Flat White

Quick, we must rename Darwin!

14 June 2020

3:18 PM

14 June 2020

3:18 PM

The Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the globe has led to statues of controversial historical figures like slave traders and Confederate war heroes being desecrated or even pulled down, leading some people in Australia to call for the statue of Captain Cook to be pulled down. 

One, therefore, wonders, if this momentum is to continue, whether we will have to rename the capital of the Northern Territory. 

The full title of Charles Darwin’s seminal work is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.  


While Darwin in Origin treated the word “race” as a synonym of “species” or “varieties”, applying the term to plants and pigeons, the implication that his observations could be applied to describe human races and favoured ones at that was nevertheless evident. 

In Darwin’s subsequent work, The Descent of Man, he had this to say of the various human races: 

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised 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. 

By “Australian”, Darwin was referring to Australian Aborigines. By any dictionary definition of the word, that qualifies as racism. 

Given current trends, will the Northern Territory have to change the name of its capital? 

Illustration: Northern Territory Library.

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