The Trojan Horse Affair and Convenient Bigotry

Syrian School Children

Via This American Life, I learned of an 8-part investigative podcast called The Trojan Horse Affair. I was hooked from the start because it was about a great injustice: a bunch of people getting hurt by the lamest of conspiracies. But the conspiracy worked because it exploited society’s racism. So ultimately, it harmed a whole demographic of people.

The Trojan Horse Affair

You should listen to it all. But I’ll give you the basics. In Birmingham, England a fragment of a letter shows up that indicates that some “radical” Muslims are taking over the public schools in an effort to take over the world. Okay, it’s not quite that ridiculous but it definitely has a Snidely Whiplash vibe to it. You can only really take it seriously if you already want to believe it.

Now it turns out that local Muslims had been involved with the public schools. And it was helping. Graduation rates were going up for majority-Muslim areas. And government officials were applauding the results. Until the letter shows up.

“Sure It’s a Hoax, But…”

What’s interesting is that the government looks into it and finds that the letter is probably a fraud. And yet… The investigation turns up troubling things at the school. Are they real? Well, there are some problems. In particular, there seems to have been a teacher who was a sexual predator. But that only really matters if you just assume that one bad Muslim spoils the whole group. (If you haven’t been paying attention the last 21 years: yes, for most people, it does. Also: why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism?!)

Throughout the podcast, it’s almost a refrain, “Yeah, the letter was a fraud but…” And it’s clear by the end that everything that happened was only because of this letter.

And what happened? Well, for one thing, the schools got worse. Teachers were fired. The bigotry of the British people was enhanced.

Good Teacher Gone Bad?

The sad thing is that the person I think was behind it all was a Muslim. I think (and this is only my opinion based on circumstantial evidence) that Rizvana Darr, what we’d call the principal of Adderley school, created it to help in a situation she had created with four teaching assistants.

What I find fascinating about this is that everyone agrees that Darr is a fantastic teacher. If she did do this, it goes along with my theory that what is best in all of us is also what is worst. She apparently has great passion for helping her students. I can see myself allowing such passion leading to the dark places she might have gone.

If that’s the case, she solved a relatively small problem by defaming over 3 million Muslims in the UK.

It was somewhere in the sixth hour of his podcast that I realized, “This isn’t going to end well.” And I was right. Justice is not done. The Guardian published an article about Michael Gove. Otherwise, I’ve seen little mention of it. The good people lost. The weak people were harmed. And the bad people won. Like always.


People often wonder why I like horror movies so much. Well, because they usually don’t end like The Trojan Horse Affair. I love horror films like Dolls. In it, all the bad people are punished and the good people live happily ever after. It’s a feel-good film. A very gory feel-good film!

Image cropped from Syrian primary school children by DFID under CC BY 2.0.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

4 thoughts on “The Trojan Horse Affair and Convenient Bigotry

  1. My daughter Olivia likes horror movies. It’s not my favorite genre, but since my wife is very averse to them I try to share what I know with Olivia. My favorite horror film is probably The Thing. Until recently, I had only ever watched it on VHS and lo def TV. It turned out to be far grosser than I remembered. We watched Scanners recently. I remembered it as being a splatter film. But I found it had a quality I didn’t appreciate when I first saw it. We’ve seen The Shining. She recently read The Shining. I read it when I was about 11. My older brother was a Stephen King fan. Olivia tells me King got the ending he wrote in Dr. Sleep. Stephen King is a very talented writer who simply works in a genre that never gets critical respect. Olivia did not approve of The Horror of Dracula for it’s treatment of the source material. She got me to read Frankenstein, which has about ten times more monster monologue than I expected. We watched the old one that has “The Good Brain”. I’ve got her interested in Raw Head Rex, which I’ve already told her isn’t a good film, just something she should see if horror is her thing.

    • I enjoyed “Doctor Sleep” quite a lot. It takes off from a true story about a nursing home which had a cat that would roam the building and cuddle up with whomever was dying next (probably that cat was good at picking up those people’s stress levels, pets are good at this). King might be underrated because some of his early bestsellers are pretty shallow. He’s much better at characters, now.

    • I just heard that there are studies that indicate that watching horror films can reduce people’s anxiety. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I’m going to use it to manipulate people into watching movies with me!

      The Thing is great but overall, I think the third act is kind of weak. It seems like Carpenter didn’t show enough coverage. But I still love the film and the ending is wonderful. Like most of Cronenberg’s films, Scanners is very intellectual. I don’t think it’s his best but it’s great. The Shining is, well, The Shining. It’s hard to think of it as even being King-related. Certainly the feeling is totally different. If you can, watch Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness. It’s my favorite of his films. It’s a Lovecraft-inspired story and it’s tons of fun!

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