Tag Archive for: Eugenics

This transgender ‘folly’ is going to collapse, just as Eugenics did

“This very, very complex thing is being over-simplified,” says a world expert on the transgender phenomenon.


Dr. Paul R. McHugh is University Distinguished Service Professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he served as Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1975 to 2001.

In a distinguished career that began with his training at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Dr. McHugh has taught at Cornell, the University of Oregon, and since 1975 at Johns Hopkins. He was the co-creator of the Mini Mental States Examination, one of the most widely used tests of cognitive function, and he sponsored the work that resulted in The 36-Hour Day, a bestselling guide for families and caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. McHugh and Dr. Phillip R. Slavney published The Perspectives of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Polarities, which may be said to have embodied the tenets of the influential “Hopkins School” of the discipline. For the wider public, Dr. McHugh has published on psychiatry — both its findings and its failings — in The American Scholar, First Things, Commentary, Public Discourse, the Weekly Standard, and The New Atlantis. His books for general readers are The Mind Has Mountains (2006), a collection of his essays, and Try to Remember (2008), which concerns his role in debunking the “recovered memory” fad in psychotherapy. In 2015, the Paul McHugh Program for Human Flourishing was established in the Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

I note that Dr. McHugh is not Professor Emeritus at Johns Hopkins, which is worth remarking upon because this week he turns ninety years old. He is still a full-time faculty member in the university’s school of medicine — teaching, mentoring psychiatry students, and caring for patients. We spoke on Monday after he had spent the morning in the psychiatry department’s weekly grand rounds.

Matthew Franck: In Psychiatric Polarities, you and Phillip Slavney wrote that “mental life is dependent on the brain. … Yet mind and brain are not identical. Indeed, they are so different that the nature of their relationship is the fundamental mystery in psychiatry and the source of many of its conflicts.” Would it be fair to say that the successes of modern psychiatry stem from work that recognises this mysterious relationship of mind and brain, while its failures stem largely from therapeutic interventions that ignore this mystery or try to explain it away?

Paul McHugh: I think that mystery remains a great mystery, but is perhaps best resolved at the moment by seeing mental life as an emergent property of the brain. It emerges from it, but it doesn’t emerge as smoke; it remains an interactive process.

There are some aspects of human disorders and human mental life that depend upon the brain for their sustaining, but they don’t depend upon the brain for their generation — things like grief, and maybe post-traumatic stress disorder, and things of that sort. They depend upon an appreciation of the person, of what was there and was lost (for grief), or what was there and was frightening (for PTSD). The brain follows the mind in that way.

So the fact is that the narrative capacity of the human mental experience can be the source of various forms of psychiatric distress that psychiatrists try to help the patient both understand and perhaps re-script in a way that makes living with it more easy. And none of that actually depends upon the psychiatrist directly tinkering with the brain’s substance or the material itself.

So when we were, in the Polarities, saying that this is the issue, these two things, we didn’t mean to say that everything that the psychiatrist could successfully do would depend upon his working with the brain. He could make lots of mistakes there, as the frontal lobotomy experience demonstrated better than any, and then some abuse of medications today demonstrates.

But he could also make mistakes in the narrative by presuming things that were not there in actuality but were put in by him, or her, the psychiatrist, because they made a better story. I don’t think all the mistakes that psychiatrists make are related either to the area of the brain they work in or the area of mental life and its trajectory. They can make mistakes in both places.

MF: I know that you and your colleagues at Hopkins have really merged these questions in neuropsychiatry so that you’re attending to both brain and mind. But there have been schools of thought in psychiatry that emphasise one overwhelmingly at the expense of the other.

PM: Yes indeed, and that is the thing that we’re trying to avoid by making it clear that there are different methods that employ one or the other, or sometimes both together in a coherent way. But you know, I did train in neurology as well as psychiatry. My teachers made sure that at least I was exposed to the ideas on both sides of that very interesting emergent property.

MF: In one of your essays in The Mind Has Mountains, you observe “the power of cultural fashions to lead psychiatric thought and practice off in false, even disastrous, directions.” Two such fashions that captivated psychology and psychiatry in recent decades were “multiple personality disorder,” also known as “dissociative identity disorder,” and the idea of “repressed sexual memories” from childhood that adults can “recover” under therapy. What accounts for such therapeutic fevers gripping the mental health professions?

PM: That’s a very good question. I’m not sure I understand why we’re so vulnerable to this. It may well be in part that we are a discipline that cannot often use bodily material, like an autopsy or something, to prove ourselves right or wrong.

We have to use the power of persuasion to persuade patients and others to thinking the way we want them to think. And although that’s the fundamental principle of psychotherapy — psychotherapy is a persuasive enterprise, after all, that’s what it is, it’s nothing else but persuasion — persuasion, not only in psychiatry but maybe even in a democracy, its great vulnerability, as Tocqueville said, is the tyranny of popular sentiments.

The tyranny of popular opinion can hold in thrall a whole population, after all, for a while. I think psychiatry is vulnerable to that because it works with phenomena of mental life and problems of mental behaviour, and therefore is liable, without another kind of tradition or another source of knowledge, to be carried away. It happens about every ten or fifteen years.

MF: I recall your saying as well in that book that psychiatrists don’t have the sort of grounded reality of specialising in the skin or the eye or something about which there cannot be endless arguments once the evidence comes in.

PM: That’s right. The material evidence of the physical body has a great salutary effect on people who have strong opinions about things, as William Osler said long ago. He said, you know the great thing about the consultant is, he comes in and does the rectal that you forgot to do. The great thing about doctoring is that it’s a fundamental business; you stand on the bottom of life, and it’s one of the joys of it.

Why, though, psychiatry gets swept by these fantasies is still a further question. In part, I used to just think it was the Freudian commitment to suspicion of other people and of society and everything — it was one of the schools of suspicion —

MF: Sure, that there’s a dark id everywhere you look.

PM: That’s right, that somehow or other we’re always under the control of somebody else. Nietzsche and Marx and Freud were all of the same kind of calibre. I used to think that. I also think there’s a love on the part of psychiatrists for being men of the secret and having their own magical secret.

