Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Starkey raving mad

I didn't see Newsnight on the BBC on Friday (I'm not a great one for TV panel discussions in general) so missed David Starkey making his controversial remarks about the recent riots ("The whites have become black"). I agree that the perpetrators of the rioting and the looting seem to have been both white and black (I gather the police reckon the looters were mainly a separate bunch moving around opportunistically behind the rioters: not aware of any separate demographics yet though), but I disagree with his basic premise that it is the adoption of black culture, which he appears to identify lazily with "a specific kind of violent gangster culture" which was the cause. Does he imagine that good old-fashioned white Britons couldn't run a riot by themselves? (and this man calls himself a historian!)

And as for his comments that the spread of a "wholly false...Jamaican patois" leads to "so many of us having this sense of - literally - a foreign country", well, yes, there I fear he moves beyond mere ignorance and into unabashed racism. Gosh, some BRITISH people, born in Britain, raised and educated here, talk a kind of street slang which is different from the particular form of English Dr Starkey and I speak at home. Oooh, dreadful, we're being invaded by foreign hordes. I'd like to see Dr Starkey attempt to tell a lad from the Gorbals that his "patois" meant that he was a foreigner in Britain.

Which reminds me of an incident when I was a student. University College, Durham - all male in those days - took quite a lot of ex-public-schoolboys . I had an old Harrovian next door in my first year, and an old Etonian (we'll call him Charley) opposite. The latter had a first-floor window overlooking the street, and had his glass smashed one night. It turned out that Charley and some friends had been drinking in his room, and leaned out of the window as a bunch of what would now be called "chavs" passed by. "Excuse me!....." shouted Charley to them. They stopped and looked up. "Are you yobs?" Charley continued. Their response was brief and lithic.

Nobody has chucked rocks at David Starkey, but I feel he deserves the criticism he is receiving.

Of course, there are idiots who think he's wonderful: but then we know not to expect sense of any kind from Delingpole.

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