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All Africans?


Milford H. Wolpoff, Professor of Anthropology and Adjunct Associate Research Scientist, Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan

2,016 words

French translation here [2]

In 2008, 60 Minutes ran a story on Spenser Wells, Explorer in Residence for the National Geographic Society, who is mapping the genetic linkages of the world population. The media are naturally eager to plug Wells’ genetic mapping because it supports the “Out of Africa” or “African Eve” hypothesis put forward in recent times by some geneticists. The Liberal Establishment is eager to proclaim that we are all part of a nebulous mass of humanity without any differences other than what can be learned. The interviewer, a blond woman, was pleased to state that she was “once an African” (sic).

While this is the current theory in vogue, the new orthodoxy—to bolster the very old orthodoxy of the “Noble Savage” which has provided an ideological basis for subversive doctrines since the French Revolution—contrary evidence is suppressed. Those geneticists advocating the “African Eve” hypothesis are not in agreement with another branch of science—paleoanthropology, the examination of fossil remains. On the basis of the fossil remains paleoanthropologists maintain that there is a wide divergence of humanity going well back prior to the mere 200,000 years ascribed to different populations by the “African Eve” protagonists. On the basis of the fossil evidence human divergence occurred one to two million years ago, where the features that today mark Europeans, Australian Aborigines, Chinese et al. were already present.

The “out of Africa” hypothesis of human migrations 200,000 years ago was proposed by Wilson and Cann in 1992 (Allan C. Wilson and Rebecca L. Cann, “The Recent African Genesis of Humans,” Scientific American 1992, no. 266: 68-73.).

Multi-Regional Evolution

What paleoanthropologists now call “multiregional evolution” on the other hand postulates racial divergence far beyond that time, on the basis of the fossil evidence. Alan G. Thorne and Milford H. Wolpoff state the polygenic or multiregional basis of modern human origins. They maintain that there is no single recent dispersal for modern humans, that humans originated in Africa and then slowly developed their modern forms in every area of the Old World.

According to the multiregional view, mtDNA is not our only source of evidence. Fossil remains and artifacts represent more reliable evidence. Multiregional evolution traces all populations to humans first leaving Africa 1.8 million years ago. Distinctive populations have maintained physical differences. The features that distinguish Asians, Australian Aborigines and Europeans are said to have evolved over a long period where these peoples are found today.

The hominid fossils from Australasia show a continuous anatomic sequence, with the earliest Australians displaying features seen in Indonesia 100,000 years ago. Similar evidence is seen in northern Asia where one million years old Chinese fossils differ from Javan fossils in ways that parallel the differences between north Asians and Australians today (Alan G. Thorne and Milford H. Wolpoff, “The Multiregional Evolution of Humans,” Scientific American 1992, no. 266: 76-83).

In a typically biased account by P. Shipman in the January 16, 1993 issue of The New Scientist the hypothesis of Thorne and Wolpoff was nonetheless succinctly described among misleading comments about how genetic differences among races play no role in their relationship to society. Some of the relevant descriptions of the Thorne, Wolpoff hypothesis follow:

. . . At what stage in human evolution did the modern races evolve? And can ethnic behaviors and customs act as a selective force in human evolution, helping to shape the physical characteristics of the five or so genetic subgroups of humanity that we call races? Recent attempts to find clues in fossil and skeletal remains have triggered some fierce academic skirmishes.

The main battle centres on the attempts of a small band of researchers to prove that human races are hundreds of thousands of years older than conventional theories would have us believe. Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan and his colleagues maintain that the principal human races — Negroids, Caucasoids, Mongoloids, Australian aboriginal peoples and southern African Bushmen — began to evolve well before the appearance of anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens. Contrary to mainstream thinking, races did not evolve as a result of modern humans leaving Africa to colonize the rest of the world some 100 000 to 200 000 years ago. Or so Wolpoff argues.

. . . Ironically, in everyday life most of the divisions we recognize are ethnic-that is, concern learned behavior and cultural traditions rather than biological factors. Yet in science it is race that is often the flashpoint . . . .

To anthropologists and palaeontologists, the question of when in prehistory races began to evolve is no less controversial. Wolpoff, Alan Thorne of the Australian National University and their colleagues would trace racial characteristics as far back as 2 million years ago, to the extinct human species Homo erectus. According to their so-called multiregional hypothesis (see “The case against Eve,” New Scientist, 22 June 1991), anatomically modern humans evolved from this more ancient form simultaneously in different parts of the world, and it was during this period of simultaneous evolution that the racial characteristics of Homo sapiens first emerged . . .

Parallel Evolution

Thorne and Wolpoff are not the first to state the antiquity of human divergence. Carlton S. Coon, head of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, one of the most eminent of physical anthropologists, was one of the more well-known proponents of what is today called “multiregional evolution,” and what was then called “parallel evolution.” Like Thorne, Wolpoff and other sceptics of the “African Eve” hypothesis, Coon stated that today’s races evolved separately, in different continents, over different time periods.

Coon writing in 1962 stated of the origin and early divergence of humankind into races:

Where homo sapiens arose, and Africa is at present the likeliest continent, he soon dispersed, in a very primitive form, throughout the warm regions of the Old World. Three of the five human subspecies crossed the sapiens line elsewhere. If Africa was the cradle of mankind, it was only an indifferent kindergarten. Europe and Asia were our principal schools.