If somebody comes along and tells you “Here’s a wonderful magical secret that will open to you the nature of the world and the nature of humankind,” it’s usually silly in the long run. That’s usually picked up by people who have no traditional background of their own. After all, it’s a kind of golden calf; you come down from the mountain and really try to bring them something, and what do you find them doing? Dancing around the golden calf.

MF: The appeal is to make some idol of a solution to some big problem.

PM: That’s right. And although Moses thought it was only his people, his people were — are, of course — all of us.

MF: In 2016, you and Dr. Lawrence Mayer published a 143-page monograph in the pages of The New Atlantis titled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences.” This publication generated a good deal of controversy, coming not long after the Supreme Court’s creation of a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry, and just as the issue of “transgenderism” was beginning to heat up. What prompted you and Dr. Mayer to undertake this project, and what should we take away from it?

PM: I was prompted by the idea that I ought to at least say something in this matter, because so many ideas were floating around, and if I couldn’t speak, who could? And when I looked at the scientific evidence of these things, the very idea that these things were immutable, and discrete, and people were “born that way,” it didn’t work from the science point of view, and they might, in our society, not be such good ideas, not good things for people to believe. So I thought, “Well, if I can’t speak at my stage and my development, nobody can speak, and I’ll see what happens.” So, it was very interesting. I found it extremely interesting.

It caused a ruckus, and that didn’t surprise me. But what did surprise me was how many people would say, well, you know, “This is just wrong,” but would never show me any evidence. Dean Hamer, whom I have admired and thought of as a very coherent geneticist and student of homosexuality down in NIH, said “This has all just been disproven, it’s bad science,” but he never pointed out anything or said, “Here’s the article that proves it.”

He was saying, “Look, this is the way we read the science today,” and he spent a lot of time talking about how this wasn’t a peer-reviewed article. Of course it wasn’t a peer-reviewed article. It wasn’t intended to be put out into the science literature. It was to try to evaluate what we thought the science literature taught to the ordinary public, like somebody would write in the New Yorker. And the useful way to refute such a thing is not to say “Those guys are stinkers!” or something. They should say “He’s overlooked something, and here’s the thing that he’s overlooked.”

It turned out that afterwards — long afterwards — people would say, “Well, you know, he’s right, but he shouldn’t have said it.” What it came down to was “He should have kept his mouth shut.” The reason they keep saying it is the usual explanation for not wanting to get all the truth out — that somehow it’ll encourage people to abuse other folks. Of course, we didn’t want that, and we don’t think that the truth is going to lead to anything other than further truth, as things go on.

MF: And better treatment of people. It’s interesting to me that you brought up that critique of peer review, because I had a follow-up on that front. I heard that a lot too when that long piece came out, that The New Atlantis is not a peer-reviewed journal, or that the work you and Dr. Mayer did was not peer-reviewed. And my first thought on hearing that was, well, of course not, what you and he did was the peer review. That is, you two, very knowledgeable in your field, did a comprehensive survey of studies in the field that had been peer reviewed in order to draw conclusions for a wider public about what we know and don’t know about sexual orientation and gender identity.

PM: It seemed to me they just didn’t want the conversation to go on. This way of calling it not peer-reviewed was to say that I was saying something that was supposed to be a new discovery. I wasn’t saying anything new, I was saying “This is how I read the literature.”

MF: People who dispute the way you and Dr. Mayer read the literature should not just say, “Well, that’s bunk.” After all, you were not reporting your own research but that of many, many others. They should point to these and those studies that you draw conclusions from and either show why they’re wrong or why you’re drawing the wrong conclusions from them.

PM: That’s right, and that’s what we said at the end of our article. We knew it was going to cause a fuss. Okay, go at it, and tell us what’s wrong.

MF: The bottom line of the monograph, it seemed to me, was that we still don’t know a great deal about the provenance of homosexuality and transgender or gender dysphoria. We have no particular reason to believe that either phenomenon is innate or biologically based or immutable.

PM: That’s right. Especially not immutable. That’s the most important thing.

MF: In a later piece in The New Atlantis, in 2017, you and Dr. Mayer were joined by Dr. Paul Hruz, a pediatric endocrinologist, in cautioning medical professionals against using puberty-suppressing drugs with children who present with gender dysphoria. Given the increasing incidence of patients presenting such psychological symptoms since that time, especially adolescent girls who wish to transition to “being” boys, as Abigail Shrier has written, this looks like it was a very timely intervention on your part. What is the concern, exactly, with these puberty-suppressing drugs?

PM: They come at a time when the person, the child, is not prepared to think about what their life would be like. Remember, puberty occurs between nine and fourteen when you’re a girl, and between eleven and fourteen when you’re a boy. These are children.

Anyone who’s had a ten-year-old girl or boy around knows that he or she is under your protective wing, in the sense not only of making sure he or she eats and is not abused today, but that he or she doesn’t make a mistake in their own decisions that will reverberate forever for them. We don’t let them get tattooed, we don’t — I wouldn’t let my daughter have her ears pierced until she turned sixteen. So these are very young children.

Secondly, this is a very complex process, puberty. Puberty is one of the great transforming neuro-endocrine events in anybody’s life. And we know only some parts of it; we do not know, for example, what triggers puberty. Back in 2005, the journal Science published its, I think, 125th anniversary issue, and they said, here are 125 big problems that remain for science. One of them was “What triggers puberty?” It’s a big mystery.

But one of the things we do know is that the human being is very different from the ordinary animal. With the animal, if they successfully go through puberty — and they go through it rather young — at the end of that, fundamentally, they are the complete being that they’re going to be. With human beings, some of the most interesting individuating characteristics of themselves occur only after puberty, probably with a combination of the intellectual powers and the energy that sexual development brings.

So I don’t think any child — and any parent, for that matter — can make an informed consent to permit the blocking of puberty and the transmission of another sex. That’s the first thing: you don’t have an idea what you’re doing. So how can you have an informed consent about it? Because nobody knows.

As important, and a reason for thinking that judgment is affected, is that children, young people, who believe that they belong in the opposite sex, if permitted to go through puberty normally, 85 to 95 percent of them will at the end of that time say “No, I am who I am.”

