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Author Topic: Rogues Gallery I  (Read 7523 times)
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« on: August 02, 2003, 02:10:58 PM »

Rogue's Gallery: The 'Science' of Racism

  Presented here are the theories and findings of the 'greatest' minds of 18th and 19th century Europe. It is important to remember that the assortment of naturalists, anatomists, paleontologists, physicians, anthropologists, and philosophers displayed here were far from being considered crackpots, and most are universally acknowledged even to this day as the pioneers of modern European and American scientific and philosophical thought.

With the onslaught of Europe's colonial conquests of America, Africa, and Asia, issues of morality naturally arose along with the staggering death tolls: It is estimated that 90-95 percent of the indigenous population of America was wiped out. Europeans were, after all, Christians first and foremost, and well into the Renaissance, the Roman Catholic Church was the ultimate spiritual and earthly power in Europe.

In the days of the Portuguese slave trade and the Spanish conquest of America, religious arguments were strenuously made to justify invasion, occupation, slavery, and slaughter.

Hearkening back to the Crusades, in 1554 Juan Gines de Sepulveda, physician, priest, and chaplain to Charles V of Spain, gives theological reasons for the 'just war' being fought against the 'Indians' in America. They are, he says, slaves by nature according to God's will. And the Bible is full of stories of what happens to unbelievers and idolators. The difference between Spaniards and Indians is the same as between male and female, or between male and monkey. Dominion is legitimate, and those who resist will be hunted down as the king hunts foxes.

With the advent of science as the great challenger to the hold of Christianity on Europe (and ironically this 'scientific revolution' was precipitated by the vast influence of the 'Moors', Arabic and African--the very ones this later science would relegate to the bottom of the evolutionary ladder), naturally a scientific justification for colonialism would be sought, as the Spanish conquerors gave way to the British, French, Belgians, Germans, and Americans. It was vastly important to the European self-image that they regard themselves as the ultimate moral force, bringing light to the savage darkness of the rest of the world.

They found that justification in the infant science of evolutionary biology, or rather they fashioned an evolutionary biology to assuage the conscience.

There is a single assumption that runs through all of 18th and 19th century science, a single mistaken assumption that accounts for all the measuring of skulls, the sketches that relegate Africans to the status of apes, the theories that would be laughable today if their results had not been so tragic, and did not still deeply affect scholarly thought, especially historiography, today.

It is the idea that there is more than one species of human.

With that idea firmly implanted, all else that follows makes its own ridiculous sort of sense.

            ROGUES GALLERY

William Petty, physician. Europe's first 'econometrician'.

The Scale of Creatures


  "There seem to be several species even of human beings...I say that the Europeans do not only differ from the aforementioned Africans in color...but natural manners and in the internal qualities of their minds." (in Lindquist, 100)

David Hume English philosopher of the Enlightenment

ca. 1776

  "I am apt to suspect the negroes and in general all the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences...Such a uniform and constant difference could not happen in so may countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction betwixt these breeds of men. Not to mention our colonies, there are Negroe slaves dispersed all over Europe, of which none ever discovered any symptoms of ingenuity, tho low people without education will start up amongst us, and distinguish themselves in every profession. In Jamaica indeed they talk of one Negroe as a man of parts and learning; but 'tis likely he is admired for very slender accomplishments like a parrot who speaks a few words plainly..." (Gould,41)

Charles White, English surgeon

An Account of the Regular Graduation in Man (1799) "The first extensively motivated and illustrated hierarchy of race" (Lindquist 100)

"Where shall we find unless in the European...that nobly arched head, containing such a quantity of brain...? Where that perpendicular face, the prominent nose and round, projecting chin?...Where the variety of features, and fulness of expression; those long, flowing , graceful ringlets; that majestic beard, those rosy cheeks and coral lips? Where that...noble gait? In what other quarter of the globe shall we find the blush that overspreads the soft features of the beautiful women of Europe, that emblem of modesty, of delicate feelings...where, except on the bosom of European woman, two such plump and snowy white hemispheres, tipt in vermillion?." (in Gould, 42, in Lindquist 100)

Georges Cuvier , hailed in France as 'the Aristotle of his age', founder of geology, paleontology, and modern anatomy,who shocked the European world with his observations of the massive and rapid die-outs of entire species. His ideas were used to create hierarchies of race, and to 'prove' that the 'black race' was on its way out. He divided human beings into three races: Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid.

From the 16-volume The Animal Kingdom (1827-35)

With their protruding jaws and thick lips, "...The hordes belonging to this variant of human being ['the negroid race'] have always remained in a state of total barbarism." (in Lindquist, 99)

[Africans are] the most degraded of human races, whose form approaches that of the beast and whose intelligenceis nowhere great enough to arrive at regular government." (in Gould, 36)

Sir Charles Lyell- naturalist, conventionally accepted founder of modern geology, Charles Darwin's teacher.

Principles of Geology-the cause of extinction is species' inability to adapt to changes in environment


"We human beings, Lyell says...have no reason to feel guilty because our progress exterminates animals and plants. In our defense, we can say that when we conquer the earth and defend our occupations by force, we are only doing what all species in nature do. Every species that has spread over a large area has in a similar way reduced or wholly eradicate other species and has to defend itself by fighting against intruding plants and animals. If the 'most insignificant and diminutive species ...have each slaughtered their thousands, why should not we, the lords of creation, do the same?'" (Lindquist, 117)

"The brain of the Bushman...leads toward the brain of the Simiadae
[monkeys]. This implies a connexion between want of intelligence and structured assimilation. Each race of Man has its place, like the inferior animals" (in Gould,36)

Charles Darwin- English Naturalist, 'father of evolution' recognized as the greatest scientist of the 19th century.

