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Eugenics Hidden In American History

One of the more well-guarded secrets is the story of eugenics in America. There is a very dark side of political and societal elitism that has not gone away. And in fact has spawned a new form of "population control."


This has been a difficult page to create. The research has been both eye-opening and disheartening. Truth is often that way. But it does illuminate a clear picture of what we should have learned by now from history. It appears as though we have not learned our lessons about the dangers of eugenics in America.


When we lose our moral compass and make decisions based on convenience or methodology, those flawed decisions allow us to remain insulated from the ramifications of those decisions,


Both decisions have long-lasting consequences for the victims and for generations to come. Eugenics in America is one example.


History Of Eugenics In America


The theory of eugenics has been around for centuries, dating back at least to Plato who suggested dictating who could reproduce and who should not, would be in the best interest of society.


Eugenics in America gained traction from beginnings in the United Kingdom. Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin coined the term "eugenics." Darwin, while embracing it's theory suggested it could lead to violence against many more people than originally intended.


In America, many people of influence embraced the idea of this method of cleansing society of its ills. Alexander Graham Bell, John Maynard Keynes, John Kellogg and Margaret Sanger were just a few of the aristocrat segment who supported "forward thinkers" making decisions on who should be allowed to have children and also who should be permanently stopped from adding "to the problem."


There were many in the medical profession who supported this idea as well. And despite clear teaching from the Bible, eugenics in America was promoted from the pulpits of many churches in our country.


In some other churches, it was ignored or given a small measure of concern and then forgotten. That trend has continued today as too many of those who read Holy Scripture to their congregations then remain silent about the current version of eugenics in America that has claimed over 60 million lives so far.


Now back to the early 1920s. Eugenics in America had become a popular idea among the "elite class" who suggested they would dictate the best way to create a more pure human race, free of indigents, criminals and "imbeciles." But they needed some help from the law. They had an ally in the Supreme Court. And he would soon get to spread his message to the world.


Carrie Buck would be the victim. Her name, while not as well known as Margaret Sanger, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Kellogg or those would would impact her life, was nonetheless an important name in the future of many people who would later be deemed as unfit or without value.


Meet Carrie Buck


At age three, Carrie Buck was removed from her biological family. Her mother, Emma, was placed in the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded Persons.


Carrie was sent to a foster family. She was raped by a nephew of her foster parents and became pregnant. To cover up the crime her foster family convinced authorities to send Carrie to the same institution as her birth mother, citing a belief that the "feeble-minded" nature of her mother had been passed to Carrie and would then pass down to her own daughter who would be raised by the foster family who sent Carrie to the institution.


The director of the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded Persons was Albert Priddy. He had already embraced the extreme version of eugenics sterilization and had in fact already performed many involuntary sterilizations of colony residents. He was "cleansing" society of the undesirables.


Around this time, the state of Virginia passed a law allowing the government to sterilize those who might bring children into the world who would be a burden on society. But they needed a test case.


Carrie Buck would be that case. In a remarkably rigged proceeding where Carrie's "representation" was a lawyer who was a strong proponent of eugenics, the stage was set for eugenics in America to take strong root. The US Supreme court in an 8-1 decision allowed involuntary sterilization to proceed as a legal procedure.


Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was also an early proponent of eugenics as a way to weed out "undesirables" 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. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough."


The door was open. The numbers are unclear as to how many forced sterilizations were performed following this decision. There are estimates ranging up to 100,000.


Decades later, after Carrie Buck was released from that colony and evaluated by independent researchers, she was deemed to be a "normal" person who suffered many injustices as a child. The state law that led to her forced sterilization was repealed and she was issued an official apology.


The Supreme Court decision that permitted these awful things to happen to Carrie Buck and so many others, is still on the books. It has never been overturned. According to the Supreme Court, eugenics in America, through forced sterilization is still legal. Is it moral and ethical? Those are different questions.


