WaPo's Andrew Lawler, Virginia Dare And The "Myth Of Whiteness"
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May 24, 2018, 08:37 PM
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On Virginia Dare’s 430th birthday last August 18, I wrote #DareToCelebrate Virginia Dare’s Birthday! Will Her Statue Be Torn Down Next—Along With America? Right on cue, the Washington Post on Thursday morning carried How a child born more than 400 years ago became a symbol of white nationalism, subhead "Virginia Dare and the myth of American whiteness." [by Andrew Lawler, May 24, 2018 (alternative link)].

Lawler quotes me:

Even now, white supremacists and their allies claim Virginia Dare as their own. Peter Brimelow, a friend of former White House aide Stephen K. Bannon and current White House adviser Stephen Miller, founded the Vdare Foundation and in 1999 to warn Americans about the danger posed by African and Asian immigrants. [What! No Hispanics?]

“I picked the name because I wanted to focus attention on the very specific cultural origins of America, at a time when mass nontraditional immigration is threatening to swamp it,” he wrote me. Brimelow originally is from Britain. One of his website’s postings notes that the Lost Colonists “simply found themselves outvoted, which is going to happen to us if we are not careful.[Lawler, of course, does not link to the source of the quote, but it is from this interview with Alan Colmes, shortly before his tragic early death.]

No hyperlinks, of course, not that we care because MSM readers are notoriously incurious, but there is a link to Lawler’s forthcoming book The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke. I presume he will be sending a review copy to PO Box 211 Litchfield CT, 06759.

Pausing briefly to point out that I have repeatedly said on that I’ve only met Bannon and Miller  one time each, and that Lawler’s “white supremacist” smear occurs in the very same paragraph that quotes me saying that Virginia Dare exemplifies America’s (Anglo) cultural origins, I urge readers to note that Lawler does not really blame us for Virginia Dare emerging as “a symbol of white nationalism” at all—he blames the entire sweep of American history.

To do this, of course, he has to suppress the fact that progressive demigod President Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin D. Roosevelt enthusiastically gave a speech commemorating the 350th anniversary of her birth, and actually suggested the commemorative stamp.

But Lawler is easily able to do this because of what now drives the American Left: a determination to extirpate every vestige of white America from the land they carved out of the wilderness. Neither Washington  nor Jefferson nor Robert E. Lee nor Steven Foster or even Virginia Dare will be left standing. “White supremacism” is equated with “white nationalism” and, ultimately with “whiteness” itself.

Their messianic nihilism is that of France’s Jacobins or China’s Red Guards. As Lawler puts it:

The infant of Roanoke offers us two very different futures. We can be martyred for some imagined race, or we can recognize that to be American is, in its essence, to be willing to redefine our beliefs, goals and even our ethnicity. Only by getting lost can we become something new.

Guess who will get to “redefine” America.

Lawler made repeated efforts to see me last year, when he claimed to be writing for National Geographic. I insisted on being interviewed by email, with the result that our exchanges (consolidated, slightly edited, and hyperlinked) are preserved for posterity.

On Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 10:55 PM, Peter Brimelow <> wrote:

Peter Brimelow: Sorry about this, Andrew, just got small children to bed. However, I think my written answers are not “Establishment”.

Andrew Lawler: When did you first hear about/learn about Virginia Dare?

When I first started studying American history, in high school in UK, circa 1965. In those days, it was axiomatic.

What was the moment/scene when you decided to link her name to your website?

Late 1999. I have all kinds of theories about naming websites, e.g. people confuse names amazingly—Forbes, Fortune, both of which I worked for—which I’m sure you don’t want to hear about.

Also, I was preoccupied with my small daughter, born as I then thought late in my life, and empathized with John White.

What do you think took place on Roanoke Island after Gov. John White left in 1587?

Obviously, I have no more idea than anyone else. Mortality was terribly high in those days, especially for women, and it’s quite possible they left no genetic trace even if sheltered by local Indians (which is certainly not impossible).

[btw what’s the story on the Lumbees right now? Haven’t checked for a while].

What do you think happened to Virginia Dare as well as the other colonists?

See above.

Research into the Roanoke voyages in the last 60 years shows a surprising diversity of colonists beyond purely English born; nine nationalities, as well as Catholics and at least one Jew. Most of those had essential expertise (navigation, metallurgy) that few English born had in that day. This information, based on historical documents, seems at odds with the old idea that this was purely an English colony when it was, in fact, a surprisingly multinational endeavor. How do you relate this to your views about Anglo Saxons as the root of the United States?

This is what I think I called in Alien Nation the horse/rabbit fallacy—a stew made of one horse and one rabbit is not half horse-half rabbit. Diversiticrats swoop on trace elements to try to deconstruct the Founding, but what language did the colonists speak? What laws did they acknowledge? If they weren’t an English colony, what was?

