It was with a mixture of disbelief and amusement that I heard atheist historian David Starkey tell Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis on 12th August that the main cause of the riots in England last week was the spread of black culture. ‘The whites have become black’, he said.
He gave examples of Jamaican patois (‘innit’, ‘dat’, ‘dem’) ‘which has intruded in England’ to illustrate his point of ‘profound cultural change’.
Starkey went on to voice a silly assertion that David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, whose parents are from Guyana, was ‘an architypical successful black man’ but if you heard him speak ‘you would think he was white’.
Starkey was challenged by author Dreda Say Mitchell, who also has Caribbean parentage and also speaks with received pronunciation, and by the author of ‘Chavs’, Oxford educated, white, well-spoken Owen Jones.
Starkey has a mini-point, which probably did not warrant a full airing on Newsnight, but it was clumsily and ignorantly made. And as a militant atheist he would be unable to provide an objective source of the very concepts of right and wrong on which his argument depended.
Perhaps Starkey doesn’t mix with people enough, for his line of thinking, that a small minority of Jamaican gangsters define ‘black culture’, is as absurd as saying that the South and East London gangsters of the fifties and sixties or for that matter the punk rockers of the eighties defined ‘white culture’. There are and were different white cultures and different black cultures.
However, leaving aside the criminals who exist in every place, the most significant aspects of black culture as a whole, in Africa and in the Caribbean, are those of a Christian respect for God and for elders and a defense of Christian values in the family. While it is true that some young men of Caribbean origin in the UK have embraced rather too enthusiastically the decadent sixties culture of Britain, their underlying culture, and overwhelmingly that of black Africans, is rooted in a strong defence of Christian morality, of sexual fidelity and modesty.
Because of their God-fearing base, Caribbean and African cultures are also strongly opposed to homosexuality, something which the homosexual Starkey, an ‘Honorary Associate’ (if there can be such a thing) of the National Secular Society, and a supporter of the late Tory Campaign for Homosexual Equality (they don’t need one these days), who has described himself as an “excessively enthusiastic advocate of promiscuity“, will also find less than appealing.
In fairness, Starkey has also warned of a tyrannous new morality based on aggressive promotion of gay rights in which Christians are persecuted. But he is a fool in the Biblical sense, and if he were informed by Christian theology on the unity of the human race he would not have made such a fool of himself on Newsnight.
PRAY: Sometimes there are people who we think ‘ought’ to be saved and others who are so repulsive we find it hard to love them enough to want their salvation.
David Starkey may well fall into the latter category but he is still made in the image of God and he still needs the intrusion of the Holy Spirit and the saving grace of Jesus Christ to reveal to him his sin and his need of forgiveness and acceptance as an adopted son of the Father. From that he will find that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7) and move from ever learning to the knowledge of the truth (2Tim 3:7).