OPINION: The trojan horse affair warns of a bleak future

Illustration by Jaida Noble | Brian Reed and Hamza Syed tried to detangle the web of cover-ups to determine who was the true author of the anonymous letter and why they wrote it. This illustrates how their headquarters may have looked as they did so.

We must be cognizant of the information we receive and where we get it from, we cannot repeat Britain’s mistake.

Anonymous letters and writings have helped to shape history for centuries. Take “The Federalist Papers”, written mostly by Alexander Hamilton, which helped to defend the baby American government system to the public. 

Or even people giving information anonymously can be beneficial. Take the Watergate scandal. The case was thrown wide open by Deep Throat and his anonymous information given to the two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, arguably two of the most famous investigative journalists in the world. 

However, anonymous information still needs to be fact-checked and vetted. 

This did not happen with an anonymous letter that was left on a city council member’s desk in Birmingham, England in 2014. The letter detailed an elaborate plot to turn Birmingham’s students into Islamic extremists.

It accused several people in the teaching profession of carrying out this plan and gave its code name: Operation Trojan Horse. 

Two journalists, Brian Reed and Hamza Syed, tried to uncover the truth about the anonymous letter. Who wrote it, why, and are the claims made in it true?

In their reporting, Reed and Syed couldn’t say for certain who wrote the letter and therefore couldn’t say why someone had written it. They did report that no one could find evidence that this plot actually exists in the schools.

However, this letter, that no one knows where it came from, was used as an excuse by the British government to attack the educators mentioned in it and to launch a massive investigation of schools that had Muslim teachers or anything that could be construed as converting the children to Islam. 

One of these educators was black-listed, even though his work in one of the schools was to recognize the primarily Muslim population in it. This made the school one of the best in the country with many people heaping praise on him before the letter became public. 

The government let their unbridled Islamophobia and fear trump any critical thinking skills they may have had. This letter made an extremely big accusation, to not fact check or even stop to think that the letter could be a hoax is insane.

This could have very well happened to the United States. People make false claims all the time and sometimes people just get swept away by them and don’t pause to think critically about the claim.

It has happened in the past and still happens today. The Republican fight to ban teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools is incredibly misguided and misinformed. 

We must think critically about the information we receive. In addition to this, we also must fight to end Islamophobia so that this cannot possibly happen again.

I also encourage you to listen to The Trojan Horse Affair Podcast. You won’t regret it and you’ll learn a lot about British schools and politics.

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