Cambridge University drops David Starkey after complaints over ‘bigoted’ views
Cambridge University has removed a video featuring controversial historian David Starkey, due to his bigoted comments about minorities and race.
The esteemed university had put up a promotional clip last month featuring the out academic.
A number of famous faces including Sir Ian McKellen were included in the video alongside Starkey, a fellow of Fitzwilliam College.
However, a petition was launched to drop Starkey, who famously claimed after the London riots in 2011 that “The whites have become black [by adopting] a particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture”. He has also claimed that statistics show a black “propensity” to violence.
It is just the tip of the historian’s controversy – having also compared the Scottish saltire to a Nazi Swastika, claimed the legalisation of gay sex has “largely destroyed homosexual creativity”, and hit out at “ludicrous” gay parenting, despite himself being gay.
Following an open letter signed by hundreds of academics, the University this week appears to have removed the video, setting it to “private” on YouTube.
The letter had read: “Any institution making this choice of representative would seem to care very little about its appearance in the eyes of Black and Minority Ethnic students and staff, current and future.
“Any institution making this choice would seem, too, to be uncaring about its appearance in the eyes of other often marginalised groups.”
It continued: “We, the undersigned, students, staff and alumni of Cambridge University, are both frustrated and deeply disappointed by the choice of David Starkey to represent us and the institution we share.
“In our eyes, Starkey’s presence both undermines and taints our daily efforts to function as a united community, one open to the very best and brightest regardless of anything except their academic potential.
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“Further, his presence clearly undoes the prime aim of the video: to showcase the best products of Cambridge to the world. We call upon the University, and its development offices, to do what is clearly right in this case: withdraw the video from public view, immediately suspend its use in development activities and apologise for the choice of its main figure, David Starkey.”
The University told the Guardian: “It was always our intention that the video would be replaced with a new video, however it was taken down early as a number of people who took part expressed their concerns.”
Starkey told the Independent: “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.
“In due course, the university will decide what is right, proper and expedient. I shall be happy to accept that decision.
“Of course, if it raises any question about the nature of academic enquiry and academic freedom, I shall reserve the right to comment freely but without recrimination.”
Though the clip has been removed, a protest-edit version lives on: