Monday, 27 February 2017

Monkey Chants: Darwin’s Long Shadow on European Soccer

Charles Darwin believed that some races were more evolved than others.

Joel Kontinen

From time to time, spectators insult footballers who have a darker skin tone than others. Recently Brazilian midfielder Everton Luiz, who plays for the Serbian team Partizan Belgrade, got to hear monkey chants for a full 90 minutes from Rad Belgrade fans.

The obvious idea behind monkey chants is that dark-skinned people are less evolved than lighter skinned one.

We can thank – or blame – a Victorian gentleman called Charles Darwin for this trend. He gave us an entirely false idea of races.

Darwin introduced this idea in his book Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871):

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time, the anthropomorphous apes. . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.” (vol. 1, p. 201).

Descent of Man inspired many other works. The book that John Scopes of the monkey trial fame used in his classes was Hunter’s Civic Biology (1914). It includes some interesting speculations about humans:

"At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; The American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America."

Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences.

The Bible shows us clearly that there is only one human race. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve.


Racist Serb fans torment Brazilian footballer Everton Luiz. BBC News (20 February 2017).