Discovery Institute: Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Part VI

There’s a school of politics, somewhere, that teaches its students: “When you have nothing positive to say for yourself or your cause, claim that your opponent’s ideas are the same as Hitler’s.” The Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — are fervent practitioners of that technique.

But it’s not fair to say that the Discoveroids have nothing positive to say. As we often remark, they do have a couple of arguments for their “theory” of intelligent design. One is a god of the gaps argument. The other is William Paley’s watchmaker analogy — which was popular in the days before Darwin.

Unfortunately for the Discoveroids, both of those arguments are fallacious. A gap in the evidence is just that — a gap. An empty box a few generations back in your genealogy chart reveals nothing more than a lack of evidence — a gap in your research. It’s not evidence of a supernatural event in your family history. Pointing to the empty box and claiming “El Gappo did it” is absurd on its face. As for the magical watchmaker, he was laid off in a downsizing as being superfluous, after Darwin’s theory (which is abundantly supported by evidence) described a natural way to accomplish the same things.

Somewhere, in the Retirement Home for Obsolete Miracles — that dismal residence where myths that once “explained” natural aspects of the world now live out their dotage, reminiscing about their glory days — the Watchmaker and El Gappo are crying in their beer because nobody respects them any more, and the tooth fairy is trying to console them.

So all the Discoveroids have left is the Hitler maneuver, and they’re making the most of it. In Discovery Institute: Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Part V we provided a brief summary of their smear campaign. If you enjoy wallowing in waste, then you’ll love reviewing their past efforts. We debunked the whole concept shortly after we started this blog — that was in Hitler and Darwin.

Today we’ll focus on their latest effort, titled Richard Weikart Makes the Definitive Case for the Nazi/Darwinism Connection.

It’s written by Michael Flannery, whose work we’ve discussed before — see More Discoveroid Quote Mining by Michael Flannery. He’s one of the Discoveroids’ favorite historians. He virtually deified Alfred Wallace for his confused writings late in life, and turned him into a prophet of intelligent design. Flannery also conjured up a Darwin-Stalin linkage, which inspired us to write Discovery Institute: Beyond Despicable.

Who is Richard Weikart, about whose work Flannery is writing? Weikart wrote the Discoveroid post we discussed in the above-linked Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Part V. There we said:

He’s not only a Discoveroid “fellow” (i.e., full-blown creationist), he’s also the author of a book titled From Darwin to Hitler, which influenced James Kennedy, the now-deceased televangelist who made the influential “documentary” Darwin’s Deadly Legacy. We might consider Weikart to be the intellectual godfather of the Discoveroids’ frequently-repeated malicious mantra: “No Darwin, no Hitler.” If he’s not the originator of that foul dogma, he’s certainly one of its principal pillars.

Now you know what we’re dealing with — Flannery is writing about Weikart who wrote about the mythical Darwin-Hitler connection. It’s too late to quit now, so put on your radiation suit and your gas mask. Say goodbye to the world of reason. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and Flannery’s links omitted:

Richard Weikart, author of From Darwin to Hitler and Hitler’s Ethic, has a new article in the prestigious journal German Studies Review titled “The Role of Darwinism in Nazi Racial Thought.” Though some historians have been reluctant to connect evolutionary views with Nazi ideology, Weikart’s cogent argument demonstrates precisely how, in fact, Darwinism was “well entrenched” in the biology curriculum of Germany, how anthropologists’ Darwinian views on race were actively promoted by the Nazi regime, how the evolutionary theme suffused Nazi periodicals, how it made up an important part of Nazi propaganda, and how Hitler himself “regularly invoked Darwinian concepts” in his writing and speeches. “The historical evidence is overwhelming that human evolution was an integral part of Nazi racial ideology,” Weikart concludes.

As we slog through this turgid sludge, we’ll be looking for something Hitler wrote — in a book, letter, or memo, or something he said in a speech — not some vague “the strong will prevail over the weak” sort of thing — but something specific, where it’s clear that Hitler, in his own words, declared: “Darwin is my inspiration.” That’s the evidence which has always been missing from the Discoveroids’ history, just as verifiable evidence has always been missing from their “theory” about an intelligent designer. Let’s see if they’ve got something this time. Flannery says:

Weikart’s argument resonates with what I, as an American historian, know of the Nazi connection with the eugenics movement in America, itself a movement largely comprised of social Darwinists.

