Now Charles Darwin cancelled by BLM

My thanks to Extinction Rebellion, whose blockading of newspaper offices because they are insufficiently fanatical about climate alarmism has enabled me to read an entire piece in the Telegraph online. The Telegraph has made it free until tomorrow morning in the interests of free speech.

In fact, they have even printed a piece saying how ER has been infiltrated by Marxists, failing to notice that it, like BLM, was started by Marxists, as has been well documented.

Be that as it may, the link is here, but by the time you read this it will probably have ducked behind the paywall again.

Basically, after BLM sympathisers dubbed the Natural History Museum’s Darwin collection “problematic,” they have undertaken a review of what specimens are displayed, how they are labelled, the names of rooms, etc. This is in order to extirpate all traces of the racism, imperialism and all the other white supremacist, if only unconsciously biased, sins of the famous naturalist who, whether you support his theory or not, is a key historical figure worthy of understanding:

An internal review, sanctioned in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, has led to an audit into some rooms, statues, and collected items that could potentially cause offence.

It warns that collections which some may find “problematic” could include specimens gathered by Darwin, whose voyage to the Galapagos Island on HMS Beagle was cited by a curator as one of Britain’s many “colonialist scientific expeditions”.

Museum bosses are now desperately seeking to address what some staff believe are “legacies of colonies, slavery and empire” by potentially renaming, relabelling, or removing these traces in the institution.

It looks very much as if a nuanced understanding of Darwin will soon no longer be possible, at least at the Natural History Museum, because the article suggests that the museum will eagerly cave in to the historical iconoclasts:

Michael Dixon, the director of the Natural History Museum, explained to staff: “The Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated that we need to do more and act faster, so as a first step we have commenced an institution-wide review on naming and recognition.”

He added: “We want to learn and educate ourselves, recognising that greater understanding and awareness on diversity and inclusion are essential.”

Let’s just remind ourselves of what this actually means: it is about the unquestioning acceptance by an institution dedicated to dispassionate science of an ideologically biased, poorly substantiated sociological theory that happens to be in fashion. I suggest that there are more rational grounds for the museum to bow to Young Earth Creationists than to Critical Race Theorists. But that is the spirit of the postmodern age, when facts do not matter and culture is becoming mono-chromatically red. Your government, your church, your university, must all get woke because it is the White Man’s Burden – and so naturally your science must also toe the line as soon as possible.

It seems one of the curators, hating his own institution, wrote a paper full of criticisms:

The work further argues that “museums were put in place to legitimise a racist ideology”, that “covert racism exists in the gaps between the displays”, and as a result collections need to be decolonised.

Now that must be true, because museum curators are educated folks, but when I went to the museum as a small child to see the dinosaurs, and when I took my own children much later, I foolishly thought it was built to celebrate the natural world, and I missed its legitimisation of a racist ideology altogether. No doubt it was my own infant white fragility that blinded me to the truth. I’ve subsequently found some stuff to criticize in Darwin regarding his views on race, but unless I attempt to understand his culture, I will fail to appreciate that he was, in his context, a humanitarian. We will end up either demonizing Darwin or, by removing all offensive things, whitewashing him into an even more plaster saint than he has often been regarded hitherto. Darwin had a better historical appreciation of slavery, and firsthand experience of its evils, than any BLM supporter now. From The Descent of Man:

Slavery, although in some ways beneficial during ancient times, is a great crime; yet it was not so regarded until quite recently, even by the most civilized nations. And this was especially the case, because the slaves belonged in general to a race different from that of their masters. As barbarians do not regard the opinion of their women, wives are commonly treated like slaves.

What are some of the “problematic” issues?

