Puck's Criticism of Richard Weikart's Book on Racism

Commenter “Puck” apparently is displeased with the appearance of a new book by Richard Weikart. In a recent conversation, he posted this:

The exact nature of Puck’s objection, and the basis for it, is not clear from Puck’s comment. Perhaps Puck could clarify: Has Puck read this book, and found it flawed in some way?

I have not read the book, but since Puck seems to be warning people against it, it would be useful to know why.

For an article by the author on the theme of the book, see:

Anti-Racists Often Ignore This Non-Religious Source of Racism.

Would Puck object also to this article?

You may want to clean that up to use the quote function when you’re quoting. As it is, the post is quite unreadable.

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I have the impression that you aren’t familiar with Weikart. And I also can say that I would be very surprised, knowing what I know of your views, if you wished to defend him after becoming familiar with him. But knowing the nature of oppositional discussion and the way in which my vehement expressions sometimes just seem to enhance the polarity of responses, I think it’d be better if you have a look and make up your own mind. If you come away from it and have any reaction to Weikart other than disgust, I will be surprised.

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OK, so you’re choosing not to explain what it is you object to in Weikart’s book(s). I won’t pursue the matter further.

But meanwhile, back in the other discussion, I really would like to know your definition of “fundamentalist”, if you’d care to go back there and add a post.

I think you should familiarize yourself with Weikart. If you do that, no explanation will be necessary. I would think you would condemn him as vehemently as I would. I suspect that my explaining it will only awaken your oppositional spirit.

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You’re right about one thing: I have not read any book by Weikart. I have heard him in interviews, read descriptions of his books on Amazon and elsewhere, and even had some e-mail contact with him, but I have not read any of his books. For that reason, I neither endorsed nor attacked his latest book. I merely asked you what was your objection to it, or to his thought overall. Since you implied his books were lousy and/or evil in contents, I thought it was reasonable to ask you why. But you’re under no obligation to answer.

Perhaps I would, once I saw the execution of the books. The themes, however, strike me as unobjectionable. He seems to have a running argument in his books: (a) that eugenics and Nazi ideology were bad things, and (b) that proponents of those positions frequently employed Darwinian language to justify their views. I don’t see why you should disagree with (a), and it’s not clear why you should object to claim (b), as long as his books document the use of that language from primary sources. Assuming you agree with him about (a), is your disagreement over (b)? Are you saying that no eugenicist or Nazi theorist or propagandist ever employed Darwinian phrases? That is, are you disagreeing with him over the facts? Or only over the conclusions he draws from those facts? If the latter, then maybe you could share with us just one conclusion that you disagree with.

You don’t find it incongruous that someone who reflexively produces long negative Amazon reviews of virtually every book put out by Discovery and every book by anyone sympathetic with ID should complain about people who are motivated by an “oppositional spirit”?

Thank you. I know how to use the quote function (and often do) within an existing thread. I don’t know how to use it to move material to an entirely new thread. When I try, the quote function just starts a new post under the old thread, and that’s not what I want, so I use copy and paste to move the material into the new setting.

If you can give stepwise instructions how to use the quote function to move material into a completely new thread, I will read and adopt the instructions in the future.

Easy enough to do it manually:

  1. Copy.
  2. Paste.
  3. Put the quote markers around the pasted copy (bracket, “quote”, close bracket before, bracket, “/quote”, close bracket after. Like this:

Thanks for trying to help. I went into Edit Post, and got rid of a lot of the junky formatting stuff, and then put the bracketed commands around the actual quotation, but as you can see, it does not have the effect of putting that nice shading around the quoted matter, but simply adds the bracketed commands. Nonetheless, the whole thing looks much clearer now, with all the formatting clutter wiped away, and the quote commands indicate clearly when the quoted part begins and ends. Next time I will try your suggestion from scratch, before the new topic even goes up, and see if that makes a difference.