But if you give them the puberty blockers at age nine or ten, only 5 or 10 percent at the end of that time will say “I don’t want to go on further.” They always want to go on further. Something has changed in them. One of the things that change must be the way their brain is shaped when this triggering comes along for puberty. It gets thwarted. And the idea that it’s all reversible, that’s still very debatable.

Finally, the most important point is that scientists have one great vulnerability. They can be dealing with the most complex issue and try to oversimplify it and make it seem like a simple issue. In this case, we want to make a boy look like a girl — okay, so we’re going to do it with these hormones. Wait a minute: you don’t know this is a complex issue of the brain, neuro-endocrine relationships, hormones and — things that Paul Hruz knows even better than I. This very, very complex thing is being over-simplified.

MF: And there are real physical detriments that can come about in terms of bone mass, fertility, growth to mature height, all sorts of things.

PM: And who, at age eleven, knows? You might lose your fertility at age eleven; well, okay, you don’t know quite what that is. You might not know, given the other kinds of pressures that come into play. We don’t know all the pressures that are behind this gender dysphoria epidemic that we’re having, but we do have a lot of reasons for believing that social pressures on vulnerable and suggestible young people are at play there.

MF: In your own career, you’ve been standing athwart this for a very long time. In 1979, a few years after you came to Johns Hopkins, you directed the closing of the university hospital’s gender identity unit, responsible at that time for what we then called “sex-change operations,” and now it’s fashionable to call “gender-affirming surgeries,” after finding that such surgical transitions did not improve the overall mental health of patients. For this alone, you have been on the “enemies list” of transgender advocates for a long time. (Such surgeries were resumed at Hopkins in 2017.)

You have likened our “transgender moment,” as Ryan Anderson calls it, to other psychiatric fashions that ultimately collapsed under the weight of evidence against them — or due to the dearth of evidence for them. Transgenderism seems to be at peak strength today, in medicine, law, and public policy. Are you still sanguine about its ultimate collapse, like that of other culturally based phenomena in mental health sciences?

PM: I’m amazed at the amount of power and weaponry that it’s gotten behind it now, with the government and law and even medical organisations getting behind it, but I’m absolutely convinced that this is folly and it’s going to collapse, just as the eugenics folly collapsed.

Eugenics was quite as powerful, after all. I’m reassured that we psychiatrists have been everywhere before. Fortunately, Adolf Meyer, my predecessor at Johns Hopkins, was one of the few psychiatrists in the world, really, who said “I don’t think we can go this way with the eugenics movement.” And so I feel I’m in good company by saying this is going to collapse.

It’s going to collapse, particularly, in relationship to the injury to children, because these people are already beginning to build up evidence for the misdirection they were sent on. In Britain, the Keira Bell case that has just been handed down from their High Court is recognising the very inadequate psychiatric approach that was taken to leading this girl to now be a very damaged person. So it’s coming. And what’s going to happen in my opinion, at least with the young, the people under the age of twenty-one, will be that there will be huge lawsuits.

I can tell you exactly how the suits are going to play out. You know that person is going to wake up at age twenty-five and realise that that she’s got a five o’clock shadow, she’s had various mutilations in the body, she’s infertile, and she’s going to say, “How did you let this happen?” And then parents are going to say, “Well, the doctor said…” So they’re going to say “Let’s sue the doctors.”

They’re going to go to the doctors and say “What did you do this for?!” They’ll say, “That was a standard treatment for transgendered,” and the person is going to say, “But you see, I wasn’t transgendered, I was a child!” And they’re going to say “Holy smoke, you’re right, we can’t tell who’s transgendered, in truth.” And then the insurance companies are going to bail out, and a lot of people are going to be injured in reputation. But we’re going to be left with a number of much more injured patients. I’m very sure this is going to happen.

MF: In one respect, it almost seems as though psychiatry has confessed its lack of any answer to the problem of gender dysphoria and farmed out the solution to the endocrinologists and the cosmetic surgeons. They’re inviting those specialists in other fields to tinker with the body to conform to a dysphoria in the mind, rather than treating the dysphoria in the mind, which is the province of psychiatry.

PM: Exactly. And by the way, when I did actively close down the psychiatric role in permitting the gender surgery — after all, I couldn’t stop the plastic surgeons from doing it if they wanted — I just was saying that we in the department of psychiatry were no longer going to endow it with our permission. One of the plastic surgeons came up to me and did say, “Oh, thank goodness. How would you like it to get up in the morning, Paul, and face the day slashing away at perfectly normal organs, because you guys don’t know what’s the matter.”

MF: That’s interesting! So what you had the power to put a stop to was the referral to the surgeons.

PM: That’s right.

MF: And the surgeons would not proceed without it.

PM: That’s right. And the reversal [in 2017] was that the plastic surgeons came and said we’re going to take this up again. They didn’t wait for our permission to open a clinic at Johns Hopkins. In psychiatry, I was no longer the director, and our department didn’t fuss about it.

MF: So the resumption in 2017 was not owing to a decision in psychiatry but a decision over in surgery.

PM: That’s it, a decision over in plastic surgery. The nice thing is, the director of plastic surgery came and told me he was going to do it. But it was their decision, not ours.

MF: A slight change of topic here. As someone who has been a faithful Catholic his whole life, you have sometimes been characterised — I would say uncharitably — as a man whose professional outlook is unduly influenced by his religion. But the Catholic Church teaches, as you and I both know, that there is nothing science discovers that contradicts the faith. So what is really going on when this charge is aimed at you?

PM: I’m always surprised by that. I’m told that my views about repressed memory, that that was going to protect Catholic priests from being punished for abusing people. I never said that the truth wasn’t the truth with those men. I’m always very surprised by this charge.

I do say that I am an orthodox Catholic guy. Thank goodness I was raised with it, because of the wonderful Catholic realism that places you solidly on the ground in relationship to human nature and the human condition. But I never thought that in this area, it was my religion that was determining how I would think about it.

