The Transubstantiation of Virginia Dare

Published:May 14, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

File this under … what? The odd twists and turns of history and politics? Whatever the case, it begins (for me) with a column just published by the British-born writer John Derbyshire. Recently fired from the National Review for writing a column (for another publication) in which he urged his own children to avoid black people, Derbyshire has reappeared, this time arguing on behalf of the much-maligned phrase “White Supremacist”:

Leaving aside the intended malice, I actually think “White Supremacist” is not bad semantically. White supremacy, in the sense of a society in which key decisions are made by white Europeans, is one of the better arrangements History has come up with. There have of course been some blots on the record, but I don’t see how it can be denied that net-net, white Europeans have made a better job of running fair and stable societies than has any other group.

As the National Review editor might put it: Needless to say, no one at Encyclopedia Virginia shares this view of history. What interested me, though, is that Derbyshire published his thoughts on a website called VDARE.com, whose logo looks like this:

The name, you might have guessed, refers to Virginia Dare, the first child of English parents born in North America. Born on August 18, 1587, at Roanoke, she was the granddaughter of John White, the colony’s governor. Little Virginia disappeared along with the rest of the so-called Lost Colonists, including her parents, although some writers have claimed over the years that she reappeared as a white doe—hence the graphic element in VDARE’s logo.

In The White Doe: the Fate of Virginia Dare; an Indian Legend (1901), the Virginia-born writer Sallie Southall Cotten offers up this version of the story: After Dare rejects the advances of an Indian witch doctor, he turns her into a white doe. Her true love, an Indian hunter named Okisko, tracks her down and shoots her with a silver arrow. She magically transforms into a woman, only to die in his arms. Cotten tells all of this in verse, although she helpfully provides a critical explanation at the beginning. Apparently, Virginia’s blood “melted from the silver arrow into the water of [a] spring.” This made the water disappear, except that there then sprouted the seedling of a Scuppernong tree, which grew into a beautiful retreat where Okisko could go and

cherish thoughts of his lost love, Virginia Dare, and marvel on the wonders of her death. Then it came to pass that when the fruit came upon this vine, lo! it was purple in hue instead of white like the other grapes, and yielded a red juice. Full of superstition, and still credulous of marvels, O-kis-ko imagined the change to be due to the magic arrow buried at its root. He gathered the grapes and pressed the juice from them and lo! it was red—it was the semblance of blood, Virginia Dare’s blood, absorbed from the water …

Just in case you missed it: the water turned to wine! And Virginia Dare is Jesus!

So what does any of this have to do with a website interested in publishing apologies for white supremacy? VDARE’s founder, Peter Brimelow, explains his reasoning here, and the best I can make out is that he sees Dare as symbolic of the vanishing white person in America. “It’s the immigration, stupid!” is a battle cry on this site, which advocates that American borders be “sealed,” illegal aliens “expelled,” and “alien enclaves … assimilated.”

But what was Virginia Dare if not an immigrant, an intruder, an “illegal”? Brimelow acknowledges this (sort of); yet, he can’t quite unravel the irony. Says Derbyshire: “I don’t see how it can be denied that net-net, white Europeans have made a better job of running fair and stable societies than has any other group”—except maybe at Roanoke. But who wants to say that on a site called VDARE?

IMAGES: The White Doe by Sallie Southall Cotten (1901); Virginia Dare by Munroe Bell (2012)