‘Diversity’ and White Middle Class Hypocrisy

Following the Brexit vote, Allister Heath, writing in The Telegraph, found himself ‘very struck… by the way that liberal middle-class Remain voters tended to characterise working-class Leave voters as ignorant, stupid, bigoted and racist’. On the other side of the aisle, Dreda Say Mitchell, writing in The Guardian, reported that ‘the barrage of hatred and intolerance unleashed by sections of the remain vote against the working class has been horrifying’.

A popular narrative regarding working class white support for Brexit is that it was based on a nativist racism and a hatred of ‘diversity’. ‘Ignorant’ and ‘uneducated’ whites were seen as a bunch of knuckle-dragging bigots who irrationally hated their neighbours.

The Economist, in a post-Brexit vote article celebrating widespread demographic changes, stated:

[W]hat really offends liberals—particularly in London—is the thought that Britain is bound to become less tolerant, less international, less diverse and as a result less interesting.

However, ‘if national diversity is the goal’, gushed the piece, ‘Britain’s capital has an enormous head start’.

Does it really?

The Financial Times notes:

So noisily have London’s political leaders been celebrating the diversity of their multiracial city that they have forgotten to see what is happening under their noses. If you walk around the city centre you see racially mixed pavements, shops, buses, tubes and even workplaces. But there is also a great deal of what the Americans call “sundown segregation”: if you followed people home you would find yourself in some of the most ethnically segregated places in Britain.

As Ed West puts it:

London liberals tend to be impeccably on-side when it comes to racial morality, but still want to be with people like them, some of whom are Asian or black or mixed, but not many, at least not proportionally to their boroughs. This doesn’t make them bad, just human, but the problem is that the whole diversity ideal is based on people having perfectible natures, the story culminating with a post-racial society where all segregation ends, a classic example of a utopian political belief.

The Times has termed the phenomenon ‘polite white flight‘:

Britain has become more sharply divided on ethnic lines, even as racial prejudice has declined, according to a new study.

More than 600,000 white Britons have moved from London to areas that are 90% or more white in the past decade — and liberals, leftwingers and rightwingers have done so at roughly the same rate.

Trevor Phillips, the former equalities chief, stated:

We are not seeing an increase in racial hostility but the outcome is a clear increase in racial division. People are moving apart even though today personal racial prejudice is on the wane.

In a major academic study, Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam conducted detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America. In 2007, he published his findings, which demonstrated:

[T]he greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

Again, Putnam did not find racism to be the primary factor. He writes:

Diversity does not produce bad race relations or ethnically defined group hostility. Rather, inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbours regardless of the colour of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can make a difference.

The flip-side of these findings was that:

where “social capital” is greater, children grow up healthier, safer and better educated. People in more homogeneous communities also have longer, happier lives and democracy and the economy work better.

The New York Times reported:

His findings on the downsides of diversity have also posed a challenge for Putnam, a liberal academic whose own values put him squarely in the pro-diversity camp. Suddenly finding himself the bearer of bad news, Putnam has struggled with how to present his work.

This is hardly surprising, for, as John King states, ‘“Diversity” is the new fetish of the media and political class’. Indeed, a commitment to ‘diversity’ has taken on an almost religious air in age of increasing secularisation, with ‘“diversity” and “tolerance” as the qualities to which the new elite most reverently genuflects’.

The problem with all this praise for diversity is that many of its advocates do not in practice live the ‘diverse’ dream. This has been identified as the ‘diversity paradox‘: ‘people who value diversity surround themselves with like‐minded others’. The thing is, those like-minded others tend to be of a similar ethnic and cultural background.

But what of those who can’t afford to make such living choices? The much-discussed – and derided – white working class comes into the picture here. White liberals, the kinds of people who praise diversity and avoid it in practice, can often barely conceal their contempt for such people. For example, it has not been seen as unacceptable for a Times columnist to refer to working class whites as ‘the detritus of the Industrial Revolution’.

When you actually listen to the concerns of the kinds of white working class people who voted for Brexit, what emerges, however, is not a torrent of racism, but rather a deep sense of loss of community.

In May 2016, the BBC visited the East Ham Working Men’s Club, ‘which has become the last bastion of Cockney culture, and is just a few feet from West Ham’s Upton Park ground’. Comments from the patrons centred on culture, not race. This is an area that has seen massive demographic change in a relatively short space of time. Whites are a minority. The club’s manager states:

People who haven’t been for many years come out of Upton Park Station and say: “I can’t believe what’s happened here, it could be Baghdad.”

A club member says:

It’s hard to find somebody who speaks English in Newham. We’ve always been a country where immigration plays a part, but not on the scale you find now. You go from Aldgate to Barking and there is very few English people left.

Another says:

The biggest change I think is the pubs shutting, there are so many pubs closing down. Muslims don’t drink, so that’s another major change.

The documentary also features bus driver Tony Cunningham, whose father was a Jamaican immigrant and whose mother is a Londoner whose family has lived in Newham for 150 years. Despite his mixed heritage, Cunningham considers himself a cockney through-and-through. He now feels isolated in his own community:

I feel alone. Most of the Muslims stick together, their children stick together. If you are an outsider, they don’t want no part of you whatsoever.

This feeling of being culturally and socially isolated, of feeling ‘alone’, fits with Putnam’s findings on diverse communities, although where Putnam stated that ‘inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life’, it seems more that some incomers have never even sought to become a part of that collective life (outside of their own communities).

In a 2013 article, Jane Kelly, a London resident for a quarter of a century, writes that ‘I feel like a stranger where I live’:

Of the 8.17 million people in London, one million are Muslim, with the majority of them young families. That is not, in reality, a great number. But because so many Muslims increasingly insist on emphasising their separateness, it feels as if they have taken over; my female neighbours flap past in full niqab, some so heavily veiled that I can’t see their eyes. I’ve made an effort to communicate by smiling deliberately at the ones I thought I was seeing out and about regularly, but this didn’t lead to conversation because they never look me in the face…

I was brought up in a village in Staffordshire, and although I have been in London for a quarter of a century I have kept the habit of chatting to shopkeepers and neighbours, despite it not being the done thing in metropolitan life. Nowadays, though, most of the tills in my local shops are manned by young Muslim men who mutter into their mobiles as they are serving. They have no interest in talking to me and rarely meet my gaze. I find this situation dismal.

People feel ‘alone’ and ‘like strangers’ in communities that have ceased to be communities in any real sense. Is it any wonder that such areas have produced ‘leave’ voters, who desperately believed that in some way voting ‘out’ might do something to change things?

