David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has heaped another pile of abuse on the heads of the black and Asian communities. First came the Thatcherite claim that the children of asylum-seekers are swamping our schools. Much the same has been quietly spoken about the schools that taught or now teach my seven children and my three grandchildren.
Second, Blunkett spoke about the Asian youths arrested and convicted for their part in last summer's riots in northern cities. These youths were trapped in isolation and poverty and menaced by racial attacks. In this column, I have noted that their sentences were much harsher than those handed out to young Irishmen who have behaved in similar fashion this year on the streets of Ulster.
I was amazed to discover that Asian parents held the young men by the hand and led them straight to the police. The Asian middle classes fed these parents the idea that the youths were not pre-revolutionary insurrectionists, just naughty boys who would receive a kindly slap on the wrist from the establishment.
Now that protests have begun against their ludicrous sentences, the Asian middle classes are as quiet as mice while the working-class mothers pray to Allah and protest peacefully. Blunkett intervenes, a caricature of Dickens's Mr Bumble. He dismisses the youths as "maniacs", a term he dare not use against the children of Protestants and Catholics in Belfast. And the mothers? They are bleeding hearts.
It is obvious that Blunkett knows very little of the immigrant community. He thinks that the blacks and Asians he meets at the Home Office are the same in social and political temperament as Asian youth. They are not. Those he meets are just people who seek positions within the establishment and have little merit but the colour of their skin.
The young men are indeed maniacs for walking into police stations. I am sure they will never ever again be seduced into such stupidity. They will come again in the night with masks and, if I may borrow a current phrase, weapons of mass destruction. A few prison sentences will not break the movement of Asian youth in the north. Prison didn't break West Indians in Brixton, Africans in Johannesburg, or the black power movement in the US and the Caribbean. Young Asians will come, again and again, until the historical task is complete.