"The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting, with noiseless foot, and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding what it gains, is engulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge Spencer Roane, 1821
Progressive-Liberals love to take credit for all the so called “wonderful” achievements of the past century. They will skirt things such as the racism of the Democratic Party and Woodrow Wilson and the Vietnam War started by John Kennedy and escalated under Lyndon Johnson. They will deny the failure of the Great Society. They will harp on the excesses of Joe McCarthy and his Communist witch hunts (some of which were proved to be true after the documents released after the fall of the Soviet Union but never mention the actions of the House Un-American Activities Committee chaired by Martin Dies Jr. (D-TX), and therefore known as the Dies Committee.
There are two things, however, Liberals will never ever talk about or even acknowledge there existence. Those two things are the banning of DDT by the newly created Environmental Protection Agency after Rachel Carson published her book Silent Spring and CBS’s hack journalism by 60 Minutes and Eugenics.
Let’s look at the DDT banning first. Liberals will never take responsibility for all of the anguish and death caused by the banning of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) At least 50 million people, mainly children died from Malaria, Typhus, and Dengue fever both caused by bites from Aedes mosquitoes. When it was first introduced in World War II, DDT was very effective in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality. The WHO's anti-malaria campaign, which consisted mostly of spraying DDT, was initially very successful as well. For example, in Sri Lanka, the program reduced cases from about one million per year before spraying to just 18 in 1963 and 29 in 1964. Thereafter the program was halted to save money and malaria rebounded to 600,000 cases in 1968 and the first quarter of 1969.
This banning of DDT began in 1962, when the book Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson was published. It catalogued the environmental impacts of indiscriminate DDT spraying in the United States and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without a sufficient understanding of their effects on ecology or human health. The book claimed that DDT and other pesticides had been shown to cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Its publication was a seminal event for the environmental movement and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led, in 1972, to a ban on the agricultural use of DDT in the United States.
We recently passed the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s best-selling book, “Silent Spring.” Widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement, it was an emotionally charged but deeply flawed denunciation of the widespread spraying of chemical pesticides for the control of insects. Today, the book is still revered by many, but its legacy is anything but positive.
As detailed by Roger Meiners and Andy Morriss in their scholarly yet very readable analysis, “Silent Spring at 50: Reflections on an Environmental Classic,” Carson exploited her reputation as a well-known nature writer to advocate and legitimatize “positions linked to a darker tradition in American environmental thinking.” Carson “encouraged some of the most destructive strains within environmentalism: alarmism, technophobia, failure to consider the costs and benefits of alternatives, and the discounting of human well-being around the world.” Meiners and Morriss state:
“Carson was a marine biologist whose earlier publications on the oceans and marine life were fine works of nature writing. Her strong reputation built upon these earlier writings led many willing environmentalists to accept the countless distortions in Silent Spring as fact.
In Silent Spring (a title drawn from her assertion that the anti-malaria chemical DDT was causing bird deaths) Carson shifted from documenting nature’s beauty to advocating positions linked to a darker tradition in American environmental activist circles.”
Meiners and Morriss put it bluntly: “above all, Silent Spring is a work of advocacy, weaving anecdotes and carefully selected bits of science into a compelling brief against the use of chemicals that had already saved millions of lives at the time Carson wrote.”
Carson’s proselytizing and advocacy raised substantial anxiety about DDT and led to bans in most of the world and to restrictions on other chemical pesticides. But the fears she raised were based on gross misrepresentations and scholarship so atrocious that, if Carson were an academic, she would be guilty of egregious academic misconduct. Her observations about DDT have been condemned by many scientists. In the words of Professor Robert H. White-Stevens, an agriculturist and biology professor at Rutgers University, “If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth.”
In 1992, San Jose State University entomologist J. Gordon Edwards, a long-time member of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, offered a persuasive and comprehensive rebuttal of “Silent Spring.” As he explained in “The Lies of Rachel Carson,” a stunning, point by point refutation, “it simply dawned on me that that Rachel Carson was not interested in the truth about [pesticides] and that I was being duped along with millions of other Americans.” He demolished Carson’s arguments and assertions, calling attention to critical omissions, faulty assumptions, and outright fabrications.Consider, for example, this passage from Edwards’ article: “This implication that DDT is horribly deadly is completely false. Human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams of it a day for nearly two years and suffered no adverse effects. Millions of people have lived with DDT intimately during the mosquito spray programs and nobody even got sick as a result. The National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1965 that ‘in a little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million [human] deaths that would otherwise have been inevitable.’ The World Health Organization stated that DDT had ‘killed more insects and saved more people than any other substance.’”
