A prominent British historian has sparked outrage by blaming the ongoing riots in England on black Afro-Caribbean culture and remarking that "whites have become black" (referring to the large number of young whites who looted and rioted during the disorder).
Speaking on a BBC television news panel show, David Starkey said Britain has witnessed "a profound cultural change" and added that the riots were simply "shopping with violence," rather than an expression of outrage at injustice.
Starkey said: "The problem is that the whites have become black -- a particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion -- and black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together; this language, which is wholly false, which is a Jamaican patois, that’s been intruded in England, and this is why so many of us have this sense of literally [being in] a foreign country.”
Starkey also alluded to Enoch Powell, the controversial British politician from the 1960s and 1970s who espoused a strident anti-immigration platform. In 1968, Powell delivered his epic ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in which he warned that mass immigration would eventually lead to chaos on British streets.
“His [Powell’s] prophecy was absolutely right in one sense,” Starkey said. “The [river] Tiber didn’t foam with blood, but flames… wrapped round Tottenham and wrapped round Clapham.” (referring to two deprived London neighborhoods where the violence was particularly intense).
Starkey’s comments provoked fury from the left.
Labour Party MP Jeremy Corbyn vented on Twitter by asking BBC: "Why was [the] racist analysis of Starkey unchallenged? What exactly are you [BBC] trying to prove?"
On the show, Owen Jones, an author, challenged Starkey: “It’s utterly outrageous, obviously, what you’re saying. What you’re doing is you’re equating black culture with criminality.”
However, Starkey denied his comments were race-based.
“That’s not true. it’s not skin color, it’s cultural,” he said.
To prove his assertion, Starkey discussed David Lammy, a top black Labour MP who represents Tottenham, London, the vortex of the riots.
“Listen to David Lammy,” Starkey said, “an archetypical, successful black man: if you turned the screen off, so that you were listening to him on radio, you’d think he was white.”
Lammy rejected Starkey’s comments as “irrelevant,” on Twitter.