Darwin's Racism and Colonialism
close friend Professor Adam Sedgwick was one of the people who saw what
dangers the theory of evolution would give rise to in the future. He remarked,
after reading and digesting The Origin of Species, that "if this book
were to find general public acceptance, it would bring with it a brutalisation
of the human race such as it had never seen before."7
And truly, time showed that Sedgwick was right to have doubts. The 20th
century has gone down in history as a dark age when people underwent massacres
simply because of their race or ethnic origins.
Of course, there were discrimination and eradication based on it in human
history long before Darwin. But Darwinism lent this discrimination a false
scientific respectability and a false rightfulness.
"The Preservation of Favoured Races..."
Most Darwinists in our day claim that Darwin was never a racist but that
racists comment on Darwin's ideas in a biased manner for the purpose of
supporting their own views. They claim that the expression "By the Preservation
of Favoured Races" in the subtitle to The Origin of Species is used only
for animals. However, what those who make this claim ignore is what Darwin
says about human races in his book.
According to the views put forward by Darwin in this book, human races
represent different stages of evolution, and some races have evolved and
progressed more than others. Some of them, in fact, were pretty much at
the same level as monkeys.
Darwin claimed that the "fight for survival" also applied between human
races. "Favoured races" emerged victorious from this struggle. According
to Darwin the favoured race were the European whites. As for Asian and
African races, they had fallen behind in the fight for survival. Darwin
went even further: these races would soon completely lose the world-wide
fight for survival and disappear, he claimed.
At some future period, not very distant as measured
by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate,
and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the
will no doubt be exterminated. The break between
man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between
man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian,
and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or
Australian and the gorilla.8
Again in another part of The Origin of Species, Darwin claimed that it
was necessary for the inferior races to disappear and that there was no
need for developed peoples to try to protect them and keep them alive.
He compared this situation to people who raised breeding animals: With savages, the weak in body or mind are
soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state
of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check
the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed,
and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their
utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is
reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a
weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the
weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has
attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must
be highly injurious to the race of man.9
As we have seen, in his book The Origin of Species Darwin saw the natives
of Australia and Negroes as being at the same level as gorillas and claimed
that these races would disappear. As for the other races which he saw as
"inferior," he maintained that it was essential to prevent them multiplying
and so for these races to be brought to extinction. So the traces of racism
and discrimination which we still come across in our time were approved
and lent justification by Darwin in this way.
As for the task befalling the "civilised person," according to Darwin's
racist idea, it was to speed this evolutionary period up a little, as
we shall see in the details which follow. In this situation there was
no objection, from the "scientific" point of view, to these races, which
were going to disappear anyway, being done away with now.
The journeys Darwin embarked on revealed his racist side. For
example, Darwin considered the term "wild animals" suitable for
tribes whose culture and abilities other researchers had discussed.
Darwin's racist side showed its effect in much of his
writing and observations. For example, he openly set out his racist prejudices
while describing the natives of Tierra del Fuego whom he saw on a long
voyage he set out on in 1871. He described the natives as living creatures
"wholly nude, submerged in dyes, eating what they find just like wild
animals, uncontrolled, cruel to everybody out of their tribe, taking pleasure
in torturing their enemies, offering bloddy sacrifices, killing their
children, ill-treating their wives, full of awkward superstitions". Whereas
the researcher W. P. Snow, who had travelled the same region ten years
before, presents a very different picture. According to Snow, the Tierra
del Fuegians were "fine powerful looking fellows; they were very fond
of their children; some of their artefacts were ingenious; they recognised
some sort of rights over property; and they accepted the authority of
several of the oldest women."10
As has been seen from these examples Darwin was a complete
racist. As a matter of fact, in the words of the author of the book What
Darwin Really Said, Benjamin Farrington, Darwin made many comments regarding
"the greater differences between men of distinct races" in his book The
Descent of Man.11
Furthermore, Darwin's theory's denying the existence of God had been
the cause of peoples' not seeing that man was something created by God
and that all men were created equal. And this was one of the factors behind
the rise of racism and the acceleration of its acceptance in the world.
The American scientist James Ferguson announces the strict link between
the denial of creation and the rise of racism in this way: The new anthropology soon became a theoretical
background between two opposed schools of thought on the origin of humans.
The older and more established of these was 'monogenism,' the belief that
all humankind, irrespective of colour and other characteristics, was directly
descended from Adam and from the single and original act of God's creation.
Monogenism was promulgated by the Church and universally accepted until
the 18th century, when opposition to theological authority began to fuel
the rival theory of 'polygenism,' (theory of evolution) which held that
different racial communities had different origins.12
The Indian anthropologist Lalita Vidyarthi explains how Darwin's theory
of evolution led racism to be accepted by social sciences: His (Darwin's) theory of the survival of the
fittest was warmly welcomed by the social scientists of the day, and they
believed mankind had achieved various levels of evolution culminating
in the white man's civilization. By the second half of the nineteenth
century racism was accepted as fact by the vast majority of Western scientists.13
As for the Darwinists who came after Darwin, they put up a great struggle
to prove his racist views. In the name of doing so they had no scruples
about making many scientific inconsistencies and falsehoods. They thought
that when they had proved these, they would have scientifically proven their
own superiority and "rights" to oppress, colonise, and if needs be exterminate
In the third chapter of his book The Mismeasure of
Man, Stephen Jay Gould pointed out that some anthropologists were not
above falsifying their data to prove the "superiority" of the white race.
