In the 90s, I worked as a staff officer to the British Army general responsible for Army recruiting and training. He was continuously and genuinely engaged with the issue of how to get more folk with minority ethnic backgrounds into the Army. Later, for a while, I worked at the Commission for Racial Equality. Stories involving race and the Armed Services catch my eye.
Donald Trump says there are more UK muslims in ISIS than in the UK Armed Services. The Guardian says confidently; “he’s wrong, and here’s why…”. Ironically, the Guardian’s own figures seem to prove that Trump is correct.
The Guardian’s ‘Reality Check’ piece lays out the number of Muslums in the UK Armed Services and the number fighting for ISIS; it claims to show that actually while the ISIS number is alarming and huge, it’s a bit smaller than the number of Muslims in the Armed Services. I mean, it’s still not very comforting, is it?
In any case, because the author of the piece has just looked at a couple of websites but not actually talked to anyone at, say, the Ministry of Defence, she isn’t aware that at any one time around half of Muslims in the UK Armed Services aren’t British – they’ve been recruited from Commonwealth countries.
To be fair on the journo, she’s only recently moved from the Huffington Post – which is obviously full of made-up bollocks. Now she has a proper job, though, she should consider chatting to, say, The Guardian’s Defence Editor, Ewen MacAskill. He’s written about just this kind of stuff and will be able to explain how chatting to folk who know stuff can represent good use of a journalist’s time.
ITV, and quite likely others, made the same mistake. They were more careful to qualify their conclusion, however. A bit less cocky in view of the fact that there are uncomfortable issues behind the stats, perhaps? Trump is an arse – let’s not help him with his nonsense.
[admin note – my WordPress account won’t let me ‘link’ to the main text tonight, for some reason. The Guardian Trump piece is here http://www.theguardian.com/news/reality-check/2015/dec/11/donald-trump-needs-check-facts-british-muslims-isis and a relevant MacAskill piece is here http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/06/british-army-recruit-muslims-low-number-iraq-afghanistan].