At the time of writing, Croydon is a town that is living with the shame of a vicious attack on a young asylum seeker.
There is universal disapproval extending as far as even the immigrant-hating Daily Mail, on the awful savagery of the attackers and the fact that up to 20 bystanders did nothing to help.
The newspapers focus on three things: The first is that this could happen in the racially harmonious UK; secondly, that people stood and did nothing; and thirdly, there were women involved.
But really, does any of this really surprise anyone that much. There has been a heightened awareness of racial hatred in the UK since last summer but it is nothing new. From jokey comments that are supposed to be disarmingly friendly about ‘Paki shopkeepers’ and ‘drunken Irish people, to anonymous notices on cars telling Polish workers to go home; to attacks on women wearing burkas to this, a vicious, but by no means isolated, case of extreme violence. There is nothing new here, racist behaviour, in one form or another, is inherent in large sections of our society.
The there is the issue of standing by and letting it happen. Yes, that is awful. But think about it for one second. If you saw a gang beating someone up, letting fists, feet and weapons fly with impunity, what would you do?
Hopefully, you would instantly call the police, maybe you would shout for them to stop, maybe you would look around and see if someone else was ready to step in and help stop the atrocity – but really, really would you put your own life at risk.
I don’t think there is any surprise that people stood by and didn’t get involved.
And finally, to the shock and horror of the Mail, there were women involved.
Let me tell you, as a woman, we can be as vicious as men.
We can probably be moe vicious because, as with everything, once we decide to do something, we tend to put our hearts and souls into it.
The people who handed out the beating were cowardly, savage and vicious – gender is not the issue here.
For people all over the UK, Croydon is now a town that has an unwanted reputation as a centre of racist hatred.
But no-one, in any of our villages, towns and cities here in Norfolk should sit back and think ‘it can’t happen here.’ I have witnessed enough sideways glances at people ‘not from round here’, to know that there are simmerings of racism just about everywhere.