According to Gould, the method they used most was falsifying the brain
size of the fossilised skulls they found. Gould mentions in his book that,
assuming brain size had something to do with intelligence, many anthropologists
intentionally exaggerated the size of Caucasian skulls and underestimated
the size of skulls from Blacks and Indians.14
Stephen Jay Gould and his book which revealed Darwin's racist
In his book Ever Since Darwin, Gould explains the unbelievable claims
the Darwinists undertook to demonstrate that some races were inferior. Haeckel and his colleagues also invoked recapitulation
to affirm the racial superiority of northern European whites. They scoured
the evidence of human anatomy and behaviour, using everything they could
find from brains to belly buttons. Herbert Spencer wrote that "the intellectual
traits of the uncivilized.. are traits recurring in the children of the
civilized." Carl Vogt said it more strongly in 1864: "The grown up Negro
partakes, as regards his intellectual faculties, of the nature of the
Some tribes have founded states, possessing a peculiar organization,
but, as to the rest, we may boldly assert that the whole race has, neither
in the past nor in the present, performed anything tending to the progress
of humanity or worthy of preservation."15
And the French medical anatomist Etienne Serres really did argue that black
males are primitive because their belly buttons were in a lower level.
Darwin's contemporary, the evolutionist Havelock Ellis, supported the
distinction between superior and inferior races with an alleged "scientific"
explanation, saying: The child of many African races is scarcely
if at all less intelligent than the European child, but while the African
as he grows up becomes stupid and obtuse, and his whole social life falls
into a state of hidebound routine, the European retains much of his childlike
The French Darwinist anthropologist Vacher de Lapouge
suggested, in his work titled Race et Milin Social Essais d'Anthroposociologie
(Paris 1909) that non-white classes were the descendants of savages who
had not learnt to be civilised, or else the degenerate representatives of
mixed-blood classes. He produced results by measuring the skulls from Paris'
upper and lower classes in graveyards. According to his results, depending
on their skulls some people were inclined to be rich, self-confident, and
free, and others conservative, content with little, and possessing all the
qualities of a good servant, classes were the products of social selection,
society's upper classes went together with superior races, the degree of
wealth was in proportion to the skull index. Lapouge later made a prophesy,
"It is my view that in years to come people will kill each other because
their heads are round or pointed," he said 17, and this
prophesy came true, as we shall see in detail in later pages of this book,
and the 20th century saw massacres carried out for reasons of racism
And it was not only anthropologists: entomologists
(those who study insects) also jumped on the racist bandwagon that Darwinism
had set in motion with unbelievable claims. For example, in the year 1861,
one English entomologist arrived at the conclusion, after collecting lice
that lived on peoples' bodies in different parts of the world, that the
lice of one race could not live on the bodies of another, which when looked
at from the scientific level of today, is just plain ridiculous.18
When even people with the status of scientists made such announcements,
it was not surprising that some dogmatic racists should use such illogical,
unintelligent, and completely meaningless slogans as "even Negroes' lice
In short, the racist side to Darwin's theory found very fertile ground
in the second half of the 19th century. Because at that time the European
"white man" was still waiting for such a theory to justify his own crimes.
British Colonialism and Darwinism
The country which profited most from Darwin's racist views was Darwin's
own land, Britain. In the years when Darwin put forward his theory, Great
Britain was in the position of having founded the world's number one colonialist
empire. All the natural resources of an area stretching from India to Latin
America were exploited by the British Empire. The "white man" was plundering
the world for his own interests.
But, of course, starting with Great Britain, no colonialist country wanted
to be seen as a "plunderer" and to go down in history as such. For this
reason, they were looking for an explanation to show that they were right
in what they were doing. Such an explanation might be to portray the colonised
peoples as "primitive people" or "animal-like living creatures." In this
way, for those who were massacred and subjected to inhuman treatment to
be able to be seen not as human beings, but as half-human half-animal
creatures, and their mistreatment would not be regarded as a crime.
Actually, this search was not new: the first spread of colonialism in
the world went back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Claims to the effect
that some races had semi-animal characteristics were first put forward
by Christopher Columbus on his American journey. According to these claims,
Native Americans were not human beings, but a species of developed animal.
For this reason they could be put to the service of the Spanish colonialists.
No matter how much Columbus is portrayed in films about
the discovery of America as having a warm and humane attitude to the natives,
the fact is that Columbus did not regard the native people as human.19
Columbus was the person who first set in motion a great massacre. Columbus
established Spanish colonies in the places he discovered, made slaves
of the natives and was responsible for the starting of the slave trade.
