Rick...on Darwin being racist I found a very nice written piece I thought I'd share with you and those interested.
Was Darwin a racist and evolutionary theory supports racism, exploitation, violence, and the idea that might makes right?
This is one of the more complex claims made by many opponents of evolution that gets into a variety of social and historical issues that are far beyond the scope of biology and evolution.
Claims have been made that everything from racism to the Holocaust are products of "evolutionary thinking". The claim has also been made, erroneously, that Darwin was a "racist".
The following view is representative of many anti-evolutionist views on what they believe is implied by the theory of evolution.
Socially, natural selection argues that the best and fittest society would be one where its' individuals look out only for themselves and would advance themselves, if possible, at the expense of others. It would even destroy others if possible. Thus barbarianism is demanded by natural selection with the destruction of the weak and the free domain of the powerful. It demands total annihilation of anything weaker than necessary and the ruling of anyone more powerful than others. People exhibit mercy, pity, and morality, all of which inhibit natural selection.
Actually evolutionary theory comes to the opposite conclusion, which is that societies with the most cooperation will flourish and perform the best. Evolution offers a valuable model for understanding why it is that self interest often conflicts with social interests.
All that The Theory of Biological Evolution can do is seek to explain the world as it is. The theory of evolution is not a value system nor do evolutionary biologists claim that social systems should be based on natural systems. There was a movement in the early 1900s called "Social Darwinism", which did claim that certain groups or individuals were entitled to dominate society, but Darwin had nothing to do with this and in fact these views are not at all supported by evolutionary theory.
From a social perspective evolutionary theory explains why we see conflict, competition, domination, and hierarchy in social groups, as well as why we see cooperation, compassion, and altruism. Evolutionary theory does not put forward any values, it does not claim that competition is good or bad, it just observes its existence and reports the results of it.
Most significantly, though, what Darwin and many other evolutionary theorists have observed is that the processes of nature often produce what we consider to be negative attributes, such as aggression, violence, and domination. In understanding why these traits exist we can be better prepared to mitigate them.
The irony of this criticism of evolution is that evolutionary theory is what informs us about these negative qualities so that we can learn how to overcome them. Why do people fight? Why do we have wars? Why have we had slavery? Why have a few people dominated societies for the past thousands of years? Why are people instinctively repulsed by people with deformities?
These are all questions that religions have sought to answer for years. The Christian explanation for these negative traits is that they have been caused by a mythological event that took place in the Garden of Eden, when Eve ate a fruit, thereby defying the commandments of God, and leading to a curse on humanity for the rest of time.
Such an explanation does nothing to help us learn about things such as social conflict and understand how to overcome it.
Nature is not a model for society, that is one of the things that we learn the most from evolutionary theory. We learn, through evolutionary theory, that many of the problems that have long been associated solely with human society are in fact ubiquitous in nature, that indeed natural processes propagate these problems.
In the social sense evolutionary theory reinforces the belief of many religions, including Christianity, that as humans we are in a struggle to overcome the products of our inherent nature. People do have an inherent nature that is a product of our natural evolution, which took place in a very competitive and hostile environment of scarce resources.
Evolutionary studies provide us with many examples of how natural selection leads to qualities that we don't like. A recent study showed that sexual competition in bats can lead to lower brain sizes because as sexual competition increases natural selection selects for bats that have larger testicles, and therefore higher sperm counts. The increase in sperm production comes at the expense of brain size, as both use the same types of proteins. This is a prime example of how evolution does not always produce traits that we value.
As well as helping to understand the negative aspects of life, Darwin also sought to explain the cooperative and beneficial aspects of nature. Darwin dedicated whole chapters of his works to the discussion of cooperation in social animals and people. For example:
With mankind, selfishness, experience, and imitation, probably add, as Mr. Bain has shown, to the power of sympathy; for we are led by the hope of receiving good in return to perform acts of sympathetic kindness to others; and sympathy is much strengthened by habit. In however complex a manner this feeling may have originated, as it is one of high importance to all those animals which aid and defend one another, it will have been increased through natural selection; for those communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.
- The Descent of Man; Charles Darwin, 1871
It has further been suggested that Darwin was a racist and that Darwinian ideas are responsible for the rise of extreme racism in the 20th century, including the racism of the Nazis.
In 2001 the Louisiana State Legislature put forward a bill to reject the teaching of "Darwinism" based on the claim that Darwin and his teachings are racist and that they led directly to the ideology of Nazism.