I suppose I have to say that when I was first fascinated by psychiatry when I was at the Medical School at Harvard, it might have been the relentless attacks by the Freudians on the nuclear family that shocked me, because I felt that the nuclear family was the source of all kinds of wonderful reflections on each other that permitted one to go out into the world. Instead, the suspicious Freudians saw it as a place of dominance and the like.

That may well have had something to do with my devotion to both my family and to the Holy Family that I had grown up thinking of as models. I would have thought if somebody wanted to say, “Look, his religion shielded him or protected him in this way, or blinded him in this way,” that would be an interesting conversation to have. But what does a tradition, a Judeo-Christian tradition, in particular, that honours the father and mother — how does it come at a discipline in medicine that begins to say that that’s the source of all your mental troubles?

But in these other matters, no-one can say what aspects of oneself affect how you think about a problem. Obviously, we’re creatures ourselves, and a lot comes out of where we are and who we are, and we don’t always completely know. But I believe that my positions on these matters, on these matters in particular, relate to the science and the psychiatry that matters. And that anybody of any persuasion or no persuasion at all will eventually come to agree with me.

MF: Yeah, “He’s a Catholic psychiatrist, therefore… ” seems to me to be a deflection from the discrete issues that should be directly tackled on the evidence and the arguments. Of course, there are many people in your profession, who are Jewish or Protestant or have no particular faith, who agree with you on the fundamental questions you’ve worked on in your career. But what you’re saying is that your Catholicism has actually made you in some respects a stronger, better scientist.

PM: I’ve always thought so. I think Christianity was the foundation of science. After all, “In the beginning was the Word” — the Logos. Well, that means something, to make science reasonable. That’s what I’ve always thought. But you know, I’ve been amazed, because I’ve been attacked this way now, even at Hopkins — which is a wonderful institution, by the way, and it has for the most part protected me. And I didn’t have these kinds of things said about me, at least right out, since I was in high school. So it was a big surprise. Although I’m sure that anyone would say that, as you go through life, you don’t know what other people are thinking about you.

I had a very funny one: when I was admitted to Harvard Medical School, I had to have an examination by one of the doctors there — a physical exam to make sure I was well and all. They did that for every medical student. And about ten years later I happen to come across my record that had been written by this chap, one of the doctors in Boston who said, “rosy-cheeked Irish boy who’s done well to come as far as he has.”

MF: I think we’ve found the title for our interview: “Rosy-cheeked Irish Boy Who’s Come a Long Way.”

PM: That was pretty funny. I mean, it does show you the climate that you’re in that you didn’t realise. I had no idea this was crossing his mind.

MF: One last question. Tell us, please, about the work of the now six-year-old McHugh Program for Human Flourishing. What do you hope that it will contribute to the future of psychiatry and to public understanding?

PM: I hope it’s going to be a rich contribution at the end of my career at Hopkins. My aim is to point out, and to help young psychiatrists, and all doctors for that matter, to understand that after you get somebody over a condition, often they have still a ways to go to be the kinds of people that they were intended to be when they were started off.

What began, for me, as a kind of public health hygiene, mental hygiene for the patient — saying “Look, this is the kind of thing you’ve got to do, you’ve got to think in terms of family life, work life, educational life, and community, and particularly often religious life, to be what you want to be” — has now transformed itself into an understanding of where the education of doctors tends to fall down. It tends to fall down in the very areas of the humanities and the understanding of human capacities that doctoring used to be founded on, before the sciences could really take it up and make it go.

So I’m hoping that people will see that an understanding of what human beings really can be emerges out of helping them through their physical as well as their mental illnesses, but then requires a continuing prescription for how they can continue in that way. And this way, I think, it will enrich the education of doctors in general, just like I think our Perspectives of Psychiatry has helped enrich an understanding of medicine in relationship to the conditions that afflict people mentally. So we’ve had a wonderful experience with it.

MF: Human flourishing is not a typical phrase in the vocabulary of medical professionals.

PM: It was a term that seemed to me to be the appropriate term. By the way, several people in my department thought it was a very Catholic term, I was surprised to see.

MF: If they think that Aristotle belongs to the Catholics, I guess we’ll take him.

PM: Right, that’s what I said to them, I thought it goes back to Aristotle.

MF: It’s a humanistic enterprise.

PM: It’s a fundamentally humanistic enterprise. Medicine is a humanistic discipline that uses science to accomplish what all human beings would like to see for themselves, in their capacity to sustain themselves. But ultimately it is to aim for a person who could be what God intended him to be. And, of course, it’s illuminating for me, like anything else in teaching. Once you start off on this, then you discover all the things that become important for yourself to learn.

MF: One really final question, for the record: Dr. Paul McHugh has no current plans to retire, correct?

PM: No plans to retire, no! Not me. I’m pressing on. I’m not retiring. I can’t carry on quite as much as I could before, but for the duties that I’m doing within the department, which are full-time for me, I’m going to continue as long as I can.

Republished with permission from The Public Discourse.

COLUMN BY

Paul McHugh

Dr. Paul McHugh, M.D. is the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. From 1975 until 2001, Dr. McHugh was the Henry Phipps Professor… More by Paul McHugh

Matthew J. Franck

Matthew J. Franck is Contributing Editor of Public Discourse. He is also Associate Director of the James Madison Program and Lecturer in Politics at Princeton University, Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon… More by Matthew J. Franck

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Twitter piles on Richard Dawkins over Eugenics tweet

The eminent expert in communicating science botches his explanation.


Twitter may not be the best medium for explaining the science of eugenics to a wary public, as the sometime Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, Richard Dawkins, discovered this week.

Professor Dawkins, now aged 78, renowned as an evolutionary biologist and as the author of best-sellers about genetics and atheism, most recently Outgrowing God, chose to tweet about eugenics. This may have been prompted by a Twitter storm about back room boys at 10 Downing Street (of which more below). His words were not calibrated to endear him to the public:

Reactions? They ranged from “You absolute pin-headed simpleton” to “How’d the application of this play out in 1940s Europe?” to “The thing about people who believe in eugenics is that they always believe themselves to be the superior kind of human. No-one ever thinks that it could make people like them obsolete”.

