March 20th, 2015



It's gone quiet. The birds are befuddled by the fading of the light. "Not very spectacular, is it?" says my mother. And it's a fact we aren't seeing the sun disc being eaten into because of a heavy overcast- which makes it impossible to say quite where in the sky it is.  "So we've had the eclipse?" says my mother. And Ailz turns the dining room light off to demonstrate just how dim it has become. I step outside. The birds are making sleepy bedtime noises. I hold my light sensitive glasses up to the sky and they don't react. 

Things We Won't Say About Race That Are True

Racial stereotypes are true, says Trevor Phillips (in a documentary that went out on Channel 4 last night) or at least based in truth. Statistics back them up. Jews do tend to be high-achieving,  Afro-Caribeans are more likely than any other group to murder and be murdered,  Asian women in huge numbers become pharmacists,  white Britons commit more acts of drunken violence.

As a leading figure in the British race relations industry Phillips admits to having been in denial about all this and to have promoted a culture of denial. We've shut our eyes, he says,  to some basic facts about the human animal.  People are tribal; they like to live in ethnic enclaves- and each tribe has its own culture and its own signature crimes- and we're not going to build a just and equitable society if we pretend otherwise. The grooming and abuse of young girls by gangs in northern cities went unreported, unchallenged and unprosecuted for years because the offenders were mostly from the Pakistani community and the authorities didn't want- you know- to appear racially insensitive.

Phillips wobbles about a bit. At one point he goes confusingly off piste and devotes a quarter of an hour to interviewing Les Ferdinand and deploring the lack of black football managers- but who wouldn't wobble when tiptoeing through such a field of egg-shells? Does he have solutions? Well, yes; treat everyone as an individual- irrespective of ethnic background- but that's so obviously true as to amount to evasion.

Perhaps we all need to loosen our collars a bit, self censor less, thicken our skins and be less ready to take offence. So come back Jim Davidson, all is forgiven. Is that really what I mean? Oh, I don't know. Wobble, wobble, crunch, crunch.

Perhaps it's enough for the time being that the silence has been broken.