Middle class white liberals who are increasingly flocking together in culturally homogenous areas never utter the kind of impolite and ‘racist’ statements seen above. They don’t need to. They can afford to move to be around ‘people like us‘ without giving any controversial reasons. They can sit in their enclaves and make themselves feel morally superior by pontificating on the ‘racism’ of the retrograde uneducated lower classes, and champion the wonders of ‘diversity’ while living far away from it. As an article in The Independent puts it:

Classist innuendo about educated Remain voters and the ‘white van men’ of Leave has revealed something very distasteful about Britain. “Are you sophisticated, cultured and cosmopolitan, or an uneducated pleb?” is implicit in much of the discourse…

Middle class liberals are often actively involved in a “divide and conquer” strategy with recent immigrants and the established working class. They disingenuously praise immigrants not out of any sincere commitment to open borders, but rather as a way of distancing themselves from and expressing their disdain towards the working class.

Disdain towards the working class and their ‘prejudices’ masks a great hypocrisy: the biggest advocates of ‘diversity’ are often the least touched by it.

The Myth of the Europhile Young

Consider the following narrative:

The Brexit result revealed a huge divide in Britain: the old and the uneducated voted to leave the EU and are a bunch of ignorant bigots stuck in the past, whereas the well-educated young (the 75%) voted to remain in the EU, and are forward-thinking, cosmopolitan, liberal internationalist Europhiles. They are the future.

Is this actually true?

Polling data in recent years have revealed that Britons feel less European than the population of any other EU country, with two-thirds of people in the UK saying they do not feel any sense of European identity. This 64% figure contrasts significantly with the French and the Germans, amongst whom only 36% and 25% respectively identify solely with their nationality. Despite this, 51% of those in Britain who do not identify as European were still, prior to the Brexit vote, in favour of remaining in the EU, illustrating that ‘clearly, for this group, support for the EU has little to do with how European or otherwise they feel’.

When it comes to younger voters, a similar pattern emerges. A 2017 survey, commissioned by the thinktank Demos and supported by the British Council, found that half of young adults in the UK do not feel European, despite 75% voting to remain in the EU. Those who identified as solely or predominantly European were very much in the minority. Similarly, a 2017 YouGov survey showed that only 29% of young people in Britain see themselves as both Brits and Europeans. As Emily Dinsmore notes, ‘clearly, youngsters are not convinced that EU membership connects us with our European neighbours, or makes us feel like internationalists’.

When the reasons for the young voting to remain in the EU are looked at, what emerges is voting rooted in self-interest based on the perceived benefits of EU membership, rather than widespread Europhile leanings. Avril Keating, Director of the Centre for Global Youth at the UCL Institute of Education notes that UCL research has revealed that ‘young people in Britain are less tolerant of immigration than you might expect’ and the idea that ‘young people’s attitudes towards Brexit were really driven by idealism and cosmpolitanism’ is not strongly founded, with many young people voting Remain ‘because they viewed remaining in the EU as the safest option, and the outcome that would have had the least negative impact on their lives’. Keating also notes that:

Few reported feeling less European since the referendum, in part because few felt European in the first place. Most were also just as attached to and proud of Britain as they had been before the referendum.

Research by the London School of Economics illustrates the primary concerns of young Remain voters:

There was widespread fear and frustration. Prime amongst youth anxieties were questions about losing EU benefits including educational programmes, opportunities and rights. A close second was the feeling that economic livelihoods would be even more endangered in a post-Brexit UK.

Economic concerns, then, rather than any inherent love for the EU, or even Europe itself, were key to the youth Remain vote. Indeed, interestingly, a 2015 YouGov survey revealed that ‘as a group, today’s university students are mainly interested in traditional left-wing issues – but on core economic matters they are actually to the right of the general public’. Students might talk a lot about ‘social justice’ issues, but they are very much motivated by self-interest, and this came out clearly in the significant vote to remain in the EU.

The idea of a young Europhile population in Britain today is a misrepresentation. Young Britons, in line with the population in general, are not particularly European in outlook. As Libby Cherry, herself devoted to ‘an ideal of a future European Britain’, acknowledges, ‘British youth are only reluctant Remainers’. Cherry writes:

Even the most committed Remainers often shy away from painting the EU postively, let alone upholding it as a perfect institution. Many people also seem to forget that many young people support Jeremy Corbyn because he holds similar views to them on the EU – vague, ambivalent, faintly Eurosceptic – rather than in spite of them. Prior to the referendum, if the EU had cropped up in conversation the tone probably would have been negative rather than positive.

The supposed huge social and generational divide in modern Britain, then, is not nearly as drastic as the 75% Remain vote might make it appear to be. Most young Britons are not Europhiles.

On ‘Education’ and Brexit

George Orwell, writing in 1941, made the following observations:

In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God save the King” than of stealing from a poor box.

Since Orwell wrote these words, the English intelligentsia have arguably become even more hostile to pro-English sentiment and English universities are increasingly becoming echo chambers of ideological conformity.

Following the Brexit vote, the University of Leicester published research which reportedly demonstrated that ‘greater access to Higher Education could have reversed the result of the 2016 EU referendum’. Inside Higher Ed reported on the findings as follows:

A statistical analysis of factors influencing voter preferences in the 2016 Brexit referendum found higher education to be “the predominant factor dividing the nation.” A new article published in the journal World Development estimated that an increase of about 3 percent in the number of adults accessing higher education in England and Wales could have reversed the results of the referendum, in which voters voted by a 51.9 to 48.1 percent margin in favor of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

The analysis by Aihua Zhang, the director of a master’s program in actuarial science at the University of Leicester, found that areas with higher proportions of university-educated adults tended to vote in support of remaining in the EU.

The assumption here, of course, is that the Brexit vote was the result of a lack of education and that a university education would disabuse ‘leave’ voters of their wrong-headed views. The problem with such an analysis is that it assumes that voting to remain in the EU is a natural result of simply being more educated, and therefore better informed and more inclined towards making the ‘correct’ choice. The assumption is that higher education is simply about discovering truth, and is therefore value-neutral. Higher education is seen to be a predictor for ‘remain’ sympathies because ‘remain’ is based on facts and academic rigor.

Another possibility, however, is that there is in fact a correlation between undertaking higher educational studies and conforming to a certain narrow groupthink based more on a moral vision than on one of actual academic inquiry. That this is in fact the case, and that Brexit-opposing students have been indoctrinated by academics who ‘are ashamed of their own nationality’, is suggested by the current situation found on university campuses throughout England. Orwell identified the English intelligentsia as ‘Europeanized’ and leftist in orientation. A recent study found that eight in ten British university lecturers are ‘left-wing’. Key findings include:

  • Individuals with left-wing and liberal views are overrepresented in British academia. Those with right-wing and conservative views are correspondingly underrepresented. Around 50% of the general public supports right-wing or conservative parties, compared to less than 12% of academics. Conservative and right-wing academics are particularly scarce in the social sciences, the humanities and the arts.
  • The left-liberal skew of British academia cannot be primarily explained by intelligence. The distribution of party support within the top 5% of IQ is relatively similar to the distribution of party support within the general population.
  • Ideological homogeneity within the academy may have had a number of adverse consequences: systematic biases in scholarship; curtailments of free speech on university campuses; and defunding of academic research by right-wing governments.

