Dennis Persica: Bobby Jindal's Common Core, education policy is all over the map _lowres

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana addresses activists from America's political right at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington in this Feb. 11, 2012, file photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

We don’t know for a fact that there are “no-go” zones in Britain or elsewhere in Europe where radical Muslim immigrants seek to keep police out.

Nor does Gov. Bobby Jindal know anything like that for a fact, but based on a story he heard about in a sensationalist British newspaper, he made “no-go” zones into a controversy.

We wonder if this kind of fact-famished scandal-mongering is going to be confused with leadership in next year’s presidential primaries.

British authorities are not amused.

A description of Birmingham as a “no-go” zone was uttered by a guest commentator on Fox News, the reliable organ of the U.S. Republican Party. After Birmingham’s citizens lit up social media in complaint, Steve Emerson apologized abjectly.

The Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, called Emerson a “complete idiot.” No word yet on his view of our governor, who apparently is better informed about conditions in Britain than the PM.

Louisiana’s cousins in Paris were similarly upset.

Jindal spoke to a conservative foreign policy group in London about no-go zones, describing them as neighborhoods where countries abandon authority to Muslim immigrants who enforce religious laws such as making women wear veils.

When challenged by CNN, Jindal said he had met with “elected officials and others” to discuss them and cited a report in the tabloid Daily Mail about challenges to police authority in no-go zones.

The Daily Mail is more than a bit hysterical on the subject of immigration and Muslims, so the governor’s source is unlikely to be persuasive in Britain.

For what it’s worth, we agree with the larger point that Jindal was making, that terrorists claiming to act in the name of Islam ought to be denounced by responsible Muslim leaders. But as the PM and foreign reporters are now learning, our governor tends to shoot first and check facts later, if at all.

The rhetorical irresponsibility that he has demonstrated in this episode is old hat in the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. With a presidential campaign in view, Jindaldata can now reach a wider public.

But if the London speech was intended to burnish the governor’s credentials in foreign policy, the offense given to British authorities seems not a very good result.