The Spanish "conquistadors" saw the policy of oppression and exploitation
that Columbus implemented, and continued it: the massacres carried out
reached unbelievable dimensions. For example, the population of one island,
200,000 when Columbus first came to it, was only 50,000 20 years later,
and by 1540 only a thousand people remained. When the most famous of the
Spanish conquistadors, Cortes, first set foot in Mexico in February 1519,
the total native population was 25 million, but in 1605 this had fallen
to 1 million. On the island of Hispaniola, the population, which was 7-8
million in 1492, fell to 4 million in 1496, and to just 125 people in
1570. According to historians' figures, in less than a century after Columbus
first set foot on the continent 95 million were massacred by the colonialists.
When Columbus discovered America 30 million natives were living on the
continent. As a result of the massacres between then and now they have
come to the position of being a lost race of less than 2 million.
The reason for these massacres reaching such pitiless proportions was
the indigenous peoples' not being seen as human beings, as being looked
on as animals.
But these claims of the colonialists did not win many
supporters. In Europe at that time, the truth that all people were created
equal by God and that they all descended from one ancestor-Adam-was so
widely accepted that the Catholic Church in particular took a clear position
against such plundering invasions. One of the best known examples of this
is the reply by the bishop of Chiapas, Bartolome de las Casas, who set
foot in the New World together with Columbus, who said that the natives
were "each a real human being," in reply to the colonists' claim that
the natives were "a species of animal." Pope Paul III cursed the savage
treatment of the natives in a papal bull in 1537, and declared that the
natives were real human beings with the capacity for faith.20
But in the 19th century the situation changed. Together with the spread
of materialist philosophy and societies' growing distant from religion,
the truth that human beings were created by God began to be denied. This,
as was touched on in the preceding pages, was at the same time the rise
With the rise of Darwinist-materialist philosophy in the 19th century,
racism grew stronger, and this created a great support for Europe's imperialist
James Joll, who spent long years as professor of history at such universities
as Oxford, Stanford and Harvard, in his source book Europe Since 1870,
which is still used as a text book in universities, describes the ideological
relationship between Darwinism, imperialism, and racism.
The most profound groups of ideas inspiring the concept of imperialism
were those which can be roughly classified as 'social Darwinism', and
which saw the relations between states as a perpetual struggle for survival
in which some races were regarded as 'superior' to others in an evolutionary
process in which the strongest had constantly to assert themselves.
Charles Darwin, the English naturalist whose books On the Origin of Species,
published in 1859, and The Descent of Man, which followed in 1871, launched
controversies which affected many branches of European thought
of Darwin, and of some of his contemporaries such as the English philosopher
were rapidly applied to questions far removed from the
immediate scientific ones
The element of Darwinism which appeared most
applicable to the development of society was the belief that the excess
of population over the means of support necessitated a constant struggle
for survival in which it was the strongest or the 'fittest' who won. From
this it was easy for some social thinkers to give a moral content to the
notion of the fittest, so that the species or races which did survive
were those morally entitled to do so.
The doctrine of natural selection could, therefore,
very easily become associated with another train of thought developed
by the French writer, Count Joseph-Arthur Gobineau, who published an Essay
on the Inequality of Human Races in 1853. Gobineau insisted that the most
important factor in development was race; and that those races which remained
superior were those which kept their racial purity intact. Of these, according
to Gobineau, it was the Aryan race which had survived best
It was.. Houston
Stewart Chamberlain who contributed to carrying some of these ideas a
Hitler himself admired the author (Chamberlain) sufficiently
to visit him on his deathbed in 1927.21
As has been shown, there is an ideological chain linking Darwin to racist
thinkers and imperialists, and stretching from there as far as Hitler.
Darwinism is the ideological basis of both imperialism, which drowned
the world in blood in the 19th century, and Nazism, which did the same
thing in the 20th.
Victorian Great Britain also found its so-called "scientific basis" in
Darwinism. Great Britain made great profits out of colonialism, and saw
no reason not to visit disasters upon the heads of those living under
that colonialism for its own advantage. One example of British imperialism's
dirty politics was the "Opium Wars" against China. Great Britain began
to smuggle the opium it grew in India into China from the first quarter
of the 19th century. This opium smuggling was speeded up as time passed
to make good the deficit in its foreign trade. The flow of the drug into
the country also had the effect of weakening the Chinese state's authority
over its own territory. The collapse in society soon reached serious dimensions.
The prohibition of opium, which the Chinese government had to implement
after a long period of doubt, led to the first Opium War (1838-1842).
There is no doubt that this war dragged the country to bankruptcy. China
was forced to bow its head because of the inadequacy of its army in every
confrontation with the foreign forces and to accept their ever-growing
demands. The Westerners slowly formed settlement centres inside Chinese
territory from the year 1842. They took large port quarters (concessions)
from out of the hands of the Chinese, rented their fields, and obliged
the country to open up to the outside world in a way that would bring
the most benefit to themselves. As a result of all of this, the poverty
in the country, the weakness of the government, and the slow loss of Chinese
territory led to many rebellions.
