Ken Ham sees racist pigeons!

Ken Ham is outraged that the liberal media and woke scientists are inserting racism into ecology. He cites an article titled How L.A.’s bird population is shaped by historic redlining and racist loan practices. He thinks this is imposing racism on birds.

When you think of bird habitats, racism might not be the term that comes to mind! But recently the Los Angeles Times ran an article on how the bird population in LA is “shaped by historic redlining and racist loan practices.” Why?

Well, because more birds, and a greater diversity of birds, are found in areas with more trees and shrubbery. Those areas tend to be wealthier, both now and historically. Fewer birds are found in areas made of mainly concrete and buildings. And those areas tend to be more impoverished.

Birds preferring greener habitats are, of course, not surprising to anyone who knows even a little bit about birds. But those who look at the world only through the lens of so-called race will see racism everywhere—even observing “remarkably segregated” birds! Such ideas are permeating our culture.

Uh, yeah. Animal populations will be shaped by environmental factors. One of the environmental factors observable in cities is the effect of poverty and the availability of greenery. Something that has historically shaped the distribution of greenspace is racism. There is a pretty clear chain of cause and effect and correlation here.

I mean, Ham explained it clearly and succinctly. Does he not understand it? Does he think the scientists went off with an a priori assumption that racism did it, and then cherry picked observations to justify their conclusion? That’s how creationists do science, after all.

But don’t worry, he has a solution to all this racist thinking. The problem, as he sees it, is that people don’t hear enough of the Western canon of classical music.

An assertion that probably just gave you whiplash…but that’s what he wants to fix. Play Bach in the streets, and chase those racist birds away, I guess.

Yes, this kind of thinking can now be found everywhere—from bird studies like this to which classical music is selected for students to learn to play. I was recently speaking with a piano and voice teacher who has a passion for high-quality music education. He shared that progressivism has completely overwhelmed the fine arts, including music, to the point where the standard canon of Western classical music (think Bach, Beethoven, Handel, etc.) is being ignored in favor of only minority or underprivileged group music (so music isn’t selected based on merit or even historic value but on intersectionality).

I don’t believe him.

I do believe that music curricula might be including more diverse selections than the traditional repertoire, but come on, do you really think students never hear Für Elise or Eine Kleine Nachtmusik any more? That music instructors don’t care about the musical merit of a piece? Absurd.

But really, this was just a clumsy and feeble attempt to plug his friend’s “new” musical program that will teach music through the lens of a biblical worldview. I’m used to creationist non-sequiturs and bad reasoning, but this one extreme, even for Answers in Genesis.


  1. says

    Fewer birds are found in areas made of mainly concrete and buildings. And those areas tend to be more impoverished.
    Birds preferring greener habitats are, of course, not surprising to anyone who knows even a little bit about birds.

    So, then, what’s the confusion?
    Birds prefer greener habitats, poor areas have less greenery, and there’s a well-documented connection between racism, segregation, and poverty.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Usually, the lowest-hanging fruit in debunking religion is debunking claims made by islam. Christianity has made a tactical retreat, referring to scriptures as ‘allegories’ and therefore mostly proof against debunking. Then Ham comes along and makes it easy again- it is like having training wheels for skepticism.

  3. Bruce says

    I’m imagining Ken Ham grooving to the sound of a soloist singing and playing his harp in a bronze-age biblical way.

  4. kestrel says

    As a person who is currently taking music lessons, I can tell you his music teacher friend’s declaration is a blatant lie. I will say though, one of the things my instructor is trying to do is introduce me to a huge variety of music – maybe that’s what his teacher friend thinks is “progressive”? It would probably blow his mind to find out that a person can play Bach AND Joplin. On the same day!

  5. Rich Woods says

    Does he not understand it?

    It’s safe to say that Ham doesn’t understand anything. Except maybe tax breaks.

  6. larpar says

    Most of my knowledge about the standard canon of Western classical music comes from Saturday morning cartoons. Bring back Saturday morning cartoons!