Several historians, including the distinguished David Quinn, argue that hundreds of Moors, black Africans, and South American Indians likely were left on Roanoke Island by Sir Francis Drake in 1586 after his Caribbean raids. If this is true, then these lost colonists outnumbered the English several to one. Does this possibility, unproven but apparently quite likely, alter your view of the Roanoke voyages and the founding of the United States by whites?

No. Is there any suggestion these maroons survived and interacted with the Roanoke colony? Did they change its language or its laws?

Historians generally agree that the ill-prepared and ill-provisioned Roanoke settlers didn't have a chance of survival in the New World without extensive Native American assistance. Do you think this is true?

I don’t know specifically, but the fundamental fact is that the English crossed the Atlantic and founded self-sustaining communities in the New World—not the other way around. Moreover, they founded colonies in many other places. This has to mean something.

Virginia Dare was first popularly used as a symbol of white purity and Anglo Saxon dominance in the 1890s, in an era of Jim Crow laws that forbade African Americans basic civil rights, such as voting. She was often referred to then as "the first white child born" in the New World, since Spaniards and Portuguese and French did not count as white for many Americans in that day. How does "your" Virginia Dare relate to the Virginia Dare of that era?

It’s obviously ludicrous to claim that Portuguese, Spanish and French did not count as white to Americans in the 1890s—they looked to Europe, not Latin America.

But they did certainly see that Virginia Dare as their cultural ancestor (not necessarily “Anglo-Saxon”, c.f. Theodore Roosevelt’s boast that he had no British blood, but certainly Anglophone).

Re Jim Crow, I’m just not into white guilt. The problems of white-black relations in America, which are profound and very far from solved, are quite separate from the genesis of the Historic American Nation—which the Founding Fathers saw, as a matter of historical fact, as a white ethnostate.

So how do you define white? It is a definition that obviously has changed often since the days of the Founding Fathers (just look at the bewildering array of NC laws on this matter from colonial days until the 1960s).

This is just Left-deconstructionist hogwash. Just because an entity has fuzzy boundaries doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Jews argue about how to define a Jew, but no-one doubts Jews exist.

Would you advocate genetic testing to determine "whiteness"?

What have I ever written or published on that would imply a need for that?

I do think supporters of the Affirmative Action spoils system will eventually be driven to genetic testing to get around the Rachel Dolezal problem, but that’s on them.

Do you think Virginia Dare became popular in the 19th century because of fears of immigrants and African Americans? (I found that her popularity coincides with an increase in immigration and laws restricting African American rights in the 1830s and then the 1890s). Is she making a comeback for the same reason?

You mean her popularity spiked in the 1830s AND the 1890s?

I’ve seen it argued that there was a colonial revival here in New England in the 1890s, whitewashing clapboard houses etc., related to the concurrent immigration crisis, but I don’t know—seems to me that the Virginia Dare legend more likely to be an expression of burgeoning American nationalism and identity-awareness, especially after the Civil War.

The Roosevelt Administration made a big deal of the 350th anniversary, which obviously was in a period of no immigration and no civil rights movement. Roosevelt made a speech drawing a progressive moral from the Virginia Dare story—she was a proto-democrat etc. So your hypothesis doesn’t really work there.

Is Virginia Dare making a comeback? I picked the name because I wanted to focus attention on the very specific cultural origins of America, at a time when mass non-traditional immigration is threatening to swamp it. Of course, it leads to all kinds of smears because she was white, but in fact there were earlier white children in Florida and Newfoundland. There’s just a lot of anti-white (and anti-Anglo) prejudice in the American chattering class.

My question about the diversity of Roanoke members is whether we have clung to an idea of "pure Anglo Saxon blood" and "first white child"—the popular 1890s-early 1900s idea—that turns out to be simplistic and just plain inaccurate. Yes, they spoke English and followed English law, but there was apparently far greater diversity among the settlers than once thought. This is not a political statement, but the result of sober historical research. Does this research alter in any way your views about the "Anglo" nature of the effort?

Well, none of the Lost Colony survived that we know, so it’s a moot point. Generally, my impression is the reverse: the heavily British nature of the early settlements is actually very much underplayed nowadays, because of the determination to retcon multiculturalism/ diversity into American history. But it’s obviously what John Jay was relying on in the famous passage in Federalist #2

Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs …

From memory, I think the white population of the colonies in 1790 was 80% British, 60% English in 1790. That’s not very diverse.

On the Lumbee, they are clearly a mix of several Native American tribes, Europeans (Scottish and French mainly), and a variety of West Africans. Whether they took in the Lost Colonists is not possible to know, even through DNA, at least until we find the bones of Virginia Dare. How do you see this ethnic mixing?

