Wokism going a bit too far?


Staff member
Article in today's Times:

A sightseeing guide funded by Transport for London (TfL) has been dubbed “absurd” after it claimed the wisteria plant had “colonial roots”.
The authors of the Art on the Underground guide to green spaces in Brixton, south London, have made several supposed colonial links to common botanical terms.
The guide says the terms “native” and “invasive” are offensive while wisteria is described as problematic as it was “brought to England in 1812 by John Reeve, an East India Company tea inspector”.
Classifying plants as “exotic” should also be treated cautiously as it has “colonial connotations” because the term symbolises the “mysteriously foreign”.
The pamphlet’s overview of parks and gardens on a Brixton botanical map says: “Many of London’s plants were imported as seeds by naturalists who were engaged in colonial activity of all kinds, from plantation and slave-ownership to East India Company business.”
The guide points out that the London plane tree is descended from an Oriental plane, a “derogatory“ term used to “describe people or objects from, or characteristics of, Asia”.
Meanwhile Myatt’s Fields Park, named after the 19th-century rhubarb producer Joseph Myatt, is also called out as his trade grew thanks to imports of sugar, which was produced by slaves.
The guide also says “many common plant names reflected racist slurs” such as the kaffir lime, with “Kaffir” an offensive term for black Africans.
The succulent flowering plant Crassula marnieriana is sometimes known as “Hottentot”, which is an old term for the southern African Khoekhoe people.
Breadfruit, which the map says is sold in Brixton’s markets, is highlighted as it was cultivated to feed plantation slaves.
Dr Zareer Masani, a historian of Britain’s colonial past, said: “The fact that the current craze to blame colonialism or slavery for almost everything has now reached our plants is a measure of how absurd things have become.
“Organisations like TfL need to get a grip and focus on the services they’re meant to provide.”
TfL did not respond for a request for comment.
Some of the comments are brilliant. Here are just a few of them:

Richard Jackson

Well, I suppose it had to happen: rhubarb is racist. Joseph Myatt almost 190 years ago developed two new varieties of rhubarb, one of which, Victoria, is still to this day, the leading variety used around the world. There aren't too many inventions of the 1830s which still dominate an industry (if a very small one in this case). His strawberry and rhubarb festivals were famous for many years in Camberwell and Deptford. He has received no plaudits for this achievement but now....some self-righteous twit (who should go back to sleep) decides he should be cast to the rubbish heap of history. By the way, rhubarb didn't need slave labour to make it an essential part of the materia medica among Europeans (and before them in the Islamic world) from before the days of Marco Polo - that proto-capitalist racist was very excited to find where it grew on the outskirts of the growing Chinese Empire in 1272. Rather more sinister than anything Joseph Myatt may have done however was rhubarb's likely role in helping the Bubonic Plague to spread throughout Europe - since in those parts of what is now NW China and Mongolia, wherever you find wild rhubarb growing you will also find marmots - which are a leading (if not THE leading) permanent reservoir host to the plague bacillus Yersinia pestis.

Replying to Richard Jackson
There are probably search parties looking for a statue of him.

Over Here
Replying to Richard Jackson
You put manure on your rhubarb??! We put cream and sugar on ours. ---You should learn to say fertilizer! You don't know how long it took me to learn to say manure. ---Benny Hill

Andrew Moore
Replying to Richard Jackson
Myatt was simply a market gardener who had a talent for producing better tasting fruit and vegetables - mainly rhubarb and strawberries. He had nothing to do with sugar - at all. So anyone who ever put sugar on or in anything is a racist. I think that's all of us. Anyway, this is beyond tenuous. Where can we get this guide? It is an important teaching aide.

Arjie Drinkwater
Replying to Richard Jackson
I am in awe of your knowledge of Rhubarb, but you missed an opportunity to mention his sidekick, Custard.

Mr Michael Williamson
Replying to Richard Jackson
If memory serves didn't the Duke of Devonshire's Chatsworth House play a major part in saving the banana from extinction by developing a disease-resistant variety to replace the native fruit? I believe it's known as the Cavendish variety and is the main one in production today. That is blatant interference in foreign affairs and I for one am seriously offended. Chatsworth House is less than a twenty-minute drive from my house and I have a mind to go over and glue myself to something.

Rob Damon
Wisteria is 'problematic' because an East India company employee brought it back here? I often defend what many on here regard as 'woke' but this is absurd. And how I hate the weasly, fake, pharisaical word 'problematic', deriving as it does from the nauseating cant of the self-righteous. There is only any point in identifying a 'problem' if there is a conceivable solution - like, say, giving back the Benin bronzes. But what can we do with wisteria? Rip it all out from every building and garden where it grows?

Carrie The Original
Replying to Rob Damon

I shall go and give mine a good talking to. Makes you want to scream, to be honest.

Peter Williams
2 hours ago
Replying to Rob Damon
"Problematic" means "I don't like it, but I can't explain why". In that regard it's no different from any other prejudice.



Oh FFS. Seriously?
I can understand wanting to acknowledge past wrongs and to learn from them. Empathise even. But to do the above?