A Princeton anthropologist takes aim at Charles Darwin

Robert Wright in his Substack Newsletter:

Last week the prestigious and normally staid journal Science kicked up a fuss by running a short essay on Charles Darwin that provoked the anti-woke.

“You knew the woke would come for Darwin sooner or later,” tweeted Andrew Sullivan about the essay. Claire Lehmann, founder of Quillette (the unofficial journal of the “intellectual dark web”), chimed in sarcastically, “He may have been the father of evolutionary theory but did he put his pronouns in his bio?”

The author of the Science piece (which ran under the heading “editorial”) was Agustin Fuentes, an anthropologist at Princeton. He contended that Darwin’s 1871 book The Descent of Man “offers a racist and sexist view of humanity” and is “often problematic, prejudiced, and injurious.” So students who are taught that Darwin was a great scientist “should also be taught Darwin as an English man with injurious and unfounded prejudices that warped his view of data and experience.”

There are things about this essay I like. For example: I understood it, which distinguishes it from many things written by contemporary anthropologists. Also, it’s hard to argue with its claim that Darwin said things about race and gender that would get a guy canceled today. (As one person put it on Twitter, Darwin, “was 19th century euro upper class. It’d be stranger if he WASN’T ‘problematic’ by today’s standards.”)

More here.