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Another Dirty Little Secret in the History of Darwinism

The Darwinists devoutly desire to avoid the true history of their creed, and usually the media assist in the cover up--unknowingly, I would like to think. The "Inherit the Wind" trope that is monotonously employed by journalists--not to mention Judge Jones of Dover, PA fame--derives from the play and movie of that name. But this cliché, which is the source of what many journalists think about the subject, was fiction and not even aimed at the evolution issue so much as the danger of McCarthyism in the 1950s. The real Scopes trial in 1925 was rather different. And so was the biology textbook that was at the heart of the Scopes trial.

Hunter's A Civic Biology was racist. It advocated therapeutic eugenics. It was widely used in schools around America, not just in Tennessee. John West's forthcoming book, Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, includes an extensive examination of the subject as it relates to the popularity of eugenics in general. Today's PC guardians at least pretend not to know about this, but it was well-known and well-accepted by the "brites" of the 1920s. Just as self-referential sophisticates of 2007 nurse bigotries they decline to examine, so it was with the supposed opinion makers of a century ago. "The Sage of Baltimore," reporter and satirist H. L. Mencken, cleverly mocked William Jennings Bryan and the townspeople of Dayton, Tennessee, and delighted his fellow reporters in doing so. Ever since then his sneering style has been consciously or unconsciously imitated by Darwinist propagandists. His rewritten character in Inherit the Wind captures only part of Mencken, who in real-life was not only a scourge of the general public (the "booboisie"), but also a robust racist and anti-Semite. And he remained a bigot, by the way, long after the fashion passed among America's literary set.

Congratulations therefore go to Garin Hovanissian, who brings up the topic of the Hunter biology textbook in The Weekly Standard. We are coming up on the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth in 2009, so you can be sure that Inherit the Wind will be shown in thousands of high school and college classrooms, where it will be lovingly presented as an approximation of the truth. It might be useful before then to dig up all the speeches of William Hunter, the racist and eugenicist, and of his champion, the great H. L. Mencken. The fullness of the truth will be found there. How hard will the Darwinists fight to keep the students from learning about that?