You have to put the commands on a different line from the quoted bit. Don’t ask why. Bracket-quote, new line, quoted bit, new line, bracket-quote.

You appear to have missed, at a minimum, some further points (c) and (d) that would provide a more complete picture of what Weikart does that is disgusting.

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Yes, I think this passage from the description of Weikart’s first book on the subject, From Darwin to Hitler helps flesh out some of what’s missing from a complete summary of Weikart’s themes:

Darwinism played a key role in the rise not only of eugenics, but also euthanasia, infanticide, abortion and racial extermination. This was especially important in Germany, since Hitler built his view of ethics on Darwinian principles, not on nihilism.[1]

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Or easier yet (at least within a forum running the ‘Discourse’ software), do what I just did:

  1. Select the text you want to quote.

  2. Press the “"Quote” button that appears on the screen, or press “q” on your keyboard.

This will create a new reply window with the quote already there, with (nearly) all formatting
and source information
. If you want to use this for the OP in a new thread, you just cut&paste this pre-formatted quote into the new thread window. The result will be something like this:

(The only change it makes is that the quoted-link does not provide the preview that the posted-link did.)

I can’t speak for Puck, but this sort of criticism is pretty standard for the DI; they want to blame Charles Darwin for halitosis, hangnails, Hitler, the Holocaust, and everything in between. None of their previous arguments have been honest, and it doesn’t seem likely they will change.

If it matters, my primary objection to “Blaming Hitler of Darwin” is that causally ignores a thousand years of European antisemitism, sweeping it under the rug like it never happened. THAT is racism. I don’t know Weikart from a MarioKart, but given that fact that the DI is publishing/promoting his book, and the DI is very fond of this racist “Darwin therefore Hitler” argument, I see no reason to expect better from him. (If Weikart wanted to do better, he could have published anywhere else.)

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Ummm, Dan… Weikart is an academically trained European historian, who knows very well about centuries of anti-Semitism. He would never argue something so foolish as that Darwin, rather than centuries of anti-Semitism, was the main cause of the Holocaust. But Darwin’s ideas do provide grist for certain lines of argument justifying the elimination of “inferior” races (even if Darwin himself never drew such conclusions), and it’s a perfectly legitimate scholarly activity to trace the lines of influence of certain terms, lines of argument, as they spread out into various societies and influence social and political developments.

Note that he has published a number of academic books with publishers other than Discovery, including Regnery and Macmillan, to name just two.

It’s interesting that people here seem to dislike Weikart based on his conclusions, but no one here wants to discuss the evidence and arguments he presents for his conclusions. Normally a scholar is judged on whether or not his evidence and argument are good, not on whether or not one happens to like his conclusions.

I haven’t read Weikart’s books and pass no judgment on his arguments or conclusions, but my first instinct would be to give him a chance to prove his various theses, not to dismiss them out of hand. I wonder which of the people here who have responded so sharply to the very mention of Weikart’s name have read even one of his books all the way through.

Too bad this forum doesn’t give out medals for alliteration.

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You don’t know this. You haven’t read his book.

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I wasn’t making a claim about any specific book. I was making a claim about his general intelligence and education, based on my personal conversations with him, and many conversations of him with others that I’ve been present for. I know he’s too educated and too intelligent to deny the reality of anti-Semitism in European history, just as I know that John Harshman is too educated and too intelligent ever to write that a whale is a kind of fish because it lives in the water.

That is not so clear. Weikart is a Fellow of the Discovery Institute (which I had forgotten), and at least one of his books was funded by the DI. Weikart may well be the original source of the DI’s "Blaming Hitler of Darwin” claims.

This Biography is informative.

Because Weikart’s work is controversial and criticized by his fellow academics, I feel that I’m not too far off the mark in suspecting Weikart’s arguments and motives.

<insert that great quote when I can find it>

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You’re implying that his scholarship in European history is no good because he is a Fellow of the DI and because one (a small minority) of his books was funded by the DI?

You realize that this is a form of ad hominem argumentation?