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Human Zoos Showcase the Impossibility of Racial Equality in a Darwinian Culture, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we explored how Darwinian Evolutionary Theory gave rise to a grievous, even if lesser known, historical atrocity committed in the name of science- human zoos. These “ethnological expositions,” as they were called, were a wide-spread, international phenomenon. We concluded with the tragic story of Ota Benga, a young Congolese tribesman thought to be a “missing link,” who became an exhibit at the Bronx Zoo in New York. Next we turn our attention to the St. Louis World’s Fair held in 1904.

1904 St. Louis World’s Fair

The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, “was an international exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, from April 30 to December 1, 1904. Local, state, and federal funds totaling $15 million were used to finance the event. More than 60 countries and 43 of the then-45 American states maintained exhibition spaces at the fair, which was attended by nearly 19.7 million people.”

The event was supposed to be a testament to America’s progress. Attendees were also privy to some of the most dehumanizing displays in history.

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Erica Eisen writes:

If visitors to the 1904 St. Louis Fair grew bored of strolling along spectacular purpose-built waterways or lolling through the grand pavilions of arts and industry, their wandering search for diversion might have taken them to the Philippine Reservation. Stretching across 47 acres, the reservation held over 1,000 native Filipinos who had been brought to the United States expressly for the shock and delight of white fairgoers: in one prominent spectacle, Igorot tribes people were required to slaughter and eat a dog each morning as visitors looked on.

The Philippine Reservation was but one of a panoply of ‘living exhibitions’ available at the exposition’s human zoo, in which indigenous people from around the globe- as well as their food, dress, architecture, games, and religious rites were converted into fairground attractions. Exhibition organizers hoped to demonstrate to the world that ethnic groups could be definitively ranked according to biological and cultural markers of civilization—and that in this ranking, the United States came out on top.

Igorot dancers seated and surrounded by spectators. Public domain/Wikimedia Commons

In describing these types of exhibitions, Abbattista and Iannuzzi explain that the aim was to:

show impressive, repulsive, or frightening savage, primitive forms of human life, displayed in all their supposed brutality and intended as evidence of racial inferiority, emphasized by nakedness, bestial gestures and behaviors, rude performances, and physical appearances suggesting radical otherness.

Incidentally, the Olympic Games were being held in St. Louis that year, which led to an odd collaboration resulting in a “Special Olympics.”

William John McGee, the head of the Anthropology Dept. at the fair, and James Sullivan, head of the fair’s Dept. of Physical Culture arranged competitions for the purpose of yielding “data points permitting a statistically valid interracial comparison.”

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Apparently, McGee viewed the result of these games as establishing “in quantitative measure the inferiority of primitive peoples…in that coordination of mind and body which seems to mark the outcome of human development and measure the attainment of human excellence.”

Igorot men engaged in a spear throwing competition. Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

More of the Same

In the late 1800’s the famous P.T. Barnum included his “Grand Ethnological Congress of Nations” as a part of his traveling circus which featured the North American Sioux people, the Zulus, the Polynesians and Australian Aborigines.

“A group of Aboriginals captured in Australia and put on tour throughout Europe and America in the P.T. Barnum and Bailey circus shows of ‘human curiosities,’ where they were portrayed as fierce savages and cannibals.” Public Domain
Sioux Indians in native dress on tour with Circus Sarrasani in Dresden, Germany, 1928. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

One of the most gripping photos comes from the Congolese Village exhibit at the 1958 exposition in Brussels. Abbattista and Iannuzzi note that this exposition took place on the very “eve of colonial Congo’s independence.”

“An African girl is shown at the 1958 Expo in Brussels, Belgium that featured a ‘Congo Village’ with visitors watching her from behind wooden fences.” Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Hierarchical Concepts of Races of Men are Foreign to the Bible, but Not to Evolution

In a laudable attempt at an unbiased review of the debate on whether Creationist or Evolutionist concepts undergird racist sentiment, Randy Moore and Carl Chung authored “P.S.- I’m White Too: The Legacy of Creationism, Evolution, and Racism in the United States, in which they concluded:

Although neither creationism nor evolution is inherently racist, creationists and evolutionists have used science to justify white supremacy… both evolution and creationism have been given racist interpretations by various advocates of each.

I applaud Moore’s and Chung’s contribution to fair-minded discourse, and find myself in agreement with their final two statements—that both camps have used science to justify white supremacy, and that both have been given racist interpretations by their advocates.

However, I could not disagree more with their first statement that neither are inherently racist. A literately literal reading of the Bible is antithetical to racist views. By “literately literal,” I mean a literal reading of the Bible that takes into account the historically recognized genre of each book and allowing for the use of literary devices such as analogy, metaphor, hyperbole, etc.

By contrast, the superiority of one “race” is the very logical conclusion of Darwinism. In a recent article for Evolution News, Why Darwinism Can Never Separate Itself from Racism, David Klinghoffer issues a blistering castigation of the racism inherent in the prevailing origins science of our day- Darwinian Evolutionary Theory. He cites the unavoidable fact articulated by his colleague Denyse O’Leary:

In a Darwinian scheme, someone must be the official subhuman. I have been trying to get that across for years. It’s why Darwinism can never get away from racism. Racism is implicit in the Darwinian belief system about how things happen… [The belief that] humans are animals that slowly evolved from less-than-human creatures and a variety of things happen, none of them conducive to non-racism.(emphasis mine)

On that note we will pause, and resume in Part 3 by confronting the question: Can modern day evolutionists divorce their theory’s racist past?

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Written by Tiffany Denham

I'm a stay-at-home mom of three with a B.S. in Finance, Minor in Economics, and a passion for science, research, Christian apologetics, and writing. Upon realizing that I had been a victim of the widely held belief that mainstream science is “unbiased” and the erroneous beliefs that follow, I embarked on a crusade to share the overwhelming evidence revealing science's lesser known yet undeniable validation of the biblical creation account. I'm also dedicated to cultivating a deep knowledge and understanding of the Bible in order to effectively defend God's Word and bring honor and glory to Him. I also blog on a number of topics with the goal of combating the misinformation our society is inundated with daily at

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