Sky’s political correspondent Lewis Goodall — the man behind the false insertion of the word “white” into Enoch Powell’s infamous Birmingham Speech — has revealed the news organisation found Britons as well as ethnic minorities think Powell was not a racist. Goodall, however, blames this on the late-MP’s “clever verbal contortions”.
In an opinion piece on the Sky News website Goodall insists:
[Powell] was a master of language and through that skill the splitting of the thinnest of thin hairs. His clever verbal contortions is one of the reasons why so many people think he wasn’t a racist.
When making a special report on the man and his life last week I was surprised by the number of people (even ethnic minority voters) who agreed that the man who delivered the most incendiary speech by any major politician since the war, didn’t fit the racialist bill.
Many said something like this: that Powell was not a racist because he would never think that whites were inherently superior to blacks or Asians. I suspect that in as far as it goes, that’s probably true.
But despite Powell not fulfilling the definition of the word “racist”, Goodall jumps through hoops to make the pejorative work:
Powell, who adored India and its culture, is unlikely to have believed whites had intrinsic superiority to non-whites.
However, such a definition sets the parameters of racism very narrowly. The belief of inherent racial superiority is a relatively exotic prejudice, nurtured only by the especially tin-headed.
But that, surely, cannot be the only criterion of racism? In Powell’s case, using inflammatory language like “picanninies”, arguing for a system which tolerates systemic discrimination on the grounds of race; arguing that the national character would be eroded by native-born descendants of immigrants; if this isn’t racist then what is? What value can the word have?
Firstly, Powell never used the word “picanniny”. He was quoting from a letter.
Secondly, it was hardly a phrase not in use at the time, prevalent even in books like Peter Pan, in Graham Greene books, in Gone With the Wind, and in a plethora of American books, films, and on television.
This is not to excuse the phrase by modern standards, but quoting from a letter in 1968 would have scarcely had the same racist connotations of the word then.
Finally Goodall suggests:
Contrary to what Powell would have us believe, there is more than one kind of racism and more than one way for individuals or institutions to betray it.
Yet recently we seem to have succumbed to Powell-itis. We have reduced racism to a sort of moral madness, which only the most extreme of us can exhibit. In recent months, this has allowed our politicians off the hook.
Of course there is “more than one kind of racism” now. The entire race relations industry has seen to it that any recognition of distinction between cultures, genetics, or even the simple wish for basic border control is “racist”. This is what Powell envisaged when he wrote the foreword to Anti-Racism: A Mania Exposed, and in his frequent objections to an American-style Race Relations i Act.
I cannot tell (yet) whether Sky News and Goodall simply don’t know these basic facts, or whether they are dead set on smearing Powell at any expense. I cover this all in my new book Enoch Was Right: Rivers of Blood 50 Years On. Perhaps it is of little wonder Sky hasn’t invited me on to discuss it.
Raheem Kassam is the editor in chief of Breitbart London and author of Enoch Was Right: Rivers of Blood 50 Years On