The turned back

I will tell you something about courage and cowardice. I will speak primarily about men, because I am a man, and because the evil that grieves me was glimpsed by men, and these men turned away their eyes.

News accounts from England reveal that over 1,400 children in the borough of Rotherham were systematically brutalized over the past decade. The authors of this damning report indicate that the actual number is likely much higher. The report also details gang rapes of 11 year-olds. Children doused in gasoline and threatened with matches. A “grooming” process that entails addicting children to drugs. Children murdered, others missing.

Lidice Memorial - Memorial to Child Victims of War - By Marie Uchytilova - Near Prague - Czech Republic - 03

Local police have known about this for over ten years. So have all manner of child welfare authorities and local government officials. They convened conferences to discuss it. They combatted it with guidelines and policies. They bravely met for many hours, and boldly authored internal memos.

Perhaps we should expect no more when community preservation is outsourced to bureaucracies, but the unavoidable reality is that on many occasions, Rotherham police came upon children being sexually exploited—in some cases, in the very instance of being raped—and arrested no one. The perpetrators are Pakistani; they might call us racists. The children seemed to consent. These gangs are violent.

All of which amount to an admission by those police officers that they are cowards, and something less than men. I’m reminded of the janitors who discovered Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky’s rape of children, and who said nothing, for fear of losing their jobs. They were cowards too, and deserve to be remembered as such.

We have lost the willingness to call evil by its rightful name, and the courage to stand in the face of it and say: “No. Not here. Not on my street. Not in my city.” There is no limit to the hells men devise when no one opposes them. “What’s the point?” a Rotherham victim asked investigators. “I might as well be dead.”

The men and women who failed her might ask themselves the same question. We might all ask it. What is the point, really, in preserving our comforts—our lives, even—if to do so we must become so small, so dark-hearted, that we turn our backs on the most vulnerable among us?

I suppose none of us knows whether he will be a coward until the moment demands courage. “Be prepared in season and out of season,” the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy. As far as we are concerned, perhaps this entails recognizing that the season is upon us—an evil season, a season when children worldwide are treated like so much trash, when questions once governed by common sense are now fodder for intellectual word-play, when an army gathering under a black flag is both a reality and a metaphor, for war rages in the hearts of men, and it is coming, is here already, in our neighborhoods and our homes and our own hearts, we good and decent people who are perhaps only better than these cowards because the hour has not yet come when evil stands on our doorstep and demands entrance.

And what then will we say? Will we tell ourselves it’s not as bad as it seems? Will we pretend steadfastness is someone else’s job? Will we promise that this is only a small compromise, that when the situation really demands it, we’ll be brave?

Cowardice has a thousand justifications. But to the wounded, it always looks the same: averted eyes, a turned back, something resembling a man or a woman walking away.


  1. Ted

    How anyone could let such vile men continue is beyond comprehension to me. I worry that that this institutional cowardice is not unique to either Rotherham, South Yorkshire, or even the UK. I also find this report troubling because I can’t imagine such depravity being cravenly tolerated by political authorities even just 10-20 years ago* – and what are the implications of such an observation?

    *(edit): to clarify, 10-20 years ago from the initial report date of 1997.

  2. William S

    And all the time – such is the tragi-comedy of our situation – we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive,’ or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity.’ In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings to be fruitful.

    C.S. Lewis, Newcastle, England, February 24, 1943

  3. nirmal

    Forget the cowardly cops. Where were the men of these children’s families and friends? Where were their fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins and good neighbors? Looks like the adults basically abandoned these children to the streets. This looks to me like a case of barbarians feeding on a dying and decadent realm that was “Great” Britain.

  4. Dave

    You obviously didn’t read the memo that men aren’t supposed to protect women and children anymore, it’s sexist and patriarchal. If you care so much about other people’s children, you’re probably a pedophile.

    We can’t face the Muslims until we dispose of the feminist, progressive, socialist, immigrationist backstabbers on our own side.

  5. Jeffersonian

    Men without chests, as CS Lewis put it.

    What they fail to realize is that, in allowing such barbarism to go on, they destroy the very things that make Britain livable. People from backward, impoverished pestholes and continue with the customs and practices that made them so backward and impoverished. Do they not realize Britain will soon become as those nations if this persists?

    I see William S beat me to the Lewis quote. Just so…let it be seconded by me.

  6. buck smith

    too bad Britons don’t have the rights Americans do to self-defense and to purchase low cost widely available guns. IN that case this never could have happened on this scale.

  7. SenatorMark4

    Shocking, for real, but what can you expect from people that voted to give away their guns and yutz on the street will behead you for wearing the wrong uniform. Imagine if you intervened!

    There might not be enough of you left to stack up on a windy day.

  8. DanielT

    This is the world we live in.
    Pakistani , ‘eh?
    Good, Allah fearing, moral Muslims were they?
    Can’t rape the willing right? Kid says he’s OK!

    Talk about the “VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED” !!!

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  12. mnemosyne23

    I’m struck by how many of the Council leaders who presided over Rotherham throughout this filthy process were women. It just confirms my own theory that, far from the so-called “progressive” notion that a world run by women would be a better world than one run by men, the exact opposite is true.

  13. Miller

    The best of European manhood almost died to a man on the battlefields of WWI, and that continent has experience a long, down-hill slide ever since with the bare few honorable men fighting a losing battle against the creeping, glacial crush of pathetic, simpering dullards and the culture-smashing pressure of unfettered immigration from the Third World. The thirst to be seen as civilized and un-bigoted is feeding this craven get-along/coexist stupidity. And it’s coming to America.

    The people who allowed these children to be abused should just go hang themselves. They are not men; they are barely human. Dogshit, the lot of them.

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  16. Liberty

    I’ve been there before. In fact, there’s been many a time when evil stood on my doorstep, demanding entrance to my heart and home. When it did, I slammed the door in its face and shouted, “Get the **** out of here!” 🙂

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