So they’re tri-racial isolates, like the Melungeons etc.?

I don’t think there were many Scots or French in the Lost Colony (perhaps you disagree) so I guess that means that particular legend is looking frayed.

How do I see this ethnic mixing? You mean, can I be tricked into admitting I’m a Nazi?  Try again.

I am genuinely interested in the Lumbees—and facts are facts.

Lastly, those pesky labels. I read that you don't consider yourself a white supremacist. What moniker do you prefer?

It seems to me that “white supremacy” has to mean (1) a belief that whites are objectively superior and/or (2) the desire to have whites rule other races (specifically blacks in the South).

Since I am aware of the findings the East Asians are on average more intelligent than whites, and do not advocate ruling other races, I cannot be described as a “white supremacist” while retaining a modicum of meaning for the term. It would be like calling you a Communist because you’re trying to deconstruct an American legend.

On the other hand, it’s clear that the Left is now experimenting with using the term to mean any white who is not a total wimp about race.

The moniker I prefer is “American patriot.” I regard myself as a civic nationalist, which is what Trump seems to be i.e. I don’t regard America as an exclusively racial construct. On the other hand, it does have a specific racial core (something Trump has never acknowledged, I have no idea what he thinks, if he thinks about it at all).

There’s a discussion of this issue here. To quote me:

A few years ago, on, we actually had a debate on the issue of Citizenism vs. White Nationalism. This was in the days when Jared [Taylor] accepted the term “white nationalist.” [He’s stopped because he thinks it’s hopelessly smeared]. He debated Steve Sailer. Sailer made the argument that a nation is an ethno-cultural entity and the cultural aspect means that you can assimilate people who are not of the same race into the nation-state. Jared was more pessimistic.

Now, my heart belongs to Steve Sailer on this issue—because I’m a wimp. But my head belongs to Jared. Because of the Political Class’s fanatical determination to Elect A New People, I do think that politics will precipitate out on racial lines.

What is your definition of who is white and who is not? I'm looking for your view, whether it is counting haplotypes or some other measure.

Why are you so concerned about this? Personally, I don’t see any need for a complex explanation at this point. Whites are whites—descended from the indigenous European stock, who look white, consider themselves white, are accepted by whites cf. Jews.

As I said, given Affirmative Action, the Left is going to have to move to a more scientifically accurate definition of race at some point. Racially-mixed societies, e.g. Brazil, have a lot of words to describe degrees of admixture that don’t exist in English.  But I myself would prefer to abolish Affirmative Action.

You mention higher intelligence among East Asians. Do you, then, believe that different ethnic groups can be ranked according to intelligence, and, if so, what ranking do you consider the most reliable?

There’s a ton of technical literature on this for God’s sake, see The Bell Curve, The g Factor , Richard Lynn

The mixed race question is important, since, as seems likely given recent archaeological finds, the Lost Colonists merged with Native American tribes in eastern North Carolina, who in turn merged with the growing African American populations around them (this seems true of the Lumbee as well, who have European and West African haplotypes and only, at most, a tiny percentage of Native American gene types, though direct tribe members did not participate in the study). By the late 19th century, all people of color in NC (setting aside the remnant Cherokee tribe in the mountains and the Lumbee who were granted Indian status based on Democratic politics of the 1880s) were classified by law as African American. Marriage with whites was forbidden. Therefore, if there are surviving Lost Colonist genes, they are within today's African American community. So if Virginia Dare survived and had children, her descendants today are black. Whatever one thinks of American race issues, this does feel a little ironic, does it not?

Not particularly. Blacks are Americans, aren’t they? They speak English etc. See: Civic Nationalism.

It seems to me I anticipated this back in my 1999 post introducing the site Why Why The White Doe?—and also the next step:

So Virginia Dare could be symbolic of the coming racial nirvana that immigration enthusiasts are forced to start fantasizing about when you compel them to look at the statistical consequences of current policy.

Or perhaps not. The actress Heather Locklear (Melrose Place, etc.) is claimed as a prominent Lumbee. But if, through some miracle of genetic recombination, Virginia Dare is reborn in Ms. Locklear’s beautiful face, John White might well have recognized her.

(Do you really think there’s archeological evidence the Lost Colony survived at all? Looks pretty shaky to me, but I may not be up to date.)

Lawler subsequently sent me a link to The Mystery of Roanoke Endures Yet Another Cruel Twist|An artifact found 20 years ago turns out to not be what archaeologists thought, by Andrew Lawler,, April 7, 2017.

Oddly, it says “recent archeological finds” do not confirm the that the Lost Colony merged with the local Indians.  


Peter Brimelow [Email him] is the editor of His best-selling book, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, is now available in Kindle format. Follow Peter Brimelow on Twitter.