In the wake of the attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo, right-wing “experts,” pundits and politicians have unsurprisingly breathed new life into the meme of “no-go zones,” a well-established trope of the reactionary propaganda of the trans-Atlantic “Counter-Jihad” movement. Most visible, and most risible, were Steven Emerson's and Nolan Peterson's comments on FOX News regarding "no-go zones" in England and France, for which both Emerson and ultimately the network were compelled to produce rare nopologies. Of course Emerson and Peterson are not alone in making declarative statements about “no-go zones” over the past few weeks, let alone over the past decade or so: it's become a common and predictable refrain for a) the stable of national-security and terrorism “experts” who flit among right-wing media venues, b) right-wing pundits and their insensate devotees throughout the blogosphere and c) similarly insensate right-wing politicians and cultural leaders such as Bobby Jindal and Tony Perkins.
Robert Mackey's Open Source column for the New York Times has produced two valuable meta pieces concerning the “no-go zone” commentary and the criticism and mockery such claims have engendered: "Murdoch and Fox News Mocked on Twitter for Claims about Muslims" (12 January 2015) and "Fox News Apologizes for False Claims of Muslim-Only Areas in England and France" (18 January 2015). Of particular interest in the latter piece is Mackey's discussion of the origin of the myth of the 751 French “no-go zones” in the 2006 misrepresentation of administratively defined Zones Urbaines Sensibles by Daniel Pipes who, having then visited several ZUS, updated his original 2006 piece on 16 January 2013 with this: “[h]aving this first-hand experience, I regret having called these areas no-go zones.” In Pipes' most recent update on 17 January 2015, he denies credit for coining the term “no-go zone”:
Jan. 17, 2015 update: Research into the term no-go zones referring to Muslim habitations in Western Europe done by the pseudonymous Yoel Natan finds its earliest use to be on my website, DanielPipes.org: An Australia resident who calls himself "fed up" wrote on March 22, 2006, that "In Sydney, Australia, we have large areas of our city that are deemed no-go zones."
The next use was by the Norwegian analyst who calls himself Fjordman, on July 13, 2006, who defined "Muslim no-go zones" as places "where anything representing a Western institution (post office truck, firemen, even mail order delivery firms) was routinely ambushed with Molotov cocktails."
Then came my use of the term on November 14, 2006.
Pipes is correct that his was not the first use of "no-go zone(s)." Among numerous examples antedating his or his citations' usage, we could note the meme's appearance in Tony Blankley's 2005 publication The West’s Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?
. Indeed, the relevant paragraph from Blankley's book was copied and pasted into his prepared statement for the farcical hearing
before the House Committee on International Relations (Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia) entitled Is There a Clash of Civilizations? Islam, Democracy and U.S.-Middle East and Central Asia Policy
(14 September 2006):
Muslim parts of Paris, Rotterdam and other European cities are already called ''no-go zones'' for ethnic Europeans, including armed policemen. As the Muslim populations expand and their level of cultural/religious assertiveness expands, more and more European geography will be ''reclaimed'' for Islam. Europe will become pock-marked with increasing numbers of ''little Fallujah's'' that will be impenetrable by anything short of military units. [p.40]
Yet Blankley can also not be credited with any neologism here. Used officially in the 1970s to identify barricaded areas in cities and towns of Northern Ireland controlled by Irish republican paramilitaries, and then used in British media accounts of impoverished, high-crime housing-estates during the 1990s, the "no-go" meme was further adapted to the service of nativist rhetoric in the context of the racial tensions among British Asians (Pakistanis, Bangaladeshis, Indians, Sri Lankans et alii
) and whites in Northern England during the late 1990s, tensions that erupted into violence in the Spring and Summer of 2001.
Having incubated in some unseemly discursive communities for several years, the meme gained considerable traction in right-wing commentary on the "Muslim riots" in France beginning in late 2005. Tony Blankley, Daniel Pipes, Peder Jensen (aka Fjordman) and others in the "Counter-Jihad" movement—what the Center for American Progress so efficiently and effectively denoted as Fear, Inc.—are representative of this phase. Their rhetorical innovation was layering the "no-go zones" meme atop the raving and rancid conspiracy-theorizing of Gisèle Littman's (aka Bat Ye'or) Eurabia: the Euro-Arab Axis, published in 2005. Steven Emerson, whose recent comments illuminated the "no-go zones" meme, is likewise deeply enmeshed in Fear, Inc., as amply discussed in both CAP's 2011 report and David Miller's and Tom Mills' "Misinformed Expert or Misinformation Network?" (15 January 2015; h/t poco).
That is the broad outline of the origins and propagation of the "no-go zones" meme. Follow me below the orange whazit for more detailed discussion.