Discoveroids Attack the Museum of Natural History

Did you know, dear reader, that the Discovery Institute is not only the most scientifically advanced organization in the world, they are also the most benevolent and humanitarian? It’s true! Look what was just posted on the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: New York Museum Benefited from African Genocide.

It was written by John West (whom we affectionately call “Westie”). Wikipedia describes him as: “a Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute (DI), and Associate Director and Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs of its Center for Science and Culture (CSC), which serves as the main hub of the Intelligent design movement.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

As I discussed in a recent article and video [links omitted], Germany committed genocide against the Herero and Nama peoples in southwest Africa in the early 1900s. German authorities also conducted medical experiments on their victims in the name of racial “science.” The extermination efforts and medical experiments were a product of Western imperialism and fueled in part by a virulent strain of Darwinian ideology.

Ah yes, it was Darwin’s fault. Then Westie says:

It turns out that one of America’s most prominent museums benefited from the atrocities. [Gasp!] The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City purchased a collection of skulls that included pieces gathered from German concentration camps in southwest Africa. The sorry story is told in this 2018 article in The New Yorker:

Westie gives us a big quote from that article, which we’ll omit, but you can read the whole article if you want to: The Troubling Origins of the Skeletons in a New York Museum. We didn’t read the article, but because Westie says their collection is the result of “a virulent strain of Darwinian ideology,” we did a quick search for “Darwin” and “evolution.” Neither word was there. Anyway, Westie tells us:

As of 2018 [when The New Yorker article appeared], the skulls were still housed in the AMNH’s collections, although the museum allowed a delegation of a dozen Hereros to view the remains. Are they still housed there? Earlier this week, I contacted the museum’s press office in an effort to find out, and to ask if the Museum was considering sending them back to modern Namibia for burial. The AMNH failed to respond.

They didn’t respond? That was very impolite — and revealing! But it’s to be expected. The American Museum of Natural History recently had a big Darwin exhibit, so you know they’re a bunch of evolutionists. Westie continues:

It’s not the first time the museum has avoided addressing its uncomfortable history. While preparing my documentary Human Zoos [link omitted], I encountered a similar wall of silence. My documentary deals in part with the museum’s history of promoting eugenics. [Egad!] But AMNH officials declined a request to be interviewed on-screen for the documentary.

Refusal to be interviewed by the Discoveroids suggests that they’re guilty of the worst crimes imaginable. Typical Darwinists! And it’s not over yet. Westie ends on a sinister note:

It remains to be seen whether the AMNH will continue to get a pass in 2020 about its avoidance of its problematic past.

Shocking. Absolutely shocking. All we can say is that if you want to visit a museum, try the Creation Museum run by ol’ Hambo. Then you’ll learn something!

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Discoveroids Attack the Museum of Natural History

  1. Michael Fugate

    Human zoos before 1859
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Baartman
    Racism and Sexism before evolution – how was that possible?

  2. My first spontaneous reaction is a Dutch expression: due to craziness these IDiots don’t know anymore what they should do.
    So it’s time for a Tu Quoque. Westie, where were the American creationists when an American equivalent of General Trotha, commander Custer, contributed to the genocide of Amero-Indians? Back then Custer was a celebrity – what did American creationists do to prevent his crimes against humanity?
    I’ll interpret creationist silence as “nothing, because they wholeheartedly supported Custer’s actions”. Because I love the smell of creationist hypocrisy at any time of the day.

  3. Westie engages in cherry picking that is particularly egregious, even by the DI’s exceptionally low standards.

    As the New Yorker article states, different representatives of Namibia have different proposals for the repatriation of these ill-acquired human remains, and that is the source of delay. American law (the NAGPRA Act of 1990) requires the repatriation of such remains, but the manner of their repatriation is to be determined by Namibian authorities. See Vilho Amukwaya Shigwedha’s 2018 article in Human Remains and Violence: The homecoming of Ovaherero andNama skulls: overriding politicsand injustices:

    Intriguingly, the Ovaherero-Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation is reported to have signed an agreement with the management of the AMNH not to return theskulls to Namibia, at least for now, but to keep them in the museum. The decision not to repatriate the skulls in New York to Namibia is apparently in response to ongoing uncertainty and anxiety that they could be treated in the same way as the skulls that were returned from Germany. On the other hand, it is also reasoned that the display of these skulls at the AMNH in NewYork will help to generate international supportfor the Ovaherero and Nama people’s demands for reparations from Germany:

    “They decided that the skulls should stay in New York for now. Because their publicityis crucial for the ongoing court cases in N[ew] Y[ork] which has so far attracted theinternational attention. Because of the presence of the skulls there, researchers and media people from all over the world are starting to flock to New York and put thegenocide of the Ovaherero and Nama people on the world map”

    So, not malfeasance by the current administration of the AMNH, and still less to do with Darwin.