Edwards states in his book:
“1962, when Rachel Carson published her book Silent Spring, I was delighted. I belonged to several environmental-type organizations, had no feelings of respect for industry or big business, had one of my own books published by the Sierra Club, and I had written articles for The Indiana Waltonian, Audubon Magazine, and other environmental magazines.
At the time, I had been engaged in field work at the University of Wyoming research station in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for three summers and I worked as biological coordinator for the National Park Service in Glacier National Park. I eagerly read the condensed version of Silent Spring in the New Yorker magazine and bought a copy of the book as soon as I could find it in the stores. As I read the first several chapters I noticed many statements that I realized were false; however, one can overlook such things when they are produced by one’s cohorts, and I did just that.
As I neared the middle of the book, the feeling grew in my mind that Rachel Carson was really playing loose with the facts and was also deliberately wording many sentences in such a way as to make them imply certain things without actually saying them. She was carefully omitting everything that failed to support her thesis that pesticides were bad, that industry was bad, and that any scientists who did not support her views were bad.
I then took notice of her bibliography and realized that it was filled with references from very unscientific sources. Also, each reference was cited separately each time it appeared in the book, thus producing an impressive array of “references” even though not many different sources were actually cited. I began to lose confidence in Rachel Carson, even though I thought that as an environmentalist I really should continue to support her.
I next looked up some of the references that Carson cited and quickly found that they did not support her contentions about the harm caused by pesticides. When leading scientists began to publish harsh criticisms of her methods and her allegations, it slowly dawned on me that Rachel Carson was not interested in the truth about those topics, and that I really was being duped, along with millions of other Americans.
As a result, I went back to the beginning of the book and read it all again, but this time my eyes were open and I was not lulled into believing that her motives were noble and that her statements could be supported by logic and by scientific fact. I wrote my comments down in rough draft style, and gathered together the scientific articles that refuted what Carson had reported the articles indicated. It was a most frustrating experience.
Finally, I began to join the detractors of Silent Spring, and when hearings were held to determine the fate of DDT in various states of this nation, I paid my own way to some of them so that I could testify against the efforts to ban that life-saving insecticide. It was gratifying to find that great numbers of scientists and health officials whom I had always held in high esteem were also testifying at those hearings, in defense of DDT and in opposition to the rising tide of antipesticide propaganda in environmental publications and in the media.
In testifying and speaking in public, I frequently exposed the misleading references Rachel Carson had cited in her book, presenting her statements from Silent Spring and then reading the truth from the actual publications she was purporting to characterize. This revealed to the audiences just how untruthful and misleading the allegations of Silent Spring really were.
Now, nearly 30 years later, the controversy is still boiling about how truthful Rachel Carson was. I recently learned that a movie honoring Rachel Carson and Silent Spring is being made for television. Because I believe such a movie would further misinform the public, the media, and our legislators, I decided to type up my original rough notes from 1962-1963 and make them available. Here they are, page by page, starting with her dedication.”
“No matter how deceitful her prose, however, the influence of Carson’s Silent Spring has been very great and it continues 30 years later to shape environmentalist propaganda and fund-raising as well as U.S. policy.”
In addition, DDT was used with dramatic effect to shorten and prevent typhus epidemics during and after WWII when people were dusted with large amounts of it but suffered no ill effects, which is perhaps the most persuasive evidence that the chemical is harmless to humans. The product was such a boon to public health that in 1948 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Dr. Paul Müller for his discovery of the “contact insecticidal action” of DDT.
Although the use of DDT is not risk-free, there is a vast difference between applying large amounts of it in the environment — as farmers sometimes did before it was banned in the United States — and using it carefully and sparingly to fight mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects, as it is used in a handful of African and Asian countries even today. It is sprayed or dusted indoors in small amounts to prevent mosquitoes from nesting, so exposures are extremely low. The now well-known problems associated with the thinning of raptor’s eggshells – while always exaggerated – can be completely avoided by using DDT with care exclusively in residential areas, because the chemical remains largely near where it is sprayed. No study has ever linked DDT environmental exposure to harm to human health.
