Culture war over "Darwin and Hitler" is in full swing
A news article in the website of the Anti-Defamation League reported,
ADL Blasts Christian Supremacist TV Special & Book Blaming Darwin For Hitler
New York, NY, August 22, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today blasted a television documentary produced by Christian broadcaster Dr. D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries that attempts to link Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to Adolf Hitler and the atrocities of the Holocaust. ADL also denounced Coral Ridge Ministries for misleading Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute for the NIH, and wrongfully using him as part of its twisted documentary, "Darwin's Deadly Legacy."
Here is a hodge-podge of my own thoughts:
Why is the ADL concerned only about Collins? There are probably other people appearing in the show who do not want to be in it, either.
A BIG question -- what could Collins have possibly said that could be interpreted as supporting the theme of this TV program? I am really curious. Honest.
I think that under the "fair use" doctrine, Collins and others might not have any legal recourse if Coral Ridge Ministries insists on including them in the program against their will. According to Wikipedia, one of the questions for determining whether quoted material is covered by fair use laws is: "the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes." For example, I don't think that a quotation of Collins could legally be used to endorse a product without his permission.
Are the TV show's interpretations of history wrong just because they happen to support the agenda of those who produced the show?
To me, the most important question is whether the historical facts presented in the show are accurate. Which historical facts are selected and how they are interpreted are different matters.
Even if Darwinism is true, that is no reason to avoid examining Darwinism's social consequences. We know that there has been something called "Social Darwinism," and it is fair to examine the influence it might have had on Nazism, letting the chips fall where they may. The study of history benefits from the presentation of different viewpoints, even if some of those viewpoints are biased.
While condemning linkage of Social Darwinism to the holocaust, the hypocritical ADL has no qualms about linking Christianity to the holocaust. A speech published on the ADL website says of the holocaust, "The motivation was ideological. The racist-antisemitic ideology was the rational outcome of an irrational approach, an approach that was a cancer-like mutation of the Christian antisemitic ideology that had sullied Christian-Jewish relations all through their two millennia of coexistence." (from a speech that Yehuda Bauer gave to the German House of Representatives in 1998).
There is no question in my mind that Social Darwinism or something similar influenced the Nazis, but I feel that this TV show exaggerates that influence. And I don't feel that this influence counts against Darwinism -- Darwinism should be evaluated just on its own scientific merits.
ADL's Foxman does not explain how the show insults the Nazis' victims. All he said was, "Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people." But the ADL was silent when a book titled "IBM and the Holocaust" claimed that Hitler needed IBM's help to carry out this plan.
The ADL's Foxman has apparently not even seen the TV program but has already passed judgment on it. His opposition to the program is just "political correctness."
To the ADL, anything that in its opinion "trivializes" the holocaust is verboten. The ADL does not own a copyright on historical interpretation of the holocaust. The ADL has its own ax to grind and should not be taken seriously.
Would the ADL have objected to this TV program if the ADL did not support Darwinism? The ADL supports Darwinism mainly because the ADL views teaching or even mention of criticisms of Darwinism in public schools as a violation of the separation of church and state. The ADL strongly supports the Darwinist Kitzmiller v. Dover decision and Jewish groups have in various court cases filed amicus briefs opposing the teaching or even mention of criticism of Darwinism in the public schools.
I don't think that Social Darwinism directly caused the holocaust, but I do think that Social Darwinism helped inspire the Nazi programs for eliminating mentally and physically impaired people, homosexuals, etc.. So I think it can be argued that social Darwinism helped create a "slippery slope" of believing that it was morally OK to exterminate undesirables and that this slippery slope was a contributing cause of the holocaust.
This attempt to link Darwin and Hitler is not new. Wikipedia says,
. . . . .some pre-twentieth century doctrines subsequently described as Social Darwinism appear to anticipate eugenics and the race doctrines of Nazism. Critics, particularly proponents of creationism, have frequently tried to link evolution, Charles Darwin and Social Darwinism in the public mind with racialism, imperialism and eugenics, making the accusation that Social Darwinism became one of the pillars of Fascism and Nazi ideology . . . .
What about the Darwin Day Celebration's efforts to link Darwin and Lincoln? Isn't that propaganda too? There is infinitely less connection between Darwin and Lincoln than there is between Darwin and Hitler -- the only thing that Darwin and Lincoln really share in common is the same official birthdate. I'll bet that Darwinists are thanking their lucky stars that Darwin and Hitler do not have the same birthday.
For more information and thoughts, I recommend that readers see Panda's Thumb, Uncommon Descent, and Dispatches from the Culture Wars, which are listed in the URL link list in the left sidebar of the home (main) and archive pages (but not the individual-post pages). An Uncommon Descent article on the subject is here.