a myth that even Fox News no longer stands by? [Update: NBC News is reporting that Jindal included the phrasing from his original text in his delivered remarks, even though “no-go zones” don’t exist.]
For more on the ridiculousness surrounding “no-go zones,” Chris Hayes had a segment on Friday that’s definitely worth your time: