Here is a story to make many weep. Or maybe some will just turn away with practised indifference. Picture glorious Venice, the waterways, romantic bridges and exquisite old buildings. This week, a black man, only 22-years-old, Pateh Sabally from Gambia, jumped into the Grand Canal in a suicide bid.
Folk watched, but no none jumped in to save him. Most shockingly, some screamed racist abuse at the dying man. One Venetian cabbie was deeply affected: "This is despair. I do not know the story of this guy. They said he is African. Who knows what he has been through, how many seas and deserts he has crossed and he came to die in the most beautiful city in the world." The cabbie knows what it is to be human. Too many of his fellow citizens do not.
How many Italians have migrated to various countries in the last hundred years? How many British, Greek, French and German men and women? It is Australia Day today, so let us remember how that land was stolen and turned initially into a convict colony by the British government. How they had a whites-only immigration policy for decades. How foully they still treat refugees from Arabia and Africa. Our government is no better. They claim it is about border controls; a lie. The regulations and rhetoric are actually about ethnic controls. Disgruntled natives want to purify and reclaim this sceptred isle.
Racism is back and it's bad. The heroic Gina Miller knows how unsafe life is for people of colour and immigrants in this so-called haven of tolerance. The businesswoman, who passionately believes in the sovereignty of parliament, took the government to court to stop them rushing through Brexit plans. Since then she has been abused and threatened mercilessly. She is originally from British Guyana and that makes her a 'foreign born' dark enemy within. Boris Johnson was born in New York and has Turkish blood. Is he ever described as 'foreign born'?
Don't ever tell me that anti-immigrant Brits, Europeans and Americans are not racist, because increasing numbers are. Don't ask me to understand those who complain that migrants disrupt their lives and steal their entitlements. I never tried to 'understand' apartheid and fascism or violent Islamism and am not about to break that strong moral code now, when millions of people in the West feel it's noble to detest and reject the stranger coming to their shores or living among them.
Western racism was confronted and dishonoured after the end of colonialism and two world wars (up to a point). It stirs again across the west, strident and cruel. Furthermore, just like Nazism, it wears the badge of patriotism and projects itself as 'honest' and 'authentic'.
Trump trumpeted his racist plans with appalling aplomb. Execration of, and discrimination against Hispanics, blacks and Muslims, is now official US government policy. The torture of Muslims suspected of terrorism may no longer disallowed, and special privileges will be granted to white Christians.
Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and other loathsome leaders are gleeful. Unsurprisingly, Theresa May enthusiastically seeks to become a Trump ally. She herself has hardly been an upholder of refugee and migrant rights. Remember, David Cameron promised 3,000 Syrian refugee children would be accepted into the UK. May thus far has grudgingly let in about 280 sad and broken kids. That alone will impress Trump, to whom even tiny Syrian babies are terrorists.
The two leaders will get on just fine. Unlike Trump though, who shoots from the mouth, May speaks in codes which validate xenophobia and intolerant nationalism. Her nativism reveals itself when she goes on about 'communities' feeling alarmed and unsettled by change. It's unlikely she means Caribbeans who have been pushed out from Brixton and Notting Hill by affluent European mummies and daddies, or other areas inhabited by diverse peoples which are fast becoming monocultural. This daughter of a vicar is scary. (That woman who, way back, denounced her own party as 'nasty' is turning out to be the nastiest of all previous Tory leaders).
So what do decent people do as the poisonous fog of the new racism descends upon Europe and the US? We do what activists and anti-racists did back in the sixties. They formed alliances with lawyers, politicians and journalists, became vocal, protested, protected migrants and settlers, stood up to the state and organised purveyors of racial, religious and ethnic hostilities.
I must have gone on a hundred marches in the late 1970s and 1980s, even twisted my ankle badly when a policeman shoved me onto a verge. We were brave and persistent, not quietist and afraid as so many are now. Fascists and racists use immigration as a cover and are getting bolder. We must get bolder too before all is lost.