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Tuesday 7 July 2020

Racist Sorry About Racism - Sort Of

After the fall, the prostration before his peers, the admission of guilt, the expression of sincere regret, or, in the case of David Starkey, not so much. The appallingly racist historian and (possibly former) broadcaster has taken stock following the response to his claim “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain would there? You know, an awful lot of them survived” last week.
His initial response was to show contrition, as the BBC has reported. “Historian David Starkey has said using comments denounced as racist during a discussion about slavery were ‘a bad mistake’ for which he is ‘very sorry’ … He apologised ‘unreservedly’ for the offence his ‘deplorably inflammatory’ words had caused, saying he had spoken ‘with awful clumsiness’”. More like Awfully Premeditated Racist Intent.

The Beeb is also too kind to the person who facilitated Starkey’s bigotry. “Starkey made the offensive remarks in an episode of Darren Grimes's Reasoned, entitled ‘Dr David Starkey: Black Lives Matter Aims To Delegitimate British History’ … Grimes, a conservative commentator, also distanced himself from his guest's remarks, saying he rejected what Starkey said on his YouTube show ‘in the strongest possible terms’”. Yeah, right.

Grimes only distanced himself from Starkey’s racist outburst when he saw the blowback coming his way. Worse, Starkey’s contrition comes with a worrying large asterisk, as a report by the Guardian shows, quoting The Great Man as claiming “I have also paid a heavy price for one offensive word, with the loss of every distinction and honour acquired in a long career”. Except it wasn’t just “one offensive word”. And there is more.
The historian said the ‘misunderstanding of my words in no way reflects my views or practice on race’. However, it is not the first time he has been accused of racism. Appearing on BBC Newsnight after the summer riots of 2011, Starkey said: ‘A substantial amount of the chavs have become black. The whites have become black; a particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion.’

That, and his latest swerve across the racism line, are like an echo of the language used by Apartheid-era white South Africans. Starkey’s excuse making also includes “It was intended to emphasise, in hindsight with awful clumsiness, the numbers who survived the horrors of the slave trade. Instead, it came across as a term of racial abuse”. That’s because it WAS a term of racial abuse. But he does have a final get-out clause.

As the Guardian report noted, “As well as lamenting the impact on his career, Starkey also claimed that if free speech ‘is suppressed on questions of race, resentments will fester rather than disappear. My principal regret is that my blundering use of language and the penalty it has incurred will further restrict the opportunities for proper debate.’

FREEZE PEACH! FREEZE PEACH! But no, it’s not about freedom of speech. He had freedom to speak those words; his critics had the freedom to call him out for racism. This is the response of a coward, someone unable to admit to his own grave mistakes.

But good of David Starkey to let us know that he’s sort of sorry, and that in any case, the free speech lobby will be along to clean up after him. No surprise there, then.
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Esmond said...

He also equated the emancipation of Roman Catholics with the abolition of slavery. I remember in my Catholic childhood being dragged round a few masses as part of the campaign to canonise the forty (Forty!) English martyrs. I seem to remember my teachers being a little more relaxed about the martyrs on the other side killed by Mary. Not a nice part of our history but to compare it to the one sided and unprovoked enslavement and murder of millions should disqualify him from any claim to be taken seriously as a historian

Anonymous said...

It was only a matter of time before Starkey finally crossed the line.

His kind of far right mentality - like, for example, Big Nose Kate or even Junior Grimes - just keep pushing their extremism because it's the only way they can satisfy the mad chaos inside their heads. They HAVE to hate their victims to justify their own craziness.

But of course this isn't limited to a few crackpots. It runs culture-deep at all levels, particularly in the political/media class. Only the intensity and hypocrisy vary: witness the "difference" between Johnson and Starmer. It's an osmosis of evil decades in the making. So far, evil is winning by some distance.

It almost goes without saying that the only thing Starkey is sorry about is his own loss of "status". It never occurs to him that such "status" is anyway worthless because it derives from the worthless culture he helped create in his own utterly worthless tiny way.

Let him live with it inside his feral head until the day he croaks his last.