See: Louisiana Calls Darwin a Racist
WHEREAS, empirical science has documented an indisputable commonality among all people groups, or races, and has demonstrated that normal variations in the human gene pool account for our differences, of which racial differences are a trivial portion; and
WHEREAS, 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; and
WHEREAS, Adolf Hitler and others have exploited the racist views of Darwin and those he influenced, such as German zoologist Ernst Haekel, to justify the annihilation of millions of purportedly racially inferior individuals.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby deplore all instances and ideologies of racism, does hereby reject the core concepts of Darwinist ideology that certain races and classes of humans are inherently superior to others, and does hereby condemn the extent to which these philosophies have been used to justify and approve racist practices.
source: HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 74 BY REPRESENTATIVE BROOME
These claims are based on major historical distortions and outright fallacies.
Charles Darwin actually combated many of the racist views of his day with scientific evidence, showing that both the popular beliefs about race and those held by many other scholars were wrong.
Common beliefs about humans during the 1800s included the beliefs that:
Whites, Blacks, American Indians, and Asians are all different species
The races are static and created by God, and should thus never be mixed
There are superior and inferior races and the superior whites have the right to dominate the inferior blacks and Indians
There are distinct delineations between the races
Different races are not related to each other
Interbreeding of races leads to degeneration
God originally created civilization, and that whites have stayed true to God, and thus maintained civilization, but the darker races have degenerated and lost civilization as they have become more savage and further from the word of God (This was published by Archbishop Whately and the Duke of Argyll )
Regarding this last item, the view was advanced among Catholics during the 1800s that mankind can never raise himself up, so it must mean that we started out civilized and have degraded.
One must be struck with the similarity between the discussion above, from 1869, and the current discussions of intelligent design.
In contrast to these views on race Darwin showed that:
People cannot be classified as different species
All races are related and have a common ancestry
All people come from "savage" origins
The different races have much more in common than was widely believed
The mental capabilities of all races are virtually the same and that there is greater variation within races than between races
Different races of people can interbreed and there is no concern for ill effects
Culture, not biology, accounted for the greatest differences between the races
Races are not distinct, but rather they blend together
An initial point of misconception about Darwin's views on race comes from the full title of his famous book, On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection: Or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. It is important to note here that "race" was a term that was more often used to discuss plants and animals at this point in history than it was to describe people. In fact, Darwin avoided much discussion of people in The Origin of Species and only used the word "race" a few times, in each of these cases referring to plants or animals.
Having alluded to the subject of reversion, I may here refer to a statement often made by naturalists-namely, that our domestic varieties, when run wild, gradually but certainly revert in character to their aboriginal stocks. Hence it has been argued that no deductions can be drawn from domestic races to species in a state of nature. I have in vain endeavoured to discover on what decisive facts the above statement has so often and so boldly been made.
Nevertheless, as our varieties certainly do occasionally revert in some of their characters to ancestral forms, it seems to me not improbable, that if we could succeed in naturalising, or were to cultivate, during many generations, the several races, for instance, of the cabbage, in very poor soil (in which case, however, some effect would have to be attributed to the direct action of the poor soil), that they would to a large extent, or even wholly, revert to the wild aboriginal stock.
When we look to the hereditary varieties or races of our domestic animals and plants, and compare them with species closely allied together, we generally perceive in each domestic race, as already remarked, less uniformity of character than in true species. Domestic races of the same species, also, often have a somewhat monstrous character; by which I mean, that, although differing from each other, and from the other species of the same genus, in several trifling respects, they often differ in an extreme degree in some one part, both when compared one with another, and more especially when compared with all the species in nature to which they are nearest allied.
- The Origin of Species; Charles Darwin, 1858
It is often pointed out that Darwin frequently used the term "savages" when discussing the tribal people whom he wrote about. In his use of the term savages, however, Darwin was simply using the standard lexicon of his time. To claim that Darwin or evolutionary theory had anything to do with racism, or that racism didn't exist prior to evolutionary theory, is a major distortion of the facts. Prior to Darwin many Europeans viewed themselves as somehow different from all other peoples. The belief that Europeans were the direct descendants of Adam and Eve, while all other races were descended from Cain, was popular. This belief is still doctrine in some Christian faiths, though most people no longer believe it. Many Europeans also believed that Africans and Native Americans were separate "subhuman" species. Darwin argued against the popular belief that different "races" had different origins, or that the different races were separately created, or that whites were created superior by God. Darwin showed that all people are related, a remarkable statement for his time. He also freely admitted to having had sexual relations with a black women, something else unheard of in his time.
