Racist Darwinism?

May 16, 2001

Louisiana State Representative Sharon Weston Broome proposed a resolution (http://www.legis.state.la.us/bills/byinst.asp?sessionid=01RS&billid=HCR74) condemning Darwin's concept of evolution as racist. House resolution No. 74 (Civil Rights: Provides relative to racism and education about racism) reads, in part: "The writings of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, promoted the justification of racism, and his books On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life and The Descent of Man postulate a hierarchy of superior and inferior races."

The resolution, now pending in the Louisiana House, is aimed specifically at the education system of Louisiana in that copies of the resolution, if passed, are to be distributed to each college and university president or chancellor, the state superintendent of education, who is directed to make its contents known to the state local public school system.

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED," the resolution reads, "that the legislature does also hereby urge and request the public education system of Louisiana, as appropriate in the curriculum, to address the commonalities of people groups and the weaknesses of Darwinian racism."

Darwin, who married his cousin, was a naturalist, a college drop out and theorist. Contrary to myth, he did not coin the phrase, "survival of the fittest." Indeed, it was other members of Victorian society who built what we now call Social Darwinism-the appropriation of Darwin's biological theory to the social world. Darwin was most concerned about plants and a theory that would justify the existence of God in a natural world characterized by brutality. Darwin was a committed Christian. His first publication, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) didn't mention humans.

Rep. Broome's official biography states that she is, "... a committed Christian, ministry advisor, and longtime member of Life Changers Christian Center Church in Baton Rouge." She was first elected to the legislature of Louisiana in 1991. She has a B.A. degree in communication from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and a M.A. degree in communication from Regent University in Virginia. She was emailed for this story, and did not respond.

The fact that Darwin's theory of natural section is taught and accepted by biologists from around the world without mention of race raises questions about Broome's anti-Darwin stance. James Gill, a columnist for The Times-Picayune, noted that the resolution is probably more about religion than race. Gill described creationists as "loopy."

--Harvey Wallbanger

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