    But when did the DI ever let facts get in the way?

  4. I wonder why AMNH doesn’timmediately respond to West?Surely they don’t regard him as a hostile inquirer!

    If he’d really wanted to know,in the UK there’s a Freedom of Information Act by which government-run bodies must respond to such questions. Is there a US equivalent and would it have been relevant?

  5. There are several articles in Wikipedia about freedom of information laws in general, and in the US in particular.

  6. @TomS, Freedom of Information law will be relevant if AMNH is run by a federal agency, or by an agency of New York State if, as seems likely, the State hasitsown FoI law.

    Does anyone know the legal status of AMNH?

  7. Michael Fugate

    I want to see the hiring practices of the Discovery Institute – are there not BIPOC followers of ID? Why isn’t the number of “fellows” 50% female? Someone should take the log out of their own eye before worrying about the mote of others.

  8. Michael Fugate

    https://www.discovery.org/education/2020/06/15/the-source-of-the-problem/
    More lies from the DI – it is not impossible to fire a teacher nor is it impossible to fire a police officer. Are there people who are bad at their jobs – I am sure given the idiocy of this post their are people running Lumenal Lighting, LLC who are bad at their jobs. This is a guy whining about government who gets all of his money from government handouts. It is socialism on a stick, but he thinks it is a “free” market. Such is the delusion of people in the US.

    Poverty is the problem as he says, but privatising police forces and schools will destroy both. All one need to do is look at the disaster prisons in the US have become – see why “private” companies completely living on government handouts are a recipe for corruption and failure. If we privatise public schools as this idiot wants we are dead as a nation – can you imagine John West in charge of schools?

  9. Dave Luckett

    Oh, that’s rich. West is using a dogwhistle, which is common among right wingers, but this one comes from the extreme left. “Problematic”, yet. It used to mean “presenting a problem or problems”, but in critical grievance theory it means “abominable”, “repugnant”, “to be destroyed”.

    West is also a revolutionary of a sort – just not that sort. It’s odd how extremists of different fringes often join hands. West and the woke left abhor one another. But for the nonce they are fellow-travellers towards glowing visions. No doubt Hell has a similar effulgence, from a sufficient distance.

    Australia has a similar history. Remains of Aboriginal people were sent to British museums as anthropological specimens. I believe that all that can be traced have now been returned to their people for traditional disposal, but there are probably holes and corners unsearched and unsuspected. I hear that the same was true of some remains of “original Americans”.

    There is, of course, no excuse for this. It was and remains an abomination. I can only plead that it is consistent with our treatment of our own dead, if sufficiently removed. I recently watched an episode of “Meet the Ancestors”, a BBC program bearing this very value. The skeleton of what was probably a thriteenth-century Benedictine monk was unearthed in the garden of an English country house that had originally been part of an abbey, now vastly altered, while the rest, including the Lady Chapel, had been demolished. The burial had been in what was certainly consecrated ground, then. But Henry VIII, dissolution of the monasteries, you know…

    The man had died in his forties, and must have suffered the torments of the damned in life – dental caries, exposed nerves and terrible abscesses. He is now out of pain at least, and I hope he awaits his Lord in peace – simply because that is what he would have wanted. But also think that it was right that his remains should have been reverently re-interred in consecrated ground. They were not. They’re in storage in a museum. They have much to say about medieval life. So it goes.

    But if the AMNH has these African remains, it should abide by the values of the people from whence they came, rather than our own. They should be returned, but not because of anything West has to say. West is interested only in attacking mainstream science on any grounds he can imagine or manufacture. Simply because it is the humane and decent thing to do.

  10. Dave Luckett

    Having now read the contribution of Megalonyx, I am reassured somewhat, at least. I am still of the opinion that the remains should be returned, but I can see that there would be a problem if the Namibian authorities themselves want to use them as a reminder – almost, I would have said, as a bargaining token. On reparations, I would have said there is a definite case, but I can also see that they should be made directly from agencies of the German (and other) governments to the people, for their direct benefit, and not government-to-government, knowing the history of aid in Africa.

  11. Jim Roberts

    @Paul Braterman, there is indeed a Freedom Of Information Act in the U.S., but it certainly doesn’t require especially rapid response, especially given that the information Westie’s requesting is already in the public record.

  12. Jim Roberts

    Not for nothing, but Billy Bragg is no stranger to saying things people don’t want to hear, it’s just that he’s usually saying things that people in power don’t want to hear, rather than punching down.

  13. Michael Fugate

    Read this article about the Morant Bay Rebellion –
    Notice which side Charles Darwin was on….
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morant_Bay_rebellion