Nazi Eugenics


In the 1930's as Hitler rose to power, he sought to put the ideas from eugenics in America into practice in his new regime. Margaret Sanger and others in the "Progressive Thinkers" unit were initially supportive of his plans. They all ran for cover when the depth of Hitler's depravity was fully exposed.


And so it began as Hitler launched his Nazi eugenics plan. The history of eugenics is buried but the history of Nazi atrocities that found its roots in the eugenics movement would not end with sterilization. It escalated into millions of people being killed in an effort to strengthen the race. Eugenics and race had found another home.


Back In America


"The New Yorker" offered a review of a book written about this dark period that in reality is still happening in various forms in our country. Just below is a quote from that column.


“Thirty-two states passed eugenic-sterilization laws during the twentieth century, and between sixty and seventy thousand people were sterilized under them. The rhetoric of the movement toned down after the U.S. went to war with Germany; most American eugenicists abandoned their explicit praise of the Nazi project, and the field dwindled as an area of officially sanctioned research. (The disassociation did not go both ways: Buck v. Bell was cited by the defense at Nuremberg.) But the sterilization rate remained high even after the Second World War. So many poor Southerners underwent the procedure that it became known as a 'Mississippi appendectomy.' It was only in the nineteen-sixties and seventies, with evolving attitudes toward civil and human rights, that states began repealing their sterilization laws.”


Some honors students from the University of Vermont put together a research project titled "Eugenics: Compulsory Sterilization in 50 American States."


It is an extensive study with links to results from every state. The report does state that a large segment of the population who were subjected to forced sterilization with government approval is not in the study. The numbers of Native American victims are not available. Please click this link to see what happened in your state.



Has It Really Changed?


In Iceland, it is common practice to abort children who carry the Down Syndrome gene. Children with Autism are also targets. Have we not learned anything? Just below is a quote from another column about this dangerous topic.


“Strains of the eugenics movements also exist in other countries. China’s one-child policy is a well-known example. It was introduced in 1979 as a voluntary program, but within two years, economic and social incentives, coupled with intense community pressure, had a measurable effect on the birth rate—but the program also incited controversy. In a culture where male heirs are prized, the policy has resulted in some selective abortions in favor of boys, abandonment of baby girls, infanticide, and forced sterilizations. Parents who pledge to have one child but have a second must pay back all the one-child compensation they had received, as well as receive additional financial penalties.


In Singapore, the government embraced a dual-message approach: encouraging the wealthy and educated to have children while offering incentives to the poor and unschooled to be sterilized after having one or two children. Under the program, the children of university-educated parents received tax discounts and a preference in school selection. Disincentives for poor, single mothers included higher hospital fees for having a third child and cash incentives to be sterilized after the first or second child. But because of Singapore’s overall declining birthrate, the government has begun to offer a lucrative “Baby Bonus”—savings account deposits and fully paid maternity leave—in hopes of persuading the wealthy and educated population to multiply.


In Sweden, where more than 60,000 people were sterilized under the Swedish Sterilization Act, recent controversy regarding the prevention of reproduction among the country’s “socially inferior” citizens has resurfaced. Between 1935 and 1976, the government’s eugenics program was designed to eliminate social undesirables while simultaneously improving the Nordic racial stock. In 1997, Swedish journalist Maciej Zaremba disclosed a forty-year history of adolescent girls who were involuntarily and arbitrarily sterilized for being sexually promiscuous, unintelligent, or antisocial. Other reports revealed that some “undesirable” Swedes were sterilized for having bad eyesight, being of mixed race, or having “unmistakable Gypsy features.”


After the revelations in Sweden, citizens’ groups in Japan demanded formal apologies and compensation from the government for involuntary sterilizations carried out in their country between 1949 and 1995. With the aim of improving the Japanese people, a law permitted doctors to sterilize people without their consent if they were deemed mentally or physically handicapped or had certain hereditary diseases. The Japanese government refused to apologize or pay compensation, arguing that the procedures were legal and a matter of public record.


Forced sterilization to eliminate undesirable traits. Abortions to eliminate unwanted children. Euthanasia to eliminate the burdens to society.


Has it really changed?



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