Tonight Lilandra and I will be talking about the Religious Right’s corruption of Texas textbooks.
Tonight Lilandra and I will be talking about the Religious Right’s corruption of Texas textbooks.
In the following video, I said that Darwin had contested his peers by arguing that all humans were the same species and the same race.
One of my critics said that I had “completely misrepresented Darwin’s views on human racial variation”, because Darwin said that “[Man] has diverged into distinct races, or as they may be more fitly called, sub-species. Some of these, such as the Negro and the European, are so distinct that, if specimens had been brought to a naturalist without any further information, they would undoubtedly have been considered as good and true species.” My critic says that because Darwin described human races as sub-species, that my “assertion that Darwin conceived of a human species containing a single race is therefore false”.
I referred my critics to a talk I gave on the Erroneous Association of Evolution and Racism, but they persisted. I had to make sure, so I looked it up.
In the 1st chapter of Decent of Man, Darwin talks about multiple races of dark people and multiple races of white people. He says that traits like body hair and sense of smell vary more within these races than between them. But he did mention a reported distinction in the types of wisdom teeth between ‘civilized’ and ‘melanian’ races, but he mentioned that these distinctions were also contested by immanent dentists. And he begins this commentary by noting that whether humans actually qualify as different races and sub-races is questionable.
In Chapter 2, Darwin cites questionable claims of other researchers commenting on the ‘lower’ or ‘savage’ races as compared to the ‘civilized’ races, but he repeats that there is more diversity within each race than between them, and he talks about all of humanity constituting a single species.
In Chapter 3, Darwin mentions ‘immigrant’ races along with ‘ancient’ races. But he also notes that the differences in intellect between barbarians and the most brilliant men of history are so slight that “it is possible they might pass and develop into each other.”
In Chapter 4, he quotes Herbert Spencer describing all of humanity not as multiple races, but as one race. Darwin adds his own comment about understanding differences “believed to exist” between various races.
In Chapter 5, Darwin himself refers to man as a single race, but quotes contemporary bigots who describe Celts and Scots and Greeks as though they were all different races.
Chapter 6 has the one line that everyone quotes when they’re trying to cast Darwin as a racist:
“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 anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked,* 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.”
Here Darwin notes that living human lineages had diverged into different races so distinct that *other* naturalists had categorized people as distinctly different species of Man. Darwin did not indicate any agreement with this, but immediately again links all of humanity as indistinct from other mammals.
The idea that certain races (or species) are ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ was not Darwin’s idea but the universal language of all prior naturalists since forever. Darwin acknowledges this, but does not contribute to it, other than to suggest that Caucasians are not the ultimate form of mankind.
However in Chapter 7, Darwin really begins to challenge the ubiquitous racism of anthropology til that time.
“It is not my intention here to describe the several so-called races of men; but I am about to enquire what is the value of the differences between them under a classificatory point of view,”
Notice how he says “so-called” races, indicating there is a already some doubt.
He continues, talking about the numerous differences in all people –as recorded by other scientists before him. Darwin’s references also necessarily included anecdotal accounts relayed by non-scientists, and other scientists which he had to evaluate for their trustworthiness. All of his predecessors all through history were convinced of the distinctions between the races of men, and some of them even argued for separate origins for these different races. No one had ever challenged that.
As we read Darwin’s observations, we see that he is hasn’t yet established a counter argument, (nor could he if he only relied on prior studies) but that he is thinking independently and starting to lean the other way. It is here that Darwin first challenges the idea of separate human species and gives weight to “arguments on the other side”. He acknowledges how certain individuals from distant areas might seem initially quite distinct, but he also says that our judgments are influenced by superficial surface features. He further notes that many members of other races might pass as Europeans. So that other races are not always as distinct as they’re initially perceived to be. He says, “Even some of the most strongly-marked races cannot be identified with that degree of unanimity which might have been expected from what has been written on the subject.” So he is beginning to doubt the established status quo.
He implies that, by all accounts, that humans are chemically interfertile, and that the only difficulty in cross-breading is entirely cultural –despite what other scientists may have previously implied. “Independently of fertility, the characters presented by the offspring from a cross have been thought to indicate whether or not the parent-forms ought to be ranked as species or varieties; but after carefully studying the evidence, I have come to the conclusion that no general rules of this kind can be trusted.”
Darwin’s own realization dawns with the observation of how previous scientists might have felt justified in ranking different humans according to their own experience and influences. Darwin didn’t use the word, ‘prejudice’, but it could be implied by the context. And Darwin notes that such naturalists would be “much disturbed as soon as he perceived that the distinctive characters of all the races were highly variable.” Ultimately Darwin dismisses their position on the fact that “the races of man are not sufficiently distinct to inhabit the same country without fusion; and the absence of fusion affords the usual and best test of specific distinctness”.
“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 intercrossed. 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 de 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.”
