That David Cameron chose last Saturday to make a speech attacking Muslims is despicable.
As he set out his carefully crafted tirade he will have known that the racist English Defence League was attempting to lay siege to Asians in Luton.
The methods are clearly different, but the results are not.
Muslims are expected to cower, obey their betters, and be ever watchful for the brick through the window or the shit through the letterbox.
The Tories’ attempt to use racism to divide their opposition should alarm everyone but surprise few.
They have a long track record of doing so, from Margaret Thatcher’s fears of a Britain “swamped” by immigrants to Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” race riot fantasies.
But what is shocking is the relative silence of much of the liberal left. The Guardian filled its pages with words from those who joined in the kicking, instead of voices of outrage.
Multiculturalism for them now seems tarnished and beyond defence from Tory attack.
While Cameron holds multiculturalism responsible for the growth of “Islamic extremism”, the left has its own critique of the policy.
We have taken it to task for being tokenistic and seeking to blunt radical challenges to racism.
Nevertheless, we have always understood that another kind of multiculturalism was possible, one that rests on the traditions of unity forged in struggle.
Our multiculturalism can be seen in today’s Britain. It is the product of decades of protests and strikes, gigs and carnivals, relationships and friendships.
So why are so few prepared to answer Cameron’s bile?
Islamophobia has poisoned parts of the liberal establishment, which believes that Muslims are somehow backward.
So, as it defends the right to resist forced assimilation into so‑called “Britishness”, they see multiculturalism as a barrier to Muslim “enlightenment”.
Fortunately, not everyone is afflicted by this prejudice.
Millions will have been cheered by the protests against the EDL in Luton—and millions more will reject Cameron’s crude attempt to divide and conquer.
The battle is on to make sure those millions get their voices heard—and that the racism against Muslims is driven back.
Union leaders have been silent