Eugenics, and America’s ‘master race’ laws

“Their idea of utopia was that no one would exist who didn’t look like themselves,” explains Edwin R. Black, author of War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race [2003].

While most folks probably assume that the Nazi plan to create a blond, blue-eyed “Aryan” master race was a uniquely German phenomenon, the reality is that Hitler simply embraced a program developed in the United States, and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Institution, and other grant-making institution.

Most of the German researchers who would go on to implement first the Nazi sterilization programs and later, the gassing first of mental patients and then Jews and Gypsies, were first sponsored by the American grant-givers.

Soon after his rise to the chancellorship, Hitler expressed regrets that he couldn’t implement programs already in place in the United States and set changing Germany’s laws.

Indeed, California would set the world record for forced sterilizations until Hitler unleashed his own doctors — many of whom had received American institutional grants — who would spearhead his war against the weak, modeling his own statutes on those already in operation in the U.S.

The dread of those dubbed “mental defectives” even led some mainstream American scientists to propose a “final solution” in the form of gas chambers, an idea subsequently adopted in Germany.

The implementation of eugenics programs here followed a rise of anti-immigrant hysteria focused on Southern Italians, Eastern European Jews, and Latinos, an ominous fact in light of the rising anti-immigrant hysteria now impacting our country.

But the eugenicists weren’t out simply to purge the globe of “mental defectives” and “inferior races.” They also targeted the deaf, the blind, the disabled, the alcoholic, the depressed, and the poor. As Black notes, eugenicists “believed you weren’t born into poverty; poverty was born into you.”

Some U.S. states passed laws barring marriages with the eugenically undesirable and dissolving existing marriages. Their goal was the creation of a eugenics certificate which would be necessary before marriage.

We would also note that the some of the same foundations which saw eugenics as a social panacea are the same ones now promoting genetic modification as a panacea for the world’s ills, which should at least give us some pause for reflection.

Here’s a talk Black gave in Nashville soon after the publication of his book.

What’s of particular relevance here is the emergence of what Black calls “genelining,” the re-emergence of eugenics in the globalized corporate realm, with genetic testing for “pre-existing” conditions determining everything rom who gets health insurance to hiring decisions [one railroad already pre-screens applications for a supposed predisposition to carpal tunnel syndrome].

Finally, here’s a talk about eugenics in another West Coast state from University of Washington historian Joanne Woiak, Ph.D.


2 responses to “Eugenics, and America’s ‘master race’ laws

  1. Pingback: Darwin: Heritage and Misunderstandings – Morality, Irreverence, Eugenics – Sapardanis Kostas

  2. Pingback: Consumer ethnic identity tests may foster racism | eats shoots 'n leaves

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