By: Kimberly Rodrigues
During a literary festival debate, historian David Starkey expressed his belief that “human beings should not be equal” and argued that differences in strength and intelligence make equality an unrealistic goal.
Starkey also referred to human rights as a “catastrophe” and referred to Britain as a “quasi-apartheid society”. Additionally, he cited ongoing debates about trans people and women to support his argument.
“The catastrophe has been we’ve introduced human rights, like gay rights, like black rights, like trans rights, because they are inherently divisive,” he said.
Starkey’s recent comments on equality came three years after he was stripped of his honorary fellowship at the University of Cambridge and dropped by Harper Collins, following his “abhorrent” remarks about slavery.
The historian had made shocking comments about slavery while appearing as a guest on Darren Grimes’ “Reasoned” podcast. He attempted to argue that slavery was not actually “genocide,” as evidenced by the continued presence of Black people in Africa and Britain, and went on to suggest that “an awful lot of them survived.”
These comments have been widely criticised for their dehumanising language towards Black people, with Starkey seemingly treating them as undesirable or even vermin-like. Given the highly offensive nature of his remarks, little analysis is needed as they are reprehensible on their own.
Attendees at the literary festival were reportedly taken aback by the invitation extended to Starkey to speak at the event.
The panel discussion at the Sheldonian Theatre was moderated by columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and featured author and broadcaster Gary Younge, writer Kenan Malik, and entrepreneur Deborah Meaden of Dragon’s Den fame.
Prior to the event, ticket-holders were invited to submit questions via email, and a representative selection of these questions was posed to the panel.