Although the existing races of man differ in many respects, as in colour, hair, shape of skull, proportions of the body, &c., yet if their whole structure be taken into consideration they are found to resemble each other closely in a multitude of points. Many of these are of so unimportant or of so singular a nature, that it is extremely improbable that they should have been independently acquired by aboriginally distinct species or races. The same remark holds good with equal or greater force with respect to the numerous points of mental similarity between the most distinct races of man. The American aborigines, Negroes and Europeans are as different from each other in mind as any three races that can be named; yet I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Feugians on board the "Beagle," with the many little traits of character, shewing how similar their minds were to ours; and so it was with a full-blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate.
He who will read Mr. Tylor's and Sir J. Lubbock's interesting works can hardly fail to be deeply impressed with the close similarity between the men of all races in tastes, dispositions and habits. This is shown by the pleasure which they all take in dancing, rude music, acting, painting, tattoing, and otherwise decorating themselves; in their mutual comprehension of gesture-language, by the same expression in their features, and by the same inarticulate cries, when excited by the same emotions. This similarity, or rather identity, is striking, when contrasted with the different expressions and cries made by distinct species of monkeys. There is good evidence that the art of shooting with bows and arrows has not been handed down from any common progenitor of mankind, yet as Westropp and Nilsson have remarked, the stone arrow-heads, brought from the most distant parts of the world, and manufactured at the most remote periods, are almost identical; and this fact can only be accounted for by the various races having similar inventive or mental powers. The same observation has been made by archeologists with respect to certain widely-prevalent ornaments, such as zig-zags, &c.; and with respect to various simple beliefs and customs, such as the burying of the dead under megalithic structures. I remember observing in South America, that there, as in so many other parts of the world, men have generally chosen the summits of lofty hills, to throw up piles of stones, either as a record of some remarkable event, or for burying their dead.
Now when naturalists observe a close agreement in numerous small details of habits, tastes, and dispositions between two or more domestic races, or between nearly-allied natural forms, they use this fact as an argument that they are descended from a common progenitor who was thus endowed; and consequently that all should be classed under the same species. The same argument may be applied with much force to the races of man.
As it is improbable that the numerous and unimportant points of resemblance between the several races of man in bodily structure and mental faculties (I do not here refer to similar customs) should all have been independently acquired, they must have been inherited from progenitors who had these same characters.
- The Descent of Man; Charles Darwin; 1871
Genocidal wars against the Natives of the Americas had been taking place since the 1500s. Slavery existed long before Darwin, and America's race based slave system was well entrenched before Darwin was even born. Darwin was an ardent abolitionist in fact. He was a member of several abolitionist organizations, and he wrote frequently about the injustices of slavery and defended the intelligence of blacks on several occasions.
I will not even allude to the many heart-sickening atrocities which I authentically heard of; -- nor would I have mentioned the above revolting details, had I not met with several people, so blinded by the constitutional gaiety of the negro as to speak of slavery as a tolerable evil. Such people have generally visited at the houses of the upper classes, where the domestic slaves are usually well treated, and they have not, like myself, lived amongst the lower classes. Such inquirers will ask slaves about their condition; they forget that the slave must indeed be dull, who does not calculate on the chance of his answer reaching his master's ears.
It is often attempted to palliate slavery by comparing the state of slaves with our poorer countrymen: if the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin; but how this bears on slavery, I cannot see; as well might the use of the thumb-screw be defended in one land, by showing that men in another land suffered from some dreadful disease. Those who look tenderly at the slave owner, and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter; what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! picture to yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children -- those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own -- being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one's blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty:
- The Voyage of the Beagle; Charles Darwin, 1839
In a letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who formed and led the first black regiment in the American Civil War, Darwin wrote:
My wife has just finished reading aloud your 'Life with a Black Regiment,' and you must allow me to thank you heartily for the very great pleasure which it has in many ways given us. I always thought well of the negroes, from the little which I have seen of them; and I have been delighted to have my vague impressions confirmed, and their character and mental powers so ably discussed.
- Letter from Darwin to Thomas Higginson, February 27, 1873
While on the voyage of the HMS Beagle Darwin wrote:
I was told before leaving England that after living in slave countries all my opinions would be altered; the only alteration I am aware of is forming a much higher estimate of the negro character. It is impossible to see a negro and not feel kindly towards him; such cheerful, open, honest expressions and such fine muscular bodies. I never saw any of the diminutive Portuguese, with their murderous countenances, without almost wishing for Brazil to follow the example of Hayti; and, considering the enormous healthy-looking black population, it will be wonderful if, at some future day, it does not take place.
