Every so often someone recites a litany of the wrongs supposedly done by Whites to Blacks in Britain over the years. These litanies draw more on myth than fact.
Consider the one written in 2000 by Stuart Hall, the Jamaican Marxist who had been professor of sociology at the Open University. As though with a weary sigh, he began by calling it an “ancient story, banal in its repetitive persistence”. He went on:
From the early race riots of Nottingham and Notting Hill in 1958, through the 1970s campaigns against the “sus” laws, the death of Blair Peach in 1979, the uproar following the death of Colin Roach in Stoke Newington police station in 1983, the Deptford Fire, the 1980s “disorders” in Brixton and Broadwater Farm, to the murders of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and Michael Menson in 1997, black and Asian people have been subjected to racialised attacks, had their grievances largely ignored by the police, and been subjected to racially-inflicted policing practices.
He therefore made three accusations for each of his ten examples, namely that Black people had been racially attacked, that the police had largely ignored their grievances and that the police had acted in a racist fashion. If we look into these thirty accusations, we find that only three of them are true.
1. Nottingham race riot (1958)
The Nottingham race riot of August 23rd 1958 began when a White man’s challenge to a Black man sitting with a White woman spiralled into a street fight involving hundreds. Although the episode was described as a “white-on-black terror”, most of those stabbed were White. According to a Black man, people were shocked by the speed and ferocity of the West Indian response. There were no reports of the police ignoring Black grievances or acting unfairly. But Black people were indeed racially attacked so we can give Stuart Hall one justified accusation out of three.
2. Notting Hill race riots (1958)
The Notting Hill riots, which started the following weekend, are said to have begun when a group of Whites and a group of Blacks intervened on different sides in an argument going on outside a tube station between a Swedish woman and her Jamaican husband. Accounts of the disorder that occurred over the next few days vary, but again, although Whites attacked Blacks, Blacks fought back with a vengeance. According to a policeman, a group of Whites was confronted by “what can only be described as a mob shouting threats and abuse and openly displaying various offensive weapons, ranging from iron bars to choppers and open razors”. His shock at seeing these weapons wielded by Blacks suggests that he had seen no such offensive weapons being used by Whites. Nine Whites received exemplary sentences of five years each whereas no one reports any Black people being sent to prison. Nor does there seem to have been any racist policing or any sign of Black grievances being ignored. But since Blacks were indeed attacked, having incidentally been found officially to be sixteen times as racially aggressive as Whites by the time Stuart Hall wrote, we can credit him with another justified accusation, giving him two out of six.
3. Campaign against the “sus” law (1970s)
The Vagrancy Act of 1824, known as the “sus” law, allowed the police to arrest people they found to be acting suspiciously, such as those who appeared to be loitering with intent. According to the campaign against the law, it was “racist” because it netted Black people at a higher rate than others. But if this claim of “racism” was anything like those typically made by anti-racists, it netted Black people at a higher rate because Black people acted suspiciously at a higher rate, not because the police applied the law unfairly to Black people. In this case Black people would have had no legitimate grievance. So Stuart Hall still has only two justified accusations out of what are now nine.
4. Death of Blair Peach (1979)
Blair Peach was killed when he was hit on the head by a policeman during an anti-racist riot in 1979, but he was White, from New Zealand. Still only two out of twelve, now, for Hall.
6. Deptford fire (1981)
When thirteen young Black people died in a fire in Deptford, south London, also known as the New Cross fire, a Black activist launched a campaign blaming the blaze on Whites. It had nothing to do with Whites. It started in a house where a Black party was going on, apparently when someone set the curtains alight with the aid of a flammable liquid such as nail varnish or paint stripper. Nor did the police neglect the case. To show how seriously they were taking it, the investigation was led by the head of the Crime Investigation Department. Still only two out of fifteen for Hall.
7. Brixton riots (1981)
The Brixton riots of April 10th to 12th 1981 were the Black response to a crackdown on mugging launched by the police a few days earlier. No Black people were attacked by Whites, nor did the police act unfairly. They were too busy trying to quell the riots as bricks, fence posts and petrol bombs were hurled at them by young Black men amid the burning vehicles and buildings. Presumably the Black “grievance” here was that the police had launched the crackdown. Still only two out of eighteen for Hall, then.
