[Note: For a more comprehensive defense of Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, please see: NCSE Exposed at NCSEExposed.org]
It has become the main angle of attack against Expelled to express outrage at the film’s linking of Darwinism with Hitlerism. We need to look today at what Hitler himself wrote in Mein Kampf.
Thus, London’s Guardian newspaper publishes a hit piece on Expelled by Adam Rutherford of Nature magazine. He hasn’t seen the movie but believes gentlemen like P.Z. Myers who “indicate that Expelled suggests the Holocaust was a direct result of Darwinian thought.” That’s not what the film suggests, but never mind. Rutherford dismisses the “absurdity” of the “reductio ad Hitlerum” as “specious and simplistic.”
What Expelled has to say about the Darwin-Hitler connection is more along the lines of something a far more distinguished writer had to say in the very same newspaper just a month ago.
John Gray, political philosopher at the London School of Economics, wrote an essay in the Guardian. In passing, he noted how,
Always a tremendous booster of science, Hitler was much impressed by vulgarized Darwinism and by theories of eugenics that had developed from Enlightenment philosophies of materialism.
Which is entirely correct.
The key chapter in Mein Kampf is Chapter XI, “Nation and Race,” where Hitler discusses the imperative to defend the Aryan race from the Jewish menace.
His argument is couched from the start in transparently Darwinian terms. He writes:
In the struggle for daily bread all those who are weak and sickly or less determined succumb, while the struggle of the males for the female grants the right of opportunity to propagate only to the healthiest. And struggle is always a mean for improving a species’ health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of higher development.
He praises “the iron logic of Nature” with its “right to victory of the best and stronger in this world.”
But what if the strong (Aryans) choose not to dominate and exterminate the weak (Jews)? This would be against Nature, whose “whole work of higher breeding, over perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, might be ruined with one blow.” And so on and on.
As Discovery Institute fellow Dr. Richard Weikart explains in his outstanding book From Darwin to Hitler, Hitler absorbed his twisted Darwinian worldview from the poisonous popular Viennese press, which was full of the stuff. He calculated that an appeal to the Germans to make war on the Jews would be most likely to succeed if framed in scientific-sounding terms.
Hitler could have couched his argument here any way he wanted. He chose the language of Darwinism. Mein Kampf was hugely popular and influential, selling six million copies by 1940.
In The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945, Lucy Dawidowicz seeks to explain what motivated the German people either to do their evil work in the racial struggle or to stand by and passively accept the results of the racial war. Her answer: “They were mesmerized by [Hitler’s] voice, and they responded to his message.”
Critically important to that message was the science-flavored myth embodied in the work of Charles Darwin, whose own writings in this vein we’ll look on Thursday. Darwin, I emphasize, was no anti-Semite. On Friday, however, I’ll explain the deeper Darwinian logic of Hitler’s obsession with the Jews in particular.