As far as we know, the Congoid line started on the same evolutionary level as the Eurasiatic ones in the Middle Pleistocene and then stood still for a half a million years, after which Negroes and Pygmies appeared as if out of nowhere. . . .

R. Ruggles Gates, at the time the most experienced anthropologist human geneticist, had much earlier said: “Isolation has been the great factor, or at any rate, an essential factor, in the differentiation of races” (R. R. Gates, Heredity in Man [London: Constable, 1929], 295. Gates was the founder of chromosome genetics.).

The multi-regional evolution of separate races almost two million years ago, was the commonly held theory among both geneticists and anthropologists until recent times. The fossil evidence accords with the very early divergence and separate evolution of the primary races.

All Chimps Now?

A major tactic of the One World One Race scientists and their street and media level shock troops is to pompously declare that there is only “one race—the human race” on the basis that all subspecies of man share 99.9 percent of their genes.

This argument purports to establish moral and political equality on the basis of genetic similarity. But similarity is not equality. If our rights and obligations to one another are based on genetic similarity, and genetic similarity is a matter of degree, then so too must be rights and obligations. We would have greater obligations to closer kin than to distant ones. But this is not the sort of egalitarianism desired by the One World, One Race crowd.

Furthermore, the genetic similarity = moral equality position begins to look absurd when applied to non-humans as well. After all, the genetic relationship between chimpanzees and humans is 98.5 percent. Some scientists are now contending on that basis that chimps and humans should now be classified as of the same genus. Pickrell writing in National Geographic News, states:

A new report argues that chimpanzees are so closely related to humans that they should be included in our branch of the tree of life. Chimpanzees and other apes have historically been separated from humans in classification schemes, with humans deemed the only living members of the hominid family of species.

Now, biologists at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, provide new genetic evidence that lineages of chimps (currently Pan troglodytes) and humans (Homo sapiens) diverged so recently that chimps should be reclassed as Homo troglodytes. The move would make chimps full members of our genus Homo, along with Neandertals, and all other human-like fossil species. “We humans appear as only slightly remodelled chimpanzee-like apes,” says the study . . .

The term genus describes a very closely related group of similar species, thought to have diverged from one another relatively recently, and is the first grouping above the species level. Common chimpanzees and bonobos have until now been classified into their own genus, Pan.

Studies indicate that humans and chimps are between 95 and 98.5 percent genetically identical. . . .

Derek E. Wildman, Goodman, and other co-authors at Wayne State argue in their new study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that given the evidence, it’s somewhat surprising that humans and chimps are still classified into different genera. Other mammalian genera often contain groups of species that diverged much earlier than chimps and humans did, said Goodman. “To be consistent, we need to revise our definition of the human branch of the tree of life,” he said. (J. Pickrell, “Chimps Belong on Human Branch of Family Tree, Study Says,” National Geographic News, May 20, 2003.)

But if chimps belong to the human genus, doesn’t that mean that it is “racism” to buy and sell them? Is it racism to keep them in cages? Does it mean that it is racism not to give them the right to vote, the right to drive, the right to mate with one’s daughter? Is it racism if we do not allow chimps to go to school? Will white people be blamed when chimps cannot pass the first grade? Will the President of the United States demand that “no chimp be left behind”? I am all for humane treatment of chimps, but that does not require that we treat them as human beings.

Behind the “One World, One Race” Propaganda

What has brought about the widespread belief in the “African Eve” hypothesis? Clearly it suits the political agenda of today, and has become a new article of faith among orthodox academe.

Just as the myth of the “Noble Savage,” the notion of an Edenic idyll existing among the primitive races untouched by the corrupting influences of European civilization, became the vogue among the so-called educated and cultivated classes of the eighteenth century and provided the ideological impetus for the French Revolution, so the new myth of the “African Eve” is now serving similar interests.

The “African Eve,” “All Africans” dogma provides pseudo-scholarly impetus for the leveling of humankind into a nebulous mass, without identity, easily malleable in the hands of those who seek to establish a “new world order.”

The New Scientist article quoted above started with the obligatory references to “neo-Nazism” and “racism.” Yet what we have arising from the dogma of “One World, One Race” implied in the “African Eve” hypothesis is something vastly more totalitarian. The egalitarian fallacy has wrought more evil—from the guillotine to the Gulag, from the “killing fields” of Pol Pot, to the mass suicides of Jonestown—than the worst excesses of Hitlerism.

If Hitlerism aimed at the creation of a “Master Race,” the One World, One Race ideology aspires to its mirror image: the extermination of all distinct peoples through miscegenation and their replacement with a homogeneous, dumbed-down slave race.

In looking for distant, primitive origins, we might just as well go back beyond the “African Eve” to the primal slime of undifferentiated existence from which all life ultimately emerged, for it is just such a characterless, indistinct blob of humankind that our new slave masters seek to impose through the dysgenic reversal of evolution.

Freedom and justice are best served not through the dead weight of an enforced “equality”, but through the recognition of differentiation, for it is in the differences that humanity can best be appreciated and valued.