    Is Ham saying that pigeons are evolving to fill an urban niche?

  7. wzrd1 says

    So, Jesus played Bach? No wonder they killed him, with such heretical music being played!
    Still, if that’s what Ham wants, someone hand me a violin and lock him in a room with me. Hopefully, sound shielded, out of concern for the local community.
    Me with a stringed instrument already becomes an abomination, me with a violin constitutes domestic violins, a crime in many jurisdictions.
    I would, however, require heavy industrial hearing protection be provided for myself, as I really do want to conserve what little remaining hearing that I have left.

    Apparently, Hamhead has forgotten that music is a wild field, encompassing the entirety of human history and that which is popular gets taught alongside more ancient forms.
    I imagine that, given enough room to run, he’d also like humeral theory of disease reintroduced as well?
    Maybe bring back bloodletting? That can be trivially accomplished by handing me a violin…
    Wait, I forgot, WMD’s aren’t permitted in civilian hands. ;)
    Never fear, I’m worse with woodwinds, I’m infamous for biting the reed. I’ll stick with keyboards.

    There is one modest flaw in this treatise though, pigeons tend to prefer the rocky concrete canyons of our cities, as those do mimic their preferred nesting grounds.
    And pigeons are decidedly not speciest or racist, they love being around people, as people are incessantly throwing food all over the place for the pigeons to enjoy.

  8. whheydt says

    Ham might be surprised to find out that my local classical music station includes playing Rag Time. He might also want to listen to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, a standard part of the classical canon.

  9. says

    One wonders if Rimsky-Korsakov’s best-known orchestral work would be included in Ham’s “canon of classical music,” since it celebrates (mostly pre-Islamic, and wouldn’t that be an interesting bit of explanation offered to sixth-graders!) Arabic/Persian legends in Scheherazade. Or, more to the point, whether Wagner’s bombastic adaptation of Teutonic pre-Christian mythology into a sixteen-hour-long (and even that’s compressed a bit!) set of four operas would be acceptable, even given the, umm, “biases” of the composer and the later use of his works by others.

    Or one could just remember that one of Mozart’s earliest operas (“lost” for a couple centuries) was set in a “Turkish harem,” and more to the point that very few of the classical composers lived anything resembling a “Christian lifestyle.” Which, frankly, was mostly to the good (certain prominent composers’ definitely non-Christian “family structures” with extra squickiness on the side notwithstanding; and then there’s always the Schumanns). Then there’s always the legend surrounding Paganini’s virtuosity to throw in ignorant Ken’s face, and the question of whether Brahms’s later variations on a theme are so tinged with demonicism that they can’t be canonical. (Which would be a real shame, as they are delightful for both the player and the listener.)

    Darling Ken has only exposed his ignorance of yet another field to those who have any real grounding in it. And my real grounding only scratches the surface, because I know enough to know how much I don’t know.

  10. woozy says

    Hmmm…. I rather found the original L.A. Times article to be a little inane. It’s gyst seems to be different economic regions have different ecologies and different ecologies have different birds populations (which are two no-brainers) and as economic regions are absolutely entwined in racist history (also a no-brainer) we get an easy but kind of shallow (albeit inarguable) essay full of colorful language of bird populations being “segregated”.

    But Ken Hamm dismisses in a single shrug “Those areas tend to be wealthier” as inevitable and not worth noticing. And I guess that’s the telling point about Hamm. If racism is everywhere, then to the likes of Hamm it is normal, and if it is normal, it’s wrong to point it out, and anyone who does must be deliberately looking at the world “through the lens of so-called race” and “seeing racism everywhere”. That racism [i]is[/i] everywhere can be dismissed.

