Debate (illustrative)
Debate (illustrative) iStock

A British art historian, known for his television appearances, is facing a ban by a popular university debating organization after imitating Hitler during a discussion of the topic, “There is no such thing as good taste.”

Shortly after the debate, it was revealed that Andrew Graham-Dixon was placed on a “blacklist” of speakers at the Cambridge Union debating and free speech society.

The new blacklist was announced by Cambridge Union president Keir Bradwell, BBC News reported.

Graham-Dixon said that he was attempting to “underline the utterly evil nature of Hitler" but also apologized for his imitation.

“In my speech I caricatured Hitler, briefly, paraphrasing his crass and insensitive statements about art and race,” Graham-Dixon said. "I apologize sincerely to anyone who found my debating tactics and use of Hitler's own language distressing; on reflection I can see that some of the words I used, even in quotation, are inherently offensive."

In the debate, which took place last week, Graham-Dixon used the example of Hitler to demonstrate the difference between bad taste and good taste. To prove his point, he made the attempt to prove how bad taste and morally bad behavior are often one and the same by imitating Hitler’s rhetoric.

Blackwell told Cambridge Union members: "I would like to offer my unreserved apology for the comments made by a speaker in our debate on Thursday night. Neither I nor the society condones the thoughtless and grotesque language used by the individual in question, and I am sorry for my failure to intervene at the time. I and my committee represent an intelligent and diverse membership; I am disappointed that this debate let a number them down this week.”

He added: “The debate was on the motion, ‘This house believes there is no such thing as good taste’. The speaker in question employed a crass and deeply insensitive impression of Hitler to make the point in opposition that there is such a thing as bad taste, and that therefore there must be such a thing as good taste. It was inexcusable, and I regret not intervening.”

Cambridge campus Jewish groups said they were appalled at the historian’s impression.

“Whilst we understand it was a light-hearted debate, the impression of Hitler and language used was insensitive and made a number of people feel uncomfortable and represents a serious misjudgement on the part of the speaker,” Cambridge JSoc said in a statement.

Bradwell said that he was acting in response to concerns from Jewish students and other members of the university, and that as Cambridge Union president he would “create a blacklist of speakers never to be invited back,” The Daily Telegraph reported. He said that Graham-Dixon would be on the list.

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