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Monday, October 5, 2009

S.F. State Prof: Comparision of Republicans to Neanderthals Is Insulting -- To Neanderthals

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge His knuckles do not drag...
  • His knuckles do not drag...
Angry words continue to be exchanged about fiery Florida freshman Congressman Alan Grayson referring to Republicans as "knuckle-dragging Neanderthals" and Rep. Nancy Pelosi's refusal to compel him to apologize.
But a San Francisco State University professor has a problem with it. "I think it does Neanderthals an injustice," said Professor Niccolo Caldararo, a specialist in biological anthropology. Now, that's not meant to be too hard a dig at Republicans but, instead, a kind word for the much-maligned Neanderthals.

"We tend to characterize them as dull-witted because because when the first skeletons were unearthed, the [most publicized] one had been affected by a number of injuries and degenerative diseases," said Caldararo. This is just another example about our "ingorance about Neanderthals." 

Incidentally, not only were Neanderthals not stupid, they possibly weren't lascivious either. Modern connotations of the term as a pejorative are often tossed at sleazy men -- but, points out the professor, Neanderthals had a remarkably low birth rate (which might have been their undoing in the end) and could even have engaged in sexual abstention rituals as some primitive peoples do today.

Anyhow, Caldararo finds the comparison of Neanderthals and Republicans to be particularly ill-suited because of the realities of global warming. Is it not ironic that the party unable to acknowledge the existence of climate change has been compared to a species that was noteworthy for its ability to adapt to the climate change brought about by worldwide glaciation?

Actually, is it? We're asking -- Caldararo is a professor of anthropology, not English.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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