Dawkins had to back-pedal very quickly to explain himself:

Dawkins was clearly not playing in the First Division this week. Professors in the Simonyi chair are supposed to make the public sympathetic to science, as its website explains:

The task of communicating science to the layman is not a simple one. In particular it is imperative for the post holder to avoid oversimplifying ideas, and presenting exaggerated claims. The limits of current scientific knowledge should always be made clear to the public.

Even scientists were exasperated. Dave Curtis, the editor of Annals of Human Genetics (a journal which was once titled Annals of Eugenics), posted a long Twitter thread explaining why humans cannot be bred like cattle and roses, contra Professor Dawkins. First, “humans have long generational times and small numbers of offspring. This would make any selective breeding process extremely slow”. Second, humans live in very different environments and most of the variation in their traits is due to the environment. It would be very difficult to identify individuals with ideal traits.

“We should bear in mind,” he adds, “that harsh selection pressures have been acting on humans up to the present and that there may be very little scope for overall improvement. In any event, we can confidently say that selective breeding to improve desirable traits is not practicable.”

The long and the short of the matter, in Dr Curtis’s opinion, is this: “People who support eugenics initiatives are evil racists. Also, modern genetic research shows that eugenics would not work.”

It’s surprising that Professor Dawkins thought that his puff for human eugenics would be applauded. James Watson, who won Nobel Prize in 1962 for discovering DNA, has become a non-person after expressing eugenicist opinions which were interpreted as racist.

Just a whiff of eugenics was enough to force the resignation of one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advisors recently. Opposition research on Andrew Sabisky, a political “contractor” at 10 Downing Street, uncovered six-year-old opinions which were quickly denounced as eugenic and racist.

For example, in a comment on a 2014 blog post made by a user called “Andrew Sabisky”, it was suggested that compulsory contraception could eliminate a “permanent underclass”. It read: “One way to get around the problems of unplanned pregnancies creating a permanent underclass would be to legally enforce universal uptake of long-term contraception at the onset of puberty.”

Having used internet history to make Sabisksy history, the media moved on to savaging Dominic Cummings, a key advisor to the PM who had hired Sabisky . A blog post from 2014 contained ideas which were described as eugenic. He suggested that the UK’s National Health Service IVF service should offer human eggs sorted by IQ to make a level playing field for rich and poor parents who want babies with a high IQ.

Prof Richard Ashcroft, a medical ethicist at City University, told The Guardian that this was nonsense: “This idea that we can use biological selection to improve individuals and society, and that the state through the NHS, should facilitate this, really is pure eugenics.”

The fracas demonstrates the schizophrenic attitude of the public towards eugenics. On the one hand, the word “eugenics” evokes racism and Nazism. It is this sense which has been weaponized to undermine the new PM. On the other hand, parents who want perfect children are encouraged to eliminate “defective” embryos. The media happily provides a platform for bioethics to promote such ideas. Another Oxford professor, Julian Savulescu has often explained why he supports eugenics:

“We practise eugenics when we screen for Down’s syndrome, and other chromosomal or genetic abnormalities. The reason we don’t define that sort of thing as ‘eugenics’, as the Nazis did, is because it’s based on choice. It’s about enhancing people’s freedom rather than reducing it.”

COLUMN BY

MICHAEL COOK

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge.

FOR MORE ARTICLE ON EUGENICS CLICK HERE.

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

On his 127th Birthday Hitler Takes Selfie with Planned Parenthood

Hitler_Holding_Paper_HashtagPlanned Parenthood activists were reminded today of their organization’s pro-Nazi roots when an unexpected supporter arrived today to join their rally, introducing himself as Adolf Hitler.

Sporting an iconic “drip pad” mustache, Mr. Hitler unfolded his hand-written sign in support of Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, assuring everyone that he is fully on the side of weeding out the unfit in order to create a cleaner race.

“I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision,” Hitler told the stunned onlookers. “Mrs. Sanger was a huge proponent of the forced sterilization program of the Third Reich, leading a heroic personal fight to purify the white race by exterminating Jews, Slavs, and especially blacks, through government-mandated abortions.”

Speechless at first, Planned Parenthood supporters finally found words to express their indignation by repeatedly chanting “black lives matter,” hoping to shout down Hitler before any of the media reporters could record his comments.

“I understand,” Hitler nodded. “As Margaret Sanger said, we don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. We just need to quietly pull out these human weeds and stop all those reckless breeders from spawning degenerate and defective children who never should have been born, nicht wahr? All the feel-good rhetoric aside, this is the purpose of your organization anyway, is it not?”

The group responded with another chant, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Adolf Hitler go away!”

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” observed Hitler dreamily, while taking a selfie in front of the Planned Parenthood building with his phone camera. “We used to chant back in the day, just like that.”

After communicating with the activists in this manner for about half an hour, Hitler folded his sign and inquired if anyone knew where the closest chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was, preferably the one where Margaret Sanger used to speak about her views on pure race and eugenics. Since no one could give him directions, Hitler entered “KKK” into Google map search on his iPhone and slowly walked away, looking for the nearest hotspot.

Here’s a blank picture of “Hashtag Hitler” for kollektive usage.

RELATED ARTICLES:

GENETICS: “Racial hygiene” in America one baby at a time

Journal of Medical Ethics supports “after birth abortions” and “euthanasia”

Planned Parenthood Openly ‘Targets’ Black Community

How States Got Away with Sterilizing 60,000 Americans by Trevor Burrus

Policy Science Kills: The Case of Eugenics by Jeffrey A. Tucker

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Peoples Cube. While this column is political satire the link between the Eugenics movement in the United State, Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood are real. Please read our column: Planned Parenthood Openly ‘Targets’ Black Community. In this column you will read the words of Margaret Sanger that mirror what is said in this column.

Policy Science Kills: The Case of Eugenics by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The climate-change debate has many people wondering whether we should really turn over public policy — which deals with fundamental matters of human freedom — to a state-appointed scientific establishment. Must moral imperatives give way to the judgment of technical experts in the natural sciences? Should we trust their authority? Their power?

