"A New Scopes Trial Atmosphere?--In David Brooks' latest editorial in the New York Times, he rightly dismisses the conventional wisdom about the election, noting that evangelical turnout this time was about the same percentage of the vote as last time (tip Instapundit). He also notes:Please read the whole thing
It's ridiculous to say, as some liberals have this week, that we are perpetually refighting the Scopes trial, with the metro forces of enlightenment and reason arrayed against the retro forces of dogma and reaction.
This jumped out at me, both because of my recent posts on William Jennings Bryan and because most people understand very little about what was really going on at the Scopes trial. The book that Scopes was teaching was a popular biology book of the day--George Hunter's Civic Biology (1914). Bryan was not just disturbed by the teaching of evolution but more broadly by the whole social Darwinist agenda, including both capitalism and genetic superiority. Civic Biology was a vicious social Darwinist tract. Here are some excerpts from the book, courtesy of Eugenics Watch:
Hunter's Civic Biology, p. 195-196
The Races of Man. — At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; The American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.
Hunter's Civic Biology, p. 261-265
Improvement of Man. — If the stock of domesticated animals can be improved, it is not unfair to ask if the health and vigor of the future generations of men and women on the earth might not be improved by applying to them the laws of selection. This improvement of the future race has a number of factors in which we as individuals may play a part. These are personal hygiene, selection of healthy mates, and the betterment of the environment.
Eugenics. — When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand. The most important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, syphilis, that dread disease which cripples and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent children, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The science of being well born is called eugenics."
Sunday, November 14, 2004
The Volokh Conspiracy - overturns my entire perception of the Scopes Monkey Trial by reminding us of the primary sources, not just what we have been told happened.