PILTDOWN MAN FORGERY
One of the most interesting indications of the
inspiration the theory of evolution offered to Britishimperialism,
was the Piltdown man scandal.
In 1912, a strange skull was found in Piltdown,
England. Charles Dawson, the scientist who found the skull together
with his team, declared that it belonged to a creature which was
half ape-half human. Arthur Keith, the renowned evolutionist anatomist
examined the fossil and confirmed the results.
However, Dawson and Keith emphasised an important
point. The brain of the fossil was as big as that of modern man.
The jawbone, however, had ape-like features.
Suddenly the brain of Piltdown man became a
matter of pride for the British. Since this skull was found in
England, it had to be the ancestor of the British. According to
the British people, the greater volume of the brain indicated
that British had evolved before other races, and were thus superior
to other races.
That is why the discovery of Piltdown man aroused
great excitement in England. Newspapers ran headlines and crowds
joyously celebrated the discovery. The British government, on
the other hand, granted a knighthood to Arthur Keith for his famous
The famous evolutionist palaeontologist, Don
Johanson, describes the relationship between the Piltdown fossil
and English imperialism: The Piltdown discovery was very eurocentric.
Not only did the brain have pre-eminence, but the English had
The inspiration the English derived from Piltdown
man lasted only until 1953, when Kenneth Oakley, a scientist who
re-examined the fossil in detail, revealed it to be the greatest
forgery of the 20th century. The fossil had been produced by affixing
an orang-utan jaw to a human skull.
*Don Johanson, In Search of Human Origins, 1994 WGBH Educational
The experiences in China were only one of the results of British policy.
Throughout the 19th century the oppression and painful dimensions of British
imperialism were experienced in such regions as South Africa, India, and
The job of justifying this oppressive system of Britain's and attempting
to show it was in the right, fell to various British sociologists and
scientists. And Charles Darwin was the most important and effective of
these. It was Darwin who claimed that throughout evolution there had been
"superior races," that these were the "white race," and showed that the
whites' oppression of the others was a "natural law."
Because of the justification which Darwin provided
for colonialist racism, the famous scientist, Kenneth J. Hsü, the head
of the Geography department of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
and himself of Chinese descent, describes Darwin as "a gentleman scientist
of the Victorian Era, and an establishment member of a society that sent
gunboats to forcibly import opium into China, all in the name of competition
(in free trade) and survival of the fittest."22
Darwin's Enmity Towards the Turks
The most important target British colonialism set itself towards the
end of the 19th century was the Ottoman Empire.
At that period the Ottoman state ruled a huge area from Yemen to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
But by now it was finding it hard to control this area which it had managed
in peace, calm, and stability. Christian minorities were beginning to
rise up in the name of independence, and such great military powers as
Russia were beginning to threaten the Ottomans.
In the last quarter of the century Britain and France joined the powers
which were threatening the Ottomans. Britain particularly set its eyes
on the Ottomans' southern provinces. The Berlin Agreement, signed in 1878,
is an expression of the European colonialists' decision to divide up the
Ottoman territories. Five years later, in 1882, Britain occupied Egypt,
which was an Ottoman territory. British colonialism set about its plans
to later take over the Ottoman territories in the Middle East.
always, Britain based these colonialist policies on racism. The British
government deliberately tried to portray the Turkish nation, the basic
element of the Ottomans, and particularly the Ottoman state, as a so-called
British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone openly
said that the Turks are examples of mankind's non-humans, and for the
sake of their civilisation, they must be pushed back to the Asian steppes
and eliminated from Anatolia.23
These, and words like them, were for decades used by the British government
as a propaganda tool directed against the Ottomans. Britain tried to portray
the Turkish nation as a backward nation that had to bow its head to more
advanced European races.
The so-called "scientific basis" for this propaganda was Charles Darwin!
Darwin's comments regarding the Turkish nation appeared in the book The
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, published in 1888. Darwin proposed
that by eliminating the "backward races" natural selection would play
a role in the development of civilisation, and later said these exact
words about the Turkish nation:
I could show fight on natural selection having done
and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined
to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries
ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea
now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish
hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very
distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been
eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.24
This nonsense of Darwin's was a written propaganda tool to give support
to Britain's policy of destroying the Ottoman Empire. And in fact this
propaganda tool was an effective one. Darwin's words to the effect that
"The Turkish nation will soon disappear, this is a law of evolution" gave
a so-called scientific support to Britain's propaganda directed at creating
enmity towards the Turks.
Britain's desire to bring about Darwin's prophecy basically came to life
in the First World War. This giant war, which began in 1914, was born
of conflicts of interest between Germany and Austria-Hungary on the one
side, and the allies Britain, France, and Russia on the other. But one
of the most important calculations within this war was the aim of destroying
and dividing up the Ottoman Empire.