We’ve already debunked that. See Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin. And we’ve also pointed out that Hitler’s most strident opponent, Winston Churchill, specifically wrote that he had read Darwin’s Origin of Species — something Hitler never did, at least it’s conspicuously missing from all respectable historians’ work on Hitler. Here’s one more excerpt, from the end:

Weikart’s case is supported by a high degree of historical consilience. In America, the eugenics movement was not only united by a strong commitment to social Darwinism, its connections with the Nazi policies were in some cases explicit (for more on that see [link omitted]). Weikart’s most recent publication, in short, makes the position of the Nazi/Darwinism naysayers — the history deniers, you might say — untenable.

So there you are, dear reader — the Discoveroids claim they are the only reliable source of The Truth, not only about science but also about history. We’re the reality deniers, not them.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “Discovery Institute: Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Part VI

  1. There is a book coming out November 8 which should address these issues:

    Robert J. Richards
    Was Hitler a Darwinian?: Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory
    University of Chicago Press

  2. Quite beside the blatant absurdity of implying or claiming that Hitler/Stalin/Mao was motivated by evolution (rather than, say, by a religiously-held-and-similarly-unfounded ideology), the following may have been raised before, but what will the Discorrhoids make of it?

    “The national government will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality. Today Christians stand at the head of our country. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit. We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press-in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during recent years.”

    [Adolph Hitler, The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1 (London, Oxford University Press, 1942), p. 871-872, 1942.]

    Can I have a “No true Crushtian!” to open the bidding?

  3. Here’s a link to a similarly titled paper by the same guy.

  4. SC says, ” ‘El Gappo did it’ is absurd on its face.” Agreed, but “El Guapo” did it is muy caliente.

  5. I ran across this book which had the only reference I’ve seen regarding Hitler and Darwin: “Hitler” by Joachim Fest.

    “Nevertheless, the component of Social Darwinism in Hitler’s thought cannot be attributed solely to his personal experiences in the home for men. He was really reflecting the tendency of the age. Science had become the one truly unchallenged authority. As the laws of evolution and selection put forth by Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer were popularized in numerous pseudoscientific publications, the average man soon came to know that the “struggle for existence” was the fundamental principle of conduct of individuals and nations. The so-called “Social Darwinist” theory served , for a while at least, all camps, factions, and parties in the second half of the nineteenth century. It became a component of leftist populist education before the Right took up the creed for its own purposes, and argued the unnaturalness of democratic or humanitarian ideas by appealing to Darwinist principles.

    The close link between the ideas of Social Darwinism and the antidemocratic tendencies of the period led to the condemnation of liberalism, parliamentary, egalitarianism, and internationalism as violations of natural law and symptoms of degeneracy due to racial mixture.”…

    Strange, though, because it sounds very much like ethe Tea Party.

  6. Fest’s book came out in 1973 (English 1974).

  7. @ Mark Germano: Indeed!

    One might justly say the Discoveroids have a plethora of BS. And in the immortal words of El Guapo himself,

    I would not like to think that a person would tell someone he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has *no idea* what it means to have a plethora.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    Wow, what a flurry of facts and details by SC commenters. I can only imagine you used the helpful links of research references in the DI article to find these quotes and details? Maybe you googled them yourselves by double-checking quotes in the DI article at least? How are you clarifying the gap between Hitler and Darwin when the DI have proven it can’t be done??? Research, science, education? Really. Wow.

  9. It struck me, while reading Charles Deetz’ comment, that SC missed an opportunity to synthesize the “god of the gaps” and “Hitler, Hitler, Hitler” into something new.

    When the DI has a gap in an argument (not the evidence, mind you), and they don’t feel like doing the research, they just make a reference to 1930s Germany. It’s the “Hitler of the Gaps” technique of debate.

  10. Charles Deetz ;)

    @Mark, you might say that ‘Hitler of the Gaps’ is a corollary to Godwins’ Law. Nice.

