By their lies you shall know them

One of those anti-Cultural Marxism folks who are always claiming that their racism is justified by science just sent me a Darwin quote to shut me down. This one:


There are a few problems here, though.

  • Darwin is not our god-king. We recognize that he got quite a few things wrong, and also that his attitudes towards other races were a bit on the patronizing side. Perhaps an authoritarian thinks that citing an authority is persuasive, but we expect a little more.

  • Anyone who is at all familiar with Darwin’s writings would immediately recognize that there’s no way Darwin would have written that. Something’s fishy. This is the Darwin who wrote “I was told before leaving England, that after living in slave countries: all my options would be altered; the only alteration I am aware of is forming a much higher estimate of the Negros character”? He could be accused of condescension, fair enough, but not that kind of ignorance of African history.

  • Most definitively, Glenn Branch reports on the actual source of that quote. It’s not from Darwin at all. It’s from a notorious racist novel and play, The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan. It was a maliciously misattributed by a guy named John Huppenthal, who was a Republican politician who was in the habit of spreading lies under various pseudonyms. I expect he’ll be joining the Trump administration any day now.

The bottom line: anyone who promotes that bogus quote is ignorant of how science works, hasn’t read a lick of Darwin, and is spreading a lie.


  1. Jessie Harban says

    Since you’ve already covered most of the ways this is bullshit, I’ll just take issue with the line about diamonds. It’s not exactly the icing on the cake, but it’s definitely the cherry on the icing on the cake.

    Since when are diamonds inherently valuable? They’re not. We, as westerners, value them because De Beers ran an ad campaign to say they’re valuable and most of us are easily brainwashed. They’re just lumps of carbon.

    So in addition to being a bunch of lies about history falsely attributed to an old dead guy by an authoritarian who assumes citing an authority will convince non-authoritarians to believe and follow without question, it also assumes without even thinking that a completely arbitrary facet of our present cultural values are an inherent human universal.

  2. says

    Well, colour me embarrassed. *Always read links first*. I managed to sit through Birth of A Nation once, and it was very difficult. I was unaware of the book it was based on.

  3. screechymonkey says

    anyone who promotes that bogus quote is ignorant of how science works, hasn’t read a lick of Darwin, and is spreading a lie

    And yet, has a 50% chance of having “skeptic” in their username.

  4. martin50 says

    According to Glenn Branch, “The strategy of portraying Darwin as a vicious racist certainly chimes with the authenticated comments from Huppenthal reported in The Arizona Republic, but I was unable to find any evidence that Huppenthal in fact posted such a comment, so I let it go.”

  5. Anton Mates says

    Since when are diamonds inherently valuable? They’re not.

    And it’s not like African cultures don’t have jewelry and ornaments. So are Europeans supposed to look down on them just because they value the wrong pretty shiny things? Diamonds are sophisticated but gold and ivory and cowrie shells are primitive, or something?

  6. says

    Since when are diamonds inherently valuable? They’re not. We, as westerners, value them because De Beers ran an ad campaign to say they’re valuable and most of us are easily brainwashed. They’re just lumps of carbon.

    De Beers is responsible for much of our continued willingness to value them, but it is not because they convinced us that lumps of carbon are valuable, we already thought that was the case. Diamonds were sought after due to their rarity, as they were only mined in a few locations and were scarce. De Beers’ role was to convince us that they were still rare, despite the discovery of huge new diamond sources, and to make us believe we needed to buy them more often, helping make us believe they were synonymous with romance, weddings, and ideally, keeping that relationship alive through regular applications of diamonds.

  7. says

    My trump/putin supporter brother said a lot of things in favor of cultural Darwinism. Even before he believed that evolution actually happened, he used “survival of the fittest” as some kind of justification for his anti-humanitarian views. T’was the same road trip on which he said he didn’t think women should be allowed to vote, and “what about the hurt feelings of abusers when their victims leave them?”.

  8. ikanreed says

    For all the effort that Christians have put into discrediting movement atheism, it will be the racist movement atheists who succeed in that goal.

    I never really saw atheism as a panacea against radical right-wing ideologies, but these past couple years have really made me question whether it helps at all against them.

  9. octopod says

    @Chengis Khan, I logged in to say the same thing, lol.

    FOUR THOUSAND YEARS, eh? Sounds like ol’ Chuck D. to me alright!

  10. busterggi says

    “anyone who promotes that bogus quote is ignorant of how science works, hasn’t read a lick of Darwin, and is spreading a lie.”

    So pretty much a true Christian?

  11. says

    Sounds like Republican Representative Steve King:

    On July 2016, on different races’ contributions to society: “This whole ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired, Charlie. I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”


  12. microraptor says

    What exactly is “cultural Marxism” supposed to be? I’ve never even heard that term before.

