Was Darwin a racist?

Anti-evolutionists often make the claim that Darwin was racist as if, even were the accusation true (we’ll get to its falseness shortly), that a racist stance would somehow invalidate his scientific discoveries. These claims have repeatedly been shown to be incorrect characterisations, generally involving selective quoting (and editing) of Darwin’s writings out of context, a practice referred to as quote mining.

Over at Pharyngula, regular commenter Ed Darrell made a comment on one of PZ’s threads about creationist quotemining, and PZ reposted it in full at this post, also called Was Darwin a racist?

Darrell provides 6 punchy numbered paragraphs that debunk the core of this myth/slur against Darwin – well worth a read, even for those of us who’ve seen this debunked before. Anyhoo, the more links to this excellent debunking, the more likely it is that people searching for information about this claim will find the debunking, thus this post.

For anyone interested in further examples of creationist quote-mining, check out the Talk Origins Quote Mine Project.

(Yes, I know I’ve spelt quotemining three different ways. That’s because all three are common. Sheesh, the things I do for search engines.)

Categories: religion

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4 replies

  1. Amanda Marcotte made the point, referencing PZ’s post above along with a post of her own debunking the oft-alleged racism of Margaret Sanger, that it’s not strictly true to refer to Darwin or Sanger as non-racist without qualification: it’s more accurate to describe them as less racist than most of their white contemporaries, since both of them wrote and spoke of racist injustices and that both of them worked to alleviate entrenched racist practices.
    These commendable practises don’t mean that they were entirely free from racist prejudices themselves, merely that they acknowledged that their racist prejudice was a flaw, that it was irrational and acculturated, and they worked on improving and minimising their own racist prejudices. That’s the best most white people like me can expect, unless you happened to grow in in some genuinely egalitarian multiracial utopian commune, where the outside world’s total immersion in the hierarchy of white privilege had no toehold. I don’t know of any such place, although I wish there were some.

  2. Certainly the Discovery Institute minions, collaborators and fellow travelers are incorrect to claim that Darwin was the inspiration for the atrocities committed both by the Nazis and by the Communists, and wrong to imply that evolution theory has anything to do with the perpetuation of racism in the U.S., which was long-lived before Darwin was born, and which was in any of the specifics it tried to claim in science, rebutted directly by Darwin.

  3. Darwin was indeed a Racist, and an inspiration to racists and facists up until this very day. denial of that fact is futile.

  4. Nice, strong, bald assertion.
    Care to support that assertion and actually make an argument that might persuade a reader to spend 6.5 minutes watching your YouTube vlog?

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