'The British Have Been Slaves' – Comedy Icon Cleese Has Mic Taken for Mocking Reparations

British comedy legend John Cleese had his mic taken by woke co-panellists at an event in Austin, Texas, after pointing out that British imperialism was not unique and that the British, too, were once slaves.

Cleese, of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame, made the remarks at a South by Southwest festival even titled ‘John Cleese in Conversation’, according to a highly-slanted Hollywood Reporter article.

Riffing on an alleged joke about colonialism by Daily Show correspondent Dulcé Sloan, who is black, Cleese is said to have remarked that people “forget the British Empire was the basic political unit of organization for 6,000 years – the British didn’t start [colonising].”

Indeed, colonisation and empire-building was conducted not only by the British, French, Russians, and other European peoples, but by non-white civilisations such as that of the Arabs, which spread by conquest from the Arabian peninsula through the Levant, North Africa, and — for a time — Spain and Portugal, and that of the Turks, who originate in Central Asia but have now almost totally displaced the predominantly Greek, Christian civilisation of Anatolia and East Thrace, including the former Constantinople — lending credence to the old adage that “many a true word is said in jest”.

“History is a history of crime. It’s a history of people who were stronger beating up people who were weaker and it’s always been that. It’s deeply, deeply distasteful. But to pretend that one lot were worse than another – you do know the British have been slaves twice, right?” Cleese asked his co-panellists, who supposedly attempted to change the subject.

“[People] get competitive about this business of being oppressed,” Cleese went on, noting that “We were oppressed, the English, by the Romans for 400 [years], from about 0 to 400” — apparently earning a testy response from Sloan and fellow co-panellists Dan Pasternack and Ricky Velez.

“You’re really going back,” Pasternack is said to have rejoined, as if the abolition of slavery by the British 189 years ago was a recent phenomenon.

“This is getting so uncomfortable,” Velez added, facetiously asking if this was “[the new] Dave Chappelle special?” — a reference to the hugely popular black comedian who has been under sustained fire from less popular but more woke comics for joking about transgenderism.

Unperturbed, Cleese reportedly said he wanted “reparations from Italy” — a remark which the Hollywood Reporter claims drew “shocked gasps” — and from the French, noting that “the Normans came over in 1066… they were horrible people from France and they came and colonized us for 30 years – we need reparations there too, I’m afraid.”

(It is unclear whether Cleese misspoke or was misquoted here, as the so-called Norman Yoke remained upon the English for many centuries after the conquest in 1066. )

Britons were also carried off into slavery in significant numbers by the Vikings and the Barbary Pirates of North Africa for hundreds of years, although Cleese did not get around to mentioning them, as Sloan took away his microphone shortly after the reparations exchange.

“And now you saved the colonizer,” Pasternack said, prompting Sloan to suggest that she had “saved a comic whose career I respect” — as if the 82-year-old comedy icon’s career could be destroyed by his poking fun at the far-left cause of slavery reparations.

The notionally right-wing MailOnline also covered the SXSW panel, but adopted much the same admonishing tone as the Hollywood Reporter, suggesting that Cleese had gone on a “rant”.

Much of Britain’s conservative and right-wing press has inculcated woke ideology, as many of the new generation of journalists have very little in common with their readers.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
Follow Breitbart London on Facebook: Breitbart London
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