  13. Ed Seedhouse says

    “The bottom line: anyone who promotes that bogus quote is ignorant of how science works, hasn’t read a lick of Darwin, and is spreading a lie.”

    Or, for the republicans, business as usual.

  14. ikanreed says

    #15, oh boy. I’ve got some “fun” for you.

    How do you feel about 1930s Nazi conspiracy theories recycled into modern neo-nazi conspiracy theories?

    “Cultural bolshevism” was a term used by Nazis to describe ways in which Jews were supposedly manipulating art and music to make the country communist. This was loosely tied to the “Frankfurt School” which was a modestly communist group of academics at frankfurt university, some of whom were Jewish.

    Now, “cultural marxism” has expanded to include basically all of academia. So sociology, gender studies, whatever, it’s all things neonazis (and honestly regular non-nazi conservatives) believe are secretly communism.

  15. jrkrideau says

    Industrial diamonds are mostly used in cutting, grinding, drilling, and polishing procedures. Here, hardness and heat conductivity characteristics are the qualities being purchased. Size and other measures of quality relevant to gemstones are not important. Industrial diamonds are often crushed to produce micron-sized abrasive powders. Large amounts of diamonds that are of gemstone quality but too small to cut are sold into the industrial diamond trade.

    We are not just talking baubles.

  16. jrkrideau says

    Since it’s St Patrick’s Day I’ll try an Irishism.

    Darwin said a lot of things that he did not say. Just as there is no proof Gaius Julius Caesar said, “Alea jacta est “ or Voltaire made that remark about free speech and so on.

  17. militantagnostic says

    I would like to see this doofus try to tame one of those “docile” animals.such as a Cape Buffalo or an African Elephant. East Africans domesticated cattle long enough ago, to have evolved lactase persistence. The social structure of horses makes them much more amenable to domestication than zebras.

  18. kayden says

    Good on you for pushing back and finding the actual source for that racist screed. White Supremacy has nothing to do with religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs as evidenced by the fact that you can find White Supremacists amongst Christians and Atheists alike. And now that we have White Supremacists in charge of the country, I expect to see racists come out of the woodwork into the open. It’s going to get scary in this country for minorities.

  19. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Since when are diamonds inherently valuable?

    Since we developed a need to cut things that are much harder than steel.

  20. microraptor says


    Ah, yes, I’ve heard that conspiracy theory before, I just haven’t heard it called cultural Marxism.

  21. bobmunck says

    De Beers’ role was to convince us that [diamonds] were still rare

    More recently De Beers has taken on the role of keeping artificial diamonds out of the jewelry market. For example, they produce small machines that can detect that a given diamond is artificial; they’ve distributed the machines to jewelers and diamond dealers, and mounted a campaign with their help to convince the public that only natural diamonds are worth the prices they want to charge. Of course this ignores the inconvenient truth that you can’t tell the difference by looking at them. (I haven’t verified this, but it seems likely that the machine can tell the difference because the artificial diamonds are better — more regular, less flawed — than the natural ones.)

    De Beers and Trump are essentially running the same scam.

  22. microraptor says

    De Beers also has a clever marketing team that looks at whatever they’ve got the most surplus of and runs ads designed sell them- too many large diamonds= the size of the diamond shows how much you love her. Too many small stones= these elaborate pieces are what you need.

  23. thirdmill says

    Even if every specific claim in that bogus quote were true, it would be completely irrelevant because individual negroes (I’m using that word because it’s the word used in the bogus quote) would still be entitled to be treated as individuals. That quotation is the logical fallacy of composition — that because a group has certain traits, that therefore every individual within the group has those traits. And it’s pure nonsense.

    If a particular individual is smart, hard working, honest and a decent human being, that person is entitled to be treated with respect no matter what other group members may be like. Conversely, if a particular individual is stupid, lazy, dishonest and a vile human being, then there’s no need for discrimination based on group membership; his or her own personal failings are sufficient. So even if blacks as a group tend toward undesirable characteristics, so what? Who cares? How is that relevant to how individuals should be treated?

  24. unclefrogy says

    @28 said it best it makes little sense no matter how you look at it.

    I seem to remember from I think some documentary about diamonds that by some kind of agreement possibly with some force or coercion involved many of the huge new diamond mines are forbidden to sell any of their diamonds into the jewellery trade and are only allowed to sell into the industrial market so they just crush and grade them by size for abrasives. I do know that diamond abrasives are now readily available and cheep.
    oh the power of entrenched money!
    uncle frogy

  25. David Marjanović says

    I’ve seen “cultural Marxism” explained, by a believer, as the idea that many ideas which are the current consensus of Western society are actually Marxist in origin and therefore pernicious.

    The ideas in question seem to boil down to “don’t be an asshole”…