Scientists call not to ‘cancel’ late biologist Thomas Huxley — Analysis
The leading figures in science jointly expressed their outrage over ‘scientific racism’ accusations
Dozens of leading UK scientists called on Imperial College London not to demonize 19th century biologist Thomas Huxley, blasting accusations against him of ‘scientific racism’ as unfair and underlining that the key supporter of Darwin was “an ardent abolitionist.”
The 39-member group, including Nobel laureate Professor Paul Nurse and Prof. Richard Dawkins, sent a letter explaining to The Telegraph why Huxley could not be considered racist.
The letter has become a response to a report by an independent history group, tasked, in the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, with analyzing Imperial College’s “Links to the British Empire” which allegedly prevented the university from becoming a “Total inclusive organization” They came to the conclusion that Huxley, despite being an abolitionist, had fallen “far short of Imperial’s modern values” and “This could be called racism,” as his essay ‘Emancipation – Black and White’ espoused “An intelligence hierarchy based on race.” Therefore, the group recommended renaming a university building, which carries the name of one of Imperial College’s founders, and to remove a bust of Huxley.
The Telegraph received a written condemnation of the accusations and suggestions, which was signed among other academics from 17 Imperial College.
“Huxley was an active abolitionist. He fought against the pervasive pro-slavery scientific racism and publicly praised the Confederacy’s fall in 1865.,” they wrote.
Admitting that the anthropologist believed in a hierarchy of races at the beginning of his career, they say that, with age, “He became suspicious of stereotypes about raciality.”
Huxley’s defenders underlined that the scientist “reformed London’s schools, was a principal of a working men’s college, wrote volumes of journalism, gave lectures for working people and opened his classes to women,” while also being “He was instrumental in the founding of the Royal College of Science and later the Imperial College. It is this institution which seeks to demolish him.”
A spokesman for Imperial College said that the institution’s management will come up with its proposals on the course of action in February, The Telegraph has reported.
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