  11. says

    Racist Birds? WTF, Ken Ham! Next he’ll be saying that Beethoven’s homage to Schiller’s Ode to Joy is Nazi Music. Hey, we have always loved the Motown sound. But, I’ve experienced how hard it is to buy a home and keep a beautiful parklike yard when you’re making minimum wage.
    Please enjoy an share our mp4: ‘An Ancient Galliard reinterpreted’

  12. rblackadar says

    @10 –
    I think you mean the variations by Rachmaninoff, not Brahms. Yes, a delight for the listener, but for the player (at least in this case) I only have imagination to go by, and my imagination says there is inevitable struggle and hard work mixed in with the delight.

  13. dstatton says

    And I always thought that right-wing Theocrats like Ham want to cut subjects like music appreciation from the curriculum. Keep Mozart, but get rid of Duke Ellington?

  14. numerobis says

    Right-wing theocrats in the European and North American tendency are generally all in for Wagnerian operas.

  15. wzrd1 says

    rblackadar @ 13, in my experience, the harder that a piece is to play properly, the more I enjoyed finally getting it right.

    numerobis @ 15, Wagerian operas and Wagerian warfare…

  16. unclefrogy says

    the first thing I thought of was “A Clockwork Orange” regarding the classical music recommendations
    what a bozo

  17. StevoR says

    @10. Jaws : “Darling Ken has only exposed his ignorance of yet another field to those who have any real grounding in it. And my real grounding only scratches the surface, because I know enough to know how much I don’t know.”

    Same here – and then there’s what I think I know that ain’t so frex for most of my life I thought Suo Gan :

    was “San Guo” and that it was Chinese rather than Welsh! In fairness, I first heard it in the Empire of the Sun movie scenes where it gets played at start and near the end powerfully here.

  18. says

    Although… Birds are racist. That is to say, birds mostly exist in social groups that are regionally distinct from other groups. Even migrations rarely cause extra-group copulations. We see this in various color morphs and in the songs and calls, all primarily driven by and resulting in invisible borders. Take a rock pigeon from Paris and drop it in NY, there’s a better than random chance it’ll die without having mated. Why? Because birds are racist.

    This is really important to grasp. Humans aren’t special. Our racism is an outgrowth and ugly phenotype of a deep evolutionary history. It’s not good, it’s not helpful (in modern humans, I can’t speak to millions of years ago), and we are perfectly capable of growing beyond it. But to think xenophobia, racism, and bigotry are invented whole cloth just for the lols? That’s dangerous ignorance. If we want to beat racism, we have to be more honest about the nature of sociobiology.

  19. says

    @15 numerobis said: Right-wing theocrats in the European and North American tendency are generally all in for Wagnerian operas.

    I reply: I don’t dispute that. But, those Xtian Theocratic Terrorists liking Wagnerian operas about ancient mythical characters and stories shows they are as ignorant as tRUMP playing Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ at his rallies. In many ways: They just don’t get it!

  20. says

    He shared that … Western classical music … is being ignored in favor of only minority or underprivileged group music…

    Yeah, because Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift are only popular with tiny minorities…?

  21. StevoR says

    @20. Donovan : Really? Do have any citations for that please?* I wonder how they tell – the birds themselves and people studying them alike? Plus whether, assuming this is true of species beyond the avian, it explains why some species are so fussy about breeding in captivity, e.g. Pandas?

    I know that its also true that some species are famously unfussy about who they copulate with frex cane toads (Rhinella marina*) being notorious necrophiliacs and studies found ** turkeys have , well, extremely minimal arousal requirements too. See :

    My google search did NOT come up with anything much mostly some Banksy mural being viewed a s racist and other human related stuff. See :

    .** Ex- Bufo marina – see :

  22. StevoR says

    Huh. That annoying vanishing footnote asterisk bug here.. Oh well, guess folks will figure it out.. Sigh.

  23. Silentbob says

    @ StevoR

    For future, you have to put in an escape character, which is the backslash, or WordPress will think the asterisk is markup.

    So you type:
    to get:

  24. Silentbob says

    The backslash says to WordPress, don’t treat the next character as markup, treat it as a literal character.

