Sunday, May 01, 2005


Richard Weikart: Malicious Insinuations

The latest in a series of exchanges between Red State Rabble and Dr. Richard Weikart, a History professor at California State University, Stanislaus and author of From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany. To read the earlier exchanges look for the link in the sidebar under "Posts of Note."

Dr. Weikart writes:

Yesterday I stumbled across your report on my Seattle lecture on your blogsite. It’s ironic that when I try to demonstrate with considerable historical evidence that Hitler was a Darwinist, shouts of protest ensue on your blogsite. But when someone posts a malicious insinuation that I am a follower of Stalin advocating the murder of judges, not one peep of protest, not a single voice pointing out that this is “quote mining” or making “selective quotations.”

On the other hand, I appreciated James Williams’ thoughtful critique of my lecture. I respectfully disagree with many things he said, and I think he misrepresented both me and the Discovery Institute in some places.

However, I’m not inclined to carry on a conversation about my disagreements on a blogsite with so little regard for the truth that it permits slanderous accusations to stand unchallenged.

Red State Rabble replies:

Dr. Weikart, it seems to me that you are exceedingly thin-skinned for a man who is making a career of linking Charles Darwin, evolution, and science with Adolf Hitler, the dictator who sent 6 million Jews to the ovens. When you play with matches, you should not be overly surprised when things catch fire.

Red State Rabble is sometimes sharp-tongued, but we try to be scrupulously fair. Rest assured we would never let anyone make the "malicious insinuation that you are a follower of Stalin advocating the murder of judges" to go unchallenged.

It is the policy of Red State Rabble to allow comments on our posts -- even comments that we do not agree with. When we disagree, we post a reply. For example, while we don't agree with you about the factors leading to the rise of Hitler and the Nazi's, we have nevertheless published your comments in full and without revision on three -- now four -- separate occasions.

Fortunately, you have read the comment in question incorrectly. "Steve J." a reader who posted the comment that you object to, was quoting comments made by Edward Vieira, not you, about Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Vieira made his comments at the "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" meeting held following the court's decision in the Terry Schiavo case in Washington earlier this month. (Here is the link to the Washington Post article by Dana Milbank that reports on Vieira's intemperate comments.)

"Steve J.'s" comment is one of a series on that post. It refers in part to a previous comment, and in part to Williams observation of you "consoling a woman who was worried that the American political climate might once again swing toward eugenics and Social Darwinism. 'What could happen that would prevent that?' she asked. Weikart replied that a 'resurgence of Christianity' would certainly help."

It is Red State Rabble's sense that "Steve J." is not saying that you hold "Stalinist" views, but that he doubts your statement that a "resurgence of Christianity" would help in light of the views held by Vieira and shared by so many others who think of themselves as born again Christians.

If "Steve J." intended to say you are a Stalinist, Red State Rabble believes he is incorrect. However, if we are wrong, you might reflect on the similarity of method between his linking of your ideas to Stalin, and your own statements that Darwin, evolution, and science are key factors in the rise of Nazi ideology.

For the record, Red State Rabble does not think you are a Stalinist, Dr. Weikart, quite the opposite.

By the way, we hope you didn't miss our post on the speech delivered by Robert Richards, the Morris Fishbein Professor in the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Chicago, in this year’s Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture.

Dr. Richards was kind enough to share his speech, "The Narrative Structure of Moral Judgments in History," with Red State Rabble in which he says the following about your views:

"Weikart offers his book as a disinterested historical analysis. In that objective fashion that bespeaks the scientific historian, he declares ‘I will leave it the reader to decide how straight or twisted the path is from Darwinism to Hitler after reading my account.’

"Well, after reading his account, there can be little doubt not only of the direct causal path from Charles Darwin through Ernst Haeckel to Adolf Hitler but of Darwin’s and
Haeckel’s complicity in the atrocities committed by Hitler and his party. They bear historical responsibility.

"It is disingenuous, I believe, for the author to pretend that most readers might come to their own conclusions despite the moral grammar of this history."

Richards concludes his speech by saying, "It can only be a tendentious and dogmatically driven assessment that would condemn Darwin for the crimes of the Nazis."


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