- Letter from Darwin to J.S. Henslo, March 1834
When Darwin was eighteen he recorded his acquaintances with a black man in England, whom he spent time with. His notes were later published in his autobiography.
By the way, a negro lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with Waterton, and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds, which he did excellently: he gave me lessons for payment, and I used often to sit with him, for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man.
- Autobiography of Darwin, 1887
Darwin did objectively document many cultural aspects of various primitive societies, and these writings are often referred to today as "racist". It must be remembered that Darwin traveled to some of the most remote areas of the world, and he came into contact with more different primitive cultures than just about any human being that ever lived. He traveled around the world at a time when there were still many tribes on the earth that had never come into contact with Europeans, and Darwin was in many cases the only white person these people had ever seen, and in others he was the only white person who had ever come to live among them and study them. Unlike other Europeans of his time, who took positions of domination over the natives that they came into contact with, Darwin lived among dozens of different groups of natives throughout South America and Australia. This was unheard of, and many people considered him unwise to put himself in what they believed to be such danger, and indeed it was dangerous. Some of these tribes were cannibals and many of them regularly killed outsiders.
Tribal cultures are often idealized today, but Darwin was simply documenting the facts about the tribes that he lived among. Darwin did have a generally positive view of civilization and a negative view of tribal culture. The things that he did not like about tribal culture were his observations that tribal people were more likely to enslave women, be distrustful of outsiders, have wars amongst each others, practice cannibalism, torture animals, torture people, engage in self mutilation, and not show kindness to those outside of their own family group.
Darwin did objectively document these facts about the cultures that he lived among, and he also made special note of cultures that had what he considered to be positive qualities as well, such as openness, honesty, and love of others. In fact, Darwin noted that cultures were more different than races were, something astonishing for his time. Darwin's views and interactions with primitive tribes can perhaps best be summed up by his closing remarks from The Descent of Man:
The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly organised form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on first seeing a party of Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be forgotten by me, for the reflection at once rushed into my mind—such were our ancestors. These men were absolutely naked and bedaubed with paint, their long hair was tangled, their mouths frothed with excitement, and their expression was wild, startled, and distrustful.
They possessed hardly any arts, and like wild animals lived on what they could catch; they had no government, and were merciless to every one not of their own small tribe. He who has seen a savage in his native land will not feel much shame, if forced to acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature flows in his veins. For my own part I would as soon be descended from that heroic little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to save the life of his keeper, or from that old baboon, who descending from the mountains, carried away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of astonished dogs—as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practises infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.
Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the distant future.
- The Descent of Man; Charles Darwin; 1871
Darwin did make distinctions between race and culture, and in The Descent of Man Darwin made it clear that he was discussing both biological evolution and cultural evolution. Darwin discussed the evolution of human cultures and used primitive tribes to discuss how man developed from a "savage" to a civilized state, but he actually refuted the belief that people from savage tribes were biologically inferior, which was the common belief of his day.
Today many people read Darwin's books out of context, so when terms like savages or negroes are used it seems as if Darwin was racist, however it is instructive to put Darwin in context. A perfect example would be to compare the words of Darwin to his contemporary Abraham Lincoln. Both Darwin and Lincoln were born on the same day, and Lincoln was elected president two years after Darwin published The Origin of Species. The Lincoln - Douglas debates offer an excellent look into views on race that were held in America at the time because race was so often discussed in the debates, and these debates offer an example of what the highest representatives of American culture had to say about race at the time.
"While I was at the hotel today, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.]"
- Abraham Lincoln; Fourth Presidential Debate with Stephen Douglas, September 18, 1858
It is important to note here that the views of Stephen Douglas were even more racist than Lincoln's, and that both men enjoyed popular support for their racist views. Note that Lincoln received applause for his remarks. The fact is that essentially all Europeans were racist in the 1800s by today's standards.
"For one, I am opposed to negro citizenship in any and every form. [Cheers.] I believe this Government was made on the white basis. ["Good."] I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men of European birth and descent, instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians, and other inferior races. ["Good for you!" "Douglas forever!"]
Now, I do not believe that the Almighty ever intended the negro to be the equal of the white man. ["Never, never!"] If he did, he has been a long time demonstrating the fact. [Cheers.] For thousands of years the negro has been a race upon the earth, and during all that time, in all latitudes and climates, wherever he has wandered or been taken, he has been inferior to the race which he has there met. He belongs to an inferior race, and must always occupy an inferior position."