  11. — not some vague “the strong will prevail over the weak” sort of thing — but something specific, ….
    But this is perfect evidence for dimwitted xtians!!!
    Look at being gay, on the one hand the xtians claim that jesus replaced the OT and then claim gays are evil because jesus said…Eh…. well…you one man one woman thing. So being vague and insipid is all they had or have.
    Oh Sorry I got confused we aren’t taking about xtians but about ID so the statement may not apply…RRrrriiight!!! ;-}

  12. Richard Olson

    That final sentence in the Hitler quote con-tester lifted from Vol. 1 of The Speeches of Adolph Hitler is almost verbatim to similar speeches by Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Bryan Fisher — hell, any leader of any faction or church that is included in the American religious right, or anyone who hosts or has made a guest appearance on a fundavangelical radio or tv show, and virtually all of the members of congregations or audiences of the above, has said virtually the same thing so many times in America over the previous 4 decades there is nothing to be gained by counting so as to learn the exact number. ‘Burn out’ may be more or less unique to the Hitler quote, but whatever the American totalitarians substitute for it is identical in meaning.

    The point being, of course, that while Hitler had nothing in common with Charles Darwin, at least some of his sentiments about public morality match identically with the contemporary American Religious Right.

  13. Richard, as the saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” It seems to me that modern US evangelicals deliberately pretend a blindness, a denial even, to the striking similarities between fanatical adherence to religious and to political ideologies. The giveaway is of course the essentially uniform rhetoric both use.

  14. OK, for the sake of argument, suppose someone found a hitherto unknown diary by Adolph Hitler–I mean a genuine document, not the forgery that famously took in Hugh Trevor-Roper. And further suppose that diary contained the following entry:

    17 März 1930

    Liebe Tagebuch!

    Today I have finished reading Darwin’s Origin of Species: mein Gott, what a wonderful and inspirational book! It has made it kristall-clear to me that I must become the Reichskanzler without delay, and at the earliest opportunity annex Austria and the Sudetenland! Then, I must organise a ‘Final Solution’ for Jews, Gypsies, mental defectives and malcontents and launch total war! I can hardly wait to get started!

    Not such good news about the diet: despite my close adherence to strict vegetarian principles, I have put on eight pounds! Scheiße!

    Would such a document demonstrate anything other than the fact that Hitler had no understanding of Darwin whatsoever? Would such a document establish anything of substance about Darwin, or ToE, or–well, anything, other than the fact that Hitler was an evil monster (and I think that was already pretty well established, surely?).

    So: WTF is the Discoveroids’ point with their drivel here? It is as devoid of meaning, as absurd as the identical ‘claim’: No Jesus, No Jonestown.

    It’s worse than dishonest. It’s a form of intellectual onanism.

  15. Apologies for over-posting here, but a further thought occurs:

    IIRC, didn’t Charles Manson claim his ‘inspiration’ for his crimes came from the song Helter-Skelter?

    So, even if such a fanciful document as the Hitler diary entry in my previous post did exist, would it make the Discoveroids’ claim about Darwin any more meaningful than a claim of No Beatles, No Tate/LaBianca murders?

  16. Charles Manson also got a lot of inspiration from the bible, so…….

    The Origin of Species and other “Darwinist” writings were banned in Nazi Germany. One would have thought that, if Hitler wanted to base policy on them, he’d want everyone to read them and be inspired, but……

  17. Mark my words. In 100 years the history of the anti-evolution movement will be summarized like this:

    1920: I don’t care about no evidence, I believe the Bible.

    1970: We have plenty of “evidences” for a young earth and a global Flood, so evolution is dead as a doornail.

    1990: Who cares how old the earth is or if a global Flood happened, life is too complex to happen by chance, so evolution is dying – or at least unfalsifiable.

    2010: There’s really no evidence against evolution, but I can pretend there is as long as I can fool the rubes and bait critics. But I know that the real problem is that acceptance of evolution is root of all evil.

  18. Mark Germano thanks for the link to the Richards article. Really intersting.

  19. I am surely not an expert in the field but my impression is that if it had any connection to biology Hitler’s ideology rather referred to genetics than to evolution theory. The latter implies change over time which is exactly what racism intends to avoid through inbreeding. One should remember that the founder of “Lebensborn” used to breed chicken before he gained power.

  20. While I believe no one has discovered Hitler saying anything about Darwin, he definitely did compare himself favorably to Koch. So where are the claims that the germ theory of disease is wrong because it leads to Naziism?

    BTW, wouldn’t racism be inclined to inbreeding?

  21. Slightly off topic, but Rafael Cruz (Ted’s father) is on video explaining that evolution is not scientific and – most importantly – evolution and communism go hand-in-hand. In Rafael’s view, evolution is a tool of government to make people believe that there is no God, and thus their government is their God. Given how close Ted is to his father, I think we can assume that Ted Cruz has the same view.

    The comments on evolution come at the 1 minute mark.