Britain attacked the Ottoman Empire from two separate directions. The
first was the Canal, Palestine, and Iraq fronts, opened with the intention
of taking the Ottoman territories in the Middle East. The second was the
Gallipoli front, scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World
War. The Turkish Army at Çanakkale fought heroically and lost 250,000
men to resist the enemy forces mustered by the British. As for the British,
they sent more Indian troops and Anzac units recruited from such colonies
as Australia and New Zealand to fight the Turks, whom they saw as a "backward
race," than their own soldiers.
The echoes of Darwin's hostility to the Turks continued to ring after
the First World War. The European Neo-Nazi groups who treacherously attack
the Turks in Europe still draw their inspiration from Darwin's stupid
nonsense about the Turkish nation. Darwin's words about the Turks are
still to be found on the Internet pages of these racist enemies of the
Turks. (See the chapter on The Bloody Alliance Between Darwin and Hitler.)
Racism and Social Darwinism in America
Social Darwinism provided support for racists and imperialists
in other countries too, not just Britain. For this reason it spread quickly
through the whole world. At the head of those subscribing to the theory
came U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was the foremost proponent
and implementer of the programme of ethnic cleansing applied against the
Native Americans under the name of "forced relocation." In the book The
Winning of the West, he founded the ideology of massacre, maintaining that
a racial war to the finish with the Indians was inevitable.25
His greatest prop was Darwinism, which gave him the chance to define the
natives as a backward species.
As Roosevelt had foreseen, none of the treaties with the Native Americans
were respected, and this too was provided a false justification under
the "backward race" theory. In 1871, Congress disregarded all the treaties
made with the Native Americans and decided to exile them to dead lands
where they could await death. If the other side were not perceived as
human beings then how could the treaties made with them have any validity?
Roosevelt also proposed that the above mentioned racial
war represented the culminating achievement of the spread of the English
speaking peoples (Anglo-Saxons) over the world.26
One of the foremost proponents of Anglo-Saxon racism, the American evolutionist
and Protestant clergyman Josiah Strong, employed the same logic. He once
wrote these words:
Then will the world enter upon a new stage of its history
- the final competition of races for which the Anglo-Saxon is being schooled.
If I do not read amiss, this powerful race will move down upon Mexico,
down upon Central and South America, out upon the islands of the sea,
over upon Africa and beyond. And can anyone doubt that the result of this
competition will be "survival of the fittest"?27
The foremost of the racists who used Social Darwinism
to justify themselves were the enemies of the blacks. Their racist theories,
which divided the races into levels and defined the white race as the
most superior and the black race as the most primitive, enthusiastically
embraced the concept of evolution.28
In his book The Winning of the West, US President Theodore T.
Roosevelt established the ideology of massacre, and later implemented
The most prominent of the evolutionary racist theoreticians,
Henry Fairfield Osborn, wrote in an article headed The Evolution of Human
Races that "The standard of intelligence of the average adult Negro is
similar to that of the eleven-year-old-youth of the species Homo Sapiens."29
According to this logic blacks were not human beings at all. Another
of the best-known proponents of evolutionary racist thought, Carleton
Coon put forward, in his book The Origins of Race, published in 1962,
that the black and white races were two different species which had split
from each other back in the Homo Erectus period. According to Coon, the
whites had evolved further following this separation. The supporters of
discrimination against blacks employed this so-called scientific explanation
for a long time.
The existence of a scientific theory which supported
it rapidly increased racism in America. W. E. Dubois, known for being
against racial discrimination, stated that "the problem of the twentieth
century is the problem of the colour line". According to him, that the
problem of racism should have emerged in such a widespread manner in a
country which wants to become the world's greatest democracy, and which
from some points of view has accomplished this, is not the least important
of paradoxes. The abolition of slavery has not sufficed for the establishment
of brotherhood between black and white people. He thought that official
discrimination, set up in a short time, has in our day turned into an
ipso facto and legal situation, a way out of which is still being sought.30
emergence of the first racial discrimination laws, known as the "Jim Crow
Laws," (Jim Crow was one of the derogatory names for blacks used by the
whites) also happened at this time. Blacks were definitely not treated
like human beings, and were despised and treated with contempt everywhere:
furthermore this was not the attitude of a few racist individuals but
that determined by the American state by its own laws. Immediately after
the first law approving racial segregation on railways and trams was passed
in Tennessee in 1875, all the Southern states implemented segregation
on their railways. "Whites Only" and "Blacks" signs were hung up everywhere.
Actually, all of these just meant the granting of official status to a
situation which already existed. Marriage between different races was
forbidden. Under the law, segregation was compulsory in hospitals, prisons,
and graveyards. In practice, this included hotels, theatres, libraries,
and even lifts and churches. The field where segregation was most sharply
felt was in schools. This was the practice which had the heaviest effects
on the blacks and was the greatest obstacle in the face of their cultural
practice of racial segregation was accompanied by a wave of violence.
There was a swift rise in the number of black lynchings. Between 1890
and 1901 some 1,300 blacks were lynched. As a result of these implementations
blacks rose up in several states.
Racist thought and theories accompanied this period.
