The Alt-Right and Evolutionary Superiority

What a great post by David Kilnhoffer at EVOLUTION NEWS:

…..You won’t be startled to hear that alt-right believers were more inclined to dehumanize, in evolutionary terms, their disfavored racial and ethnic groups, rating “White people” as more “evolved” than, say, “Mexicans, Nigerians, and Blacks.” Or rather you won’t be startled if you’ve been paying attention to our reporting here on the role of evolutionary thinking among racist right-wingers. (The left has its own racialists, but that’s a different discussion.)

Before anyone was talking about the alt-right, the racialist right was enamored with Darwinian theory as a justification for its prejudices. Not unlike some more conventional conservatives, they were impressed by its academic prestige and the way that it seemed to give support to preferred opinions.

As of a couple of days ago, white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups were being pulled offline by their web hosts. One of those groups is Stormfront.org. Back in 2009, in the wake of a shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, I described Googling the phrase “natural selection” as it appeared among writings of the website’s users. The shooter, James von Brunn, had composed a manifesto, highlighting his idea that “Natural Law: the species are improved through in-breeding, natural selection and mutation. Only the strong survive. Cross-breeding Whites with species lower on the evolutionary scale diminishes the White gene-pool.” Such thinking, more or less sophisticated in how it presents itself, finds an audience on the less extreme right.

Even the most respectable conservatives have to be wary. In 2012, I wrote about how National Reviewhad acted correctly in cleaning out two contributors with racialist or white nationalist ties. One was John Derbyshire, long known to us as a vitriolic critic of intelligent design. The other, Robert Weissberg, had spoken at an event that, I pointed out, was “heavy with evolutionary, Darwinian and eugenic themes, sponsored by a group [American Renaissance] with similar interests.” See “With Concerns about Darwinist Racialism in Mind, National Review Cleans House.”

In 2015, another white nationalist shooter, Dylann Roof, contributed his own manifesto, complete with a nod to pseudoscientific racism. Media reports tied Roof through a series of associations to activists who lean on scholarly sounding evolutionary racial theory. See “In Explaining Dylann Roof’s Inspiration, the Media Ignore Ties to Evolutionary Racism.”

In 2016, when the alt-right came to light under that now familiar name, I noted that, “Though this has escaped focused attention, the alternative right draws heavily on themes of evolution-based racism,” including eugenics, evolutionary psychology, evolutionary “race realism,” and more. I pointed to alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s Radix Journal (also now shut down by its web host) as the “mother lode of pseudo-conservative, pseudo-scientific racism.” See “Evolution and the Alt-Right.”

Of Spencer and his journal, National Review noted the other day that “The Alt-Right Carries on Margaret Sanger’s Legacy of Eugenics.” The evolutionary backdrop to this is, though, typically missed. Darwin himself, of course, a kindly figure, was no proto-Nazi. However, Darwinian theory and Darwin’s own writings have fueled racial and eugenic thinking for more than a century and a half, including that of Margaret Sanger, as John West has detailed at The Stream (“The Line Running from Charles Darwin through Margaret Sanger to Planned Parenthood”) and as we have noted here repeatedly. In his books, historian and Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Richard Weikart meticulously describes the intellectual descent from Darwin to Hitler. Ranking the human races in relationship to gorillas is straight out of Darwin’s Descent of Man…….