Worst. Argument. Ever.

It must be wonderful being James Delingpole. Here is someone who constantly wheels out the most shallow, ludicrous and repetitive arguments in response to any given topic whilst he genuinely believes he is the most intelligent person on the planet and rather than being wheeled into a home for the terminally bewildered he is instead given a rather large platform because – sadly – such mind-numbing stupidity is shared by a decent-sized minority of people who possess plenty of ideological conviction at the expense of brain cells.

Being James Delingpole relies on absolute faith in the following:

  1. James Delingpole is more intelligent and perceptive than anyone else. Ergo, if someone disagrees with him, it is because they are too stupid to realise that he is always right.
  2. Everything – and I mean everything – negative that ever happens can be blamed directly on the left or ‘libtards’ or the BBC or Labour and this is so obviously self-evident that he never needs to make a case for why this is so.
  3. There exists a ‘liberal elite’ who control everything and have done for the last 30 years (yes, Thatcher, in Delingpole’s mind, must either have been a liberal or was powerless to stand-up to the liberal elite…) and this elite try to stamp out any freedom of speech.

By now I imagine you’ve all seen David Starkey’s Newsnight appearance in which he said a load of stuff that was clearly racist. Toby Young stepped in to defend Starkey by claiming that he wasn’t really racist – which you can see rebutted in depth by 5CC – and now Delingpole has stepped in to not just applaud Toby Young but to go much further in portraying Starkey as a victim of the liberal elite and the BBC. You see, although Starkey is an experienced TV personality and supposed intellectual historian, he was actually the naive victim of a carefully laid trap:

Driving back from my holiday in Wales, yesterday, I realised what a lucky escape I’d had. As I exited the hills and finally got my mobile phone reception back, there was an old message from Friday inviting me to appear on that evening’s Newsnight to talk about the riots. So it could have been me that fell into the BBC’s “raaaacist” trap instead of poor old David Starkey.

And make no mistake it was a trap. Starkey’s debating opponent was Owen Jones, the BBC’s new pet angry young socialist whose default position is perpetual umbrage and righteous rage on behalf of the poor, working class, oppressed and – since Friday, apparently – black people. It’s a cheap trick but one that goes down very well at the BBC, which is why they have Jones back so often. What it achieves, while cleverly avoiding the need for debate on facts (never the liberal-Left’s strong point), is to imply that anyone on the right is evil, selfish, bullying, wrong or – that ne plus ultra of Lefty insults – raaaacist.

So, Starkey – who was given a chance to talk about the riots on TV and was not hassled, harangued or bullied into saying anything – was somehow the victim of a ‘trap’ simply because Owen Jones appeared on the same programme? Laughable stuff when you can clearly see that Starkey is given immense freedom to say exactly what he wants – complete with dramatic pauses – and no-one interrupts him or does anything that might have confused him enough to say something he didn’t mean or to miss-phrase his own thoughts. Delingpole completely ignores what Starkey actually said and instead points out that Owen Jones was on the show as if this somehow wins the argument – although it’s not even clear what argument Delingpole is even trying to make here.

It gets worse for Delingpole when you realise that Starkey is not claiming anything of the sort but is still standing by his comments, according to the Mail on Sunday:

Dr Starkey last night denied he had said anything racist and said he stood by his comments, reiterating that in times of economic and political crisis, ‘plain speaking’ was needed.

He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I said until I was blue in the face on the programme that I was not talking about skin colour but gang culture. A large group of whites have started to behave like blacks. I think that is the most unracial remark anyone can make.’

I might not agree with Starkey – more on that in a minute – but at least he is accepting responsibility for what he alone said rather than following the example of Young and Delingpole to try to argue that he either didn’t really say anything racist if you spend some time fudging a bizzare interpretation of what was said (Young) or that he was a victim of a BBC / liberal trap and that therefore his words are somehow not his own (Delingpole).

Just a quick point about what Starkey actually said. It seems to me that if you hear David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, on the radio, and you automatically assume he is white then you seem to associate being middle-class with a particular skin colour. In the same way, if you claim that young white people engaging in a street culture are becoming ‘black’, then you are associating being urban lower-class and violent with a particular skin colour. So the young whites are presumably betraying their white skin by engaging in urban, street culture, in the same way that the black man is betraying his skin colour by daring to be middle-class.

This all sounds like racism to me. The idea that to engage in rioting is to somehow become ‘black’ is offensive because it suggests that white people cannot culturally engage in such behaviour. Subsequently the idea that in order to be a respectable black person they must become ‘white’ is offensive because it suggests that black culture has no class system – i.e. black people who do well in society do so only because they have abandoned their black culture and replace it with copying the white man. Even discussing Starkey’s comments makes me feel as if I have just stepped back into colonial times.

It’s not racist to discuss culture. But you can easily say racist things on national TV when you really don’t have a clue what you are talking about – and it is important that people like Delingpole realise that discussing said racism is not an attack on freedom of speech, but an example of it.