Sep 16, 2020
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Darwin one, Linnaeus two. How scientists fell victim to the fight against racism

The campaign against racism that has unfolded in the West in recent months covers more and more areas of human activity. Leading museums are subject to audits, whose collections are checked for compliance with the new principles of tolerance.

Undesirable statues

We will remind, in June 2020, the American Museum of Natural History decided to get rid of the equestrian statue of the President of the United States Theodore Rooseveltstanding at the entrance.

According to supporters of the dismantling of the sculpture, it "became a symbol of the painful legacy of colonial expansion and racial discrimination."

Sculptor James Earl Fraser depicted next to Roosevelt, riding a horse, the figures of an Indian and a black, which was, according to his idea, to show the racial diversity of the country.

But in 2020, the position in which the white rides and the black walks is interpreted as blatant racism.

"It's time to take it off," announced the president of the museum Ellen Fatter...

In Alaska, in the city of Sitka, they decided to remove from a prominent place a monument in honor of the first main ruler of Russian settlements in North America Alexandra Baranova... He was charged with the "genocide of the Indians." And, although the accusations against Baranov hardly correspond to historical realities, the opinion of “representatives of indigenous peoples”, whose feelings were suddenly offended by the sculpture that had calmly stood in its place for many years, turned out to be more weighty than proposals not to make a war with their own history.

Do the Tsants defame the Indians?

From monuments they smoothly moved on to museum collections. According to the Daily Mail, the Pitt Rivers Oxford Museum of Natural History has decided to remove from the display the collection of dried heads, which are traditional amulets of the Amazonian tribes.

We are talking about the so-called "tsantsa" - war booty of South American tribes. The heads of the defeated enemies were cut off, after which they were subjected to special treatment, which sometimes made it possible to reduce the heads to the size of a tennis ball, while retaining the facial features of the deceased.

Tsantsa, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.
Tsantsa, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. Photo: Narayan k28

The owner of "tsantsa" put a magical meaning into it, believing that in this way he receives the power of a slain enemy.

It is curious that representatives of the Indian tribes turned to the Oxford Museum with a request to give them "tsants", since for them they still have a deep magical meaning. However, the administration of the museum did not want to meet the Indians.

Now the "tsants", as well as more than a hundred exhibits representing human remains, have been removed to the storerooms.

Moreover, according to the director of the museum Laura van Brockhoven, it is not at all about human remains as such.

"The exposition only supports racist stereotypes"

It all started with what one of the visitors called "tsantsy" a "freak show." After that, the museum staff decided that because of such exhibits, people may form a wrong idea about the Indian civilization as a whole.

“The collection promotes racism and stereotypical thinking,” the Daily Mail cites the point of view of a representative of the museum.

Laura van Brockhoven insists: “Surveys of visitors show that when people look at such exhibits, people perceive other cultures as wild and primitive. Such an exhibition only supports racist stereotypes. "

The administration of the Oxford Museum of Natural History reports that the so-called "decolonization process" has been going on for three years now: everything that employees think may be related to racism is being removed from the exhibition halls.

“It may seem to many that by removing the collection, we impoverish the exposition of the museum, - quotes the Daily Mail researcher Madren Thompson-Odlum... “But in reality, this only makes room for more complex and multifaceted collections. This is the meaning of decolonization. "

How Darwin became a "relic of the past"

It is not clear, however, what will happen to the exhibits that tarnish European civilization. Will the museum visitors get a "stereotypical idea" about the "savagery" of Europeans if they get acquainted with exhibits related to the Crusades or the activities of the Inquisition? Or, unlike representatives of other civilizations, Europeans do not have the right to "clean up" their own history from "dark spots"?

The creator of the theory of the origin of species also fell under the Black Lives Matter campaign Charles Darwin...

Darwin was accused of everything both during his lifetime and after death: of racism, offending the feelings of believers, distortion of human nature ... They tried to ban Darwin's theory more than once, and those who tried to teach it were persecuted: a scandalous one entered history. The Monkey Trial ”, which took place in 1925.

But now it's not about monkeys. Director of the London Natural History Museum Michael Dixon announced that there is an identification of exhibits that are "remnants of colonialism, slavery and empire."

The campaign is being held with the approval of the museum's executive committee, which requires the prompt cleaning of the exposition from filth, since "science, racism and colonial power are inextricably linked with each other."

Results of the "colonial expedition"

In 1831-1836. Darwin circumnavigated the world in the Beagle. During a visit to the Galapagos Islands, the scientist conducted numerous studies of the local flora and fauna, described it and collected a fairly large collection of animals and plants.

Darwin's "Bird Collection" is now among the seditious. According to The Sunday Telegraph, the Beagle expedition itself is called one of the "colonial scientific expeditions" that were carried out to "ensure greater British control over these areas."

“The Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated that we need to do more and act faster, so as a first step, we started a corporate naming and recognition review,” museum director Michael Dixon told The Sunday Telegraph.

It is possible that Darwin's collection will be removed from the museum halls. The statue of the scientist in the museum is also under threat.

Naturalists can also be thrown out. Karl Linnaeus, the creator of a unified classification system for flora and fauna. Fighters against racism believe that the Swede, who lived in the 18th century, spoke unflattering about Africans, calling them "cunning and lazy."

It is difficult to imagine how the museum halls will look after liberation from everything connected with the “dark colonial past”. After all, every day the appetites of fighters against racism only inflame.

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