A BBC Radio personality made a remark that ignited a Twitter firestorm after releasing some research on the death rates during the Sweating Sickness of 1528 and tying the fact with contemporary British class consciousness and the current global pandemic.
Historian Dr Louise Raw, in her tweet, wrote: “When I was researching the Sweating Sickness of 1528, I found a line that just illuminated the virulent class prejudice still rife in Britain.
“The Sickness seemed to affect the very rich & very poor.”
“One commentator described victims as ‘Men of wealth & ease, OR IDLE FELLOWS.’”
When I was researching the Sweating Sickness of 1528, I found a line that just illuminated the virulent class prejudice still rife in Britain.
The Sickness seemed to affect the very rich & very poor.
One commentator described victims as ‘Men of wealth & ease, OR IDLE FELLOWS’ pic.twitter.com/va9z4PDV49
— Dr Louise Raw (@LouiseRawAuthor) May 22, 2020
To which another tweeter responded: “If only it could be a bit more selective this time and leave us idle fellows alone”–a reference to how the working classes, small business owners, and low-income earners have been rocked by social distancing.
Dr Raw distastefully replied: “It actually killed very rich, white middle aged men in greater number than anyone else! Which is obviously terrible,” finishing with a cheeky winking emoji.
The tweet drew fire from other commenters, aghast at the remark from a representative of the state-run British Broadcasting Company.
“Mmm and if anyone had put a knowing happy [winking] emoji in front of the suggestion that any other group had died as a result of pestilence, disease, famine or war they wouldn’t be employed by our embarrassing Orwellian state broadcaster. But I guess you’ll keep your cushy job!” Tweeted one outraged social media user.
“Hardly surprising that this thing works for the BBC…” commented another.
A third wrote: “She’s a “Dr” who can’t write a prescription for HCQ, remove a gall stone, or take your temperature. Never trust those people. Always trying to prove their self worth.”
Some believed that, following the inevitable backlash, the historian might take the tweet down, sarcastically using the winking emoji.
The BBC has been criticized for anti-white remarks when reporting on Brexit as well as “positive discrimination” against white prospective employees.
National File contacted the BBC for comment and did not receive an immediate response.