There is a real history here to consult. The integration of government policy and scientific establishments has reinforced bad science and yielded ghastly policies.

An entire generation of academics, politicians, and philanthropists used bad science to plot the extermination of undesirables.

There’s no better case study than the use of eugenics: the science, so called, of breeding a better race of human beings. It was popular in the Progressive Era and following, and it heavily informed US government policy. Back then, the scientific consensus was all in for public policy founded on high claims of perfect knowledge based on expert research. There was a cultural atmosphere of panic (“race suicide!”) and a clamor for the experts to put together a plan to deal with it. That plan included segregation, sterilization, and labor-market exclusion of the “unfit.”

Ironically, climatology had something to do with it. Harvard professor Robert DeCourcy Ward (1867–1931) is credited with holding the first chair of climatology in the United States. He was a consummate member of the academic establishment. He was editor of the American Meteorological Journal, president of the Association of American Geographers, and a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Meteorological Society of London.

He also had an avocation. He was a founder of the American Restriction League. It was one of the first organizations to advocate reversing the traditional American policy of free immigration and replacing it with a “scientific” approach rooted in Darwinian evolutionary theory and the policy of eugenics. Centered in Boston, the league eventually expanded to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Its science inspired a dramatic change in US policy over labor law, marriage policy, city planning, and, its greatest achievements, the 1921 Emergency Quota Act and the 1924 Immigration Act. These were the first-ever legislated limits on the number of immigrants who could come to the United States.

Nothing Left to Chance

“Darwin and his followers laid the foundation of the science of eugenics,” Ward alleged in his manifesto published in the North American Review in July 1910. “They have shown us the methods and possibilities of the product of new species of plants and animals…. In fact, artificial selection has been applied to almost every living thing with which man has close relations except man himself.”

“Why,” Ward demanded, “should the breeding of man, the most important animal of all, alone be left to chance?”

By “chance,” of course, he meant choice.

“Chance” is how the scientific establishment of the Progressive Era regarded the free society. Freedom was considered to be unplanned, anarchic, chaotic, and potentially deadly for the race. To the Progressives, freedom needed to be replaced by a planned society administered by experts in their fields. It would be another 100 years before climatologists themselves became part of the policy-planning apparatus of the state, so Professor Ward busied himself in racial science and the advocacy of immigration restrictions.

Ward explained that the United States had a “remarkably favorable opportunity for practising eugenic principles.” And there was a desperate need to do so, because “already we have no hundreds of thousands, but millions of Italians and Slavs and Jews whose blood is going into the new American race.” This trend could cause Anglo-Saxon America to “disappear.” Without eugenic policy, the “new American race” will not be a “better, stronger, more intelligent race” but rather a “weak and possibly degenerate mongrel.”

Citing a report from the New York Immigration Commission, Ward was particularly worried about mixing American Anglo-Saxon blood with “long-headed Sicilians and those of the round-headed east European Hebrews.”

Keep Them Out

“We certainly ought to begin at once to segregate, far more than we now do, all our native and foreign-born population which is unfit for parenthood,” Ward wrote. “They must be prevented from breeding.”

But even more effective, Ward wrote, would be strict quotas on immigration. While “our surgeons are doing a wonderful work,” he wrote, they can’t keep up in filtering out people with physical and mental disabilities pouring into the country and diluting the racial stock of Americans, turning us into “degenerate mongrels.”

Such were the policies dictated by eugenic science, which, far from being seen as quackery from the fringe, was in the mainstream of academic opinion. President Woodrow Wilson, America’s first professorial president, embraced eugenic policy. So did Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who, in upholding Virginia’s sterilization law, wrote, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Looking through the literature of the era, I am struck by the near absence of dissenting voices on the topic. Popular books advocating eugenics and white supremacy, such as The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant, became immediate bestsellers. The opinions in these books — which are not for the faint of heart — were expressed long before the Nazis discredited such policies. They reflect the thinking of an entire generation, and are much more frank than one would expect to read now.

It’s crucial to understand that all these opinions were not just about pushing racism as an aesthetic or personal preference. Eugenics was about politics: using the state to plan the population. It should not be surprising, then, that the entire anti-immigration movement was steeped in eugenics ideology. Indeed, the more I look into this history, the less I am able to separate the anti-immigrant movement of the Progressive Era from white supremacy in its rawest form.

Shortly after Ward’s article appeared, the climatologist called on his friends to influence legislation. Restriction League president Prescott Hall and Charles Davenport of the Eugenics Record Office began the effort to pass a new law with specific eugenic intent. It sought to limit the immigration of southern Italians and Jews in particular. And immigration from Eastern Europe, Italy, and Asia did indeed plummet.

The Politics of Eugenics

Immigration wasn’t the only policy affected by eugenic ideology. Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race(2003, 2012) documents how eugenics was central to Progressive Era politics. An entire generation of academics, politicians, and philanthropists used bad science to plot the extermination of undesirables. Laws requiring sterilization claimed 60,000 victims. Given the attitudes of the time, it’s surprising that the carnage in the United States was so low. Europe, however, was not as fortunate.

Freedom was considered to be unplanned, anarchic, chaotic, and potentially deadly for the race. 

Eugenics became part of the standard curriculum in biology, with William Castle’s 1916 Genetics and Eugenicscommonly used for over 15 years, with four iterative editions.

Literature and the arts were not immune. John Carey’s The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880–1939 (2005) shows how the eugenics mania affected the entire modernist literary movement of the United Kingdom, with such famed minds as T.S. Eliot and D.H. Lawrence getting wrapped up in it.

Economics Gets In on the Act

Remarkably, even economists fell under the sway of eugenic pseudoscience. Thomas Leonard’s explosively brilliant Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era (2016) documents in excruciating detail how eugenic ideology corrupted the entire economics profession in the first two decades of the 20th century. Across the board, in the books and articles of the profession, you find all the usual concerns about race suicide, the poisoning of the national bloodstream by inferiors, and the desperate need for state planning to breed people the way ranchers breed animals. Here we find the template for the first-ever large-scale implementation of scientific social and economic policy.

