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Holocaust Denier Led the Charge Against Academic Freedom on Evolution in Alabama

For the last three years, defenders of academic freedom and free speech on evolution have supported Alabama’s Academic Freedom Bill. Although the bill has come close to final passage, it recently died again in the Alabama legislature.

An outspoken opponent of the bill has been activist Larry Darby. Mr. Darby’s vehement opposition to the Alabama Academic Freedom Bill was on full display at a House Education hearing back on April 29, 2004. According to reports I have received, committee chair, Rep. Yvonne Kennedy (D), did not allow citizens to testify for the bill. But for some reason she let Mr. Darby alone provide special commentary on it. Blasting the bill, Mr. Darby claimed that Alabama already had enough legislation filled with bible and race-based hatred. Yet Mr. Darby himself has recently gained attention for his own denial of the murderous events of the Holocaust.

Increased attention has been paid to Mr. Darby because of his campaign to become Attorney General of Alabama. Most of the spotlight has been on his outrageous views about the Holocaust. According to “Candidate: Holocaust didn’t happen” (by Jay Reeves [Associated Press], Montgomery Advertiser, May 13, 2006), Mr. Darby apparently claims that only 140,000 Jews died in the Holocaust, and that most of those deaths resulted from typhus. This is Holocaust denial in all its ugly un-glory. Previously, Mr. Darby had made national headlines for calling AL Governor Bob Riley’s prayer meetings “Christian terrorism.” But through it all, Mr. Darby’s die-hard commitment to philosophical materialism has made him one of the fiercest critics of Alabama’s Academic Freedom Act. “Science deals with materialism,” he reportedly said at that 2004 House Committee hearing.

Although the Alabama Academic Freedom Bill does not mandate or call for the teaching of the theory of intelligent design, Mr. Darby has been a staunch critic of ID all along. He has been a featured speaker and participant at events sponsored by the “Atheist Alliance” that included emphatic denunciations of ID. Most interesting is Mr. Darby’s appearance at the Alabama “Rally for Reason,” alongside Jeffrey Selman. The rally was sponsored by the Atheist Law Center, of which Mr. Darby is apparently past-president. Mr. Selman is the ACLU’s plaintiff in the textbook sticker case against Cobb County School District near Atlanta, GA. (See for details.)

Ironically (and unfortunately) Mr. Selman himself specifically insisted that allowing the Cobb County sticker disclaimer is analogous to the events that led to people being put into ovens in Nazi Germany (also discussed here). Unfortunately many leading Darwinists have also compared skepticism of evolution to Holocaust denial.

Mr. Selman’s comment was probably highly offensive to those Jews who supported the Cobb County sticker policy. In the article, one Jewish leader with the Anti-Defamation League mistakenly repeated the tired conspiracy theory that ID is simply an idea of the “Christian right,” while in the same article other Jewish rabbis praised ID, refuting the conspiracy theory. The ADL has strongly (and rightly) opposed inappropriate invocations of Holocaust imagery in political issues. Where was the ADL on Selman’s comments? Perhaps Mr. Selman’s outrageous slander against skeptics of evolution should have been saved for actual Holocaust deniers, such as the man he took the stage with in Alabama at the “Rally for Reason” to oppose ID.

Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



__editedLarry DarbySelman v. Cobb County