A basic principle of toxicology is that the dose makes the poison, and with modern regimens both environmental and human exposures would be very low. But “Silent Spring” condemned essentially all use of chemical insecticides and rejected the firmly established principle that products with known but small risks can offset far larger risks and provide a net safety benefit.
Carson’s disingenuous proselytizing spurred public pressure to ban DDT in many countries, with disastrous consequences: a lack of effective control of mosquitoes that carry malaria and other diseases. Malaria imposes huge costs on individuals, families and governments. It inflicts a crushing economic burden on malaria-endemic countries and impedes their economic growth. A study by the Harvard University Center for International Development estimated that a high incidence of malaria reduces economic growth by 1.3 percentage points each year. Compounded over the four decades since the first bans of DDT, that lost growth has made some of the world’s poorest countries an astonishing 40 percent poorer than had there been more effective mosquito control.
It is bad enough that the case against DDT was based on anecdote and innuendo, but Carson and Dunn and the regulators who banned DDT failed to consider the inadequacy of alternatives. Because it persists after spraying, DDT works far better than many pesticides now in use, many of which are just as toxic to birds, mammals, fish and other aquatic organisms. And with DDT unavailable, many mosquito-control authorities are depleting their budgets by repeated spraying with expensive, short-acting and marginally effective insecticides.
Another advantage of DDT is that even when mosquitoes become resistant to its killing effects, they are still repelled by it. An occasional dusting of window and door-frames is extremely effective at keeping mosquitoes out of homes, schools, hospitals, and other buildings. When used in this way, the exploitation of DDT’s repellency also exposes people to lower amounts of insecticide than occurs with the only comparably effective alternative, bed nets soaked in various other pesticides. Moreover, limited DDT spraying does its work at a fraction of the cost.
The legacy of Rachel Carson is that tens of millions of human lives — mostly children in poor, tropical countries — have been traded for the possibility of slightly improved fertility in raptors. This remains one of the monumental human tragedies of the last century. It is deplorable that university students are exposed to a science that manifests such ignorance and failure to respect the norms of science.
This story is remarkable in that it demonstrates what happens when junk science is supported by scientists and media with a progressive agenda for the purpose of raising funds to feather their nests and gain political power. Liberals do this on an ongoing basis. Think Global Warming!
The next and even more egregious example of liberal and progressive thought and action is the promotion of Eugenics.
Eugenics, the social movement claiming to improve the genetic features of human populations through selective breeding and sterilization, based on the idea that it is possible to distinguish between superior and inferior elements of society, played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States prior to its involvement in World War II.
Eugenics was practiced in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany and U.S. programs provided much of the inspiration for the latter. Stefan Kühl has documented the consensus between Nazi race policies and those of eugenicists in other countries, including the United States, and points out that eugenicists understood Nazi policies and measures as the realization of their goals and demands.
A hallmark of the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century, now generally associated with racist and nativist elements (as the movement was to some extent a reaction to a change in emigration from Europe) rather than scientific genetics, eugenics was considered a method of preserving and improving the dominant groups in the population’
Eugenics, as a modern concept, was originally developed by Francis Galton. It has roots in France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States in the 1860s-1870s
British scientist Francis Galton is perhaps best known for his studies that compared the behavioral differences between dizygotic and monozygotic twins, or perhaps for his statistical innovations including the concepts of chi square, regression, and correlation. What many people don't realize, however, is that Galton was also the creator of the field of eugenics. In an 1869 work, Galton assembled biographical information from obituaries and other sources and constructed pedigrees of leading English families, concluding that superior intelligence and abilities were inherited with an efficiency of 20%. From this work, he coined the term "eugenics," meaning "well born," and theorized that humanity could be improved by encouraging the fittest members of society to have more children.
Galton's ideas soon gained popularity both at home and abroad. In the United States, the eugenics movement hit its stride in the early 1900s, when increased interest in the genetics of animal breeding coincided with rediscovery of Mendel's 1865 work demonstrating the inheritance patterns of certain characteristics in pea plants. Charles Davenport, a chicken breeder and agriculturalist, was one of the first American scientists to embrace Mendelian genetics. Through his studies of large families, Davenport uncovered valuable information regarding the inheritance of conditions such as albinism and neurofibromatosis. However, Davenport's involvement in the eugenics movement would soon overshadow these accomplishments.
