Oct 8, 2010

Wait — eugenics, did you say? Isn’t that a discredited pseudoscience from centuries past, like phrenology?

Well, yes, but eugenics never went away. Despite reaching its bloody culmination in the Nazi era, eugenics is still seductive as a concept to many people, and eugenics-based proposals still crop up in popular culture distressingly often, frequently by people who don’t even realize the historical implications of what they’re suggesting.

Over the last several days I’ve noticed an alarming upswing in eugenics-related incidents and current events, even though none of them were identified as such. And so, to rectify this oversight by the Meme Lords, I present — This Week in Eugenics!

(Note: For the purposes of this article, I’m using the most inclusive definition of the term “eugenics,” covering not just social programs designed to “improve genetic stock,” but also many notions closely related to and derived from eugenics, such as involuntary euthanasia, ethnic cleansing, suppressing birthrates among unwanted groups, mass rape, forced abortions, and killing your opponents en masse as a way of eradicating them from the gene pool.)

British liberal: Murdering substandard babies is highly recommended</p>Left-leaning British pundit Virginia Ironside stunned BBC viewers last Sunday when she said on air that she would enthusiastically suffocate any child who was “suffering.” The video really must be seen to be believed:

“If I were a mother of a suffering child — I mean a deeply suffering child — I would be the first to want to put a pillow over its face… If it was a child I really loved, who was in agony, I think any good mother would.”
(Make sure to pay close attention to the facial expressions of her shocked fellow guest, the young Reverend Joanna Jepson, who is literally rendered speechless by Ironside’s moral framework.)

Not included in this video clip are additional statements by Ironside earlier in the show which clarify what she means by “suffering”:

But she said there were millions of disabled and unwanted children around the world who were left suffering in institutions.
“To go ahead and have a baby, knowing that you can’t give it some kind of stable upbringing, seems to me to be cruel,” she said.

“If a baby’s going to be born severely disabled or totally unwanted, surely an abortion is the act of a loving mother.”
I don’t think I need to remind everyone that the Holocaust got its start as a program of “merciful” euthanasia for the disabled:

Forced sterilization in Germany was the forerunner of the systematic killing of the mentally ill and the handicapped. In October 1939, Hitler himself initiated a decree which empowered physicians to grant a “mercy death” to “patients considered incurable according to the best available human judgment of their state of health.”
Virginia Ironside is not alone in her thinking — her “progressive” views are commonplace in Europe and among certain sectors of the American populace. Are these people even aware of their not-so-subconscious dalliance with eugenics?

After 30 years of forced abortions, China breaks promise to end “one-child policy”</p>When China instituted its “one-child policy” exactly 30 years ago this month, they vowed that it was temporary and would end after 30 years. Now that the 30 years are up — surprise! — it looks like they won’t be ending it after all:

When China introduced its drastic population controls, officials promised that it would lift them after 30 years – an anniversary which falls this weekend. Aware of the resentment the policy would cause, the government said it was a temporary measure in response to China’s high unemployment and food scarcity.

“In 30 years, when our current extreme population growth eases, we can then adopt a different population policy,” read the announcement from the Communist Party Central Committee.

But today, the one-child policy remains firmly in place and government officials cannot shake the idea that it has played an important role in China’s economic miracle.

With only one child to care for, parents have been able to save more money, enabling banks to make the loans that have funded China’s huge investments in infrastructure.

Meanwhile, officials claim the policy has conserved food and energy and allowed each child better education and healthcare.

“We will continue the one-child policy until at least 2015,” said the National Family Planning Commission earlier this year.
Actually, that whole 2015 business is just a lie too. The government has no plans to ever end the policy:

China: One-child policy will stand

China will not drop its one-child policy, officials say, 30 years after Beijing decreed the population-control measure.

“I, on behalf of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, extend profound gratitude to all, the people in particular, for their support of the national course,” said Li Bin, who leads the commission.

So we will stick to the family-planning policy in the coming decades,” she said over the weekend, according to the state-run China Daily.
Who could have ever suspected that totalitarian “emergency measures” would last indefinitely?


John Holdren remains unashamed about hero-worship of eugenicist</p>Obama’s Science Czar John Holdren is back in the news again. Over the last week, bloggers and pundits have continued trying to decipher Holdren’s latest euphemism for global warming, “global climate disruption”:

Global warming could be a thing of the past, thanks to the Barack Obama administration.

No, the White House has not single-handedly managed to stop the apparent rising temperature — but it does think the terminology oversimplifies the problem.

