African American in the Brooklyn Zoo?

I was helping my gf with a paper for her philosophy class and part of the reading was from the book Why Religion Matters by Huston Smith. In the first chapter of the book Smith argues that Postmodern Metaphysics is handling social injustice better that previous periods. As an example he makes the claim:

This struck me as a tad bit unlikely and he gave no citation for the ‘fact’. At first I just assumed that he, or his editor, must have checked this so, while still questioning it, I assumed that he had something to back that up. Several pages later, though, he ‘quoted’ David Hume as saying that ‘The worst white man is as good as the best black man’, and rather than saying where Hume had written that line he actually states that he was pretty sure he had read it somewhere in Hume’s letters, but he couldn’t actually find it again. At that point I began to completely distrusted anything the man wrote without clear and precise citation.

I looked up the Brooklyn Zoo fact, but the only things I can find reference only the Huston Smith book, so I am curious if anyone can back up Smith on this point, or on his David Hume ‘quote’ for that matter.

Bronx Zoo. According to Cecil.

That’s one of those terminology things we’ve discussed on the board many times. The victim was a black African, but it doesn’t make sense to call him an African-American.

More on Ota Benga, the pygmy who was displayed at the Bronx Zoo in 1906.

While the general substance of the quote has something to it, it doesn’t say much for Huston Smith’s commitment to accuracy since he got the location, date, and nature of the person on exhibit wrong.

Ota Benga: The Pygmy in the Zoo, written by the grandson of the missionary who brought him to America. It’s out of print, but if you can find a copy I strongly recommend it.

Thanks for the Uncle Cecil link, I searched the archives, but since I was looking for the Brooklyn Zoo nothing came up.

I had a feeling that if true he was misusing the term ‘African American’. Thanks for the info.

While the gyst of the ‘fact’ is true, that everything he says in the quote is actually untrue (he was a Pygmy African in the Bronx Zoo in 1906) makes me feel better about distrusting the author.

Minor hijack since the original question has been answered: What the frak is “postmodern metaphysics”?

I am not really certain of that myself. He didn’t do that great a job defining it, but from the way it was used I think he essentially meant contemporary morality.

Hmm…complex physics concepts that haven’t been discovered yet? :wink: