Features May 2018
On “Rivers of Blood” at fifty.
Depending on where one is in the world, and on one’s political-cultural-historical baggage, this spring provides a selection of anniversaries to delight, or provoke, the intellect. America has marked the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., with that of Robert Kennedy to come. In France, it is fifty years since les événements, and the conscious attempt by student radicals to bring down Charles de Gaulle. In what used to be the Soviet bloc, it is fifty years since the Prague Spring. And in Britain, it is fifty years since the so-called “Rivers of Blood” speech: the moment when Enoch Powell, a member of the Conservative shadow cabinet, said the supposedly unsayable in telling an audience of his party’s activists at a small meeting in a Birmingham hotel that the level of immigration from the Commonwealth was too high to be sustained...
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