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Cambridge UP Book Airbrushes Darwin’s Contribution to Scientific Racism

Photo: Entrance to Auschwitz II-Birkenau death camp, by Nelson Pérez [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

On a new episode of ID the Future historian Richard Weikart (Cal State Stanislaus) dissects a recent Cambridge University Press book on Social Darwinism by Jeffrey O’Connell and Michael Ruse. Weikart, author of Hitler’s EthicFrom Darwin to HitlerHitler’s Religion, and The Death of Humanity, says a major shortcoming of the book is the authors’ attempt to put as much distance as possible between Darwin and eugenics thinking, and between Darwin and Hitler. The new book paints Darwin follower Herbert Spencer as the eugenics-championing bad guy and contends that Darwin and Darwinism had little or no influence on Hitler’s warped master-race ethic. Weikart patiently highlights some key evidence to the contrary, including statements front and center in Hitler’s writing. Did Darwin cause Hitler? No. Would Darwin have approved of Hitler? Almost certainly not. But according to Weikart, Darwin’s own racist and pro-eugenics thinking, combined with some implications of his theory that he himself explicitly expressed, manifestly did lay the groundwork for Hitler’s diabolical outlook on war, “the master race,” “the struggle for life,” and eugenics. Download the podcast or listen to it here.