Students of the history of economic thought will recognize the names of these advocates: Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, Irving Fisher, Henry Rogers Seager, Arthur N. Holcombe, Simon Patten, John Bates Clark, Edwin R.A. Seligman, and Frank Taussig. They were the leading members of the professional associations, the editors of journals, and the high-prestige faculty members of the top universities. It was a given among these men that classical political economy had to be rejected. There was a strong element of self-interest at work. As Leonard puts it, “laissez-faire was inimical to economic expertise and thus an impediment to the vocational imperatives of American economics.”

Irving Fisher, whom Joseph Schumpeter described as “the greatest economist the United States has ever produced” (an assessment later repeated by Milton Friedman), urged Americans to “make of eugenics a religion.”

Speaking at the Race Betterment Conference in 1915, Fisher said eugenics was “the foremost plan of human redemption.” The American Economic Association (which is still today the most prestigious trade association of economists) published openly racist tracts such as the chilling Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro by Frederick Hoffman. It was a blueprint for the segregation, exclusion, dehumanization, and eventual extermination of the black race.

Hoffman’s book called American blacks “lazy, thriftless, and unreliable,” and well on their way to a condition of “total depravity and utter worthlessness.” Hoffman contrasted them with the “Aryan race,” which is “possessed of all the essential characteristics that make for success in the struggle for the higher life.”

Even as Jim Crow restrictions were tightening against blacks, and the full weight of state power was being deployed to wreck their economic prospects, the American Economic Association’s tract said that the white race “will not hesitate to make war upon those races who prove themselves useless factors in the progress of mankind.”

Richard T. Ely, a founder of the American Economic Association, advocated segregation of nonwhites (he seemed to have a special loathing of the Chinese) and state measures to prohibit their propagation. He took issue with the very “existence of these feeble persons.” He also supported state-mandated sterilization, segregation, and labor-market exclusion.

That such views were not considered shocking tells us so much about the intellectual climate of the time.

If your main concern is who is bearing whose children, and how many, it makes sense to focus on labor and income. Only the fit should be admitted to the workplace, the eugenicists argued. The unfit should be excluded so as to discourage their immigration and, once here, their propagation. This was the origin of the minimum wage, a policy designed to erect a high wall to the “unemployables.”

Women, Too

Another implication follows from eugenic policy: government must control women.

It must control their comings and goings. It must control their work hours — or whether they work at all. As Leonard documents, here we find the origin of the maximum-hour workweek and many other interventions against the free market. Women had been pouring into the workforce for the last quarter of the 19th century, gaining the economic power to make their own choices. Minimum wages, maximum hours, safety regulations, and so on passed in state after state during the first two decades of the 20th century and were carefully targeted to exclude women from the workforce. The purpose was to control contact, manage breeding, and reserve the use of women’s bodies for the production of the master race.

Leonard explains:

American labor reformers found eugenic dangers nearly everywhere women worked, from urban piers to home kitchens, from the tenement block to the respectable lodging house, and from factory floors to leafy college campuses. The privileged alumna, the middle-class boarder, and the factory girl were all accused of threatening Americans’ racial health.

Paternalists pointed to women’s health. Social purity moralists worried about women’s sexual virtue. Family-wage proponents wanted to protect men from the economic competition of women. Maternalists warned that employment was incompatible with motherhood. Eugenicists feared for the health of the race.

“Motley and contradictory as they were,” Leonard adds, “all these progressive justifications for regulating the employment of women shared two things in common. They were directed at women only. And they were designed to remove at least some women from employment.”

The Lesson We Haven’t Learned

Today we find eugenic aspirations to be appalling. We rightly value the freedom of association. We understand that permitting people free choice over reproductive decisions does not threaten racial suicide but rather points to the strength of a social and economic system. We don’t want scientists using the state to cobble together a master race at the expense of freedom. For the most part, we trust the “invisible hand” to govern demographic trajectories, and we recoil at those who don’t.

But back then, eugenic ideology was conventional scientific wisdom, and hardly ever questioned except by a handful of old-fashioned advocates of laissez-faire. The eugenicists’ books sold in the millions, and their concerns became primary in the public mind. Dissenting scientists — and there were some — were excluded by the profession and dismissed as cranks attached to a bygone era.

Eugenic views had a monstrous influence over government policy, and they ended free association in labor, marriage, and migration. Indeed, the more you look at this history, the more it becomes clear that white supremacy, misogyny, and eugenic pseudoscience were the intellectual foundations of modern statecraft.

Today we find eugenic aspirations to be appalling, but back then, eugenic ideology was conventional scientific wisdom.

Why is there so little public knowledge of this period and the motivations behind its progress? Why has it taken so long for scholars to blow the lid off this history of racism, misogyny, and the state?

The partisans of the state regulation of society have no reason to talk about it, and today’s successors of the Progressive Movement and its eugenic views want to distance themselves from the past as much as possible. The result has been a conspiracy of silence.

There are, however, lessons to be learned. When you hear of some impending crisis that can only be solved by scientists working with public officials to force people into a new pattern that is contrary to their free will, there is reason to raise an eyebrow. Science is a process of discovery, not an end state, and its consensus of the moment should not be enshrined in the law and imposed at gunpoint.

We’ve been there and done that, and the world is rightly repulsed by the results.

Jeffrey A. TuckerJeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook.

How States Got Away with Sterilizing 60,000 Americans by Trevor Burrus

On the morning of October 19, 1927, the Commonwealth of Virginia sterilized Carrie Buck.

Dr. John Bell — whose name would forever be linked with Carrie’s in the Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell — cut her open and removed a section from each of her Fallopian tubes. In his notes, Dr. Bell noted that “this was the first case operated on under the sterilization law.”

Carrie Buck was an average, unassuming girl who grew up around Charlottesville. She wasn’t very smart, but she wasn’t dumb either. She didn’t come from the best circumstances, but she did the best with what she had.

Pictures show a plain young woman with short, dark hair, bobbed in the fashion of the time. In one photo, taken by Arthur Estabrook, an “expert” in eugenics whose testimony would help seal her fate, Carrie sits on a bench with her mother Emma at the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-minded, where both were institutionalized.

