Taking a kitchen knife from home, a boy of 14 racially abused his black teacher then stabbed him in the stomach. “I stick a blade straight in his tummy,” the boy said afterwards on Facebook.
In another school in Britain, Jewish children are being taught how to hide under furniture in the event that their synagogue is attacked.
Statistics are inconclusive as to whether there has been an increase in racism here, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the many would-be immigrants seeking to enter the country from Africa and the Middle East and the use by government officials of words such as “swarms” and “marauding thousands” have sparked, or cemented, a hostile attitude among many Britons.
The January killings of Jewish shoppers in a Paris kosher supermarket have also engendered growing unease among minorities.
Vincent Uzomah, 50, a teacher at an academy in Bradford, said he prayed, “God, don’t let me die,” when he saw the knife sticking from his stomach. “I was thinking, ‘Is this my last hour? I didn’t say goodbye to my wife and three kids!’”
When the boy boasted about his action on social media, more than 30 people expressed “likes” for his action. Mr Uzomah said, “This makes me feel like society is drifting away from the normal way of life and if not corrected, it will keep on getting worse.”
At Bradford Crown Court, the boy, who cannot be named, was said to have discussed his intention to stab his teacher with a friend. He was sentenced to 11 years — six in detention and five on licence. The teacher said he forgave the boy, but he was still too frightened to return to teaching.
The arguments, which some people use against incomers, are that they want to live an easy life on government benefits and that they will take British jobs and houses. Investigations have persistently shown that the opposite is true — most migrants do not wish to claim benefits and the jobs they do get, usually low grade, are invariably better performed than by jobless Brits.
Few of the xenophobes acknowledge that refugees are fleeing real violence and threats to their lives; nor do they differentiate between bona fide asylum seekers and economic migrants looking for a better life. Adding to the tension last week were television news reports from Ferguson, Missouri, showing helmeted, mostly white, police lined up against African-Americans marking the anniversary of the death at police hands of black teenager Michael Brown.
As for anti-Semitism, the Community Security Trust reported last week that there was a 53 per cent rise in anti-Jewish incidents in the UK since 2014, with 473 incidents between January and June alone.
The figures included 44 violent assaults, as well as damage to property and threats and insults on social media.
They call them listicles — news articles made up mostly of lists, such as: Ten Ways to Warm Up Your Bedroom in Winter, 22 Things All Beer Haters Know To Be True, 10 Bible Passages That Might Be Totally Bogus, 10 Fascinating Secrets Taken To The Grave, 10 Horror Movies To Scare You In Under Five Minutes.
And so on and so on.
They seem to dominate both the official media and the social media; they are in newspapers, magazines and even the BBC. They are hard to avoid, easy to read (or at least scan), superficial and irritating — if only because no matter how serious a person you think you are, you cannot resist them.
A couple had a blazing row and the wife announced she was going to her mother. The husband said, OK, he was going to his mother.
“So what about our six children?” the wife asked.
He replied: “You’re going to your mother and I’m going to my mother, so the kids will have to go to their mother.”
A young man sat staring grimly into his drink so the barman asked him what was wrong.
“Two months ago, my uncle died and left me a thousand pounds,” he replied.
“That doesn’t sound like something to get upset about,” the bar tender said.
“Yeah,” the man said, “but last month another uncle died and left me two thousand pounds.”
“So what are you so depressed about?”
“This month, so far, not a penny.”
Thirty minutes out of Glasgow, the flight attendant announced, “We’re very sorry, but there has been a terrible mix-up. We have 103 passengers but only 40 dinners. Anyone kind enough to give up their meal for someone else will receive free drinks for the duration of the flight.”
Ninety minutes later, she came back on the speaker: “If anyone would like to change their minds, we still have 40 dinners available.”