Here Darwin dismisses the idea that the different races could be different species. He allows that the word ‘sub-species’ might be applicable to what he calls a ‘race’. But for the reasons explained in the above citation, the way that word is now defined does not work in the context in which Darwin used it. In modern parlance, a sub-species is a distinction within a single interfertile population wherein every member of one group shares unique traits particular only to that group, but which are not shared by any member of another group. So the impression I get from Darwin’s use of the word ‘race’ is that is only synonymous with the word, ‘lineage’.
Importantly, those in Darwin’s day were not arguing that humans had become distinctly different races. Instead, some influential authors of that time believed that the “so-called races” originated unrelated to each other. So that all humans were not even of the same lineage, because they didn’t have a common ancestor. And many of the people who held that view were creationists.
“The question whether mankind consists of one or several species has of late years been much discussed by anthropologists, who are divided into the two schools of monogenists and polygenists. Those who do not admit the principle of evolution, must look at species as separate creations, or in some manner as distinct entities; and they must decide what forms of man they will consider as species by the analogy of the method commonly pursued in ranking other organic beings as species. But it is a hopeless endeavour to decide this point, until some definition of the term “species” is generally accepted; and the definition must not include an indeterminate element such as an act of creation. We might as well attempt without any definition to decide whether a certain number of houses should be called a village, town, or city. We have a practical illustration of the difficulty in the never-ending doubts whether many closely-allied mammals, birds, insects, and plants, which represent each other respectively in North America and Europe, should be ranked as species or geographical races; and the like holds true of the productions of many islands situated at some little distance from the nearest continent.
Those naturalists, on the other hand, who admit the principle of evolution, and this is now admitted by the majority of rising men, will feel no doubt that all the races of man are descended from a single primitive stock; whether or not they may think fit to designate the races as distinct species, for the sake of expressing their amount of difference.”
Thus Darwin argued that all men are the same species –and the same sub-species (by the current definition) and the same ‘race’ in as much as every new lineage is derived from a common ancestor.
I think it ironic that my critics so often accuse me of demanding that everyone in this movement must agree on every point. Because I’ve never said anything like that. Quite the reverse in fact. For example, I’m constantly accused of having said that “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist”, even though that’s not what I actually said; I said we’re all sexist to some degree. I’m still accused of promoting divisive dichotomies even by those who know and admit that I said it’s not a dichotomy.
I’ve said many times that I rarely agree with anyone completely, that we should be able to express disagreements respectfully, and that we should be able to strategically overlook some differences in opinion in those who would otherwise be useful allies. We don’t have the resources to do otherwise, not when we’re outnumbered, out-gunned and out-financed as much as we are. I have also come to the defense of some prominent person who said something dumb once, or who wasn’t very knowledgeable of some issue well outside their expertise.
So Dawkins didn’t know about the Men’s Rights Movement, and he occasionally alternates between supporting feminism and sounding sexist. Thus he is criticized from both sides, even though gender equality is obviously not his primary focus or area of interest. So I hardly think it fair to say that “Dawkins has lost it“, just because he’s not up to speed on that topic. Yeah, I know. “Dear Muslima’ wasn’t his best moment. He’s said a few other things I don’t agree with, and not just about that. I wish he’d stop using the word, ‘Darwinism’ -for example.
I don’t expect anyone in this movement to agree on all philosophies, policies, or politics, just like I don’t expect science nerds to understand fashion statements. Being critical thinkers doesn’t mean that we should criticize our associates more than our adversaries. Because I also don’t like when our opponents publish comments that “the atheist movement has petered out“, based on the impression that “even atheists think Dawkins is a joke”. Not only is that overwhelmingly not the case, but believers don’t know that it doesn’t really matter what any of us thinks of Dawkins or anyone else. However we don’t seem to understand how infighting diminishes our own capacity. For that and many other reasons, I would rather give credit where it is due. respect where it was earned, and reasonable criticism when and wherever necessary. But then, I’m not trying to sell my blog with sensational headlines.
Tonight the Ra-Men talk to Bria Crutchfield, president of Black Nonbelievers of Detroit – on how racism is disproportionately imposed by police, prosecution, and imprisonment. We’ll also talk to her associate, Evette Stanton who lives in Ferguson Missouri. And we’ll talk to James Croft, who was actually involved in the most recent riots there. You can watch out discussion here, live at 9:00pm central time, Thursday 12/04/2014, or on YouTube thereafter.
Aron couldn’t make it as he is on the last leg of his journey on his motorcycle across the deserts of West Texas. This part in particular would get his goat if he was there…
It would be funny if they weren’t serious about teaching this to millions of students as fact. If you would like to watch the shenanigans yourself there is a livestream.