According to U.S. science adviser John Holdren, the public should start using the phrase ‘global climate disruption’ because it makes the situation sound more dangerous.
What’s that got to do with eugenics? Nothing directly. The connection comes from my shock that Holdren still walks around proudly declaiming his views, even after my essay from last year exposing Holdren’s close ideological connection to a notorious eugenicist:

John Holdren and Harrison Brown

Lifelong intellectual infatuation with eugenics-minded futurist casts shadow over Science Czar Holdren’s worldview

John Holdren, the Science Czar of the United States, has long expressed an intense admiration — one that bordered on hero-worship — of a man named Harrison Brown, a respected scientist from an earlier generation who spent his later years writing about overpopulation and ecological destruction. In fact, as Holdren has pointed out several times (including very recently), it was Harrison Brown’s most famous book, The Challenge of Man’s Future, which transformed the young Holdren’s personal philosophy and which inspired him to later embark on a career in science and population policy which in many ways mirrored that of his idol Brown.

Holdren’s regard for Brown was so high that in 1986 he edited and co-wrote an homage to Brown entitled Earth and the Human Future: Essays in Honor of Harrison Brown, in which Holdren showers Brown with accolades and unrestrained applause.

At first glance, there’s nothing remarkable or amiss with this picture: one respected scientist giving credit to and paying tribute to another. Happens all the time. Except in this case, something is amiss. Grievously amiss. Because Harrison Brown, whatever good qualities Holdren might have seen in him, was also an unapologetic eugenicist who made horrifying recommendations for “sterilizing the feeble-minded” and other “unfit” substandard humans whom he thought should be “pruned from society.”

You might think that these opinions would disqualify Brown as someone deserving praise in the modern world; but not to John Holdren, it seems — perhaps because Brown’s views (as Holdren himself has stated many times) were the basis of Holdren’s own worldview.
Skim the whole essay for the stomach-churning details. A sampling, with quotes from both Brown and Holdren:

“The feeble-minded, the morons, the dull and backward, and the lower-than-average persons in our society are outbreeding the superior ones at the present time. … Is there anything that can be done to prevent the long-range degeneration of human stock? Unfortunately, at the present time there is little, other than to prevent breeding in persons who present glaring deficiencies clearly dangerous to society and which are known to be of a hereditary nature. Thus we could sterilize or in other ways discourage the mating of the feeble-minded. We could go further and systematically attempt to prune from society, by prohibiting them from breeding, persons suffering from serious inheritable forms of physical defects, such as congenital deafness, dumbness, blindness, or absence of limbs. … A broad eugenics program would have to be formulated which would aid in the establishment of policies that would encourage able and healthy persons to have several offspring and discourage the unfit from breeding at excessive rates.”
— Harrison Brown, in The Challenge of Man’s Future
“Harrison Brown’s most remarkable book, The Challenge of Man’s Future, was published more than three decades ago. By the time I read it as a high school student a few years later, the book had been widely acclaimed…. The Challenge of Man’s Future pulled these interests together for me in a way that transformed my thinking about the world and about the sort of career I wanted to pursue. I have always suspected that I am not the only member of my generation whose aspirations and subsequent career were changed by this book of Harrison Brown’s…. As a demonstration of the power of (and necessity for) an interdisciplinary approach to global problems, the book was a tour de force…. Thirty years after Harrison Brown elaborated these positions, it remains difficult to improve on them as a coherent depiction of the perils and challenges we face. Brown’s accomplishment in writing The Challenge of Man’s Future, of course, was not simply the construction of this sweeping schema for understanding the human predicament; more remarkable was (and is) the combination of logic, thoroughness, clarity, and force with which he marshalled data and argumentation on every element of the problem and on their interconnections. It is a book, in short, that should have reshaped permanently the perceptions of all serious analysts….”
— John Holdren, in Earth and the Human Future: Essays in Honor of Harrison Brown
This man remains the Science Czar of the United States, appointed by Obama. My previous exposés of Holdren (the whole “forced abortions and mass sterilization” thing) were so widely linked that they entered the mainstream consciousness; but to my mind this lesser-known eugenics-related scandal — the connection between Holdren and Harrison Brown — is even more shocking. And yet he blithely jets around the world as a representative of the United States, as if none of this had ever been revealed.

Michael Savage and Nicholas D. Kristof agree: Let’s do what we can to stop poor people from having babies</p>Politics makes strange bedfellows. And eugenics makes the strangest bedfellows of all. Two different pundits at opposite ends of the political and personality spectrum — hyper-conservative firebrand Michael Savage, and wishy-washy liberal Nicholas D. Kristof — both published essentially the same opinion this week: That we as a society should do whatever we can to stop poor people from over-breeding.