- Stephen Douglas; First Presidential Debate with Abraham Lincoln, August 21, 1858
To claim that Darwin and evolutionary teachings are responsible for racism or the belief that whites are superior to blacks is completely inconsistent with the historical facts. Darwin, in fact, was on the leading edge of the opposition to racism.
Compare the comments of Lincoln and Douglas to those of Darwin:
As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races. If, indeed, such men are separated from him by great differences in appearance or habits, experience unfortunately shews us how long it is, before we look at them as our fellow-creatures. Sympathy beyond the confines of man, that is, humanity to the lower animals, seems to be one of the latest moral acquisitions. It is apparently unfelt by savages, except towards their pets. How little the old Romans knew of it is shewn by their abhorrent gladiatorial exhibitions. The very idea of humanity, as far as I could observe, was new to most of the Gauchos of the Pampas. This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. As soon as this virtue is honoured and practised by some few men, it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually becomes incorporated in public opinion.
The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts, and "not even in inmost thought to think again the sins that made the past so pleasant to us." Whatever makes any bad action familiar to the mind, renders its performance by so much the easier. As Marcus Aurelius long ago said, "Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts."
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871
Here, of course, we see the use of the term "savages" by Darwin, but it is obvious that what Darwin was saying was that the greatest moral good is the development of inclusiveness, an advanced humanist view that went well beyond the popular beliefs of his day. Darwin was saying that the highest moral code is to break down social barriers between the races, between the nations, and even between man and animal. He noted that this was not something that was originally natural among people, but that this view tended to increase with advances in civilization.
Darwin made it clear in his work that culture in many cases transcended biology. Contrary to the popular opinion of his day, Darwin stated that all people were much more a like than what it initially appeared, and that "savages" were only savages because of culture, not because they were biologically inferior.
To claim that such a man was a defender or promoter of racism is truly abhorrent. Furthermore, to claim that evolutionary theory is responsible for the ideologies of Nazism and the Holocaust is a claim of grave historical revisionism.
The idea of racism is in direct contradiction to evolutionary theory and to the views of Darwin. Not only did the racist ideology of the Nazis not have anything to do with Darwin, but the ideology was in fact based on the very views that Darwin had taught against and refuted with scientific evidence. Nazism represented everything completely the opposite of Darwin's personal beliefs and the opposite of evolutionary theory.
Contrary to the belief that there is such a thing as "fixed" or "distinct" races, Darwin showed that there are no such clear distinctions between people at all:
Our naturalist would likewise be much disturbed as soon as he perceived that the distinctive characters of all the races were highly variable. This fact strikes every one on first beholding the negro slaves in Brazil, who have been imported from all parts of Africa. The same remark holds good with the Polynesians, and with many other races. It may be doubted whether any character can be named which is distinctive of a race and is constant. Savages, even within the limits of the same tribe, are not nearly so uniform in character, as has been often asserted. Hottentot women offer certain peculiarities, more strongly marked than those occurring in any other race, but these are known not to be of constant occurrence. In the several American tribes, colour and hairiness differ considerably; as does colour to a certain degree, and the shape of the features greatly, in the Negroes of Africa. The shape of the skull varies much in some races; and so it is with every other character. Now all naturalists have learnt by dearly bought experience, how rash it is to attempt to define species by the aid of inconstant characters.
But the most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other, independently in many cases, as far as we can judge, of their having inter-crossed. Man has been studied more carefully than any other animal, and yet there is the greatest possible diversity amongst capable judges whether he should be classed as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jacquinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon), seven (Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory St. Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two (Morton), sixty (Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according to Burke. This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871
Darwin successfully refuted the many claims of his day that people were composed of separate species, he refuted the belief that there were distinct races, and he showed through careful observation that there was a great deal of variety among all people, despite the fact that most whites believed that "all negroes look the same".
Darwin concluded that all people have a common ancestry, that we are all more alike than we are different, and that even the "savages" of the world were greatly underestimated in their abilities by whites.
Yes, the language of some of Darwin's work on race is crude by today's standard, but it was revolutionary in its opposition to the established ideas of the day, which held that the "savages" were inferior and had no hope of ever living in a state of equality with whites.
Instead of being criticized as a racist, Darwin should rightfully be honored as one of the leaders of opposition to racism, who showed through his careful study, and through his theory of evolution, that we are indeed all related and that the key to social success as a species lies in extending our cooperation, love, sympathy, and assistance to people of all races and all nations. If Darwin had any social message, that, certainly, was it.