The curtailment of free speech on campuses is a very worrying development. In February 2017, The Independent reported:

More than nine in 10 UK universities are restrictive of free speech, according to a new report that raises concerns over the issue of censorship on campuses.

Analysis by Spiked magazine, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, suggested campus censorship had increased steadily over the past three years – with a growing number of institutions actively clamping down on ideas, literature and guest speakers that are not in keeping with their own values.

The Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR), drawn from examining the policies and bans of 115 universities and students’ unions, found almost two thirds (63.5 per cent) were “severely” restrictive of free speech, with more than 30 per cent given an “amber” warning.

Russell Group institutions were found to be significantly more censorious that the average, with four of the five most restrictive institutions part of this group – Cardiff, Edinburgh, Newcastle and the University of Oxford.

Then, in March 2018, The Joint Committee on Human Rights ‘found the discussion of unpopular and controversial ideas is being opposed on campuses across the country, with some attempting to shut down such debates rather than confront them’.

In May 2018, The Times reported:

Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, will announce tough guidance on the issue at a meeting today, calling attempts to silence debate “chilling”.

He will accuse some student societies of “institutional hostility” to certain unfashionable but perfectly lawful views. A “murky” legal landscape, with guidance from various regulators, lets zealots censor those with whom they disagree, Mr Gyimah will say.

The BBC – hardly a bastion of right-wing thought – has reported on ‘Brexit-supporting students getting abuse on campus’.

All of this demonstrates an increasing tendency in universities to impose a moral view. If there are ‘bad’ ideas, then a truly academic approach should be to hear them and then demolish them. That has long been the traditional approach to countering false notions. However, when ideas are simply silenced and forbidden, what we are actually seeing is censorship based on the purported immorality of certain opinions. If it is believed that ideas which run counter to the prevailing orthodoxy should simply be banished, then we are witnessing something akin to the banning of books and ideas more commonly associated with religious zealotry than with academia.

Those with a university education were greatly in favour of remaining in the EU, and the fact that they are ‘educated’ has been linked to this. However, the English university environment is one in which left-wing and liberal academics make up the vast bulk of teaching staff, and campuses are increasingly becoming places in which a certain set of ideologically – and morally – ‘acceptable’ views are the only opinions allowed to be heard. Speakers are silenced and dissenting students are bullied. It is little wonder that those who emerge from such an environment are ideologically uniform and therefore were enthusiastic ‘remain’ voters. That is not to say that there is no merit in ‘remain’ arguments, but that the supposed link between being ‘educated’ and opposing Brexit is not the knock-down argument its proponents seem to think it is.

White Liberals and Politically Correct Racism

This article of mine was first published on July 30th 2010. I’m re-posting it as much of its content remains relevant today.

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The white liberal is an unhealthy type of creature that you will undoubtedly have encountered, if not in real life, certainly via the media. By ‘liberal’, I do not mean simply someone who has a generally liberal outlook, in the sense of a ‘live and let live’ philosophy, nor do I mean liberals in the sense of the classical liberals of the conservative tradition. By ‘white liberal’, I mean a white Western individual who is likely to come from a middle class background and have a university education, considers him or herself to be both ‘left-wing’ and socially ‘liberal’, and almost certainly reads The Guardian or The Independent. White liberals espouse an artificial and pretentious form of ‘egalitarianism’, a patronising and hypocritical approach to ethnic minorities and non-Western cultures, and – in a re-hash of the notion of the ‘white man’s burden’ – devote themselves to a delusional Messianism in which they seek to ‘save the world’ through protesting against war (in real terms, protesting against non-white people having a chance at freedom and democracy), Israel (the one truly liberal society in the Middle East), globalisation (thereby opposing the one great vehicle by which poorer nations can develop), and so on, while making themselves feel and look ‘good’ by flaunting their pious support for campaigns to end poverty in the Third World (which will do no such thing, as Dambisa MoyoStephen PollardMarian L. Tupy, and others rightly point out ), and boasting about how ‘progressive’ they are by showing ‘solidarity’ with genocidal Islamists in Gaza.

White liberals, despite viewing themselves as intelligent and open-minded, are actually some of the most illiberal and narrow-minded people in society today. Their reactions to the idea that anyone might think differently to them range from gut-wrenching despair to pure hatred of the kind seen in the most fanatical of ‘true believers’. White liberals are, by and large, incapable of serious adult debate (preferring innuendo and accusations of bigotry), or of dealing with the fact that not everyone will agree with them (despite their supposed love of pluralism and a multiplicity of different ‘voices’), and tend to see any view which deviates from their cultic leftist script as a form of irredeemable moral evil. White liberals do not base their world-view on rational analysis and sensible argument, but instead on an almost religious faith that they possess the ‘truth’, and just as we see in so many fundamentalist religious cults and sects, the devotees of the white liberal faith burn with hatred for the ‘sin’ that surrounds them, and indeed, all too often for the ‘sinners’ themselves. White liberals, who are the intellectual equivalent of stroppy, rebellious teenagers, have sought to subvert and undermine Western civilisation, and some offer support for authoritarian and even terrorist movements as part of their attack on ‘racism’ and ‘colonialism’.

White liberals approach issues of race and racism from an essentially irrational, moralistic standpoint. White liberals do not simply judge racism to be based on bad thinking and criticise it for its illogical collectivism. Instead, white liberals make the issue of racism, as with other issues, all about them. White liberals have colonised the discourse of racism and anti-racism because it offers them an opportunity to boast of the superiority of their virtue and to demonstrate their purity and holiness through ostentatious and vacuous public displays of self-flagellation. Just as early Christianity imbued adherents with a deep sense of guilt and sinfulness, so the white liberal finds in reflecting on the history of white racism the opportunity to both revel in the guilt of the sinner and to make atonement through ‘anti-racist’ initiatives, thereby offering them the opportunity to further present themselves as a holy elite tasked with saving the world. And just as at various points in the history of Christianity an overarching sense of guilt derived from an intense awareness of, and obsession with, the supposedly inherent sinfulness of human beings and of the ‘world’ led ‘holy’ men and women to conclude that the path to holiness is found in the hatred of self, world, and the human condition, white liberals indulge in a form of self-hatred which is designed to project the image of penitence and sanctity, while actually being transparently pretentious, self-aggrandising, and destructive.

Ideological white racists are collectivists who adopt the irrational position that white people form some kind of world-wide ‘brotherhood’ with a unified history and culture. The huge variations in the historical and cultural experiences and manifestations of the various majority white nations is seen to be of little importance in the bigger picture. Ideological white racists are frequently people who have made little or no personal contribution to the development and advancement of Western civilisation. You won’t find many ground-breaking inventors and innovators, great scientists, artists, composers, and so on in the ranks of the modern white supremacist movement, but you will find many bitter and insecure individuals who make themselves feel important by piggy-backing on the achievements of others. When white racist activists and ideologues talk of ‘white unity’ and ‘white pride’, they almost always claim to be ‘proud’ of the ‘superior’ achievements of white people throughout history. Ideological white racists will point to great men and women of the past and present who happen to share their skin colour and state how great the ‘white race’ is. So, you will find the absurd phenomenon of drug dealing, dole scrounging morons who somehow feel Shakespeare and Mozart can be claimed by them as great men of ‘their race’. Clearly, stating yourself ‘proud’ of things that you have not made or done just because they were made or done by people who look or looked similar to you has no rational basis.