  25. Silentbob says

    The reason is stuff between asterisks is italicized.
    If you type:
    you get:

  26. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 1
    If the racist pigeons are chasing you -like the nazis in Blues Brothers- they also are racing pigeons, in a sense.

  27. StevoR says

    @26. – 29 Silentbob & #30 John Morales : Okay. Thanks.

    I use a full stop generally to make the footnote asterisk appear and work so I guess that counts as an ëscape character” (not sure what that means beyond Steve McQueen in that great motorbike jumping a fence movie ;-) ) too?

    I do know that the -word_ thingy gets you italics in youtube comments so I ‘spose that’s the same system?

    Whatever the case, I find it annoying that we need to do that here..

  28. StevoR says

    Computer coding is seriously NOT my forte as y’all might’ve guessed. I absolutely suck at typing. Swear the computer changes letters around on me and my hands are pretty stuffed. Mind could be better too. Always tend to see what I think I’ve typed rather than what’s actually there.. Oh well, gotta make the best of what I have and am.

    Anyhiow, I do wish it was the other way around & the whatsamajigatty computer thingy just assumed an asterisk was intended to be just an asterisk unless otherwise somehow specified tho’..

  29. wzrd1 says

    StevoR, escape sequences began long before the web. As a primary example, during the Ice Age, back when modems were in common usage, everything was done by terminal commands, both to work say a BBS, shell session to a Unix server or mainframe, /plus/ command the modem.
    Well, ATH0 is hang up, ATH1 is to go offhook. Now, without an escape sequence, any time the modem would receive ATH (0 being implied by no value), it’d hang up and end one’s session. So, the escape sequence became standardized (as with the AT commands in general) by Hayes, one of the leading modem manufacturers at the time, to be +++. Hence, to hang up summarily (and typically, quite rudely, rather than ending one’s session by exiting a system, then disconnecting, was to enter +++ATH and it’d happily hang up.
    And I’m fairly certain we can dig deep into Usenet archives and see a fair number of entries with a butchered ATH command getting sent accidentally.

    BTW, anyone remember Telix terminal software? Used to script the living hell out of it, back when scripts were done with chisels on slate.
    Yeah, really giving away my age here, huh?

  30. Louis says

    @John Morales #1,

    Racist pigeons? Racing pigeons? Same thing. 100 metres, 200 metres, those racist pigeons will race any race.

    I may have missed the point.


  31. says

    @34 wzrd1 talked about terminal or command line work.
    I reply: Thanks for the good info. Yes, I remember using a 300baud ‘miniterm’ and also a hayes external modem on a serial port. But, you are just pointing out the tip of the computer language tower of babel iceberg. Markdown, escape sequences, batch file commands, html (hypertext markup language), xml, java, javascript, basic, cobol, python, ad infinitum. I write javascript and html in a text editor. Yet, It is so foolish and inefficient to have to know and deal with this mountain of crap.

  32. wzrd1 says

    shermanj @ 38, did cobol, fortran and basic long ago, did basic, batch files to pretty much do anything dos, similar with *nix scripts, html via text editor for ugly, ugly pages, a tad of python, never did java anything yet. Probably back burner that until I get fluent with powerhell scripting.
    Started learning C, but then came all of the variants beyond counting. :/
    I can get a gist of what’s going on viewing assembly, just don’t ask me to try to code in it if you don’t want your boxen locked up tight. ;)
    Started toying with Linux back before Red Hat was a thing, starting with an ancient version of Slackware. Ran various *BSD systems, just to keep myself confused (OK, NSA owned one sensor I had to maintain) and don’t get me started on the oddities in Solaris.
    But, Windows does give one thing – job security, as it incessantly breaks.

  33. wzrd1 says

    John Morales @ 35, I personally know Eric, been over his house a number of times. Around y2k, he had gold stockpiled and umbrella stands with shotguns in them.
    He knows his hacks, but I was his network guy. ;)