Like many readers who watched Newsnight yesterday, I sat in disbelief when David Starkey, a headline guest invited to speak about the riots, gave one of the most racist outbursts I have ever witnessed.
What has equally disturbed me is the very quick response in the Daily Telegraph put forward by Toby Young that suggests (via some dubious semantic reasoning) that in some way Starkey’s speech wasn’t racist.
Toby (a friend of mine) should know better!
You can watch the Newsnight episode for yourself, but one thing jumps out at me. Quoting Enoch Powell, especially the “rivers of blood” speech is bound to raise an argument about race. It just is! It ALWAYS had done. That is the sole purpose of it.
There is a really important point in all of this. Since we all were staring at our tellies (less than one week ago) watching events unfold on the streets of London and elsewhere, it was abundantly clear that we were not watching a back versus white street fight.
To talk about race in the context of the looting and riots is a dangerous red herring and if nothing else, this simple post is doing nothing more than asking society to consider the context of this civil disturbance by looking at its root cause(s).
One can see and hear the EDF and BNP making hay at the moment. It is beneath Newsnight to give air-time to any individual or group peddling such racist mischief, especially now! We want this once fabulous programme to provide serious debate and investigation. Leave sensationalism to one side. The programme doesn’t need it, and the viewers don’t want it.