Friday, April 30, 2021


In the movies about epidemics, a standard subplot -- from Outbreak to World War Z, -- is the attempt to identify and locate patient zero -- the first documented case of the condition.

With that in mind, it may be possible to identify victim zero, one of the earliest victims of the cancel culture that is ostracizing those that do not fall in line with Black Lives Matter on the one hand and the uncovering of white supremacy and racists who support it on the other. The doctor and essayist Theodore Dalrymple wrote about him in 2002 in an essay, The Man Who Predicted the Race Riots, which is included in his 2005 book Our Culture, What's Left of It.

The complete essay is also available online.

Dalrymple discusses the case of Ray Honeyford, the headmaster of a British middle school, who in 1984 was "branded a near-murderous racist and ultimately drummed out of his job." Given the stories today of the excesses and intimidation of the cancel culture, the issues and accusations Honeyford and Dalrymple describe sound familiar, even though they are from over 35 years ago.

The trouble started when Honeyford submitted an article that was originally turned down by the Times Educational Supplement before it was accepted and published by the conservative Salisbury Review. He wrote about what he saw as the flaw in multi-culturalism being used to address the problems of multi-racial inner cities and the reactions of those who were determined to close down debate on the issue. In the article, Honeyford wrote about how:

the race lobby has so managed to induce and maintain feelings of guilt in the well-disposed majority, that decent people are not only afraid of voicing certain thoughts, they are uncertain even of their right to think those thoughts...The term ‘racism’, for instance, functions not as a word with which to create insight, but as a slogan designed to suppress constructive thought. [emphasis added]

Back in 1984, Honeyford did not have recourse to the term "intersectionality" that was coined in 1989,  but he was aware of the tactic of uniting minorities as one persecuted group against white 'supremacists':

The word ‘black’ has been perverted. Every non-white is now, officially, ‘black’, be he Indian, Pakistani or Vietnamese. This gross and offensive dichotomy has an obvious purpose: the creation of an atmosphere of anti-white solidarity. [emphasis added]

The use of labels extended beyond the use of the word "racism" in the effort to smear opponents. Also like today, violent riots were peaceful protests and the police were considered the enemy:

And there are other distortions: race riots are described by the politically motivated as ‘uprisings’, and by a Lord of Appeal as a ‘superb and healthy catalyst for the British people’ — and the police blamed for the behaviour of violent thugs

Honeyford quotes a lecturer at the University of London on the need for violence:

Blacks will fight with pressure, leaflets, campaigns, demonstrations, fists and scorching resentment which, when peaceful means fail, will explode into street fighting, urban guerrilla warfare, looting, burning and rioting.

Similarly, back then the attacks on Honeyford took accusations of "racism" to the next level. There was a 'cancel culture' in effect as well. A group of black people wrote in the Caribbean Times:

All teachers, especially those like Mr Honeyford, should be compelled to attend massive [sic] in-service training courses to bring them up to date with modern education theory, and practice, and to purge them of their racist outlook and ideology. Teachers who refuse to adapt their teaching and go on in-service training courses should be redeployed or retired off [sic] early. School books with a racist content... should be scrapped. Racist teachers should be dismissed. [emphasis added]

Dalrymple writes that the abuse and threats thrown at Honeyford were so bad that he required police protection. The intimidation prevented fellow teachers and potential allies, who privately supported him, from coming out publicly on his behalf. Still, attempts at the city council to have Honeyford dismissed failed for lack of legal cause.

In the end, however, Honeyford took early retirement.

Dalrymple makes a point of clarifying Honeyford's position against multi-culturalism. Honeyford felt strongly about the importance of integrating students of different backgrounds, of ensuring their proficiency in British history and the English language -- but he did not support complete uniformity at the expense of the student's native culture or religion.

According to Dalrymple, Honeyford's model for integrating into British society was the Jewish community:

Within a generation of arrival, Jews succeeded, despite the initial prejudice against them, in making a hugely disproportionate contribution to the upper reaches of national life as academics, cabinet ministers, entrepreneurs, doctors and lawyers, writers and artists. The upkeep of their own traditions was entirely their own affair, and they relied not at all on official patronage or the doctrines of multiculturalism. This was Honeyford’s ideal, and he saw no reason why the formula should not work again, given a chance. [emphasis added]

Maybe that was the problem with Honeyford's ideal -- what must be given up to have that success.

In another essay, When Islam Breaks Down, in the same book, Dalrymple writes:

The devout Muslim fears, and not without good reason, that to give an inch is sooner or later to concede the whole territory...The Muslim immigrants to these areas were not seeking a new way of life when they arrived; they expected to continue their old lives, but more prosperously. [p. 287]
Along with the integration that Honeyford believes provides the potential for success, can come a degree of assimilation, and not all minorities are willing to concede their culture.

Assimilation is a major issue for the Jewish community in the US. But in that regard, it may be worth pointing out a key difference between the Jewish communities in Great Britain and the US.

An article in Haaretz in 2016 reports on the stronger sense of Jewish identity in Great Britain:

The current intermarriage rate among self-identifying Jews in Britain (a figure put at about 290,000 people), according to the report, stands at 26 percent. This is the highest level for a generation in Britain: yes. And it reflects an upward trend, yes. But the rate has been rising very slowly since the late 1980s, and remains significantly and consistently lower than the equivalent intermarriage figures in the USA.

With some 5.4 million Jews, the United States has by far the largest Jewish community outside of Israel. It also has the highest intermarriage rates: The most recent figures there, collected in 2013 and published by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, show intermarriage rates to be 58 percent. [emphasis added]

An explanation for this difference in the intermarriage numbers is suggested by Dr. David Graham, a senior research fellow at the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research:

American society has a more open and fluid approach to identity, where the focus is on the individual’s right to choose their religion. In addition, Britain’s Jewish community is more religious than the U.S.’s, which of course means less intermarriage.

That stronger sense of Jewish identity has helped British Jews, most recently in uniting against the threat of Jeremy Corbyn.

Maybe Jews in the US can forge a similar solidarity based on their Jewish identity.










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