It is important to understand the cultural background of the era that created this field of “science.” After the Civil War, there was turbulent economy and an influx of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. The economy of the US had rapid fluctuations and remained in this tenuous manner until WWI. As the economy became more uncertain, the social inequalities between different segments of society became more visible.
In the same era, the idea of Social Darwinism became popular and was used to explain these social inequalities. Social Darwinism utilizes the concept of natural selection from Charles Darwin and applies it to society. Social Darwinism explains survival of the fittest in terms of the capability of an individual to survive within a competitive environment. This explains social inequalities by explaining that the wealthy are better individuals and therefore better suited to survive in the uncertain economy. In terms of survival of the fittest the wealthy are more likely to survive and produce more offspring than the poor.
However, this was not occurring. The birthrate of the elite was declining while the birthrate of the poor was increasing. Meanwhile governmental social programs and aid were doing little help the increasing poverty. The government utilized the idea of scientific management, known as progressivism. Progressive reformers relied on science to control both nature and human society. This view of science as a method of reform and the newly rediscovered science of genetics gave rise to social engineering — EUGENICS.
Eugenicists believed genetics were the cause of problems for the human gene pool. Eugenics stated that society already had paid enough to support these degenerates and the use of sterilization would save money. The eugenicists used quantitative facts to produce scientific evidence. They believed that charity and welfare only treated the symptoms, eugenic sought to eliminate the disease. The following traits were seen as degenerative to the human gene pool to which the eugenicists were determined to eliminate: poverty, feeble-mindedness-including manic depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, rebelliousness, criminality, nomadness, and prostitution.
The accuracy of eugenicist methods was severely overrated. Although based on genetics, the eugenic scientists did not document any genetic relationship to some qualities that they studied, such as politeness, bluntness, etc. It is especially amazing that the scientists made such brilliant relationships between genes and behavior at a time when they did not even know that DNA carried genes, causing the researchers to treat complex behavior as though it had a single cause. Other flaws in research included the researchers did not did not take into account the impact that the environment plays into a person’s behavior. They also used culturally based IQ tests on immigrants to determine IQ. Finally, the early eugenicists made up results to give scientific results.
Many of the eugenicist's ideas came from studies of the supposed deterioration of a genetic stock over time. For example, the sociologist Richard Dugdale based his study on “The Jukes,” which is a clan of 700 criminals, prostitutes, and paupers. Dugdale believed that bad environment caused their degeneracy and could be reversed over time. A.H. Estabrook resurveyed the Jukes in 1915 but saw little improvement in the family. He concluded that several traits associated with inadequacy were inherited. However, since the eugenicists did not understand genetics and the methods of inheritance, they formed their method of inheritance. The meant that desired traits could only be spread to children through marriage between two “worthy” families. Undesired traits were always spread between “shiftless” families. A child between a worthy family and a shiftless family would be mostly shiftless but a little desirable.
Before eugenics became internationally recognized in WWII, it was a very popular movement in the United States. In fact the American Eugenics Society set up pavilions and "Fitter Families Contest" to popularize eugenics at state fairs. The average family advocated for the utilization of eugenics while educational systems embraced eugenics, which was presented as science fact by the majority biology texts. In fact, eugenics became so popular that eighteen solutions were explored in a Carnegie-Foundation supported study in 1911, to report the best practical means for eliminating defective genes in the Human Population. Although the eighth of the 18 solutions was euthanasia, the researchers believed it was too early to implement this solution. The most commonly suggested method of eugenicide in America was a lethal chamber, or gas chamber. Instead, the main solution was the rapid expansion of forced segregation and sterilization, as well as increased marriage restrictions. However, not everybody was in favor of eugenics, Punnett at the first international congress for Eugenics in 1911 stated, “Except in very few cases, our knowledge of heredity in man at present is far too slight and far too uncertain to base legislation upon.”
The world thought Hitler was mad, but the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race was not Adolf Hitler’s. The idea was created in the United States at least two decades before Hitler came to power. In fact, in 1924, when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, he frequently quoted American eugenics and displayed a thorough knowledge. “There is today one state, Hitler wrote, in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception [of immigration] are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the United States." Hitler told his fellow Nazis that he closely followed American eugenic legislation. “I have studied with great interest the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock.”
During the beginning of the third Reich, eugenicists across America welcomed Hitler’s plans as the logical implementation of their own research. Ten years after Virginia passed its 1924 sterilization act, Joseph DeJarnette, superintendent of Virginias Western State Hospital, complained in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The Germans are beating us at our own game.”
