By JR on Saturday, August 13, 2011
"As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see 'the River Tiber foaming with much blood" -- E. Powell, 1968
Historian David Starkey sparked outrage last night by claiming that Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech had been right and blaming ‘black culture’ for the riots. He said white youths had adopted a black culture which promoted the violence and looting.
Mr Starkey claimed Powell’s infamous 1968 speech had been right in one sense, but it wasn’t inter-communal violence that was the problem.
‘The substantial section of the chavs have become black, the whites have become black,’ he told Newsnight on BBC 2. ‘A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become fashion, and the black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together. 'This language is wholly false. It is a Jamaican patois that has intruded in England, which is why so many of us have this sense that we are literally living in a foreign country. ‘It is about black culture, that is the enormously important thing, it is not skin colour, it is culture.’
When challenged by fellow guest Dreda Say Mitchell, a black author and broadcaster, Mr Starkey defended his comments by saying: ‘At these times we need plain speaking.’
Within minutes of the broadcast, Twitter was flooded with comments accusing the historian of blatant racism. One tweet said: ‘“The problem is that the whites have become black”, David Starkey tells #newsnight – close to inciting racial hatred. Awful!’
Another commented sarcastically: ‘I don’t hate David Starkey, some of my best friends are racist historians.’ A third added: ‘This week has brought the boggle eyed racist nut in certain people spluttering out.’
Powell fuelled controversy as a Tory MP in 1968 when he warned about apocalyptic consequences if immigration was allowed to rise unchecked. Although the phrase ‘rivers of blood’ does not appear in the speech, it does include the line, ‘As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood’.
Acid-tongued Mr Starkey has been dubbed the ‘rudest man in Britain’. He once described the Queen as a housewife who ‘lacks a serious education’ and called Scotland, Wales and Ireland ‘feeble little countries’.
Starkey might have noted that the initial riots in London seem to have been almost entirely by blacks