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David Starkey says ‘resentments will fester’ if conversations around race are shut down in apology for ‘so many damn blacks’ remark

David Starkey has said “resentments will fester” if public discussions on race are shut down as he issued an apology for claiming slavery was not genocide because there are “so many damn blacks” still around.

The historian and presenter, 75, made the comments during an interview while addressing the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a lengthy statement on Monday, Mr Starkey admitted his “bad mistake” has cost him “every distinction and honour acquired in a long career” but added that freedom of speech should not exclude conversations around race. 

“Central also to British history is a tradition of free speech,” he said. 

“If that tradition 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.

“For it is only open debate that will heal the divisions in our society that the Black Lives Matter movement has both exposed and expressed.”

Speaking about his use of the phrase “so many damn blacks”, he said: “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.

“This, in the present atmosphere, where passions are high and feelings raw, was deplorably inflammatory.

“It was a bad mistake.

“I am very sorry for it and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused.

“I have also paid a heavy price for one offensive word with the loss of every distinction and honour acquired in a long career.

Mr Starkey resigned his honorary fellowship at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, after his comments came to light, while Canterbury Christ Church University terminated his role as visiting professor, saying his words were “completely unacceptable”.

Lancaster University has also launched a review of Starkey’s status as an honorary graduate following the comments, which it called “abhorrent”.

During the interview on June 30, Starkey said: “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?

“An awful lot of them survived and again there’s no point in arguing against globalisation or Western civilisation.”

The interview sparked a backlash, including from former chancellor Sajid Javid, who said Mr Starkey’s “racist” comments were a “reminder of the appalling views that still exist”.

Article source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/06/david-starkey-says-resentments-will-fester-conversations-around/

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