In its August 15 “Culture, et cetera” column, The Washington Times excerpted a column by Steve Sailer that originally appeared on the website VDARE.com, an anti-immigration web site that describes itself as “white nationalist.”
The excerpt the Times reprinted, taken from Sailer's August 7 VDARE article, seemed to make the argument that since Charles Darwin's views on race were typical for the time in which he lived -- i.e., he believed that some races were inferior to others -- then that must mean that “Darwinian science is on a collision course with progressive egalitarians.” Sailer wrote: “But somebody should ask liberal pundits if they believe in the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life. I bet not many would agree. Yet that's the subtitle to Darwin's 'The Origin of Species.'”
In fact, The Origin of Species does not concern human evolution at all. Though the book's subtitle is indeed “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life,” the term “races” in the 19th century also referred to groups of animals. This is plainly how Darwin was using the word, since The Origin of Species contains no discussion of human evolution.
Though Sailer is wrong on this point, there is no doubt that Darwin's writings on human evolution contain many assertions of differences between races that strike us today as shockingly racist. But while this may be of interest as history and biography, it says nothing about the validity of evolutionary science, a field of study that, though based in Darwin's insights, has persisted through a century and a half of elaboration by countless scientists. Those who take issue with the current wave of attacks on evolution do so because of that history of accumulated scientific discovery, not because they believe Darwin himself was a paragon of virtue.
But the real question is why The Washington Times is excerpting pieces from a website like VDARE. The site is a collection of anti-immigration writings that sometimes cross over into outright racism, as Media Matters for America has noted. Named for Virginia Dare, the first child of English descent born in the New World in the 16th century, the site describes itself as “white nationalist.” The site's FAQ page contains two links: one to an explanation of its name and one titled “How can I report an illegal alien?”
A search for the word “white” on VDARE will return articles with headlines such as "Do White Men Need Their Own Political Party?" "White Americans: Second-Class Citizens," "No Democracy For Whites in the New America," and "No Equal Protection for Whites?" Peter Brimelow, who operates the site through his nonprofit organization, the Center for American Unity, wrote that “VDARE.COM is obviously not a 'White Supremacist' site, if for no other reason than that it publishes non-whites. We do publish writers who could fairly be described as 'white nationalists,' in that they explicitly defend the interests of American whites.”
This is not the first time The Washington Times has cited VDARE. On June 5, 2003, Greg Pierce's “Inside Politics” column excerpted a VDARE article by Brimelow that criticized Duke University for setting up a fund for support of Latino pediatric patients and their families. Washington Times columnist Paul Craig Roberts -- whose columns are reprinted on the VDARE site -- mentioned the site approvingly on more than one occasion. An article by Brimelow himself appeared on its op-ed page on February 3, 2002.
Sailer, meanwhile, has written in defense of the Pioneer Fund, an organization designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its support over the years of the work of white supremacists, eugenicists, and others dedicated to proving the genetic superiority of certain races. New York Times columnist David Brooks has previously cited Sailer's research, as has fellow Times columnist John Tierney.
Under the heading “Liberals vs. Darwin,” The Washington Times printed the following excerpt from Sailer's August 7 VDARE.com article:
"There was much scoffing ... at President Bush's brief endorsement of the idea that the theory of Intelligent Design should be taught alongside Darwinism in public schools.
But somebody should ask liberal pundits if they believe in the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life.
I bet not many would agree. Yet that's the subtitle to Darwin's 'The Origin of Species.' ...
Nor do many liberal commentators know that much of Darwin's second most important book, 'The Descent of Man,' consists of an evolutionary explanation of human racial differences.
In it, Darwin wrote: '... the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other. ... Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotions, but partly in their intellectual faculties.'
This means that Darwinian science is on a collision course with progressive egalitarians. Darwinism requires hereditary inequalities. What natural selection selects is genetic difference. ... The left fears true Darwinian science because the politically correct dogma of our factual equality cannot survive the relentlessly accumulating evidence of our genetic variability.