The left have been gunning for David Starkey for decades, as much for who he is rather than what he says. For Starkey is that rarest of commodities: an unapologetic white man who says precisely what he thinks, without the slightest concern for who he offends. For his fans he is a free speech crusader, to his enemies a walking ‘hate speech’ generator.
In the wake of his interview with Darren Grimes, Starkey must have set a world record for the speed at which someone can be condemned without trial. Universally denounced, fired from everything he could be (Harper Collins, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and the Mary Rose Museum), hung drawn and quartered on social media, even thrown under the bus by Grimes himself (to whom Starkey is a hero), all well within a 24-hour window. As Starkey once remarked, he won’t be going to heaven; but now he may now be off Beelzebub’s guest-list too.
The furore enveloping Starkey is twofold: first, that he argued slavery wasn’t genocide, and second that he employed the term ‘damn blacks’. The first one is a trifle: of course, slavery isn’t genocide, something even a lamentable historian such as myself can deduce. Slavery is a business which would suffer if you wiped out your workforce. That is not to demean the suffering of slaves, but merely to be accurate. Besides which, you’d think Britain’s most eminent historian would at least be entitled to an opinion on the subject.
The ‘damn blacks’ comment is more problematic, and the reason the left are wetting themselves at the prospect of adding the Starkey scalp to their ever-expanding oubliette. They may well be right, though I fear it will be the final nail in the free speech coffin, should it come to pass. Out of context the social media clip looks bad, but there is a reason Grimes missed it during the interview – it’s crystal clear that Starkey does not use ‘damn’ in the pejorative sense.
He’s refuting the argument of genocide, using ‘damn’ as an emphatic (as in ‘damn fine day!’) – ‘how can there be black genocide, when there are so many black people?’ is clearly what he means. You are free to disagree of course, as many will – but you might wish to consider why the word ‘damn’ can only have a pejorative meaning when applied to black people.
It is important to be as dispassionate in defence as one would aim to be in prosecution, and I feel certain concessions ought to be made in terms of Starkey. First, he is clearly a man of his time – as is the language he uses. Second, while I would not use the term ‘provocateur’, he is evidently aware of the value of offence, having once commented that being ‘Britain’s rudest man’ was worth ₤100k per annum to him. Starkey must take some blame for this, so too must the hysterical cancel culture we live in. In any event, I doubt Starkey would claim not to know he sails close to the wind.
If you find yourself genuinely offended by Starkey, that’s fine. If however you demand the man be crucified, vilified, and hounded out of his livelihood and the public sphere, I believe you have some questions to answer yourself:
Firstly perhaps you did not notice that in the early stage of the interview Starkey was highly critical of other groups: the obese, the white working class, thick schoolchildren, and entitled white women. Indeed, he was much ruder than his use of the term ‘damn blacks’ – why do you think those insults drew no ire whatsoever?
Secondly how comfortable are you with the ridiculous double standard that now exists in terms of race, whereby attacking whites evokes praise and public sympathy, while defending whites leads to police investigation and accusations of ‘Nazi hate speech’ (It’s OK to be white, White Lives Matter).
Consider Cambridge University’s Dr Gopal, who wants to, ‘abolish whiteness’, and thinks ‘white lives don’t matter’. How about Black Lives Matter’s co-founder, Yusra Khogali, who thinks whiteness is a ‘genetic defect’, and should be erased by black people – fancy taking a knee for that? Or Munroe Bergdorf who thinks ‘all white people are racist’, and that ‘the white race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on earth’, fired and re-hired by L’Oreal, when they could see which way the wind was blowing.
Thirdly do you not find it slightly worrying that a man of such eminence can be effectively ‘struck off’ within the space of 24-hours, due to a faux pas?
Fourthly and finally, even if Starkey were the most racist man on earth – a fully-paid up clansman who’s hood just happened to slip, so what? This cannot come as much of a shock in a climate which routinely portrays all white people as racist – whether they speak out against race (white saviour complex), or remain silent (complicit, violence). Why not let people make up their own minds about his behaviour without having to silence him?
To those perfectly comfortable with cancel culture, I’d like to ask, what exactly is your solution here? With whiteness now classified as little more than a disease, what are we going to do with a nation, 80% of whose population is white? Cancel everybody? Operate a 2-tier system where only non-whites are allowed to speak? Send all our whites off to some kind of racist Botany Bay?
As Starkey himself said at the end of the interview when asked about cancel culture, ‘we’ve got to dare to speak out. They (the left) think they can shut us up.’
He’s not far off, is he?