Race in the Age of Democracy



Scientific racism presents us with a paradox. It provided the justification for some of the most barbarous acts committed by humankind. Read by a generation which knows of the horrors of Auschwitz, Robert Knox’s assessment of ‘the dark races’ still chills the heart:

What signify these dark races to us? Who cares particularly for the Negro, or the Hottentot or the Kaffir? These latter have proved a very troublesome race, and the sooner they are put out of the way the better… Destined by the nature of their race to run, like all other animals, a certain limited course of existence, it matters little how their extinction is brought about.1


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Robert Knox, The Races of Men: A Philosophical Enquiry into the Influence of Race over the Destinies of Nations ( London: Henry Renshaw, 1850 ) pp. 234–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Cited in Daniel Jo Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity ( Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986 ) p. 90.Google Scholar
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© Kenan Malik 1996

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