On this point, white liberals will agree. However, at the same time, white liberals advocate an inverse form of the same collectivist nonsense by proposing that whites should feel collective guilt for the negative actions of white people of the past. It’s clearly stupid for a skinhead thug to claim to feel ‘proud’ of the works of Beethoven, yet it is also equally stupid for a white liberal to claim to feel ‘guilty’ for the actions of white slave traders or marauding white colonialists. But the white liberal simply will not accept this. White liberals hold an almost universally negative view of the history of Western civilisation and claim that modern Western whites should apologise and make amends for the actions of whites of previous generations and even previous centuries. If a Mayor of London made a public speech tearfully extolling the superior virtues of white people who happened to live in London in the past most people would be shocked by this act of collectivist posturing and irrational bigotry. However, when the tables are turned and a Mayor of London makes a tearful ‘apology’ for long dead Londoners’ involvement in the slave trade, this is seen by white liberals to be a moral and righteous act.

Here’s how The Guardian reported a 2007 case of exactly this collectivist irrationality:

Ken Livingstone yesterday marked the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade with an emotional and tearful ceremonial apology on behalf of the capital city and its institutions. The London mayor wept as he told a commemorative service of the cruelties inflicted on the millions transported from Africa and the legacy that confronts them today.

Before an audience of politicians, writers and dignitaries, he twice paused during his address. As he voiced the apology, the US civil rights leader the Rev Jesse Jackson walked over and placed his arm around the mayor. Mr Livingstone completed the long awaited statement, dabbing tears from his eyes, his voice shaky.

Ken Livingstone – known as ‘Red Ken’ for the far-left views he espoused for many years of his political career – took it upon himself to express collective guilt on behalf of an entire city in his role as Mayor of London. In doing so, he acted as the archetypal masochistic white liberal idiot.

As is so often the case with white liberals, Livingstone’s pathological sense of white guilt has also affected his ability to think rationally about people who happen to have a darker shade of skin than him. For white liberals like Red Ken, criticism of any non-white person is suspected to be a cover for ‘racism’, ‘imperialism’, and so on. Consequently, when Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi – an Islamist ‘scholar’ who advocates the death penalty for gay people, the beating of wives by their husbands, and calls Hamas terrorists ‘martyrs’ – came to London in 2004, Livingstone, acting in his official capacity of Mayor of London, publicly welcomed him and went so far as to embrace him before the cameras of the media.

Rational criticism of this disgusting act of grovelling to a retrograde theocratic ideologue had no effect on Livingstone. Taking white liberal idiocy to its logical conclusion, he went so far as issuing yet another of his vacuous apologies, stating that ‘On behalf of the people of London, I would like to apologise to the Sheikh for the outburst of xenophobia in sections of the media’. Livingstone’s decision to ignore Al-Qaradawi’s reactionary views was typical of the kind of double standard adopted by many white liberals. Livingstone seems to be one of the white liberal drones who thinks that while white people have been – and continue to be – somehow collectively responsible for an endless list of crimes and transgressions, the same cannot possibly be said for someone of another ethnicity. If a white leader advocated the same things as Al-Qaradawi, white liberals like Livingstone would be up in arms, denouncing the evils of homophobia, sexism, and any other ‘ism’ that could be thrown at them, and would probably go on to issue tearful apologies and dredge up issues like slavery.

Speaking of the similar attitudes of white liberals in Canada, liberal Muslim author Tarek Fatah nailed it when he told the Canadian Jewish News:

there is a tremendous amount of white guilt. The intelligentsia in this country in a selfish way tries to assuage this guilt. It caters to the most idiosyncratic behaviour of the immigrant and practices the racism of lower expectations. It sets standards of behaviour for our community, but when dealing with immigrants and especially the Muslim community, it does not expect them to live by the same standards.

Meanwhile, the Syrian-born Muslim scholar Bassam Tibi has told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that ‘Europeans have stopped defending the values of their civilization’ because ‘they confuse tolerance with relativism’. White guilt is an irrational, intellectually and culturally crippling pathology, yet white liberals who embrace this nonsense have a huge influence in almost all the powerful and influential sectors of our society.

For white liberals, the fear of being accused of racism is a matter of constant concern. The idea that someone might be a racist has taken second place only to the idea that someone might be a paedophile. Racism continues to be a highly contentious issue, and one in which white liberals take a particularly keen interest. However, as with everything else, most white liberals get this issue completely wrong and in doing so greatly hinder the development of an intellectually honest and rational society, and a society in which racial collectivism and prejudice is eradicated.

A good working definition of racism would be that it is the belief that one or more ethnic groups are inherently, biologically inferior to another. Racists work on the deterministic assumption that people can be collectively viewed as a single group based on ethnic ancestry alone and that membership of this group connotes certain fixed, unchanging, and unchangeable factors, such as intelligence, character, and aspirations. Racists are race essentialists – they do not see individuals but rather view ethnic groups as monolithic groups whose cultures, traditions, religions, and so on in some sense spring from their genetic make-up. While I’m far from an Ayn Rand acolyte, her analysis of racism in The Virtue of Selfishness is spot-on:

Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage — the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.

Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas — or of inherited knowledge — which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.

Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination.

When it comes to racism, a sensible approach would be to say that as the central assumptions which underpin it are false, racism is irrational and consequently a belief system that is of no value and is positively harmful. Many white people are hard-working and make a positive contribution to society; however, many do not. The same applies across all ethnic groups. A sensible approach to the issue of race is to judge individuals on their personal merits, not on the colour of their skin or their country of ethnic ancestry. The white racist would prefer to live next to a white dole scrounger than a hard-working Asian. This fact illustrates the fundamental irrationality of racism, and the indiscriminate collectivism upon which it is based. Racists are often seen as people who ‘discriminate’. In reality, they show themselves to be fundamentally incapable of discrimination, given the fact they see only undifferentiated masses termed ‘races’, instead of vastly differing individuals.

White liberals take a very different approach to the issue of racism than the one outlined above. White liberals do not predominantly base their positions on reason, but rather on emotions, moralism, and an almost religious devotion to concepts such as egalitarianism and ‘human rights’ (although their support for human rights varies according to whose rights are at stake). As moralists, white liberals see racism as evil and essentially ‘sinful’, and for them racism violates the holy precepts of ‘rights’ and ‘humanity’. White liberals are incapable of logically and adequately addressing issues of race and racism, because their moralism is not rationally founded.

