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Annual Darwinian Idiot Awards
By Laina Farhat-Holzman
November 15, 2008

Every year, I give imaginary Darwin Awards to people who obviously should not make it to old age because of stupidity. Unfortunately, most of them live long enough to reproduce—which gives us an endless supply of future fools.

The Return of Polio
.  Polio, like smallpox, had almost disappeared from the face of the earth thanks to modern science and the UN World Health Organization’s generous inoculation program.  Alas, beginning in 1988, polio is on the rise again in four countries where it is now endemic:  Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.  The culprits are Muslim clerics who have told village women that the inoculations are an American plot to sterilize Muslim children.

From Nigeria, this stupid notion hopped to Pakistan, where mullahs instructed the poor and ignorant not to get the immunizations. Village India was next, and, of course, Afghanistan. Whether these clerics are just stupid or evil is hard to tell, but these countries have an increasing number of dead or crippled children. Islamist fanatics claim that America is plotting to reduce the world’s Muslim population; why should we when the clerics are doing it so well?

Judicial Award
.  The British legal system was once the envy of the world. It evolved from centuries of common law to the pinnacle that it occupied by the mid-20th century.  Now, with a large population of mostly law-abiding Pakistani Muslims, militant Islamist activists have convinced the government to install Sharia courts (Muslim law) to the level of tribunals, available to Muslims who prefer this justice, making their rulings legally binding. 

The courts’ first verdicts upheld male supremacy—inheritance that gives girls only half of the inheritance of boys---and they dismissed several domestic violence charges because Sharia permits wife beating. A Darwin award is certainly warranted to those who want to reverse Britain’s legal evolution. Perhaps they will also permit amputating hands for thieves too? And bring back decapitation?

Pirates Earn Death.  As mentioned in one of my prior columns, Somali pirates have been hoisted on their own petards. They swarm unarmed cargo ships plying the waters near the Horn of Africa, particularly because gutless ship owners have paid the ransoms. These pirates are even seen as heroes and Robin Hoods to many Somalis, who are increasingly hungry because charity food ships cannot get to them. Now there
is a Darwin award for stupidity!

But the pirates are having reversals.  One ship, loaded with tanks with a questionable delivery point (probably Sudan) is in a standoff with the US Navy. This will not end happily for them. 

More curious is a report on another incident that I mentioned in my column last week. According to an article printed in the
London Times (September 28, 2008) by Andrew Donaldson (“Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship”), Iran had sent a ship (the MV Iran Dayanat
) with a mysterious cargo that had sickened and killed some of the pirates who stormed the vessel. All that we can know is that the cargo was some sort of sand picked up in China. If the pirates died as reported, the cargo may well have been radioactive.

An Israeli blog site (
) speculates that the ship was intended to be exploded on the Israeli coast, spewing radioactive clouds over the country. The picture of the ship and its mysterious background appears on that site.

Because this inflammatory item has not yet been picked up by American sources, we have to regard it as uncorroborated.

Family Award
.  Mohammed Bello Masaba, a Nigerian, has 86 wives, challenging the Koran that permits only four at a time. A Darwin Award to the wives is in order. They are foolish and he is lustfull. The Nigerian Sharia courts have thrown him in jail, which may interfere with his plans to get a few more wives.

Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author.  You may contact her at
or www.globalthink.net.