Dave Hill gets shaken down — and likes it. From The Guardian’s Comment Is Free, with thanks to Antidhimmi:
On Monday night, just before ten, there was a knock at my front door. In my pulsating neighbourhood most callers at such an hour are either practised grifters or mentally unwell – or both. On this occasion, though, four medium-sized boys stood at the bottom of the steps: Asian boys, aged eleven or twelve, one wearing a Chelsea shirt, a couple, religious headgear.
“Hello,” I said. My tone was a friendly lets-hear-it-then. They had “scam” written all over them – but what kind of scam would it be?
“We’re doing trick or treat,” said one voice. “But it’s Ramadan trick or treat.”
“We don’t dress up an’ that,” said another, anticipating my next question, “Cos it’s Ramadan. We don’t scare people cos we’re Muslims.”
It was a prepared speech. I was intrigued and they seemed intrigued by me. Perhaps my door was the first to be opened to them. I was a white man and being friendly too. They advanced up the steps, quivering with excitement, feeding off each others’ adrenalin. I noted trainers, a bum fluff moustache. The stench of adolescent daring rose off them, irreverent yet amiable. I didn’t recognise any of them.
Note that Hill describes himself as a “white man,” while those who are trying to get some money out of him describe themselves as “Muslims.” This is the conceptual problem of the mainstream media and government in microcosm: they see this present conflict as a matter of race, while the jihadists see it as one of religion and ideology.
“Which school do you go to?” I asked. “We go-school in Leyton,” one replied – the Chelsea shirt, I think. “It’sa Islamic school. Private,” he concluded, pridefully.
Where do you all live?’ asked. “Just over there, innit?” one replied, nodding towards streets parallel to mine.
“So if I give you money, what will you do with it?” I asked.
“We’re collecting it for mosque,” said the Chelsea shirt and the others carolled agreement. “We’re not scaring people, see. We’re Muslims. We’re good people, we believe in peace.”
“Which mosque do you go to?’ I asked.
“That one,” they said, nodding their heads to their rear.
I know this mosque and named it to them. Yeah, that’s the one, they confirmed.
“I’d like to go in there one day,” I said. I said it to surprise them, but I meant it. The mosque stands, literally, just round the corner. From the top window of my house you can see its golden dome and minarets. But, anyway, what was I to do with these four young scallywags? Trick-or-treat Ramadan? Pull the other one. But I kind of liked their nerve. So I gave them a five-pound note and told them not to spend it all on sweets. They ran off, gloating like gulls in a Bird’s Eye factory.
This morning, I walked round to the mosque: if some of its boy worshippers are bent on fleecing residents on their way home from prayers and implying that it is with their elders’ blessing, someone at the mosque ought to be told. And, who knows, maybe they really did hand the money in. There was car in the front yard but no one answered the door, so I went home. Another time, maybe. My plan had been to tell my tale but to do so with good humour and ask that if the culprits were found, they shouldn’t be rebuked too harshly.
Why my wish for lenience? Sometimes my neighbourhood fills me with dismay. Other times its plurality, the everyday overlapping of the different cultures in contains, embodies the most hopeful possibilities of a shrinking, globalising world. Of course, those Muslim lads were doing wrong and, should their activities continue on any scale, risk harming their mosque’s and their religion’s reputation. But, at the same time, maybe all five of us learned something valuable from the episode.
For me, what was striking was their insistence that Muslims are good people. Sure, it was all part of their spiel (to use a possibly Yiddish term) yet there was no mistaking the anxiety behind it; their obvious awareness that an English person (as they would probably call me) might well think of Islam as being anything but peaceful. True enough, they were cocky. Yet behind the front lay a defensiveness that all Muslims must surely feel….
Sure, they were defensive. How terrible. But they weren’t defensive enough to keep from fleecing a willing dhimmi like Dave Hill. One would think that if they really had that much anxiety that Islam be perceived as peaceful, they would refrain from shakedowns like this one. After all, if strangers arrived at my door at 10PM asking for money on a transparently false pretext, I would be a bit suspicious of them no matter how loudly they affirmed their honorable intentions. But Dave Hill thinks that because he gave them money despite seeing through them, they will think better of non-Muslims next time. Good luck with that.