In January, not long after the terrorist attack in Paris, Fox News’ Steven Emerson had a deeply unfortunate, and internationally ridiculed, exchange about England’s Muslim population, for which he later apologized. But of particular interest was Emerson’s argument that Britain has “no-go zones … where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”
The problem, of course, is that this was plainly wrong. Fox News went so far as to issue an on-air correction, telling viewers there is “no credible information to support the assertion” that “no-go zones” exist in Europe.
But Republican presidential candidates don’t need credible information to make false assertions. Bobby Jindal, for example, spent some time last year warning audiences about “no-go zones” in Western Europe, despite the fact that they don’t exist.
This week, in an op-ed for the New York Daily News, Ted Cruz embraced the same talking point (via Hunter).
One of the causes of this horror has been European bureaucrats restraining law enforcement from fully engaging with the Muslim community in “no go” zones. As a result, for years, a radical, theocratic, violent ideology has spread in some mosques and Muslim neighborhoods throughout Europe. Terrorists have exploited these isolated enclaves to recruit followers, formulate plots and orchestrate attacks. […]There is no better example of these “no go” zones than one neighborhood in the city of this latest horrific attack – the municipality of Molenbeek in the city of Brussels.
To be sure, Molenbeek’s security significance matters a great deal, but to suggest that non-Muslims simply don’t go to the city is ridiculous – Muslim residents make up “around 25 to 30 percent” of the area’s population.
Why in the world do American conservatives keep pointing to “zones” that don’t exist? Because this is part of a domestic agenda.
Note, for example, that Cruz’s op-ed went on to argue, “Many European leaders are now recognizing that passively allowing the Islamist threat to fester was a serious error. We cannot make the same mistakes in America. In the wake of the Brussels attacks, I called for vigorously guarding against the political correctness that has plagued Europe.”
Well, what Cruz actually called for was empowering law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods” in the United States – a rather ridiculous proposal that drew sharp rebukes from, among others, law enforcement and President Obama.
The point, of course, is to make Americans as afraid as possible, even if that means pointing to European “zones” that don’t exist, as a way to justify policies in the U.S. that far-right policymakers want anyway: a more expansive surveillance state, blocking refugees, immigration restrictions, etc.
But to get there, politicians like Cruz find it necessary to throw around references to imaginary “no-go zones,” because the truth isn’t nearly scary enough to produce the results the right wants.