Shortly after, American biological racism would express itself in the
results arrived at by R. B. Bean's method of skull measurement, and under
the pretence of protecting the people of the new continent from a wave
of uncontrolled migration, a particular kind of American racism arose.
Madison Grant, author of the book The Passing of the Great Race (1916)
wrote that the mixing of the two races will open the way to the emergence
of a more primitive race than the inferior species, and he wanted inter-racial
marriages to be banned.31
He also wanted inter-racial marriages to be banned.
Racism existed in America before Darwin, as it did in the whole world.
But as we have seen, Darwinism gave racist views and policies apparent
support in the second half of the 19th century. For example, as we have
seen in this chapter, when racists put forward their views they used the
claims of Darwinism as slogans. Ideas which before Darwin had been regarded
as cruel, now began to be accepted as natural law.
Darwinist Racists' Inhuman Policies
The Extermination of the Aborigines
The natives of Australia are known as aborigines. These people who had
lived on the continent for thousands of years suffered one of the biggest
exterminations in history with the spreading of European settlers over
the country. The ideological basis of this extermination was Darwinism.
Darwinist ideologues' views of the aborigines formed the theory of the
savagery these people suffered.
In 1870 Max Muller, an evolutionist anthropologist from the London Anthropological
Review, had divided human races into seven categories. Aborigines appeared
at the bottom, and the Aryan race, that of the white Europeans, at the
top. H. K. Rusden, a famous Social Darwinist, had this to say about the
aborigines in 1876: The survival of the fittest means that might
is right. And we thus invoke and remorselessly fulfil the inexorable law
of natural selection when exterminating the inferior Australian and Maori
and we appropriate their patrimony coolly.32
And in 1890 the Vice-President of the Royal Society of
Tasmania, James Barnard, wrote: "the process of extermination is an axiom
of the law of evolution and survival of the fittest." There was therefore,
he concluded, no reason to suppose that "there had been any culpable neglect"
in the murder and dispossession of the Aboriginal Australian.33
As a result of these racist, ruthless, and savage views
nourished by Darwin, a terrible massacre was begun with the aim of exterminating
the aborigines. Aboriginal heads were nailed over station doors. Poisoned
bread was given to Aboriginal families. In many parts of Australia, aborigine
settlement areas disappeared in a savage manner within 50 years.34
The policies aimed at aborigines did not end with massacres. Many members
of the race were treated like experimental animals. The Smithsonian Institute
in Washington D.C. held the remains of 15,000 people of various races.
10,000 Australian aborigines were sent by ship to the British Museum with
the aim of seeing whether or not they were the "missing link" in the transition
from animals to human beings.
THE MASSACRE OF THE ABORGINES
The natives of Australia, the aborigines, were seen as an undeveloped
human species by the evolutionists an were massacred.
Museums were not just interested in bones, at the same time they kept
brains belonging to aborigines and sold them at good prices. There is
also proof that Australian aborigines were killed to be used as specimens.
The facts below bear witness to this ruthlessness:
A death-bed memoir from Korah Wills, who became mayor of Bowen, Queensland
in 1866, graphically describes how he killed and dismembered a local tribesman
in 1865 to provide a scientific specimen.
Edward Ramsay, curator of the Australian Museum in Sydney for 20 years
from 1874, was particularly heavily involved. He published a museum booklet
which appeared to include Aborigines under the designation of "Australian
animals". It also gave instructions not only on how to rob graves, but
also on how to plug up bullet wounds in freshly killed "specimens".
A German evolutionist, Amalie Dietrich (nicknamed the 'Angel of Black
Death') came to Australia asking station owners for Aborigines to be shot
for specimens, particularly skin for stuffing and mounting for her museum
employers. Although evicted from at least one property, she shortly returned
home with her specimens.
A New South Wales missionary was a horrified witness
to the slaughter by mounted police of a group of dozens of Aboriginal
men, women and children. Forty-five heads were then boiled down and the
10 best skulls were packed off for overseas.35
The extermination of the aborigines continued in the 20th century. Among
the methods employed in this extermination was the forcible removal of
aborigine children from their families. A news story by Alan Thornhill,
which appeared in the 28 April 1997 edition of the Philadelphia Daily
News, recounted this method used against the aborigines in this way:
ABORIGINE FAMILIES RECOUNT SEIZURES
Associated Press - Aborigines living in Australia's remote northwest deserts
used to smear their light-skinned children with charcoal, hoping to keep
state welfare agents from taking them away. "The welfare just grabbed
you when they found you," one of the stolen children reported, many years
later. "Our people would hide us, paint us with charcoal."
"I was taken to Moola Bulla," said one cattler worker who was stolen
as a child. "We were about 5 or 6 years old." His tale was one of thousands
heard by Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission during
its heart-wrenching inquiry into the "stolen generation." From 1910
until the 1970s, some 100,000 aboriginal children were taken from their
parents... Light-skinned aboriginal children were seized and handed
out to white families for adoption. Dark-skinned children were put in
Even now, the pain is so great that most stories were printed anonymously
in the commission's final report, "Bringing Them Home." The commission says
the actions of the authorities at that time amounted to genocide as the
United Nations defines it. The government has refused to follow the inquiry's
recommendation that a tribunal be set up to assess compensation payments
for the stolen children.
