A Greenville Technical College official twice referred to New Orleans evacuees in Greenville, South Carolina, as “yard apes.” The college immediately removed the offending employee. “She’s not a member of this institution today,” said Greenville Tech President Tom Barton. “Too much damage had been done.” As we might expect, there was outrage—and rightly so. How can someone in the twenty-first century believe such nonsense? School officials and representatives from the NAACP should dig a little deeper into the curriculum of the public school system that they blindly support. There they will find scientific justification for the “yard ape” designation for blacks in the writings of Charles Darwin.

Consider the subtitle to Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. It reads: The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. Darwin’s supporters claim that his use of the word “races” was meant to describe subspecies of animals. To a certain degree, this evaluation is correct. But what did Darwin mean by “subspecies”? What if Darwin thought of non-whites as an animal “subspecies”? In The Descent of Man, Darwin wrote:

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes [that is, the ones which look like the savages in structure] . . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.[1]

Darwin believed that the various races were at different evolutionary levels, all distant from the apes, with Blacks lower and Caucasians (Europeans) at the top. Thomas H. Huxley, an ardent defender of Darwin who garnered the nickname “Darwin’s Bulldog,” believed that “No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man.” Huxley described whites as “bigger-brained and smaller-jawed.”[2] Richard Hofstadter, in Social Darwinism in American Thought, demonstrated “that Darwinism was one of the chief sources of racism and of a belligerent ideology which characterized the last half of the 19th century in Europe and America.”[3] Benjamin Wiker comments that according to Darwin, “the European race, following the inevitable laws of natural selection, will emerge as the distinct species, human being, and all the transitional forms—such as the gorilla, chimpanzee, Negro, Australian aborigine and so on—will be extinct.”[4] Of course, Darwinism did not lay the groundwork for racism. Racism has been around a long time. Darwinism made it plausibly scientific.

I’m glad to see that Greenville Technical College did some house cleaning. Now it’s time to go through the entire public school system to rid the curriculum of the scientific theory that can be used to justify racism. As Scott Bell argues in The Darwin Conspiracy, “If we are all biological accidents,” which Darwinism teaches, “why shouldn’t the white accidents own and sell the black accidents?”[5]


[1] Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed., (New York: A. L. Burt Co., 1874), 178. Quoted in Henry M. Morris, The Long War Against God: The History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 60. [2] Thomas H. Huxley, Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews (New York: Appleton, 1871), 20. Quoted in Morris, The Long War Against God, 60. [3] Raymond F. Surburg, “The Influence of Darwinism,” in Darwin, Evolution, and Creation, ed. Paul A. Zimmerman (St. Louis, MO: Concordia 1959), 196. [4] Benjamin Wiker, Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists (Downers Grove: IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 250. [5] James Scott Bell, The Darwin Conspiracy (Gresham, OR: Vision House, 1995), 64.