In the Hebrew Bible, we find the idea of generational curses, in which God punishes the descendants of transgressors. For example, in Exodus 20:5, God is said to have stated: ‘I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation’. White liberals approach racism from a similar perspective. As we have seen, white liberals feel an almost pathological sense of guilt over the white racism of the past and this is central to their overwhelmingly negative assessment of the West and its history.

This combination of moralism and guilt has resulted in white liberals going from one extreme to the other. In attempting to avoid the mistakes of the past and to somehow atone for the sins of their forefathers, white liberals have adopted a position towards ethnic minorities and non-Western cultures in which they feel that it is not morally permissible for white people to criticise any non-white groups, belief systems, cultural phenomena, and so on. Consequently, white liberals are – for example – wholly opposed to asserting the superior values of Western modernity over the comparative backwardness of the so-called Islamic world, and indeed devote much of their time to promoting the idea that the West is in fact grossly deficient and shot through with ‘racism’.

Multiculturalism is the inevitable result of this white liberal outlook. Unable to assert the particular value of Western civilisation and the developments of modernity, white liberals have encouraged multiculturalism because a large part of their flawed ‘anti-racist’ strategy is the promotion of cultural relativism. Cultural relativism is the irrational position that no culture – or aspect of cultural belief or practice – can in any sense be stated to be better than another, and it is an important aspect of the pseudo-religion of ‘equality’. The simplistic idea underpinning cultural relativism is the view that if all cultures are seen as equal, then all races will be seen to be equal, and never again can whites assert racial superiority over non-whites. However, the white liberal approach to racism is wrong on two fundamental levels: firstly, it is irrational, and secondly, it is actually based on racist ideas.

The white liberal notion that ‘discrimination’ is an intrinsic evil involves an abuse of the concept of discrimination and the application of a moral principle that makes no sense, and is not even consistently followed by white liberals. Despite the fact the word is now so loaded it automatically conjures up images of bigotry and injustice, discrimination is a perfectly normal and legitimate concept. To discriminate is simply to choose one option from a series of options. The fact that railway companies no longer build steam locomotives is the result of superior advances in rail technology. When building new trains, rail companies could choose to build a new fleet of steam locomotives. Of course, they do not do this as to do so would be a step backwards and would be commercially harmful. In choosing to build trains using the latest technology, rail companies are using a process of discrimination. Go and see the managers of a rail company and try telling them that all trains are ‘equal’ and that they should not ‘discriminate’ against steam locomotives, but should rather use equal numbers of steam and electric locomotives. They would probably laugh in your face and call you an idiot. And they would be right. Even white liberals would find the notion of railway locomotive ‘equality’ completely absurd and irrational. However, when it comes to looking at beliefs, cultural practices, ways of ordering society, and so on, white liberals suddenly adopt the same irrational argument as used in my train example. All cultures are ‘equal’, they assert. To think otherwise is immoral and bigoted and shows that you are a ‘racist’.

In reality, white liberals do not really consider all cultures to be equal. They may say they do, but even white liberals are not actually that stupid. White liberals to do not want to live in a society ruled on theocratic lines; they don’t want to be enslaved to following ancient writings of ignorant men; they don’t want their daughters to be genitally mutilated; they don’t want to be forced into arranged marriages; they don’t believe men should be in a position of ‘authority’ over women; they don’t accept sexism, misogyny, and anti-gay prejudice; they don’t think the answer to criminality is to enact barbaric laws involving public whippings, amputation, stoning, and beheading; they don’t think people should be executed for ‘crimes’ such as homosexuality and ‘sorcery’. The West was once based around all these principles, however, a slow development away from rule by religious authority and unelected leaders, and a society ordered along brutal feudal lines and permeated with superstition, took place in the West over a number of centuries, and was particularly accelerated thanks to the Enlightenment. The often hysterical reaction to Christian fundamentalists exhibited by white liberals, and their support for the notion that harshly criticising and even ridiculing Christianity is admirable and ‘progressive’, shows where they stand when it comes to traditional Western religion and religious authority. Because of its long history in the West, white liberals tend to perceive Christianity as somehow a ‘white’ religion (despite the majority of practising Christians in the world today being non-white and non-European), and as a result are more than happy to see it dissected, neutered, and pilloried. Naturally, white liberals do not consider criticism of Christianity and theocratic Christian groups to be a form of ‘anti-white racism’, and they are right, as it isn’t, and has nothing to do with race.

Given white liberals are very clear about the way in which they wish to live, and the rights they consider essential – free speech and expression, freedom from sexism, freedom from homophobia, democratic rights, individual rights, freedom from religious authority, freedom from State oppression, and so on – you might expect them to take the position that every citizen in the West (and indeed the whole world) should share a respect for, and enjoy the benefits of, these freedoms. However, because of white liberals’ bizarre misunderstanding of what racism is, they suddenly throw out any universal commitment to such values when they find that non-white societies and ethnic minority groups in majority-white societies do not respect these freedoms. The clearest example of this bizarre and hypocritical attitude is currently found in the way white liberals approach Islam and Muslims. According to the white liberal anti-racist creed, to criticise Islam, to state that Muslims living in the West should abide by the social mores of the West, and even to criticise political Islam (Islamism) is an act of ‘racism’. How can this be perceived to be racism? According to white liberals, criticism of Islam is ‘racist’ because the majority of Muslims in the world – and in the West – are non-white, and Islam is a religion that emerged in a non-white land (the Arabian peninsula). For the white liberal, criticism of Islam, because it is a predominantly non-white belief system, must by definition in fact be based on racist contempt for non-white people, because Islam is ‘their culture’ and to criticise ‘their culture’ is to criticise ‘them’. White liberals, haunted by memories of slavery, colonialism, and white supremacist ideologies of the past, have concluded that cultures and races are integrally intertwined. Islam, they believe, is a non-white and ethnic minority belief system, which is therefore an extension of the non-white and ethnic minority communities that adhere to it. In the light of the white colonialism and racism of the past, white liberals claim, white people have no right to pass judgement on other cultures, and to do so is to engage in a racist ‘cultural imperialism’.

