Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Clarence Darrow on Eugenics

John Pieret, an old friend of this blog, has reprinted a 1926 article written by Clarence Darrow where he condemns the idea of eugenics in terms both brilliant and devastating. One of the things that jumps out is how similar the rhetoric was then and now, only with different ethnic groups being the target.

The evidence with which the eugenists support their contentions is simple and overwhelming. Are not the weak and unfit breeding much faster than the strong and the fit? College professors, lawyers, doctors, and the like average not more than two children to the family. On the other hand, carpenters, bricklayers, bootblacks and the other unfit average at least twice as many. Everybody knows that dagos, hunkies, wops, bolsheviks and all the other undesirables are begetting children at an indecent rate. These children are surely bound to overrun the earth, along with the morons, the insane and the criminal. Inevitably the superior stocks will be submerged. The only wonder is that with the persistent and senseless breeding of the unfit this hasn’t happened long ago. Right here in our own country, which was settled by the Nordics after the Indians were driven out, the superior race is fast going down before the misfits of inferior races. In the face of the promiscuous breeding of these latter such noble strains as the Edwardses and the Adamses will be swamped by mere force of numbers.

Isn’t that exactly what we hear today about Latinos and Muslims? The article is very long but is worth reading in full. We hear endlessly from creationists that acceptance of evolution leads inexorably and logically to eugenics, but here is one of the most vocal defenders of evolution debunking that argument around the same time he was defending Scopes in Tennessee.