5. Death of Colin Roach (1983)
The “uproar” that followed the fatal shooting of Colin Roach at the entrance of Stoke Newington police station was created by Black activists, who claimed that he was shot by the police. In fact he took his own life. Still only two for Hall out of 21.
8. Broadwater Farm riot (1985)
No Black people were racially attacked before or during the riot at Broadwater Farm in Tottenham, London. The riot started after a Black woman, Cynthia Jarrett, died from a heart attack when she panicked as the police came to see her about her son, who had given a false name when found in a car with a fake tax disc. As in Brixton, it was the police who were the victims. One officer had a flagstone thrown onto his back as he lay on the ground. Another was hacked to death by young Black men with machetes. Still only two justified accusations out of 24 for Hall.
9. Stephen Lawrence murder (1993)
A young Black man named Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a group of White youths, said the police almost before they had begun their investigation, and the idea was eagerly accepted by the media. Nineteen years later, two White men were convicted, so we can give Stuart Hall one for this. But it was hard to take seriously the official report on the police’s handling of the case, which found them to be “institutionally racist” according to a specially constructed definition. Even the media usually put the term in inverted commas. Although the crime and the police’s long failure to solve it were held up as epitomising the White-Black relationship, the idea that a single murder case can do this does not stand up, especially in view of the many killings of Whites by Blacks, not all of which were perhaps solved promptly. But Hall now has three justified accusations out of 27.
10. Michael Menson murder (1997)
Michael Menson was a young Ghanaian who was killed in London in 1997. As in the case of Stephen Lawrence, his murder was attributed to White youths. But Menson turned out to have been killed by a Mauritian and two Cypriots with the aid of an Arab. Nothing for Hall here, who has still therefore made just three justified accusations out of thirty.
Stuart Hall’s litany was almost entirely bogus, relying mainly on presenting anti-racist myths as true. Rather than Black people having suffered decade after decade at the hands of Whites only for their grievances to be largely ignored by a racist police force, they seem to have had remarkably little to complain about, especially considering that to find even two examples of White wrongdoing Hall had to go back as far as 1958. His litany was just another case of false accusation being used as a weapon against Whites in an attempt to soil their name and make them feel guilty.
 Stuart Hall, 2000, “From Scarman to Lawrence”, Connections, Spring 2000. pp. 15-16.
 A report in History Today, Jan. 3rd 1999, described the event as anti-black rioting where black people were pursued by mobs screaming “Lynch him, lynch him!”
 Guardian, Aug. 24th 2002, “Secret papers reveal truth about five nights of violence in Notting Hill”, http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/nottinghillcarnival2002/story/0,12331,780023,00.html).
 In 1999 the Commission for Racial Equality stated that eighteen per cent of racial aggression in Britain was due to black people, who made up 1.7 per cent of the population. Whites, at 94 per cent of the population, were responsible for under two-thirds of racially motivated offences. See Commission for Racial Equality, 1999, Racial Attacks and Harassment, CRE Factsheet, http://www.cre.gov.uk/pdfs/attac_fs.pdf, p. 4.
 The basis of long-standing demands by anti-racists for stop and search to be discontinued or even for street robbery to be no longer treated as a crime was that black people fell foul of the law at a higher rate than others. The demands were largely met using the concept of “indirect discrimination”, which by definition can only occur where there is no discrimination, in the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. See (1) Telegraph, Nov. 7th 1999, “Race Bill to end stop and search” and (2) Commission for Racial Equality, Feb. 2000, “Race Relations (Amendment) Bill (briefing note)”, http://www.cre.gov.uk/publs/dl_rrab3.html.
 The Daily Mail of Feb. 25th 1981 was quoted by New Cross Massacre Action Committee, 2001, The New Cross Fire 18th January 1981: 13 Dead. Nothing Said. We Will Not Forget. See also BBC, Jan. 18th 1981, “On This Day: 18 January”, http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/18/newsid_2530000/2530333.stm.
 Lord Scarman, 1982 (first published 1981), The Scarman Report: The Brixton Disorders, 10-12 April 1981, Harmondsworth: Pelican-Penguin. See especially Paragraph 3.109.
 Guardian, Dec. 21st 1999, “Student found guilty of Michael Menson murder”, https://www.theguardian.com/uk/1999/dec/21/race.world.