The British historian David Starkey has been dropped by his publisher and has resigned from an honorary position at a Cambridge University college after making racist remarks about slavery.
Starkey, who specializes in history from the Tudor period and and has a reputation as a provocateur, faced widespread condemnation for using derogatory language about Black people in an online interview with conservative commentator Darren Grimes.
In the interview, which ranged from the Black Lives Matter movement to globalization and whether White privilege exists, 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 as for the idea that slavery is this kind of terrible disease that dare not speak its name – it only dare not speak its name, Darren, because we settled it nearly 200 years ago.”
Apparently comparing slavery to the struggle of Catholics in British history, he added: “We don’t normally go on about the fact that Roman Catholics once upon a time didn’t have the vote and weren’t allowed to have their own churches because we had Catholic emancipation.”
“And do you know what – we had Catholic emancipation at pretty much exactly the same time that we got rid of slavery in the 1830s. We don’t go on about that because it’s part of history, it’s a question that’s settled.”
The interview, which was uploaded to YouTube on June 30, prompted widespread criticism on social media. Sajid Javid, a Conservative member of Parliament and former UK finance minister, called Starkey’s comments racist.
“We are the most successful multi-racial democracy in the world and have much to be proud of. But David Starkey’s racist comments (“so many damn blacks”) are a reminder of the appalling views that still exist,” Javid said in a tweet on Thursday.
CNN contacted Starkey for comment but he had not replied by the time of publication.
Grimes promoted a link to the video on June 30 and referred to Starkey as a hero. “They say never to meet your heroes, well, I virtually met one of mine and it was bloody fantastic,” he wrote on Twitter.
After widespread criticism of the interview, carried out for his Reasoned UK platform, Grimes posted again on Thursday, conceding he had not been as “engaged” as he ought to have been during the encounter. Grimes said should have “robustly questioned” Starkey about his comments. “It goes without saying that Reasoned UK does not support or condone Dr David Starkey’s words,” he said.
Fitzwilliam College, part of Cambridge University, confirmed on Friday that, after contacting Starkey, it had “accepted Dr David Starkey’s resignation of his Honorary Fellowship with immediate effect.”
In a statement on Friday, the college said: “Our student and academic bodies are diverse and welcoming to all. We do not tolerate racism. Although Dr Starkey holds no teaching role at Fitzwilliam, Honorary Fellows have the same responsibility as all members of our College to uphold our values.”
Canterbury Christ Church University, in Kent, where Starkey was a visiting professor, also confirmed on Twitter it had terminated its relationship with him. It said Starkey’s comments were “completely unacceptable and totally go against our University and community values.”
Publisher HarperCollins UK said it had parted ways with Starkey. In a statement published on its website and social media, it said: “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 found himself in hot water before with comments on race. Discussing the London riots in 2011 on the BBC’s flagship current affairs program, Newsnight, Starkey said: “The Whites have become Black.”
“A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion,” he said during the interview. The comments prompted almost 700 complaints from viewers, according to the BBC.