Review: The War on Humans
The War on Humans documentary and ebook
by Gail Deibler Finke
Free to watch on YouTube (or above), the half-hour documentary The War on Humans by writer Wesley Smith and the Discovery Institute is concise, fast-paced, and packs a punch.
Its focus is the rise of anti-human ecology and social movements that see people as a problem, if not a scourge to be eliminated. Profoundly anti-Christian, these movements set themselves up as alternate religions, sometimes literally.
The editors make good use of the quick timeframe, giving an overview of the major groups and people espousing the ideas, and a quick rundown of what the ideas are. It’s just enough to cover the spectrum without getting bogged down in any one topic, and to give the interested viewer the information he or she needs to look further.
It also explains concisely why these movements are problematic for ordinary people. What are the consequence for human beings if animals are given “standing” to bring suits against their owners? It is only the realization that we are not animals and have an obligation to treat them a certain way, Smith says, that ensures that we treat animals well at all. Animals, after all, do not treat each other well, they either ignore each other or eat each other.
Some groups, Smith says, also want to give rights to plants. Switzerland (which, as he notes, is a destination for people who want to commit suicide but does not allow people to flush live fish down their toilets) protects the “dignity of plants” in its constitution. The constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia grant rights to “nature” — and some 20 American cities, including Pittsburgh and Santa Monica, have ordinances giving nature “rights.” What happens when the rights of animals, plants, or “nature” conflict with the rights of people? To many thinkers and groups, they are equal to, or override, the rights of people.
It is human exceptionalism, Smith argues, that gives us human rights and leads to human flourishing. And in the end it is human exceptionalism, not radical environmentalism, that leads us to care for the environment, animals, plants, and each other.
The only thing I wished for was more about the deliberate use of Darwinian theory found in many of the movements. Interview subject Dr. Ann Gauger does say that Darwin’s theories are often wrongly used to come to anti-human conclusions, but I would have gone further to point out that Darwin’s theories can also be used to support their opposites — they can bolster the stance that it’s a bad idea to restrict or try to “improve” breeding, for instance, because a wide variety of traits are necessary for animal species to adapt to any combination of environmental factors, not just the ones we envision; or that if there is no telos or “end” to evolution, then there can be no one “correct” balance of species or ecosystems to maintain, which negates the arguments of radical ecological movements.
However, I imagine that people with particular interest in any of the topics covered would have similar wishes. It’s a fine introduction to a number of theories and movements that, when looked at together, paint a grimmer picture of what many utopian visions of what (or if) human life should be really mean for human flourishing.
A companion e-book, available for Kindle and Nook readers for $1.99, goes into more detail but is also more polemical.
Interesting and readable, The War on Humans at times has a strident tone some might find off-putting.
It’s exactly like talking with someone who has studied an unusual idea for a long time, met and read people who espouse it, and knows everything bad that could happen because of it… when you’ve never heard of the idea at all. At first, he sounds a little hysterical. But if you talk with him long enough, you start to think he’s on to something.
Gail Deibler Finke is Senior Editor of The Catholic Beat.
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