As we have seen, the inhuman treatment, massacres, cruelty, savagery,
and exterminations carried out were all justified by Darwinism's theses
of "natural selection," "the fight for survival," and "the survival of
All these terrible things the Australian natives suffered were just one
small part of the catastrophes Darwinism has brought to the world.
After Darwin claimed in The Origin of Species that human beings had developed
from a common ancestor they shared with monkeys, the search for fossils
to support this scenario began. But some evolutionists believed that "half-monkey
half-man" creatures might be found not only in the fossil record, but also
living in various parts of the world. At the beginning of the 20th century
the searches for the "missing link" were the cause of many acts of savagery.
One of these was the story of the pigmy Ota Benga.
Ota Benga was captured in the Congo by an evolutionist researcher called
Samuel Verner in 1904. This native, whose name meant "friend" in his own
language, was married and the father of two children. But he was chained
like an animal, put in a cage, and sent to the U.S.A. There, the evolutionary
scientists put him in a cage with various species of monkey at the St.
Louis World Fair and exhibited him as "the nearest link to man." Two years
later they took him to Bronx Zoo in New York and displayed him with a
few chimpanzees, a gorilla called Dinah and an orang-utan called Dohung
as "man's oldest ancestors." The evolutionist director of the zoo, Dr.
William T. Horniday, gave long talks about the pride it gave him to have
the "missing link," and visitors treated Ota Benga in his cage just like
an animal. An edition of the New York Times printed at the time described
the visitors' attitudes: There were 40,000 visitors to the park on
Sunday. Nearly every man woman and child of this crowd made for the monkey
house to see the star attraction in the park-the wild man from Africa.
They chased him about the grounds all day, howling, jeering, and yelling.
Some of them poked him in the ribs, other tripped him up, all laughed
The 17 September 1906 edition of the New York Journal said that this was
being done to prove evolution, but attacked it as a great injustice and
cruelty in these words: These men, without thought and intelligence
have been exhibiting in a cage of monkeys, a small human dwarf from Africa.
Their idea, probably, was to inculcate some profound lesson in evolution.
As a matter of fact, the only result achieved has been to hold up to
scorn the African race, which deserves at least sympathy and kindness
from the whites of this country, after all the brutality it has suffered
It is shameful and disgusting that the misfortune, the physical deficiency,
of a human being, created by the same Force that puts us all here and
endowed with the same feelings and the same soul, should be locked in
a cage with monkeys and be made a public mockery.38
The New York Daily Tribune also gave space to the subject of Ota Benga's
being exhibited in the zoo for the purposes of demonstrating evolution.
The Darwinist zoo director's defence was completely unscrupulous: The exhibition of an African pygmy in the
same cage with an orang outang at the New York Zoological Park last week
stirred up considerable criticism. Some persons declared it was an attempt
on the part of Director Hornaday to demonstrate a close relationship between
Negroes and monkeys. Dr. Hornaday denied this. "If the little fellow is
in a cage," said Dr. Hornaday, "it is because he is most comfortable there,
and because we are at a loss to know what else to do with him. He is in
no sense a prisoner, except that no one would say it was wise to allow
him to wander around the city without some one having an eye on him."39
Ota Benga's being exhibited in the zoo with gorillas like an animal led
to unease in various circles. A number of foundations applied to the authorities
to have the practice stopped, stating that Ota Benga was a human being and
that his being treated in that way was a great cruelty. One of these applications
appeared in the New York Globe of 12 September 1906 in this way: Editor of the Globe:
Sir - I lived in the south several years, and consequently am not overfond
of negro, but believe him human. I think it a shame that the authorities
of this great city should allow such a sight as that witnessed at the
Bronx Park - a negro boy, on exhibition in a monkey cage...
This whole pygmy business needs investigation...
New York, Sept. 12 40
Another application asking Ota Benga to be treated like a human was
Man and Monkey Show Disapproved by Clergy
The Rev. Dr. MacArthur Thinks the Exhibition Degrading
"The person responsible for this exhibition degrades himself as much
as he does the African" said Dr. MacArthur "Instead of making a beast
of this little fellow, he should be put in school for the development
of such powers as God gave to him."
Dr. Gilbert said he had already decided that the exhibition was an outrage
and that he and other pastors would join with Dr. MacArthur in seeing
to it that the Bushman was released from the monkey cage and put elsewhere.41
The end result of all this inhuman treatment was Ota Benga's suicide. But
here the problem was greater than that of one human being losing his life.
This event was a clear example of the cruelty and savagery that Darwinist
racism could mean in practice.