The notion that criticism of a culture, cultural practice, or ideology is a form of racism is, ironically enough, actually predicated on a racist outlook. When white liberals cry ‘cultural racism’, they are merely engaging in a politically correct form of a racist idea which originally formed the basis of many theories of white supremacy. Early Western proponents of notions of the inferiority of non-white people, racial hierarchies, and so on, initially based their beliefs on assumptions derived from anthropology, before going on to create full-blown pseudo-scientific racial theories that drew on such bogus ‘scientific’ methods as craniology and phrenology. These anthropological racists came into contact with various non-white peoples through exploration and colonialism. Upon finding that many non-European peoples were living in societies bereft of the technological and philosophical advances found in the West, white supremacists concluded that the reason these peoples lived in primitive conditions which lacked any evidence of modernity was not that they – for various geographical and sociological reasons – had yet to go through the radical changes from living in pre-modern societies to living in modern technological and industrialised nations that had recently occurred in the West, but rather was a result of an inherent intellectual and sociological deficiency in their ‘race’ that derived from their genetic make-up. According to the Western theorists of white supremacy, the cultures of non-white peoples were external manifestations of an innate racial essence, and it was quite impossible to hope that these peoples would ever advance from the state in which they were found, because they were biologically incapable of ever advancing or developing. Such thinking provided an ‘intellectual’ justification for slavery, for example, in that it adjudged black people to be a lesser form of being, lacking intellectual potential and aspirations, and consequently a being whose ‘natural’ role was to live in subservience to white people. When white liberals claim that criticism of Islam or Islamic politics – so-called ‘Islamophobia’ – is a form of racism, they are making exactly the same connection between culture and race. In this white liberal form of racism – the racism of lower expectations – it is seen to be bigoted to suggest that non-white people should leave behind the very same primitive ideas that once held sway in the West (fanatical devotion to religion, intolerance of critical thinking and other beliefs, persecution of gay people, and so on). Yet the true bigot here is the white liberal, who assumes that cultural ideas that have developed in non-white societies are somehow integrally intertwined with, and innately derived from, the racial groups in those societies. The racism of lower expectations views non-white people as inferior to white Westerners, but masks this racist assumption in politically correct language about ‘diversity’ and ‘respect’ for cultures.

If white liberals really believed that all cultures are ‘equal’, you would expect to see them spreading out across the world, queuing up to gain entry to countries such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. In fact, most white liberals certainly do not hike off around the world, seeking to make their homes in Islamic States. The major traffic between Islamic States and the West comes in the form of a steady flow of immigrants trying to gain entry to the West because they know they will have a better life here. Societies that attempt to organise themselves using Islam as their foundational philosophical basis are demonstrably vastly inferior to the West. One need only glance at the human rights records of Islamic States such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran to see that this is the case. None of these States has a properly functioning democracy or the freedoms we take for granted in the West such as freedom of speech and expression, freedom of belief and religious adherence, freedom of association, gender equality, and freedom of choice in personal and sexual relationships. The legal systems in these States are barbaric, prejudiced, and corrupt. Law enforcement does not adhere to any proper system of due process. Saudi Arabia is ruled with an iron fist and is marked by institutional superstition, as seen, for example, in its execution of people accused of ‘witchcraft’ and ‘sorcery’. Yemen fiercely clamps down both on individual freedom and the rights of political groups. Arbitrary house searches and arrests are common, and capital ‘crimes’ include homosexuality. Child marriage, meanwhile, is promoted by Yemeni clerics, who cite Muhammad’s marriage of a child as the authoritative precedent for this practice. Iran is governed by a Holocaust-denying Islamist lunatic who incites hatred of the West and grants police the right to detain individuals for such bogus ‘crimes’ as ‘Satanism’ or having the wrong hairstyle. Iran also executes gay men, including teenagers.

To state that life in Western democracies is demonstrably better than life in Islamic States should hardly be controversial, yet many white liberals cannot bring themselves to acknowledge what they must logically believe to be the case, because to do so would be to ‘discriminate’ and to engage in ‘cultural imperialism’, ‘Islamophobia’, and ‘racism’. Yet who is the racist here? – The honest individual who notes that modern Western civilisation is superior to that of Islamic States, or the white liberal who enjoys the freedoms of the West but claims that we cannot ‘impose’ our ‘Eurocentric’ perspective on others, because to do so would be to claim that peoples and races living in Islamic States are themselves inferior? The subtext is rather clear in the white liberal’s cultural relativism: Islamic States are the way they are because they are the creation of non-white peoples, and therefore to criticise political Islam is to pass judgement on the ethnic groups in those States. A sensible person who is not clouded by racial prejudice should be able to see that Islam and Islamic States have nothing to do with race, and everything to do with culture. Culture does not derive from race, and therefore to criticise a culture cannot be seen as a racial criticism (unless that criticism is articulated in the language of genuine ideological racism). To assume that it can be seen as that is actually to endorse the view that culture does derive from race and that therefore the backward, superstitious, and authoritarian nature of Islamic societies is actually the result of non-white peoples being inherently backward and superstitious.

The same issue applies to white liberals’ approach to Islamists living in the West. When Islam, Islamism, and Islamists are criticised, many white liberals work themselves into a frenzy, frothing at the mouth about supposed ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘racism’. In doing so, white liberals seem to be seriously proposing that non-white immigrants and children of immigrants are inherently predisposed towards theocratic and illiberal outlooks. White liberals practice the racism of lower expectations in their dealings with immigrant communities. When Islamic groups are shown to be sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-freedom, and anti-Western, white liberals do not oppose them – instead they support the bigotry and backwardness of Islamic extremists in immigrant communities by announcing that such prejudices and anti-freedom views and ideologies are ‘their’ culture and are no better or worse than the predominant culture in the West. The fact that white liberals are being racist in doing this is easily illustrated by the fact that when white racist parties and organisations promote anti-democratic views and hatred for minorities such as gay people, white liberals immediately condemn them. When the Christian Right comes out with views that are backward, superstitious, and opposed to personal freedom, white liberals start ranting about theocracy and ‘fascism’. White liberals are happy to attack bigotry, irrationalism, and extremism when it comes with a white face – they don’t claim that ‘far-right’ homophobia and anti-Semitism is somehow ‘different but equal’ to white liberal views, nor do they start making excuses about ‘understandable grievances’ when white supremacists rave about Jewish conspiracies or Christian extremists bomb abortion clinics. If virulent criticism of white racist ideologies and religiously conservative Christianity is not seen by white liberals to constitute a form of ‘anti-white racism’, then why on earth should criticism of political Islam be seen as a form of ‘racism’? The only way in which opposing political Islam can be spun as a form of ‘racism’ is to claim that Islam constitutes an expression of a racial ‘essence’, as opposed to being one cultural form among many. To claim that criticism of Islam is ‘racist’ is to claim that Islam is derived from biology. This is nonsense. It is the same as the white supremacist claim that Western civilisation is great because the ethnicity of its progenitors is great. When white liberals claim criticism of Islam or any other non-white belief or culture is racist they show themselves to be racist to the core. White liberals have a condescending approach to non-white people because in actual fact they do not view them as equals at all. White liberals are the true racists, and their ‘tolerance’, relativism, and obsession with calling other people racists is in fact an attempt at covering up this very fact.

