Sunday, February 15, 2009

Modern day implications of Darwin and Lincoln: Part I

So on the occasion of the just passed birthday of Darwin AND Lincoln it is appropriate to reflect on their lives and the implications of what they did.

These were two phenomenal men. One of them kept the Union together and freed the slaves. The other revolutionized biology and convulsed religion.

But their legacy remains obscured. Why? Because both men, while the objects of admiration from the left, are deeply misunderstood.

Both men had very different racial views from today's prevailing wisdom. And they happen to have been right.

I'll be honest. As a perennial fan of evolutionary biology and psychology, I always knew that evolution had more to say about race than what we let on. Humans magically didn't stop changing after they branched out from Africa.

And I knew that Lincoln did not have the highest opinion of African Americans, even though he thought they had inherent rights.

But what I didn't do was put it into context. We have just sworn in the first African American President of the United States who used Lincoln's Bible to assume office. Lincoln happened to be born in the same year as Charles Darwin.

So let's dive into it. I'm going to take Lincoln quotes from a recent root article to save myself and yourself the hassle of searching.

"There is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

Woah! Come again?

Apparently Lincoln took the unlivability to heart

Even as he was writing the Emancipation Proclamation during the summer of 1862, Lincoln was working feverishly to ship all those slaves he was about to free out of the United States. So taken was he with the concept of colonization that he invited five black men to the White House and offered them funding to found a black republic in Panama, for the slaves he was about to free. Earlier, he had advocated that the slaves be freed and shipped to Liberia or Haiti. And just one month before the Emancipation became the law of the land, in his Annual Message to Congress on Dec. 1, 1862, Lincoln proposed a constitutional amendment that would “appropriate money, and otherwise provide, for colonizing free colored persons with their own consent, at any place or places without the United States.”

No complaints here. That would have been quite useful.

But you know what? Despite the fact that Lincoln believed this, what makes him more amazing is that he pushed an unpopular policy of giving African Americans citizenship, realizing that ultimately in order to redeem the promise of the American revolution he couldn't lead a country where people were born without freedom.

End of Part I

No comments: