Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Three Generations of Imbeciles Are Enough"

"Three Generations of Imbeciles Are Enough."

One thing that was missed by those who trashed the show Darwin's Deadly Legacy before they watched it (other related posts here and here), was that the segment about the Hitler connection was relatively small. It was only one part of an examination of the Social Darwinism and Eugenics movements and their varied aspects and "successes." As noted previously, it is well established that Darwinian thinking gave rise to the Eugenics movement. I did not realize how pervasive this movement was right here in the United States.

In the 1927 case of Buck v. Bell, the US Supreme Court upheld the right of the state of Virginia to sterilize a mentally retarded woman against her will. Writing for the majority, Oliver Wendell Holmes said this (bold emphasis mine throughout this post):
We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. 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. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

"A Dead Weight of Human Waste"

Another enlightening segment of the show referenced a quote from Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. Here is some of what she had to say in her 1922 book, The Pivot of Civilization:
The emergency problem of segregation and sterilization must be faced immediately. Every feeble-minded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period. Otherwise, she is almost certain to bear imbecile children, who in turn are just as certain to breed other defectives. The male defectives are no less dangerous. Segregation carried out for one or two generations would give us only partial control of the problem. Moreover, when we realize that each feeble- minded person is a potential source of an endless progeny of defect, we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded.

Not so "pro-choice." In another part of the book, she writes:

But there is a special type of philanthropy or benevolence, now widely advertised and advocated, both as a federal program and as worthy of private endowment, which strikes me as being more insidiously injurious than any other. This concerns itself directly with the function of maternity, and aims to supply GRATIS medical and nursing facilities to slum mothers. Such women are to be visited by nurses and to receive instruction in the ``hygiene of pregnancy''; to be guided in making arrangements for confinements; to be invited to come to the doctor's clinics for examination and supervision. They are, we are informed, to ``receive adequate care during pregnancy, at confinement, and for one month afterward.'' Thus are mothers and babies to be saved. ``Childbearing is to be made safe.'' . . . .

. . . .

Such philanthropy, as Dean Inge has so unanswerably pointed out, is kind only to be cruel, and unwittingly promotes precisely the results most deprecated. It encourages the healthier and more normal sections of the world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate fecundity of others; which brings with it, as I think the reader must agree, a dead weight of human waste. Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant.

So much for compassionate progressivism.

I do not have time at the moment to add my comments on what this all means to the current debate. I hope to post on that topic shortly. Until then, this link will give you a clue. Here is another. And how can you resist reading a post with the title "Penguins, Shy Swedish Females and the Non-Speciesist Imperative"?


At August 31, 2006 10:56 PM, Anonymous John said...

Mr. Foxman would do well to read this article from (Motto: "Your Life, Your Judaism").

The first quote from a noteworthy scientist is particularly chilling:

[The speaker] inferred that "we cannot continue to regard all human life as sacred". The idea that every person has a soul and that his life must be saved at all costs should not be allowed; instead the status of life and death should be reconsidered. If, for example, a child were to be considered legally born when two days old, it could be examined to see whether it was an "acceptable member of human society". It might also be desirable to define a person as legally dead when he was past the age of 80 or 85, and then expensive medical equipment should be forbidden to him . . .

If new biological advances demand a continuous readjustment of ethical ideas, how are people to be persuaded to adapt to the situation? Clearly by education, and [the speaker] did not think it right that religious instruction should be given to young children. Instead they should be taught the modern scientific view of man's place in the universe, in the world and in society, and the nature of scientific truth. Not only traditional religious values must be re-examined, but also what might be called liberal views about society. It is obvious that not all men are born equal and it is by no means clear that all races are equally gifted.

This was published in 1968, not 1938, and it was published in a scientific journal, not some fascist pamphlet. See if you can guess who it is before clicking the link.

Several other infamous incidents along these lines in the U.S. come to me just off the top of my head:

* The Tuskegee Syphilis "Experiment".

* The widespread but completely unnecessary surgical removal of tonsils from tens of thousands of schoolchildren in the late 1960's through mid 1970's ("They're vestigial, evolution predicts this, it's SCIENCE, slice cut chop!")

* The involuntary sterilization (usually via castration) of mental patients that started in the 1920's and didn't fully stop until the 1950's.

Australia was even worse in its treatment of the Aborigines. Many of the blatantly racist eugenics policies didn't end there until the early 1970's.

The only claim to social Darwinist fame that Germany had was that it was so bald-faced about the whole thing and abandoned any slow and subtle approaches after a few decades.

At May 16, 2007 12:56 AM, Blogger vargas said...

Let us not forget people like Margaret Sanger who is seen in the US as a courageous feminist fighting for women's independence and emancipation.

She was a foremost proponent of eugenics and felt that those not of a certain race, ethnic background or socio-economic class should not be allowed to continue producing children. Her main reason for spearheading contraception and abortion had everything to do with her hatred of non-whites and poor people.


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