Liberal pundits are taking Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to task today over comments he made about radical Islam and so-called “no-go zones” in a speech and subsequent interviews in London this week.
Jindal, who is considering a run for president next year, gave a speech Monday to the Henry Jackson Society, a right-wing think tank that has been accused of pushing an anti-Muslim agenda. In that speech, he claimed there are areas in Europe where non-Muslims aren’t allowed and Islamic law rules.
CNN report on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s speech in London.
“(I)n the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home,” Jindal’s speech read. “It is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so- called ‘no-go zone.’ ”
Over the weekend, Fox News issued multiple corrections over similar claims regarding “no-go zones” in Europe, with the network ultimately saying there is “no credible information” that they even exist in England or France.
“To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country, and no credible information to support the assertion there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion,” the statement read.
Now pundits from the left and the right are speaking out about Jindal’s remarks — he’s been a fixture on cable news networks and made headlines around the globe.
The Washington Post succinctly gives us this take of what’s going on: “(Jindal) is struggling for political oxygen in a Republican field that includes (or might include) the likes of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. So, how do you solve that problem? Throw red meat to the Republican base while simultaneously trolling the left. It worked.”
On Jindal’s remarks reviving the “no-go zone” point, Jay Parini, a poet and novelist who teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont, writes for CNN.com: “This is the sort of ill-informed fantasy that plays well in certain right-wing circles. This probably works for Jindal back home in Louisiana.”
Parini concedes that there are neighborhoods with high concentrations of Muslim immigrants, and that might give outsiders some unease.
“The same would be true for parts of America where you might feel uncomfortable walking around if you were, say, black or white — it would depend on the neighborhood,” he writes.
Over at MSNBC.com, contributor Steve Benen writes that Jindal’s remarks are “more shameful than presidential.”
“The far-right Republican just delivered a speech in which he said ‘Islam has a problem,’ and brazenly sticks to a lie about imaginary ‘no-go zones’ for non-Muslims, but it’s ‘the left’ that ‘wants to make this into an attack on religion,'” he writes. “It’s certainly possible that Republican presidential primary voters will find Jindal’s paranoid incoherence persuasive, but for everyone else, Jindal’s British escapade was more shameful than presidential.”
The Dallas Morning News’ Tod Robberson writes that Jindal’s “no-go zone” notion “is complete nonsense.”
“As someone who lived in London for three years during the past decade, and as someone who spent time in the North London neighborhoods I think Jindal is referring to, I can state unequivocally: He’s out of his mind if he really believes this,” Robberson writes. “The biggest danger there is getting your phone snatched, not being forced to pray on the streets five times a day.”
Jindal has defended his remarks, noting that his speech said “so-called ‘no-go zones'” and that they exist “even unofficially.”
“There are people here in London who will tell you there are neighborhoods where women don’t feel safe walking through those neighborhoods without veils. There are neighborhoods where the police are less likely to go. That’s a dangerous thing,” Jindal told a CNN reporter Monday.
When pressed for specific examples, Jindal couldn’t name any.
Meanwhile, some conservative pundits have defended Jindal’s strike against radical Islam.
National columnist Larry Kudlow called Jindal’s speech “brilliant” and “incredibly hard-hitting.”
Louisiana native Erick Erickson, writing for RedState.com, claims a 2013 CNN story about radical Islamists who have tried to impose Sharia law in East London backs up Jindal’s remarks. Such radicals have been condemned by Muslim leaders and faced arrest by local authorities, according to local reports.
Meanwhile, MSNBC has cut ties with a guest who made a racially-charged remark directed at Jindal, whose parents are from India.
Addressing Jindal’s “no-go zone” comments, commentator Arsalan Iftikhar said on MSNBC that Jindal “might be trying to scrub some of the brown off his skin.”
An MSNBC spokesperson later told CNN that Iftikhar’s comments were “offensive and unacceptable, and we don’t plan on inviting him back.”