This is about William Jennings Bryan, whom we’ve always regarded as one of the biggest jackasses in American history. You’re familiar with Bryan’s role in the Scopes Trial, but his idiocy went far beyond that — see, e.g.: Let’s Have William Jennings Bryan Day!
What motivated this post is — of all things — a movie review in the Palm Beach Daily News. Their headline is TUNE IN TONIGHT: Can a classic movie speak to 2019? It tells the newspaper’s readers about a movie on TV tonight. The reviewer (Kevin McDonough) says, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
A crusading lawyer (Spencer Tracy) [playing the part of Clarence Darrow] and a fundamentalist politician (Fredric March) [playing the part of Bryan] tangle over evolution in the exciting 1960 courtroom drama “Inherit the Wind” …
You’ve all seen the movie. What could the reviewer do that would cause us to blog about his column? You’ll soon find out. He says:
March’s Bible-quoting character is reduced to a creationist cartoon, spouting old-time bromides in the face of settled science.
Bryan was a creationist cartoon, but to our surprise, the reviewer comes to his defense and tells us:
In fact, Bryan’s resistance to evolution was based at least in part on his revulsion toward the pseudo-scientific use of Darwin’s theory to justify cruelties against workers and farmers in the name of “survival of the fittest.”
What? What? He continues:
A prairie populist of the 19th century, Bryan argued for a Christianity that saw all men equal in the eyes of God, against “scientific” theories used in the early decades of the 20th century to justify eugenics and other master race notions.
Aaaargh!! The reviewer is taking the typical creationist position that Darwin’s theory is racist — and creationism isn’t. It rarely gets worse than that. Here’s the only other part of his review that’s worth an excerpt:
The film’s themes, and some of the ideas it ignored, still resonate. People are still arguing over evolution. At the same time, there is a growing anxiety that science and technology are contributing to a social order savagely indifferent to the welfare of many.
Wow! Bryan was the good guy, and Darrow was defending Darwin, whose theory is evil. We expect that kind of nonsense at the wildest creationist websites we visit — but in a newspaper’s movie review? Amazing.
If you want to see what others have said about Brian and the Klan you could take a look at this from National Center for Science Education (NCSE): Racism and the Public’s Perception of Evolution. They’re pretty clear about it.
And so, dear reader, if you live in Palm Beach you’ve got a creationist reviewer to tell you what’s on TV. How convenient!
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