The English Roots of Southern Culture

The Southern states of the USA have been deeply connected to England since their founding, with the British colony of Virginia being the epicentre and progenitor of much of what has gone on to become Southern culture. Virginia hospitality became Southern hospitality, Virginia barbecue became Southern barbecue, Virginia fried chicken became Southern fried chicken, Virginia ham became Southern country ham, and Virginia speech ways formed the roots of the Southern dialect. In each case, England and English culture are the origins of these iconically Southern phenomena. Many of the South’s major cities were founded by the British, of whom the ruling class was predominantly of English extraction:

Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee were established primarily by English and Scotch-Irish settlers, and not only the South’s oldest cities (Richmond, Norfolk, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah) but its deepest interior settlements (Louisville and Nashville) were founded by people of British descent.

Across the South, the English influence is evident in place names: Norfolk (VA), Portsmouth (VA), Winchester (VA), York (VA), London (KY), Manchester (TN), Birmingham (AL), York (SC), and so on. The significance of the English foundations of the South can also be found in the numerous places named for the Randolph family: the Randolph Counties of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and North Carolina; Randolph, Mississippi; and Randolph, Tennessee.

The Randolph family traces its roots in the South to the union of William and Mary Randolph, whose ancestries lie in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire, respectively. This couple are sometimes referred to as the ‘Adam and Eve of Virginia’, although they perhaps might more accurately be seen as the Adam and Eve of the South.

William Randolph’s children included Isham Randolph of Dungeness – whose daughter Jane would go on to be the mother of Thomas Jefferson – and Elizabeth Randolph – whose daughter Mary was the great grandmother of the legendary Confederate General, Robert E. Lee. The young Thomas Jefferson was educated alongside members of the Randolph family at Tuckahoe Plantation and Jefferson’s younger brother was named Randolph. Thomas Mann Randolph Sr., one of the Randolphs who was raised and educated alongside Thomas Jefferson, was the father of Mary Randolph, author of the seminal Southern cook book The Virginia House-Wife (1824). Mary’s brother Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. married Martha Jefferson, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson, and became a Congressman and Governor of Virginia.

The importance of the Randolph family extends well beyond the confines of Virginia and into the Deep South. Holly Springs, Mississippi, for example, was founded in 1836 by Whitmel Sephas Randolph and large numbers of settlers from Virginia. The city has a Randolph Street to this day.

Peter Randolph was born in Virginia and moved with his family to Wilkinson County, Mississippi, in 1819, where he became a planter. Peter Randolph’s son, John Hampden Randolph, moved his family to Iberville Parish, Louisiana, in 1841, where he owned and operated the sugar plantations of Forest Home, Nottoway, Blythewood, and Bayou Goula. Nottoway Plantation House – a Greek Revival and Italianate-styled mansion built by John Hampden Randolph in 1859 – is the largest extant antebellum plantation house in the South.

The Greek revival architectural style – so iconic a feature of the Southern landscape, from mansions to court houses and to more humble buildings – was itself brought over from England. The English-born Benjamin Latrobe (1764-1820), sometimes referred to as the ‘Father of American architecture‘, emigrated from England in 1795 and introduced the style. Latrobe worked with Thomas Jefferson on the Virginia state capitol, and was the third architect of the US Capitol building. He designed the north portico of the White House and the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Baltimore. Looking at buildings in England such as these in Worcester, Devizes, and Bristol, alongside buildings in Mississippi such as these in Indianola, Marks, and Greenville, the similarities are clear.

The gardens of the South continue to exhibit the influence of England. According to Southern Living magazine, ‘no plant rivals the azalea in Southern popularity’ and ‘Camellias are among the South’s icons’. Asian azaleas came to the United States via England and the first hybrids were planted in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1848. The Reverend John Grimké Drayton was the first to introduce azaleas to outdoor gardens in the US and was also one of the first to utilize Camellia Japonica as a landscaping plant:

Drayton had seen Romantic-style gardens in England while studying for the ministry and brought them stateside. In the 1840s, he was the first to introduce the now-common azalea to America’s outdoor gardens when he planted it at Magnolia Plantation. Drayton was also one of the first to utilize Camellia Japonica as a landscaping plant, naming his particular varietal after his wife, Julia.

The first Japonica was growing in England some time before 1739 in the greenhouse of Lord Petre. Camellias were brought from the Far East in the early 1700s to Europe, and then to America.

Southern cultural phenomena that originate in England include horse racing, popular in the South since the colonial period. The Kentucky Derby has been run every consecutive year since 1875, and is a key fixture in the calendar of Southern sporting and cultural events. Its origins lie in an 1872 trip to England by Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. Clark visited Epsom in Surrey, attending the Epsom Derby, a horse racing event dating to 1870. The Kentucky Derby was initially run at 1 1/2 miles, the same distance as the Epsom Derby. Even the iconic drink of the Kentucky Derby, the mint julep, can be traced back to the English colonists of Virginia, who originally made the drink with rum, rather than the bourbon of today.

When it comes to the famous cuisine of the American South, as noted earlier, here we also find a strong English influence. Southern fried chicken has its roots in England, as does Southern barbecue and country ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, greens and pot likker, sweet potato pie, pound cake, and so on. Variety meats such as chitlins and pig’s feet – now often associated particularly with black ‘soul food’ – also came to the South from England. Terms such as ‘skillet’, a ‘mess of greens’, and ‘moonshine’ are all of English origin.

Many of the folk beliefs of African Americans (and some rural whites) are derived from English beliefs and practices. Hoodoo items such as the lucky horseshoe, the rabbit’s foot, the lucky coin, and the lucky pin are rooted in the folk beliefs of English settlers and indentured servants. Even the infamous ‘voodoo doll’ made its way to the South from England. As late as the nineteenth century, it was reported that:

In Devonshire, witches, and malevolent people still make clay images of those whom they intend to hurt, baptize the image with the name of the person whom it is meant to represent, and then stick it full of pins or burn it.

Arguably more than any other region of the United States, then, the South has most closely preserved its origins in the England of old. In its speech ways, food, architecture, gardens, culture, and folklore, the South remains deeply English at its core.

The English Origins of Sweet Potato Pie

The sweet potato is native to South America and Columbus records its discovery in his journals from his fourth voyage (to Yucatan and Honduras). Christopher Columbus introduced the sweet potato to Spain around 1493 and by 1500 they were an established crop in Europe. Sweet potatoes were ‘enormously popular in sixteenth century Europe, especially England’. Sweet potato enthusiasts included Sir Francis Drake and King Henry VIII, whose favourite foods included heavily spiced sweet potato pies. Sweet potatoes even make an appearance in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor (‘Let the sky rain potatoes…’).

Sweet potatoes were grown in Spain and imported to England, where the climate was unsuitable for their cultivation. The arrival of the actual potato in England, which would grow well here, led to the sidelining of the sweet potato. Where once Henry VIII had enjoyed spiced sweet potato pies, now it was the common potato that was used as a filling for English desserts.

Robert Smith’s Court Cookery: or, The Compleat English Cook was published in London in 1725. This cookery book, which, as the introduction states, was written for ‘the nobility and gentry of Great Britain’, includes a recipe for a ‘Potatoe Pie’ made with boiled and sliced potato, seasoned with mace, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and salt. In 1747, Hannah Glasse published The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, a book that went on to be not only very popular in England but also in North America:

Her cookbook was on Martha Washington’s bookshelf; Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin both had copies as well, with Franklin enjoying it so much that he brought it with him to France and had some of the recipes translated so he could keep eating Glasse’s food while abroad.

