When Donald Trump rode down the golden staircase from heaven and announced his candidacy for the presidency we were about to set sail on the “way back” machine.
In those dark days we learned just what his whole candidacy would be about…..immigration and the demonization of those people trying to enter into the US…these people are criminals, disease carriers, weak and imperfect…..in making these statements he is resurrecting a century’s old evil….that of Eugenics.
What the Hell is Eugenics anyway?
Eugenics is the philosophy and social movement that argues it is possible to improve the human race and society by encouraging reproduction by people or populations with “desirable” traits (termed “positive” eugenics) and discouraging reproduction by people with “undesirable” qualities (termed “negative” eugenics). The eugenics movement began in the United States in the early part of the 20th century; the United States was the first country to have a systematic program for performing sterilizations on individuals without their knowledge or against their will. It was supported and encouraged by a wide swath of people, including politicians, scientists, social reformers, prominent business leaders and other influential individuals who shared a goal of reducing the “burden” on society. The majority of people targeted for sterilization were deemed of inferior intelligence, particularly poor people and eventually people of color
Does that sound vaguely familiar? Say the rhetoric of some madman in the 1930s Europe, perhaps.
Well the idea of eugenics was not some wrapped idea from the mind of a dictator but rather the mind of learned men in the US….let’s right…the program that lead to genocide was an American innovation.
We Americans passed laws that made eugenics possible.
The eugenics movement began in the U.S. in the late 19th century. However, unlike in Britain, eugenicists in the U.S. focused on efforts to stop the transmission of negative or “undesirable” traits from generation to generation. In response to these ideas, some US leaders, private citizens, and corporations started funding eugenical studies. This lead to the 1911 establishment of The Eugenics Records Office (ERO) in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The ERO spent time tracking family histories and concluded that people deemed to be unfit more often came from families that were poor, low in social standing, immigrant, and/or minority. Further, ERO researchers “demonstrated” that the undesirable traits in these families, such as pauperism, were due to genetics, and not lack of resources.
Committees were convened to offer solutions to the problem of the growing number of “undesirables” in the U.S. population. Stricter immigration rules were enacted, but the most ominous resolution was a plan to sterilize “unfit” individuals to prevent them from passing on their negative traits. During the 20th century, a total of 33 states had sterilization programs in place. While at first sterilization efforts targeted mentally ill people exclusively, later the traits deemed serious enough to warrant sterilization included alcoholism, criminality chronic poverty, blindness, deafness, feeble-mindedness, and promiscuity. It was also not uncommon for African American women to be sterilized during other medical procedures without consent. Most people subjected to these sterilizations had no choice, and because the program was run by the government, they had little chance of escaping the procedure. It is thought that around 65,000 Americans were sterilized during this time period.
Does the history of eugenics sound at all familiar? I am guessing that if you are a screaming racist then the answer would be no….but to the rest of us it sounds all too familiar…..
“We cannot build a wall high enough to keep out the wrong sorts of humans”…..that was not Donald Trump but rather an American statesman in the early 1900s Charles Davenport.
Even a founder of the NAACP WEB DuBois thought that eugenics was a good idea with African-Americans….think not?
And you thought we had a handle on the race thing……HA!
If you have thoughts then now is a good time……
“Lego Ergo Scribo”