March 11, 2021 Reading Time: 4 minutes

There’s a long history of politicized name-calling in this country. In 1857, for example, Calvin H. Wiley, editor of the North-Carolina Journal of Education, noted that “Our Eastern friends are much of the notion that the West is a nation of semi-barbarians, destitute of good breeding, politeness and everything else like refinement, living in the woods and subsisting on roots and berries.” [As quoted in Bruce E. Stewart, “Select Men of Sober and Industrious Habits: Alcohol Reform and Social Conflict in Antebellum Appalachia,” Journal of Southern History 73, 2 (May 2007): 312.]

About that same time, Southern slavery critic Hinton Helper called such people “white trash.” They have had a variety of vicious nicknames ever since, a score or so of which I recite in my 2019 book Financial Exclusion.

Other groups have also been subjected to hurtful labels, use of a few of which will get you cancelled quicker than your Twitter app can reload. I don’t think we need to be mean to each other but ignorance abounds in such matters so offense is sometimes taken when it shouldn’t be and sometimes given when unintended. 

The use of derogatory names for groups of people should not be banned but it should be exposed for what it is, an attempt to dehumanize The Other. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” so the use of such words is not violent per se but their use does portend violence, potentially on a massive scale when wielded by those in power. Members of groups A and B can despise each other but the moment they no longer acknowledge their common humanity is the moment that carpet bombings, gas chambers, and even nuclear strikes become politically possible because the aggressors can convince themselves that they are not committing “murder” but rather just “taking out the trash.” 

One wonders how many elites justified lockdowns on the grounds that their burdens fell hardest on “deplorables,” those “semi-barbarians” who don’t read the New York Times.

Imagine my dismay, then, when I learned that our beloved President, Mr. Unity himself, referred to Texans as Neanderthals because they support the repeal of nonsensical Covid “social distancing” guidelines. Now, President Biden is very, very old, but not nearly ancient enough to have met a full-blooded Neanderthal, the last of which, so far as we know, died some 28,000 years ago.

I say full-blooded Neanderthal because they interbred with modern Homo sapiens (the too sanguine moniker modern humans bestowed upon themselves), leaving some of their unique DNA in the human genome. According to 23andMe and my spit, my DNA contains 285 variants that scientists have traced back to Neanderthals. That is less than 2 percent of my overall DNA but more than three-fifths other 23andMe customers walk around with, in their cells.

You might think that I would try to hide my Neanderthal heritage but I am proud of it because I follow the science. If you think of a half-naked “cave man” grunting while dragging a woman around by the hair when you hear the term Neanderthal, well then you’re a specie-ist … and a misogynist too because Neanderthal women were stronger than modern male athletes, even Arnold at his peak some say. (Heck, even prehistoric modern women had stronger limbs than most men today.)

And, yes, Neanderthals would be able to understand the rules of sporting contests (except, of course, those for curling). They were brutes physically — Neanderthal men and women had to be robust to hunt mighty megafauna on Europe’s Ice Age taiga — but they couldn’t have been stupid and survived for as long as they did, which incidentally is longer than modern humans have managed thus far.

Neanderthals were probably not dumb in the sense of being unable to speak either. We can’t know that one for certain but their hyoid bone shape and position was indistinguishable from that of modern humans so they had the physical ability to utter complex sounds. They did not grunt any more than modern humans do and probably sounded a lot like a very loud Mike Tyson (no joke). We now know that they hunted in groups, so they must have had some way of communicating complex ideas and could have used sign language to keep the noise down as other hunting hominins do.

While Neanderthals did not invent Candy Crush or other modern marvels, their technologies were far from primitive and well adapted to their needs. In addition to firestarting technologies, they manufactured advanced adhesives from tar, complex attire, and sophisticated lithic and bone tools. They even produced art that they buried with their dead. Some specie-ists assume that Neanderthals simply aped modern humans but it may well have been that modern humans leaving warmer climes learned to live in the cold north by copying Neanderthals.

So if you ever have the choice between being partnered in a survival situation in a cold climate with President Biden or a full-blooded Neanderthal, choose the latter if you want to live. I specify full-blooded here because chances are that POTUS himself has about 2 percent Neanderthal DNA too.

Most ironically of all, much of the Neanderthal DNA that survives in the human genome is, according to a 2018 article in The New York Times (so it has to be true, at least for those on the radical Left), linked to the immune system. Texans do not need lockdowns because they are, indeed, (part) Neanderthal.

In short, the election of 2020 caused a big ruckus for nothing. We went into the election with a mean, old elephantine POTUS and came out of it with a mean, old one. Both espouse policies that are, frankly, rather Australopithecine in nature.

Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright is the (co)author or (co)editor of over two dozen major books, book series, and edited collections, including AIER’s The Best of Thomas Paine (2021) and Financial Exclusion (2019). He has also (co)authored numerous articles for important journals, including the American Economic ReviewBusiness History ReviewIndependent ReviewJournal of Private EnterpriseReview of Finance, and Southern Economic Review. Robert has taught business, economics, and policy courses at Augustana University, NYU’s Stern School of Business, Temple University, the University of Virginia, and elsewhere since taking his Ph.D. in History from SUNY Buffalo in 1997. Robert E. Wright was formerly a Senior Research Faculty at the American Institute for Economic Research.

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