David Starkey speaking on Reasoned on TuesdayReasoned/YouTube

Fitzwilliam College has announced it will discuss Dr David Starkey’s Honorary Fellowship at a Governing Body meeting on Wednesday, following widespread condemnation of “racist” comments by the historian.

In an interview with Reasoned on Tuesday, Starkey argued, “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain would there?”

“You cannot decolonise the curriculum because you, Black Lives Matter, are wholly and entirely a product of white colonisation. You are not culturally Black Africans. You would die in seconds if you were dumped back in black Africa.”

He went on to say, “Of course, slavery was not the same as the Holocaust.”

In response Fitzwilliam said “We support and promote freedom of speech in our academic community, but we have zero tolerance of racism. Dr David Starkey’s recent comments on slavery are indefensible.”

Varsity understands that it is “almost certain” that his fellowship will be revoked.

The comments have been condemned “in the strongest possible terms” by Fitzwilliam College Junior Common Room (JCR), who called on the College to “take action and adopt a zero-tolerance approach” towards racism.

Meanwhile, Cambridge BME Campaign labelled Starkey a “white supremacist”, demanding the “College publicly cut all ties with David Starkey and apologise for refusing to do so earlier despite the protests of its own students and staff.

“Fitzwilliam College cannot claim to stand by its Black and Minority Ethnic members while it continues to lend legitimacy to a peddler of hate. These are merely the first steps it must take to reckon with its shameful complicity in racial injustice.”

“As a popular historian who has been a regular fixture on radio, television, and other media for decades, Starkey relies on his connections to the University of Cambridge to anchor his brazen support for white supremacy in public-intellectual credibility, legitimacy and respectability.”

In a statement to Varsity, Fitzwilliam JCR said, “David Starkey is an Honorary Fellow, the highest award in our community, and has the same responsibility as all members of our College to uphold our values.

“Clearly he is undeserving of our membership, and we demand that College rescind his honorary fellowship.”

Starkey also called for the removal of government funding from Cambridge in his interview with Reasoned, highlighting in particular the English Faculty, who he argued had “no academic content in it whatever.”

Referencing Professor Gopal, an English Faulty professor who has faced abuse and controversy over her tweets on “whiteness”, Starkey said, “What it is about is indoctrination. It is a programme of Marxist indoctrination dressed up in this preposterous... language of critical theory.”

This is not the first time Starkey has faced controversy. In 2011, following the riots across England, he argued on Newsnight that “what has happened is that the whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion.”

The comments were condemned by then Labour leader Ed Miliband and led to student campaigns to revoke Starkey’s fellowship. At the time the University refused to comment on the comments, stating that to do so would be “inappropriate”.

Starkey was also labelled a “racist”, “bigot” and “troll” after he said a group of Asian men convicted of sexual grooming in Rochdale held values “entrenched in the foothills of the Punjab or wherever it is”, and needed to be “inculcated in the British ways of doing things”.

Cambridge BME Campaign said that in not revoking Starkey’s fellowship in 2011, Fitzwilliam College “made a choice to prioritise its relations with a high-profile figure over the wellbeing and welfare of its BME students and staff. This must end now.”

In 2015, the University of Cambridge removed a promotional fundraising video featuring alumni, including Starkey, after protests and a campaign for students and staff. The video was part of the university’s £2bn fundraising campaign “Dear World, Yours Cambridge”.

At the time, Starkey said, “I did not put myself forward. I was asked to contribute by the University, which I love, and to which I owe a profound debt.”

Fitzwilliam JCR said, “We understand that these comments may be distressing for black students in our community and encourage students to contact the BME Officers or Welfare Team for support. The entire JCR will continue to hold the College to account for its promises and will support and defend black students.”

Varsity has contacted Dr Starkey for comment.

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