Do NOT tell me that your vote doesn’t count. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be getting automated phone calls from the Republican party every single fucking day to tell us what godless baby-eating commies their opposition is, and “somebody please fear for our children”.Why do you think they do all that gerrymandering? Why did they create this issue with the voting rights act? Why are they trying make voting more difficult? They’re acting like that because they’re worried, because your vote DOES count!
They tell us this or that hopeful is behind in the polls. They tell us that to discourage the turnout vote, because the turnout voters could change everything! It’s happened plenty of times before. Here in Texas, they said Ann Richards was behind in the polls, but the turn-out upset the predictions and elected her anyway. They made a difference. So could you, and if you’ve looked around a bit, you’ll see it would be a big difference. So turn out! This election is close here and elsewhere. So in this election especially, your vote fucking counts!
So Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with terminal, irreversible, and inoperable brain cancer. She suffered increasingly frequent and longer seizures, and increasingly severe head and neck pain, and even stroke-like symptoms. So she made the wholly understandable decision to bypass the otherwise inevitable agony to herself and to her helpless loved ones. She chose to end their suffering under more positive circumstances. Would that everyone could die this way.
Yet, the Religious Rong says “We are saddened by the fact that this young woman gave up hope, and now our concern is for other people with terminal illnesses who may contemplate following her example,”
What is it about religion? Always wrong all the time, absolutely wrong about absolutely everything, as wrong as it can be, every way that it can be, on every subject, not just science, history, and medicine, but philosophy, epistemology, morality, ethics, every fucking thing. The only time I’ve ever seen the words ‘wronger’ or ‘wrongest’ used by an educated person, they were talking about religion, and those words uniquely applied.
I just got a recorded phone call saying that Wendy Davis, (Texas’ Democratic candidate for governor) promotes abortion, “at any time, for any reason”, and that she opposes “common-sense” legislation limiting abortions after 20 weeks, “when the fetus would feel excruciating pain”.
Obviously this came from the campaign to elect Greg Abbott. I hate when politicians lie like this. Of course the real issue is that, (1) women shouldn’t need to appeal to a court for permission to get an abortion, and she shouldn’t have to defend her reasons why. (2) It’s a shame that every time I hear anyone talking about ‘common sense’ they have no idea what that is. What they’re calling ‘common sense’ legislation is actually a series of restrictions wherein not even cases of rape or incest or life-threatening conditions can be considered. That and (3) a fetus doesn’t experience pain or terror at 20 weeks. Not that it matters, because Abbott wants abortion illegal in all instances at any time for any reason, no matter what.
This is Abbott’s campaign tactic. If he wins, I will have so much more work to do! Because he also wants to integrate church and state, and teach creationism as fact, excluding evolution. He has already proved to be a huge obsticale to the health care, the environment, and education. According to the current demographic trends, if he does win, he will almost certainly be the LAST Republican governor of Texas.
“Texas has been red since dinosaurs roamed the state 6,000 years ago. At least that is what the Texas history books say.” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been filming from Austin, TX. this week. After, a clip of the stupid ass things that our elected officials do and say, Stewart made the humorous observation that Texas would vote for a drunk guy in a bar hitting on a lesbian.
Texas is saying goodbye to Rick Perry, whose “austerity” measures included cutting 5 billion dollars from the state’s education budget. The cuts resulted in 25,000 teachers and also tax payers losing their jobs. Meanwhile, Perry and the GOP including Governor hopeful Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor hopeful Dan Patrick, funneled 200 million dollars taxpayer money into the Texas Enterprise Fund.
The fund is being audited, and is widely being called a slush fund. Four companies were given 42 million dollars without even submitting an application. Abbott is our current attorney general, and he issued rulings that suppressed this information from the public. He also received 1.4 million dollars in quid pro quo campaign contributions from these companies.
Stewart was joking about what a lot of Texans will elect here, but it is funny because it isn’t that far off the mark. Abbott is leading so far in the early voting polls in double digits. Wendy Davis is the best thing for Texas right now. She filibustered twice to try to stop draconian educations cuts and abortion over-regulation. But even people like some of the very teachers, who lost their jobs, won’t take a minute to think about it. There are teachers right now in this state, who will still vote red regardless, sitting in overcrowded classrooms trying to teach a tenth of the America’s often poorest students.
It’s not an exaggeration, or Abbott wouldn’t be leading after messing this state over for his own gain. A Davis campaigner came to our door, and told us that people are telling them, “I vote life.” When the GOP is not lining their pockets with tax payer money here, they are spending millions of dollars for extra sessions to pass draconian abortion restrictions that have reduced the state’s abortion clinics from 43 to 8. They have already demonstrated how little they care about educating the children that are already born.
In reality why should they? An uniformed populace keeps electing them, because they think stopping poor women from choosing when or if they will be a parent is what their God wants. Realistically, many Christian women with the means will continue to get abortions.
