From the New York Times:
By CEYLAN YEGINSU APRIL 13, 2018
LONDON — It has been widely denounced as one of the most divisive and racist public addresses made by a British politician in modern history.
Enoch Powell, a Conservative member of Parliament, gave what became known as the “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968. In it, he attacked racial integration as a “ludicrous misconception” and “a dangerous delusion,” and predicted that “in 15 or 20 years’ time, the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.”
On Saturday night, the BBC will broadcast the entire text on radio for the first time — read by the actor Ian McDiarmid, who is famous for playing the “Star Wars” character Emperor Palpatine — as part of a program analyzing the speech and its impact 50 years after it was delivered.
The BBC’s decision has sparked widespread criticism and has been denounced as an “incitement to racial hatred” at a time when far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racism are on the rise in Britain and other parts of Europe.
To see why Powell’s speech still elicits so much hate, just read the opening paragraphs:
The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature.
One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: at each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future.
Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: “If only,” they love to think, “if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen.”
Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical.
At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after. [More]