By Ryan S. Walters
Today marks the 208th birthday for two of history’s most influential people: Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. This is a piece I wrote eight years ago:
This week’s edition of Newsweek has a thought-provoking article on Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Author Malcolm Jones points out an interesting historical fact, that both men were born on the same day, February 12, 1809, and both had an extraordinary impact on history. This celebratory article is likely to be the opening of the literary floodgates, as we get closer to the 200th anniversary of their birth.
Newsweek ponders this question: Which of the two mattered the most?
To Jones it’s Lincoln, though Darwin is given his due. I contend, however, that while both are highly relevant, both were also failures, giving us major headaches that we should rightfully be seeking to correct.
Both men had remarkably similar life experiences, according to Jones. “Both lost their mothers in early childhood. Both suffered from depression and both wrestled with religious doubt. Each had a strained relationship with his father, and each of them lost children to early death. Both spent the better part of their 20s trying to settle on a career, and neither man gave much evidence of his future greatness until well into middle age: Darwin published ‘The Origin of Species’ when he was 50, and Lincoln won the presidency a year later. Both men were private and guarded.”
These are very interesting facts but Jones failed to point out two additional similarities, namely that Lincoln and Darwin were both racists, especially by today’s standards, and their legacies have also been quite destructive.
Let’s start with Abraham Lincoln, thought by many to be the greatest President in American history, but only when his story is carefully spun.
So much of what is taught about Lincoln in schools across the nation, from grade school to the doctoral level, is pure myth and outright lies. He is hailed as the “Great Emancipator” and “Father Abraham,” a “great friend of the Negro.” But this is nowhere near the truth.
During the fourth debate with Stephen Douglas at Charleston, Illinois on September 18, 1858 Lincoln gave his personal opinion about blacks:
“I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which will ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior. I am as much as any other man in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
These thoughts were very well known at the time. So much so that William Lloyd Garrison, the famous abolitionist, did not support Lincoln and called him the “slave hound from Illinois” who has “not a drop of anti-slavery blood in his veins.”
In fact, slavery was not on Lincoln’s mind when he decided to prevent the Southern States from determining their own future, as the American colonies had done in 1776. In a letter to Horace Greeley, on August 22, 1862, Lincoln set forth his rationale behind the war: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”
And it must be noted that Lincoln wrote this letter at a time when he had already decided to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed not a single slave. It was nothing more than an executive order that only freed slaves in territory that the Confederacy controlled, areas that Lincoln had no control over. So, simply put, he had no power to free anyone. The four slaves states remaining in the Union were not covered under this proclamation, nor were areas of the Confederacy that the Union army occupied.
And what of those slaves who were free, before or during the war? For all of his life Lincoln favored the colonization of freed blacks in the West Indies, Central America, and Africa. As President he supported a plan to pay masters to free their slaves then send them out of the United States. Its obvious, given his statement in the debate with Douglas, that Lincoln did not want blacks in North America.
In addition to being a racist, let’s also point out that Lincoln destroyed the fundamental concept of the Constitution, that of a voluntary association of free states with a federal government of limited powers. When the war ended, America had ceased to be a federal republic and began the journey toward a national centralized state. A great pillar of Western Civilization, a republican government, was not defended, as he claimed in the Gettysburg Address, but assaulted with the intent to destroy.
And for those who condemn George W. Bush for trampling American civil liberties should take a look at Lincoln, who imprisoned more than 14,000 citizens without trial or charges, seized telegraph offices, waged war without congressional approval, and committed war crimes against Southern civilians.
Not quite the legacy of a man who is deserving of a massive monument in the nation’s capital.
Now let’s turn to Charles Darwin, whose theories led to an on-going assault on another pillar of Western Civilizations – Christianity.
Darwin was a naturalist, a scientist of sorts. After his famed voyage on the Beagle, he stewed over his ideas of evolution and natural selection for nearly two decades, mainly because he feared they would be viciously attacked. When it was discovered that other scientists were working on similar theories, and were about to publish them, Darwin rushed his thesis to print in 1859.
Now most everyone knows a little something about Darwin’s thesis, that species evolve, or change, over time and through the process of natural selection weaker species, or weaker members of a given species, will eventually die out. It is also known by the phrase “survival of the fittest,” a term Darwin did not use. But that accurately describes the process Darwin crafted.
It has been said by many of his defenders, mostly in the academic fields, that Darwin did not have humans in mind when he wrote Origin of the Species. And, upon reading the text, he does not mention mankind. He feared the inclusion of humans might lead to further hostility.
But it is clear that humans were implied. Consider the full title of Darwin’s most famous work: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Who could be a “favoured race”?
Darwin’s career was not done, however. A few years later he published a second book, one which college professors rarely mention. The second book brings humans into the equation of natural selection. In The Descent of Man, published in 1871, Darwin wrote, “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races….”
In our day scientists are fired and blackballed for saying much less!
In The Descent of Man Darwin also ranks the different races of humans, placing them at the top of the evolutionary chain but ranking Caucasians at the top. At the very bottom we find “the negro and the Australian [Aborigines]” ranked just above the ape.
According to Benjamin Wiker, author of 10 Books That Screwed Up The World, And Five Others That Didn‘t Help, “Having read The Descent of Man, we can no longer claim that Darwin didn’t intend the biological theory of evolution outlined in the Origin of Species to be applied to human beings.”
Darwin’s theories have had disastrous consequences. It led to the present assault on Christianity, steadily expanding over these last 150 years. Darwin’s theories gave the atheist intellectual ammunition to show that God did not create the universe or mankind. Scientists now can claim that man was “not planned” and a “mere accident,” to quote a few.
It has also led to the advent of Nazism and the Holocaust. Academic professors in our government university system will always argue, unsurprisingly, that Hitler took Darwinism and perverted it into what they term “Social Darwinism.” But this is simply not the case. A large portion of Nazi philosophy is draw directly from Charles Darwin.
Richard Weikart, a professor of history at California State University at Stanislaus, in his book From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, writes that Darwinism gave Hitler and the Nazis the “necessary scientific underpinnings to convince themselves and their collaborators that one of the world’s greatest atrocities was really morally praiseworthy.”
So ask yourself who mattered most, Lincoln or Darwin? Both were racists and both led assaults against important pillars of Western Civilization. In my book, both are equally destructive and equally worthy of our condemnation, not our praise.