The Descent of Man (1871)

  'The improved and modified descendents of a species will generally cause the extinction of the parent-species." (in Lindquist, 106)

  "At some future date not very distant as measured in centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races." (in Lindquist,107)

Comte de Buffon, considered the greatest 18th century French Naturalist:.

ca. 1845

  "The most temperate climate lies between the 40th and 50th degree of latitude, and it produces the most handsome and beautiful men. It is from this climate that the ideas of the genuine color of mankind, and of the various ideas of beauty ought to be derived." (Gould,40)

Samuel George Morton, American.'The empiricist of polygeny"(polygenists argued that the human race was composed of several different species). He collected skulls, and set out to rank races by the size of their brains. He created a gallery of sketches and tables to prove that blacks were at the lowest rung of the evolutionary ladder.

ca. 1845

Gould's conclusion based on an examination of Morton's 'evidence'

  "Morton was convinced that variation in skull size recorded differential, innate mental ability. He never considered alternate hypotheses, though his own data almost cried out for a different interpretation. Morton never computed means by sex or stature, even when he recorded these data in his tabulations-as for Egyptian mummies. Had he computed the effect of stature, he would presumably have recognized that it explained all important differences in brain size among his groups. Negroids yielded a lower average than Caucasians among his Egyptian skulls because the Negroid sample contained a higher percentage of smaller-statured females, not because blacks are innately stupider. The Incas that he included in the Indian sample and the Hindus that he excluded from the Caucasian sample both possessed small brains as a consequence of small body size. Morton used an all-female sample of three Hottentots to support the stupidity of blacks, and an all-male sample of Englishmen to assert the superiority of whites." (Gould,68)

Robert Knox, English anatomist, studied with Couvier, his work was enormously influential, though he has no data to substantiate his conclusions.

The Races of Man: a fragment (1850) reveals racism at its actual moment of birth, not as conjecture, but presented as science.

"I feel disposed to think that there must be a physical and consequently, a psychological inferiority in the dark races generally...The texture of the brain is, I think, generally darker, and the white part more strongly fibrous, but I speak from extremely limited experience..." (in Lindquist,125)

  "The Saxon race will never tolerate them ['the dark races']-never amalgamate-never be at peace...The hottest actual war ever waged-the bloodiest of Napoleon's campaigns-is not equal to that now waging between our descendents in America and the dark races; it is a war of extermination...Now, the fate of all these nations must be the same, it results from the nature of their populations, and nothing can arrest it." (in Lindquist,127)

In other words because of their inherent inferiority they are already dying out. We are just helping them along. It could even be seen as a mercy.

'Mercy in a massacre', Captain Gordon Pim called it in a speech about the crushing of a rebellion in Jamaica. (in Lindquist,129-30)

Extermination becomes synonomous with natural selection

Louis Agassiz , Swiss/American. Enshrined to this day at Harvard with houses and a museum named after him, disciple of Cuvier, 'one of the fathers of the modern scientific tradition.'

from his article in The Christian Examiner (1850)

  "There are upon earth different races of men, inhabiting different parts of its surface, which have different physical characters; and this fact...presses upon us the obligation to settle the relative rank among these races, the relative value of the characters peculiar to each, in a scientific point of view...As philosophers it is our duty to look it in the face." (in Gould,46)

  "The indominable, courageous, proud Indian-in how very different a light he stands by the side of the submissive, obsequious, imitative negro, or by the side of the tricky, cunning, and cowardly Mongolian! Are not these facts indications that the different races do not rank upon one level in nature." (in Gould, 46)

And blacks are the bottom:
  "It seems to us to be mock-philanthropy and mock-philosophy to assume that all races have the same abilities, enjoy the same powers, and show the same natural dispositions...and that in consequence of this equality they are entitled to the same position in human society. History speaks here for itself...This compact continent of Africa exhibits a population which has been in constant intercourse with the white race, which has enjoyed the benefit of the example of the Egyptian civilization, of the Phoenician civilization, of the Roman civilization, of the Arab civilization...and nevertheless there has never been a regulated society of black men developed on that continent. Does not this indicate in this race a peculiar apathy, a peculiar indifference to the advantages afforded by civilized society?" (in Gould,47)

From a letter to his mother

  "...All the domestics in my hotel were men of color. I can scarcely expressed to you the painful impression that I received, especially since the feeling that they inspired in me is contrary to all our ideas about the confraternity of the human type, and the origin of our species. Nevertheless, I experienced pity at the sight of this degraded and degenerate race, and their lot inspired compassion in me in thinking that they are really men. Nonetheless, it is impossible for me to repress the feeling that they are not of the same blood as us. In seeing their black faces with their thick lips and grimacing teeth, the wool on their head, their bent knees, their elongated hands, their large curved nails, and especially the livid color of the palm of their hands, I could not take my eyes off their face in order to tell them to stay far away. And when they advanced that hideous hand towards my plate in order to serve me, I wished I were able to depart in order to eat a piece of bread elsewhere, rather than dine with such service. What unhappiness for the white race-to have tied their existence so closely with that of negroes in certain countries! God preserve us from such a contact!" (in Gould, 45)
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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2003, 01:05:36 PM »

Such ignorence is no surprise at all to me. Please keep in mind, that as well as creating demented hypotheses about how wonderful they are, these men threw their feces out the window onto the street, and walked on them. These men exterminated dodos, digoes, the eastern elk, the labrador duck, the crescent nailtail wallaby, the moa, the Carribean monk seal, various thrushes, finches, hookbills, insects, spiders, and plants. Why would they spare their own species? These men burned others alive for following a different set of beliefs- and it was fun to watch the people die. These men beat their wives; why wouldn't they beat other people they thought were inferior? It was not the Africans or the "Mogoloids" or the "Indians" who were apathetic and stupid.

So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole Earth
- Baha'u'llah
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