Glasse’s recipes included a ‘potatoe pudding’ made using beaten or strained white potatoes, mixed with butter, eggs, cream, nutmeg, and sugar, which was then poured into a puff pastry pie shell and baked.

While the English desserts were now using common potatoes, sweet potatoes continued to be very popular in the British American colonies. At least as early as 1648, the Virginia colonists were cultivating sweet potatoes and their popularity, particularly in the South, has continued ever since. Indeed, George Washington, prior to becoming the first US President, was himself a sweet potato farmer.

As with so much else, the Virginia colonists looked to England for their culinary inspiration:

Virginia colonists brought European cooking techniques and recipes with them when they arrived in Virginia during the early years of the seventeenth century. In colonial times, Virginians endeavored to emulate European customs, especially when it came to entertaining guests at meals. Because most colonists were not trained cooks, they made good use of cookbooks.

As the popularity of Hannah Glasse’s book illustrates, this American use of English cookery books was to continue for some time before American regional cuisines were established in their own right. The cuisine of the South, then, was rooted in the cooking of England, and it is clear, when the potato pie recipes of England are compared with sweet potato pie recipes of the South, that the former is the progenitor of the latter, and that the sweet potato was simply substituted in place of the potatoes used in England.

As we have seen, Robert Smith’s 1725 potato pie recipe was seasoned with mace, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and salt, and Hannah Glasse’s 1747 recipe used butter, eggs, cream, nutmeg, and sugar. Looking at contemporary sweet potato pie recipes, we find the following:

These Mississippi and North Carolina sweet potato pie recipes call for mashed sweet potatoes to be mixed with sugar, nutmeg, salt, butter, eggs, corn syrup, and evaporated milk. Similarly, this Virginia recipe makes use sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, butter, eggs, and milk. Modern Southern sweet potato pie recipes, then, are clearly derived from the English potato pie recipes of past centuries.

So, while sweet potato pie may today been seen as a quintessentially American dessert, and particularly associated with Southern and soul food cuisine, its actual origins lie in the cookery of England.

The English Roots of Southern Barbecue

Long before the birth of Southern barbecue, wealthy Englishmen were enjoying smoked meats and highly spiced foods. As early as the 14th century, the English were eating smoked fish:

By 1349 smoked fish was an established part of the British diet. Documents of that era outlining how to build a herring smokehouse reveal plans for high, narrow brick buildings crossed with beams holding up sticks from which the herring were hung. Fires from oak or ash were lit below and the smoke escaped through loosely laid tiles on the roof.

Smoked meats were also a part of medieval English cuisine, particularly smoked pork, which was ‘cut into relatively thin, lean strips, immersed briefly in a salt solution and hung over a fire to absorb the smoke flavoring as it dried — slowly’.

The slow roasting of whole hogs on a spit was popular for medieval feasts. During cooking, the meat was basted with a sauce made of red wine and spices such as garlic and ground coriander, to keep it moist and to add extra flavour. Spices were used extensively in the cooking of the time and the nobility enjoyed a ‘highly spiced cuisine’.

Bacon was also present in medieval English cuisine and goes back many centuries. It was heavily salted or cured, with sugar also added to cut through some of the saltiness. By the end of the sixteenth century, bacon was also being smoked.

So, the cuisine of wealthy medieval Englishmen included smoked meats, spice blends, slow-roasted whole hogs, and seasoned basting sauces. Such tastes continued amongst the wealthy into the early modern period and consequently influenced the cuisine of the colonies.

After English colonists settled Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, they introduced pigs to the region. In a short time, feral pigs were widely available and the centrality of pork to Southern cuisine was established:

By 1614, feral animals were seemingly everywhere. Ralph Hamor wrote that there were “infinite hogs in herds all over the woods”… In 1619, the Virginia Company confirmed that there were “some horses” and an “infinite number of swine broken out into the woods.”

The English colonists of Virginia, then, had an abundance of pigs and a taste for smoked meats and seasonings, and it was here that Southern barbecue developed:

[I]t was in Virginia and in the Carolinas that barbecue as we know it would begin to evolve. In Virginia, British colonists observed the Native American method of drying meat on a grill of green sticks over a smoking fire and soon married this method to their own interest in spit-cooking hogs and other small animals.

The colonists applied English basting techniques and sauces to the Native American smoking method, thereby keeping the meat juicy and flavourful and stopping it from drying out. The basting sauces were derived from English cooking:

Virginia colonists brought European cooking techniques and recipes with them when they arrived in Virginia during the early years of the seventeenth century. In colonial times, Virginians endeavored to emulate European customs, especially when it came to entertaining guests at meals. Because most colonists were not trained cooks, they made good use of cookbooks… These cookbooks contain numerous recipes for carbonadoing and roasting foods that would become colonial Virginia staples such as venison, beef, mutton and pork, all with sauces made of spices, vinegar, pepper, and butter. Some call for mustard and/or sugar added to the mix.

The Virginia colonists took these English sauces and applied them to barbecuing:

Colonial Virginians also used the carbonado sauce recipes made of salt, vinegar, butter, peppers, herbs and spices to baste barbecuing meats while they cooked. By combining the Powhatan Indian cooking technique using a hurdle with English carbonado recipes, Virginians gave the world what we now call southern barbecue.

The idea of the barbecue as a social occasion also developed in Virginia, and arguably has echoes of the medieval English nobility’s feasts, with roasted hogs and revelry:

Feasting was a vital part of Virginia cultural traditions – much more so than in New England – and pigs were plentiful, as well… As the wealth of Virginia planters grew in the 18th century, so did their desire to build great houses, engage in consumer culture to display their wealth, and entertain guests in their homes. By the 1750s, barbecues were one of the most accepted and well-liked forms of entertainment in the colony. George Washington, among other Virginia gentry, frequently attended and hosted barbecues. The gatherings evolved from small get-togethers of family and friends to large all-day events. These large barbecues were expensive to host. Some planters objected to the cost and the drunken antics that often went along with barbecues, but they often went along with hosting and attending the events because it was an expected part of their roles as Virginia gentry…

When Virginians settled North Carolina, known at the time as ‘Virginia’s Southern Plantation’, they took their love of whole-hog barbecue with them. While this style of barbecue is today most commonly associated with North Carolina, its roots lie in the English colony of Virginia, and, as Joseph R. Haynes writes:

Just as Virginia hospitality would spread to become southern hospitality and Virginia smoked ham would spread to become country ham, so would Virginia barbecue spread throughout the South to become southern barbecue.

And this Southern barbecue, while making use of Native American smoking techniques and African slaves for its preparation, was deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of the landed gentry of England.