THE ESKIMOS AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF
famous arctic researcher Robert Peary brought a group of Pole Eskimos
to New York in 1897. The youngest of this group was a child called
Minik. The group, which included Minik and his father, were exhibited
for a long time at the American Museum of Natural History. During
that time, Minik's father lost his life through sickness. Minik
remained alone and unprotected in New York. And one day Minik saw
that his father's skeleton was being exhibited in the American Museum
of Natural History as "an example of the species." Although he asked
for his father's body, the museum authorities turned the request
Another point worthy of note regarding Minik's life was Robert
Peary, the researcher who brought the Eskimos to America, held
racist views. Although he lived among the Eskimos, Peary openly
thought that these people were not equal to him. According to
Peary, Eskimos and Negroes were members of inferior races. Although
they were strong, intelligent, and trustworthy people who provided
for their families, they were not as good as the white man
time he wrote the following piece of insolence: "I have often
been asked: 'Of what use are Eskimos to the world? They are too
far removed to be of any value for commercial enterprises; and,
furthermore, they lack ambition. They value life only as does
a fox, or a bear, purely by instinct."1 His purpose in bringing
Eskimos to America was explained by a researcher on the subject:
"What were Peary's reasons for bringing these six Eskimos to New
Perhaps these six Eskimos were just specimens, much like
the skulls and skeletons he had collected earlier, but more interesting
because blood still coursed in their veins.
He had also felt
a morbid affinity for the bodies of other Eskimos he knew by name,
which he had exhumed the year before from their fresh graves and
carted off south to grace the halls of the museum."2
Minik, Ota Benga, and many other people whose names are not known,
suffered inhuman treatment, in this and other ways, at the hands
of so-called 'scientists" who looked on some races as "inferior."
1 Ken Harper, Give Me My Father's Body, Steerforth Press, South
Royalton, Vermont p. 8
2 Ken Harper, Give Me My Father's Body, Steerforth Press, South Royalton,
Vermont p. 22
THE RACIST MENTALITY STILL EXISTS, AND
DRAWS STRENGTH FROM DARWIN...
Superiority Comes From Character, Not Blood
Darwin's portraying human beings as a developed species of animal and his
presentation of some races as not yet having completed their development,
and as species closer to animals was intensely dangerous and destructive
in human history. Those who took this claim of Darwin's as their guide mercilessly
oppressed other races, forced them to live under the harshest conditions,
and even exterminated them.
Bryan Appleyard, author of the book Brave New Worlds, explains the tyrannical
mentality underlying racism, and the results of it, in this way: The point is that once people decide you are
a lesser creature for whatever reason, either superstitious or scientific,
there appears to be no limit to what cruelty they may inflict on you.
And they are likely to inflict that cruelty feeling fully justified, because
it is but a small step from believing another human being is inferior
to believing that he is bad, dangerous, or threatening to 'superior' beings.
Indeed, some may generalize the point even further and insist that all
'inferior' beings are dangerous because they threaten the life or health
of the entire human race. They may then advocate sterilization, restrictions
on marriage, or even murder to prevent the outcast's assault on the integrity
of the species.42
All human beings, however, are created the same. Every one was created by
Allah (God). The Qur'an announces human beings' creation in this way:
He who has created all things in the best possible
way. He commenced the creation of man from clay; then produced his seed
from an extract of base fluid; then formed him and breathed His Spirit
into him and gave you hearing, sight and hearts. What little thanks you
show! (Surat al-Sajda: 7-9)
As the above verses reveal, human beings carry the soul Allah breathed
into them. Every human being, with no racial difference, thinks, feels,
loves, suffers, feels excitement, and knows love, affection, and compassion.
And every human being also knows tyranny, contempt, and difficulty. For
this reason, all though history, those who believe people of other races
to be semi-developed animals and mistreat them, those who offend, oppress,
exploit even one person, and those who support these practices with the
false evidence and theories they produced, have committed a great sin
in their ignorance.
In our time there exist cultures of relatively undeveloped human societies.
These people have all human characteristics, but they lack those criteria
which, from technical and cultural aspects, generally rule the world.
For reasons of the climate they live in and natural conditions, many communities
have lived isolated from general world society and have developed very
different cultures. But in each one there exist all the features, customs,
and habits common to humanity. Those with hidden agendas, and those who
have seen advantage in racism, enthusiastically embraced Darwin's theory
and accepted these people, who were no different from other humans, as
members of an inferior race and even animals. As a result of this view,
even in our day people have emerged who oppress and despise backward people
and communities on the grounds they have not evolved sufficiently.
Allah, however, completely forbids racism. Allah created every human
being, in different colours and speaking different tongues. This is an
indication of the art and variety of Allah's creation:
Among His Signs is the creation of the heavens
and earth and the variety of your languages and colours. There are certainly
Signs in that for every being. (Surat ar-Rum: 22)
In Allah's sight the only superiority is a person's character, his avoiding
all types of sin and rebellion, degeneracy and deviation, and the superior
morality deriving from his piety. Apart from his piety no human can have
any superiority to any other deriving from any of his features. Allah
reveals this in a verse:
Mankind! We created you from a male and female,
and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each
other. The noblest among you in Allah's sight is the one with the most
piety (who best performs his duty to Allah). Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.
(Surat al-Hujurat: 13)