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See Human Zoos in Las Vegas at FreedomFest!

David Klinghoffer

Human Zoos

Human Zoos is the provocative and eye-opening documentary from Discovery Institute and CSC Associate Director John West. It’s not out yet, but it has been featured in selective premiere events internationally. It’s also raking in awards and recognition.

Next up: the libertarian-themed FreedomFest, July 12 at the Paris Resort in Las Vegas. FreedomFest is a three-day celebration of “great books, great ideas, and great thinkers.” The documentary will screen as part of the Anthem Film Festival, and Dr. West will be on hand both for the premiere at 2:50 pm, and for a panel discussion immediately following in company with Discovery Institute co-founder George Gilder and historian Richard Weikart on “The Danger of Totalitarian Science,” at 4:10.

From the Human Zoos website:

In September 1906, nearly a quarter of a million people flocked to the Bronx Zoo in New York City. Many came for a startling new exhibit in the Zoo’s Monkey House. But it wasn’t a monkey they came to see. It was a man. His name was Ota Benga. A pygmy from the African Congo, Ota Benga was exhibited in a cage along with monkeys.

Benga was not alone. He was one of literally thousands of indigenous peoples who were put on public display throughout America in the early twentieth century. Often touted as “missing links” between man and apes and as examples of the “lower” stages of human evolution, these native peoples were harassed, demeaned, and jeered at. Their public display was arranged with the enthusiastic support of the most elite members of the scientific community, and it was promoted uncritically by America’s leading newspapers.

Human Zoos tells the horrifying story of this effort to dehumanize entire classes of people in the name of science. It will also tell the story of the courageous African-American ministers in New York City who tried to stop what was going on. Finally, the documentary will expose how some organizations are still trying to cover up their involvement in what happened and re-write the past.

The documentary features interviews with a number of experts, including Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Pamela Newkirk, author of Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga.

FreedomFest is a really interesting venue for this, with speakers including George Will, Steve Forbes, Rich Lowry, Alan Deshowitz, Ross Douthat, Stephen Moore, John Fund, Michael Shermer, and more. 

It’s not, how shall I say this, an audience guaranteed to be automatically sympathetic to a critique of Darwinism and its social impact, even one as thoroughly researched and accurately told as Human Zoos. Very few of these folks will be aware already of the history of Ota Benga and his display and imprisonment, or the legacy of a “consensus science” deeply infected by racism, bridging the 20th century and connecting Darwin to latter-day pseudoscience promoters on the Alt Right.

What will the response be? Well, join us and find out! You can register for the conference here. 

Photo: Paris Resort, Las Vegas, by suyashdixit, via Pixabay.