In a lengthy interview with the NY Daily News released this week, Ohio Governor and presidential hopeful John Kasich said he’s staying in the 2016 race because “somebody’s got to be the adult.” Yet the GOP candidate repeated to the editorial board a disproved myth floated by his rivals that there are neighborhoods in European cities where non-Muslims cannot enter.
“Europe, they need to get over all their hangups over there, which is all the political correctness,” Kasich said. “I can’t go into a neighborhood, because it’s three o’clock in the afternoon, or these things that you read about and hear. And obviously, Europe has a big problem with integration…which they are gonna have to deal with.”
When Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal — who has since dropped out of the 2016 race — made a similar claim last year, he was widely derided by European officials, who called it “complete nonsense.” After Fox News made the same assertion, they were forced to admit their “serious factual error” in multiple on-air apologies.
Yet this didn’t stop other Republicans from asserting that there are neighborhoods were non-Muslims and police officers fear to go. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Donald Trump, and Ben Carson — who has endorsed Trump — have also made this claim, using it to advocate for stepped up surveillance of Muslims in the United States.
When pressed by reporters, Jindal was unable to name a single area that he considered an example of such a “no-go zone.” Cruz has named one: the municipality of Molenbeek in Brussels, where the perpetrators of the Paris attack resided. Yet investigations have found the neighborhood to be one where working class people of many ethnicities and religions live together, struggling with high unemployment and poverty.
“Molenbeek is a victim of media stereotyping,” one resident told the LA Times, and the reporter concluded after his visit: “Despite its tainted reputation, Molenbeek is not a place that seems especially threatening.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center traces the candidates’ comments to a network of anti-Islam hate groups that perpetuate this myth. Yet they found that some of the pundits that once promoted the idea have since recanted, such as Daniel Pipes, who said he “regret” calling the neighborhoods “no-go zones” because “[i]n normal times, they are unthreatening, routine places.”