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Rhetorical Excess of the Day [II]

John G. West

The tasteless, over-the-top effort by some Darwinists (especially those at the ACLU) to castigate anyone who disagrees with them on evolution as Nazis or Holocaust deniers continues unabated. In a recent article in the Cleveland Jewish News, Jeffrey Selman, whom the ACLU represented in the Cobb County case, implies that if we allow students to hear about scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory we are one step away from putting Jews in the ovens:

When a federal judge in Georgia ruled last week that a local school board’s decision to put a small sticker on its science textbooks labeling evolution “a theory, not a fact” was unconstitutional, Jeffrey Selman said it was primarily an American issue.

Still, he said, he could not help but view it through the lens of his Jewishness.

“Look what happened in Germany,” said Selman…”The German Jews said, ‘We’re Germans. We’ll be fine.’ The next thing you know, they were opening the oven doors for us.”

The biting irony of this sort of rhetoric is that Selman is apparently oblivious to the significant role Darwinian theory played in providing a supposedly scientific justification for Nazi ideology. As historian Richard Weikart explains in his meticulously documented recent book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, Darwin’s theory was an important formative influence on the development of the ideology of National Socialism. Of course, this does not mean that evolutionary theory produced Hitler, or that Nazi ideology was somehow a necessary conclusion from Darwinian theory. Still less does it mean that current defenders of Darwin’s theory are responsible for the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis. But it is simply Orwellian for defenders of Darwin to try to suggest that criticism of Darwin’s theory can in any way be tied to the Holocaust—especially when critics of Darwin were some of the most vocal opponents of the sort of eugenics policies championed by the Nazis and leading American defenders of Darwin’s theory! It is also contemptible that the ACLU, which claims to believe in free speech, would use this tasteless tactic in an effort to shut down and censor legitimate scientific debate over the validity of Darwin’s theory.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

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