UK historian quits Cambridge over slavery claim

Published July 5, 2020
This May 22, 2007 file photo shows Prince Charles speaks with Natasha Kaplinsky and David Starkey (right) during a reception hosted by the Prince and his wife, Camilla, for the Royal Television Society at Clarence House.— AFP
This May 22, 2007 file photo shows Prince Charles speaks with Natasha Kaplinsky and David Starkey (right) during a reception hosted by the Prince and his wife, Camilla, for the Royal Television Society at Clarence House.— AFP

LONDON: A British royal historian who said slavery was not genocide has quit his honorary position at Cambridge University and been dropped by his published HarperCollins.

The comments from Professor David Starkey came during a period of soul searching in Britain over its colonial past.

The Black Lives Matter movement that gained momentum after the death of George Floyd in US police custody in May saw the statue of a major slave trader dumped in an English harbour as protests hit cities across the UK.

Starkey is an expert on Britain’s Tudor period — a time in the 1500s when the slave trade was growing as European colonies across the Caribbean and the Americas expanded.

He said in a June 30 online interview with the right-wing UK commentator Darren Grimes that the BLM movement represented “the worst side of American black culture”.

“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,” Starkey said.

“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,” he added.

The remarks prompted Sajid Javid — a former finance and interior minister who has talked about how his Pakistani father faced discrimination after coming to Britain — to call Starkey a racist.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2020

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