As you might expect, Savage phrased his recommendations in the bluntest possible terms, whereas Kristof danced around the issue and tried to doll it up:

Michael Savage:

[Savage] also wants to see Norplant, the embedded contraceptive, required for all women on welfare.

“That’s a revolutionary statement,” he admitted. “But should we permit women on welfare to keep knocking out babies to increase their benefits? Only an insane society would permit that.”
Nicholas D. Kristof:

Contraception research just hasn’t received the resources it deserves, so we have state-of-the-art digital cameras and decades-old family planning methods.

The situation is particularly dire in poor countries, where some 215 million women don’t want to get pregnant yet can’t get their hands on modern contraceptives, according to United Nations figures. One result is continued impoverishment and instability for these countries: it’s impossible to fight poverty effectively when birthrates are sky high.

Yet impressive new contraceptive technologies are in trials and should address this problem.

Another new contraceptive that could have far-reaching impact is the Sino-implant (II), a tiny pair of rods inserted just under the skin (typically in the arm) to release hormones. Other implants are widely used, but one great advantage of the Sino-implant is that it can last four or five years and costs $3 a year or less.

Family planning has long been a missing — and underfunded — link in the effort to overcome global poverty. Half a century after the pill, it’s time to make it a priority and treat it as a basic human right for men and women alike around the world.
Kristof isn’t foolish enough to get into Savage-level recommendations for linking contraception and financial aid, but the notion hovers in the background, unspoken. is, however, unafraid to drag Kristof over the coals for his population-control views.

Neither Savage nor Kristof were likely thinking of their proposals as having anything to do with eugenics — but beware of the law of unintended consequences (or perhaps intended in Savage’s case); once you start dictating to whole classes of people what you think their birthrates should be, it’s a slippery slope to more sinister uses of population control.

Great news! Blacks use a lot of condoms. No more black babies!</p>This week Indiana University released the results of the largest nationwide sex survey in nearly 20 years. While the report is chockful of juicy facts (as one might expect with a sex survey), each media outlet struggled to find the one key fact to highlight. Strangely, many of them focused on something unexpected: increased condom usage among ethnic minorities:

National Sex Study: Condom Usage Among Black and Hispanic Men Significantly Higher Than for White Men

…Rates of condom usage among black and Hispanic men were significantly higher than for whites, which might suggest that promoting condom usage and HIV awareness and prevention in black and brown communities is actually working. Now, that’s a pleasant surprise — a public service campaign that is actually working.
While black condom usage was hailed as great news in every MSM story on the subject, the specter of Margaret Sanger loomed, unseen, unacknowledged.

Why Margaret Sanger? Well, it was she who first successfully promoted mass-adoption of contraception in American society. And it was she who, controversially, also held eugenicist views which had a racial tinge, especially in a program she called “The Negro Project” that was designed to encourage blacks to use as much contraception as possible. Why? Well, here’s where the argument begins.

African-American Christian groups are absolutely positive that, as revealed in her writings, Sanger saw contraception as a way to depopulate or eliminate “negroes” from American society. Two quotes are widely cited, and remain, many decades later, the center of a furious controversy.

The first quote comes from a letter Sanger wrote seeking help for her “Negro Project,” a plan to open birth-control clinics in black neighborhoods. Here’s the full quote:

[We propose to] hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. And we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.
Critics read that and say Sanger’s words are clear enough; “we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population” speaks for itself. And you’ll find thousands of Web sites citing this passage as proof that Sanger had nefarious racist goals.

Her organization, Planned Parenthood, however, goes to great lengths to put its own spin on the passage, arguing that what Sanger meant to say was “we do not want [the false rumor] to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” and that this reading is clear from the context.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that Sanger once quoted, apparently with a stamp of approval, a mortifying sentence originally written by W.E.B. DuBois:

The mass of ignorant Negroes still breed carelessly and disastrously, so that the increase among Negroes, even more than the increase among whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear their children properly.
— W.E.B. DuBois, Birth Control Review, June 1932. Quoted by Sanger in her proposal for the “Negro Project.”
Is this eugenics-minded quote any less horrifying in that it came from the pen of a black (or at least self-identified black) man? And does Sanger’s clever citation of someone else’s words to convey her opinion give her plausible deniability? Did she sufficiently distance herself from the racist attitudes implicit in DuBois’ quote?

So: is it good news that blacks are using a lot of condoms and as a result getting pregnant less often? Or is it part of a sinister decades-old eugenics plan, spearheaded by Margaret Sanger, to decrease the number of blacks in America?


No pressure — we’ll just wipe out everyone who disagrees with us</p>
As already noted in my previous post, the British nonprofit group “10:10