In 1934, the number of sterilizations in Germany was accelerating beyond 5,000 per month. Beginning in 1940, thousands of Germans were taken from homes for the elderly, mental institutions and other state ran institutions and was systematically gassed. In all, between 50,000 and 100,000 were killed.
Number of sterilized from each condition
- Hereditary feeble-mindedness: 200,000
- Schizophrenia: 80,000
- Epilepsy: 60,000
- Manic-depressive psychosis: 20,000
- Serious physical deformities: 20,000
- Hereditary deafness: 16,000
- Hereditary alcoholism: 10,000
- Hereditary blindness: 4,000
- Huntington's chorea: 600
Hitler believed that Jews were racially inferior. They played a decisive role in social degeneracy, such as prostitution, pornography, modern art, financial crimes, and the narcotics trade. Jewish people possessed no ethics or morality and that they had been engaged in a 4,000-year-old conspiracy to dominate the world pursuant to their view of themselves as the chosen people. Just like other eugenicists, Hitler believed that these characteristics and values were in the genes of the Jewish people, and therefore are able to be eradicated from the general population Hitler’s threat to exterminate European Jewry was made to the Reichstag on January 30, 1939: “In the course of my life I have often been a prophet, and have usually been ridiculed for it. If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevisation of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation [Vernichtung] of the Jewish race in Europe”
Hitler attempted to succeed in this goal by annihilating hundreds of thousands of the Jewish population in concentration camps using the American favored method of extermination of the gas chambers. There were also rumors that Hitler made Lebensborn a "stud farms" where SS men and suitable young women were mated to breed a master race. However this is nothing more than a myth. Lebensborn was in fact a conservative institution with a conservative sexual code, attempting to maintain middle-class respectability.
The connection between the American Eugenics movement and the Nazi eugenic movement was further solidified in the Nuremburg trials that judged the crimes committed by the Nazis during the war. In their defense the Nazis quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes from the infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell trial. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
The American elite’s pre-World War II commitment to breeding out the “unfit” — defined variously as racial minorities, low-I.Q. whites, the mentally and physically handicapped, and the criminally inclined — is a story that defies easy stereotypes about progress and enlightenment. On the one hand, these American eugenicists tended to be WASP grandees — ivory-tower dwellers and privileged with an obvious incentive to invent spurious theories to justify their own position.
But these same eugenicists were often political and social liberals — advocates of social reform, partisans of science, critics of stasis and reaction. “They weren’t sinister characters out of some darkly lighted noir film about Nazi sympathizers, but environmentalists, peace activists, fitness buffs, healthy-living enthusiasts, inventors and family men.” From Teddy Roosevelt to the Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, fears about “race suicide” and “human weeds” were common among self-conscious progressives, who saw the quest for a better gene pool as of a piece with their broader dream of human advancement.
This progressive fascination with eugenics largely ended with World War II and the horrors wrought by National Socialism. But while the West has discarded the theory of the eugenics era, the practice urged by Fisher and others — the elimination or pre-emption, through careful reproductive planning, of the weaker members of the human species — has become a more realistic possibility than it ever was in the 1920s and ’30s.
The eugenicists had very general ideas about genetics and heredity, very crude ideas about intelligence, and deeply poisonous ideas about racial hierarchies. They did not have, as we do, access to the genetic blueprints of individuals — including, most important, human beings still developing in utero, whose development can be legally interrupted by the intervention of an abortionist.
Eugenics in the United States were championed by Universities such as Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and the University of Indiana. Foundations such as the Carnegie Institute and Rockefeller Foundation funded research at the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory. It was at Cold Springs Between 1910 and 1939, the laboratory was the base of the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) of biologist Charles B. Davenport and his assistant Harry H. Laughlin, two prominent American eugenicists of the period. Davenport was director of the Carnegie Station from its inception until his retirement in 1934. In 1935 the Carnegie Institution sent a team to review the ERO's work, and as a result the ERO was ordered to stop all work. In 1939 the Institution withdrew funding for the ERO entirely, leading to its closure. The ERO's reports, articles, charts, and pedigrees were considered scientific facts in their day, but have since been discredited. However, its closure came 15 years after its findings were incorporated into the National Origins Act (Immigration Act of 1924), which severely reduced the number of immigrants to America from southern and Eastern Europe who, Harry Laughlin testified, were racially inferior to the Nordic immigrants from England and Germany. Charles Davenport was also the founder and the first director of the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations in 1925.