The beauty of it for the GOP here is that it is self serving because rich Christian values voters are their greatest campaign contributors. They don’t have to fix the real problems this state has, like repeat teen pregnancy, unprepared college students, the shrinking middle class, the loss of living wage revenue generating jobs, storage of hazardous materials, the burgeoning prison population, etc. The solution has always been to refer people to God rather than actually do something about the problems here.
Top all that off with immigration issues exacerbated by a humanitarian crisis caused by the drug war that has been raging in Mexico that has already claimed thousands of lives. Civilians are being beheaded, tortured, raped, and terrorized by drug cartels and members of their own government. Will there be a war on terror there? No. The victims there are frankly not white enough. The United States is the largest consumer of drugs from Mexico. Here on the Texas border our response has been to be Mexico’s largest gun suppliers.
According to the US Government Accountability Office, 87% of firearms seized by Mexico over the previous five years were traced to the US. Texas was the single largest source. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, told Congress last month that of 94,000 weapons captured from drug traffickers by the Mexican authorities, over 64,000 originated in the US.
So not only do we help make a humanitarian crises, by being the largest consumer of illegal drugs, we also supply the guns to Mexico and we still think Iraq is our greatest foreign policy problem. On the borders of Texas, California, and Arizona; people have fought to keep immigrant children from getting asylum from the problem we are complicit in creating in Mexico and Central America.
The problems here in Texas, and the problems we are causing our neighbors are not getting better touting Republican values and pandering to Christians on the taxpayer’s dime in lieu of actual solutions like a sane decriminalized drug policy. Yet we stand here in Texas ready to elect a successor to Perry, who has already shown that he will make things worse. Both GOP candidates are avid creationists.
There is a small hope for the Texas and the rest of the nation. Texas is rapidly browning. It is an irreversible trend that started in 2005 when Texas became one of five majority minority states. Unfortunately, minority voters are disadvantaged in this state by gerrymandering, and SCOTUS overturning the Voting Rights Act which gave the justice department oversight in how districts are drawn. So we do have Texas carved up like a Christmas turkey with as much advantages as can be given to creating Republican districts.
Imagine this for a brief shining moment. All of Texas’s electoral votes going to a blue presidential candidate. The GOP would have to actually stop their pandering and fear mongering and actually do something to maintain their standing, or never have a Republican president ever again. A side note for the secular community, diversity is critical to ensuring a secular government. We don’t want to trade one theocracy for another by not making inroads into minority communities.
But how about the hope for Wendy Davis for governor on November 4th? It is probably no coincidence that hope was included by the Greeks in Pandora’s box. It can be the cruelest emotion. For reasons l already outlined and Stewart joked about, many Texans vote with their gut rather than their brains. The GOP cultivates that here with their insistence on Christian values that are often immoral like forced pregnancy.
However, most religious minorities still vote blue, and they are catching up. The problem with this is they have a more difficult time voting both because of restrictive Republican backed voting laws, and financial reasons like not having a car or not being to get off work to vote. There has been increased minority early voting. This shows that despite obstacles that if there is something to vote for they will turn out.
Davis can still win, but it will require turnout from dissatisfied GOP and Independent women and teachers. The greatest factor will be how apathetic the progressive voters are here. Aron and I often encounter resistance to voting even by secularists here. The response sometimes range from…
This shows they haven’t put much thought into who is running this cycle even after many years of Rick Perry. The best thing to remind people here, who don’t go beyond disgust at politics, is that if you vote the most reasonable candidate that the votes for unreasonable candidates like Abbott will dry up. This has happened in the past when staunch segregationists jumped party lines when they saw the writing on the wall. Better yet, it would make more progressive parties like the Green Party viable, because voters would migrate to the Democratic Party. This would open up more room for a more Progressive party than the Democrats.
Even if they could set aside the millions of human beings that are under the thumb of regressive policies here. They would be okay with having a jingoistic country on their border that would then have almost half of America’s oil reserves. A better dystopian idea would be to set aside a state like maybe Kansas (just joking Kansas) with fewer natural resources, and ship every morally undeveloped, empathy impaired, and therefore stunted human being there. We would ship all the progressives out. Then the citizens of that country could do as they please. They could run freely with scissors till their hearts content, not give a damn about anyone, poke each other’s eyes out, pray to god to make them richer and destroy their enemies… Imagine the possibilities, but we don’t have to unfortunately because we have Texas politics. More or less.
People need to vote. There are other states where the tea party has done a better job of organizing than progressives. That is the one thing they have going for them they don’t sit on their asses hoping for a more god soaked government. They are slowly and maniacally making that a reality all over the country. Progressives take note and provided you don’t have a condition that disenfranchises you like a disability, vote Nov 4th. Even if I wake up to another Tea Party Governor, (Ye non-existent gods noooo!!!!!!) at least I can say I am not part of the problem.
Weighing on how progressive liberals treat Islam.