David Starkey’s ‘so many damn blacks’ comment is ‘indefensible’

Historian David Starkey is facing a backlash after he said slavery was not genocide because there are “so many damn blacks” still around.

Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge University has said it is considering his position as an honorary fellow after the comments.

Starkey, 75, made the comments during an online interview with conservative commentator and Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes for the YouTube channel Reasoned UK.

During the interview, Starkey said: “Slavery was not genocide otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?

This is truly disgusting.

And by the same ridiculous, twisted logic the Holocaust would not be counted as a genocide. t.co/duHAYi6L7P

— David Olusoga (@DavidOlusoga) July 2, 2020

“An awful lot of them survived and again there’s no point in arguing against globalisation or western civilisation. They are all products of it, we are all products of it.

“The honest teaching of the British Empire is to say quite simply, it is the first key stage of our globalisation.

“It is probably the most important moment in human history and it is still with us.”

He has received widespread criticism over the remarks, including from former chancellor Sajid Javid.

“We are the most successful multi-racial democracy in the world and have much to be proud of,” Mr Javid said.

“But David Starkey’s racist comments (‘so many damn blacks’) are a reminder of the appalling views that still exist.”

In a statement Fitzwilliam College said they will “not tolerate racism”, adding that his comments are “indefensible”.

Publisher Harper Collins tweeted: “The views expressed by David Starkey in his recent interview are abhorrent and we unreservedly condemn them. Our last book with the author was in 2010, and we will not be publishing further books with him. We are reviewing his existing backlist in light of his comments and views.”

Starkey has also resigned from the board of the Mary Rose Trust, which oversees the Tudor Mary Rose ship, according to the organisation.

The trust said in a statement that they were “appalled” by his comments, adding: “Mary Rose Trust is a charity that exists for the benefit of everyone and we have zero tolerance for such comments.”

British-Nigerian historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tweeted: “This is truly disgusting. And by the same ridiculous, twisted logic the Holocaust would not be counted as a genocide.”

The views expressed by David Starkey in his recent interview are abhorrent and we unreservedly condemn them. Our last book with the author was in 2010, and we will not be publishing further books with him. We are reviewing his existing backlist in light of his comments and views.

— HarperCollinsUK (@HarperCollinsUK) July 2, 2020

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman also criticised his comments.

She said: “To suggest a genocide did not take place because some of those who were persecuted survived is dangerous, damaging and completely reprehensible.

“His words are abhorrent and as a historian with a considerable platform and following, David Starkey’s irresponsible and racist views should be widely condemned.”

Grimes has been criticised for not challenging the views and instead nodding along as Starkey continued to speak.

He later released a statement about his interview, saying he “wasn’t engaged enough” in the conversation.

He added: “It goes without saying that Reasoned UK does not support or condone Dr David Starkey’s words.

“I am very new to being the interviewer rather than the interviewee and I should have robustly questioned Dr Starkey about his comments.

“However, whether it’s on the BBC, ITV, Sky News or on YouTube, no interviewer is responsible for the views expressed by their guests.”