The Rockefeller Foundation funded eugenics research in German until 1939, the eve of WWII. This funding was carried on even after the atrocities at Hartheim Castle euthanasia was carried out on the undesirables and degenerates” in gas chambers and busses were carbon monoxide was funneled into the sealed interior. It was also during this period Germans were build concentration camps in Germany with plans to expand the program after the invasion and occupation of Poland.
Who were the most famous advocates of Eugenics in the United States? To name a few of the more notable they were:
Margaret Sanger – the Founder of today’s Planned Parenthood
H.G. Wells - author
Luther Burbank- botanist
George Bernard Shaw - author
Theodore Roosevelt- President of the United States
Woodrow Wilson – President of the United States
Oliver Wendell Holmes – Associate and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Hugo Black – Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Alexander Graham Bell – American inventor of the telephone
David Starr Jordan. – Stanford professor and founder of Eugenics Committee of the American Breeders Association and ERO at Cold Springs.
John Harvey Kellogg – Corn Flakes king
Henry Ford – Industrialist
Thomas Edison – inventor
John Maynard Keynes – economist
Bertrand Russell – philosopher
In 1935, the Los Angeles Times published a long defense of Germany's sterilization policies, in which the author noted that the Nazis "had to resort to the teachings of eugenic science" because Germany had been "deprived of her colonies, blessed with many hundreds of defective racial hybrids as a lasting memory of the colored army of occupation, and dismembered all around." Not only did California eugenicists know about Nazi efforts to use sterilization as a method of "race hygiene" — targeted primarily at Jews — they also approved efforts to stop "race-mixing" and increase the birth rate of the "Northern European type of family." The chilling words of Progressive reformer John Randolph Haynes anticipated the Nazi regime's murder of 100,000 mentally ill patients: "There are thousands of hopelessly insane in California, the condition of those minds is such that death would be a merciful release. How long will it be before society will see the criminality of using its efforts to keep alive these idiots, hopelessly insane, and murderous degenerates. Of course the passing of these people should be painless and without warning. They should go to sleep at night without any intimation of what was coming and never awake."
At the height of the movement, 30 states had adopted legislation that legalized the sterilization of individuals deemed unfit for reproduction. In most states, that meant the mentally ill or mentally deficient. By the time all was said and done, somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 people had been forcefully sterilized in state-sanctioned procedures. In some states, such as California, sterilization records are incomplete or often altered, making it impossible to truly know how many people were subjected to the procedures. It was done to men and women, Caucasians as well as individual from other and mixed races. State laws in California included permissions for those who were in prisons to be eligible for sterilization, as well as those found to have any chance of carrying hereditary dementia or insanity. The laws also removed the patients’ rights to contest the procedure, although it was still necessary for parents to consent to the sterilization of their minor children. In the years between 1921 and 1950, roughly 450 people were sterilized in California each year. California still practices forced sterilization of women in prison.
After World War Two and the horrors of the Nazi extermination camps became common public knowledge you could not find one supporter of Eugenics in the United States. They were all like Sgt. Schultz of the “Hogan’s Heroes” TV show — Ï saw nothing, I heard nothing, I know nothing.” Biographers of these men in most part made little mention of their participation in Eugenics or ignored it completely. In 2009 Hillary Clinton accepted the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood — the organization founded by Margaret Sanger. During the event, Clinton said that emphasizing and promoting abortion is a key issue in President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. She said she felt honored. Yes honored to be connected with an organization that believed in the sterilization of Negro women and “undesirables” for the purification of the gene pool.
From a rigorously pro-choice perspective, the in utero phase is a space in human development where disease and disability can be eradicated, and our impulse toward perfection given ever-freer rein, without necessarily doing any violence to human dignity and human rights.
But this is a convenient liberal progressive perspective for our civilization to take. Having left behind pseudoscientific racial theories, it’s easy for us to look back and pass judgment on yesterday’s eugenicists. It’s harder to acknowledge what we have in common with them.
First, a relentless desire for mastery and control, not only over our own lives but over the very marrow and sinew of generations yet unborn. And second, a belief in our own fundamental goodness, no matter to what ends our mastery is turned.