Well, Darwin’s finches and, indeed, the whole South American collection are under suspicion, because the voyage of the Beagle sought to “enable greater British control” of the region. You may find this purpose rather deeply hidden between the lines if you search out the stated aims of the expedition. But that doesn’t matter in critical theory, where it is enough to state an assertion for it to be true. Just as everything white people do is necessarily racist, so the very fact of having a navy and using it is proof of a nation’s heinous imperialism, and the memory must be rooted out. If the principles were consistent, any South Americans benefiting from Fitzroy’s charts of the coast would be guilty of cultural appropriation, but in fact that only applies in one direction. If the Mayan Empire, built on slavery, had had sea-charts, that would have been OK unless Europeans used them.

Thomas Huxley’s statue in the museum is also problematic because he was a racist – Theodore Roosevelt’s has already been removed from outside this year for the same reason, though I’ve forgotten what he did wrong apart from being American. So Darwin’s can’t be far behind, after what he said about the natives of Tierra del Fuego. That might enable Richard Owen’s statue to be reinstated to its original place, at least until BLM twigs he was the son of a West Indian merchant, and ergo a slaver. Then he will be replaced by the African founder of the science of biology, once one is discovered.

Indeed all the specimens in the museum will need to be renamed, because Carl Linnaeus, who formulated the classification system used throughout biology, causes offence to many not only because he regarded Africans as “indolent” (or so we are told by the offended curator), but because he replaced native names for species with Latin ones. It is no excuse, of course, that creatures have different names in every dialect: clearly it is better to have a large label with cheesybob, chiggypig, granfy crooger, penny sow, and all of the other 40 or so names for a woodlouse in English alone, instead of Linnaeus’s thoroughly Swedish colonialist Oniscus asselus. You’re going to enjoy learning systematics in the new world order.

The Ukrainian Derevoobrobky (identical to a Guildford Monkeypee)

But my favourite example of the museum’s clear historical dedication to white male supremacism is this one:

The ceiling of the grand Hintze Hall, where Hope the blue whale’s skeleton hangs, could also be problematic for staff.

The painted ceiling contains visual depictions of plants “like cotton, tea and tobacco” which were “the plants that fuelled the British Empire’s economy”, according to the paper shared with staff in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

For a start, this rubbing the noses of minorities in the uniquely evil British Empire (so much worse than those of every tribe in the last few millennia that ever ruled another because… well, because, that’s all) will require not just the re-labelling of exhibits, but the demolition of the entire bloody building.

Not only that, but the observation that cotton, tea and tobacco are intrinsically “colonialist” means that their use by white people is “problematic” too. Your veganism won’t atone for your drinking peppermint tea. Your BLM tee-shirt is as much cultural appropriation of cotton as your wearing black-face would be. And you stopped smoking already, of course, but only deliberately to spite the Native Americans to whom all tobacco rightfully belongs.


I did check the article, and it is not dated April 1st. We are required to take such stuff seriously, and the ideologues really are coming for science, so it might be time for you scientists to start thinking outside your own fields, but not by treating critical race theory and Antifa political activism as if they were respectable disciplines too. They are already demolishing scientific endeavours as certainly as demolishing the Natural History Museum would. They will soon come for yours, unless you resist.

I should have suspected when I visited…
Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
This entry was posted in History, Politics and sociology, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Now Charles Darwin cancelled by BLM

  1. Elizabeth B. says:

    Jon,

    If our churches hadn’t abandoned teaching the Gospel, including forgiveness of sins, this BLM business would never have gained such traction. It is probably right and proper that Darwin should now suffer at the hands of the new religion, since Darwin did have a hand in helping churches down the path of a secularistic gospel. Certainly he wasn’t the only factor, but his ideas didn’t help matters. Still, it is disturbing that the high priest of science and secular society is now not good enough for them. It doesn’t bode well for the rest of us “whites.” I put whites in quote marks because, after all, this race thing is a construct, right?

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      Elizabeth

      Darwin was a complex character, and seems to have lost his own faith without being, like others, eager to destroy the whole edifice of religion.

      However, I do think that post-modernism’s turning on science is, in the end, a case of the Enlightenment’s eating itself. Reject God in favour of “reason,” and once “reason” is seen to be an insecure foundation, the rest follows.

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