Estabrook’s photo of Carrie and Emma was taken on November 17th, 1924, the day before Carrie’s trial began. Estabrook had come to visit Carrie and Emma at the urging of Dr. Albert Priddy, the superintendent of the Virginia Colony.

Priddy was building a case against Carrie, a case for her forced sterilization, and he needed a purported expert in the “science” of “inferior genetics” — a.k.a. eugenics — to testify that Carrie, her mother, and Carrie’s six-month-old daughter Vivian were all congenitally and irredeemably “feeble-minded.”

In a different time, Estabrook, with his neatly parted hair and defined features, could have become a well-known character actor, a face “in all those movies.” But Estabrook was employed at the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, and he was more than prepared to testify to the inferiority of Carrie and her bloodline. Most of his life had been devoted to diagnosing and describing “defective bloodlines” that, in his view, held humanity back.

At the urging of Aubrey Strode, the lawyer for Dr. Priddy and the Virginia State Colony, Estabrook rushed down to Lynchburg to testify against Carrie. Strode believed that the testimony of a true expert in eugenics would be crucial to developing an unassailable legal record proving that Carrie, Emma, and Vivian all carried defective genes and, therefore, that the state had both the authority and the right to sterilize Carrie to prevent any further “feeble-minded” offspring.

He needed such expert testimony if the appellate courts, and possibly even the US Supreme Court, were going to uphold Carrie’s sterilization and thus ratify not only Dr. Priddy’s plans for the mass sterilization of “genetic defectives,” but also the plans of thousands of similar eugenicists around the country. Eugenics was Estabrook’s life work, so of course he came as quickly as he could.

It only took Estabrook a short time to be convinced that Carrie and Emma were hereditarily “feeble-minded.” In the picture he took, Carrie and Emma stare distantly at Estabrook’s camera, seemingly not too happy to have been interrogated by someone who presumed they were imbeciles from the outset.

Carrie and Emma Buck, taken by Arthur Estabrook, Nov. 17, 1924. From eugenicsarchive.org.

We know Carrie’s story because her case eventually made it to the Supreme Court. But to the Commonwealth of Virginia in the 1920s, Carrie was just another congenitally “feeble-minded” woman who, in the parlance of the times, had a tainted “germ plasm” that would create generations of “socially inadequate defectives” if she were allowed to procreate freely. Carrie is the most famous of the (at least) 60,000 Americans who were forcibly sterilized in order to “cleanse the race” of undesirable genes.

The United States forcibly sterilized people through the 1970s. Many victims are still living. Virginia has apologized for its sterilization program, and, like North Carolina before it, voted to compensate still-living victims.

Yet, even today, many law professors seem to want to sweep Buck v. Bell under the rug. They’d rather talk about Lochner v. New York — when the Court overturned New York’s maximum work hour law as a violation of the liberty of contract — than Buck v. Bell. Judges are still said to be “Lochnerizing” when they are accused of legislating from the bench, but we don’t have a similar adjective form of Buck. Furthermore, because Lochner was overturned during the New Deal, its residual impact on our laws has been minimal. Buck v. Bell’s legacy is far bloodier.

Even for those familiar with the general facts of Buck v. Bell, Carrie’s story is worse than they realize. We now know that she was unknowingly a part of a plot to validate Virginia’s forced sterilization law, passed in 1924 to rid society of “idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy.”

Even Carrie’s lawyer was a part of the plot, offering essentially no defense to the groundless claim that she was congenitally stupid. The simple — but far from stupid — girl from Charlottesville found herself at the center of what amounted to a conspiracy against her own reproductive future.

The judges and justices who ratified Carrie’s sterilization abdicated their responsibility to protect the weakest among us from the machinations of the powerful and the prejudices of the majority. Carrie needed protection from pseudoscience and groundless assertions, but all she got was an unquestioned seal of approval.

Instead of living out her unassuming life, Carrie became a poster-child for public policy run amok. This is the story of her case.

The “Feebleminded” Carrie Buck

Carrie Buck was born in Virginia on July 2, 1906, to Frank and Emma Buck. Her father was largely absent, and her mother apparently lived a hard life of odd jobs and persistent poverty.

As a result, Carrie spent much of her early life with her foster parents, John and Alice Dobbs.

When Carrie was 16, Clarence Garland, a visiting nephew of her foster family, sexually assaulted her. Years later, when Carrie was an old woman being interviewed by reporters, she would recall that Clarence “forced himself on me … he took advantage of me.”

Carrie became pregnant. Alice Dobbs now had a problem on her hands. Virginia society in the 1920s didn’t look kindly on illegitimate children, and Alice feared being burdened with a girl of “that type.” By squirreling her away with her mother at the Virginia State Colony in Lynchburg, the Dobbs family could be saved from disgrace.

C.D. Shackleford, the local Justice of the Peace, went over a standard commitment form with the Dobbses, featuring such bizarre questions as “does she take proper notice of things?” (answer: “No”), and “how was the peculiarity manifested?” (answer: “Peculiar actions”). He was told that Carrie was prone to “some hallucinations and some outbreaks of temper,” and that her pregnancy was proof enough of her “moral delinquency.” Additionally, two doctors also reported that Carrie was “feebleminded within the meaning of the law.” Satisfied, Shackleford ordered Carrie to be sent to the Colony.

But the Colony was not a place for a pregnant woman. Before being institutionalized, Carrie was allowed to have her baby on the outside. On March 28, 1924, Vivian Buck was born. Carrie was a mother for two weeks before she was sent away, leaving Vivian with the Dobbses.

Now known as the Central Virginia Training Center, the Colony sits just over the James River from downtown Lynchburg. The large, red brick “Mastin-Minor” building was built in 1913, and by the time Carrie came it housed approximately 800 inmates. Upon arrival, Dr. Priddy examined her and found no evidence of hallucinations or psychosis. He also found that Carrie could read and write, which is not surprising since she had had five years of school and been an average student.

The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and the Feeble-minded. Photo courtesy of the Central Virginia Training Center.

In the Colony, Carrie was reunited with her mother. Colony records describe Emma Buck as a widow who “lacked moral sense and responsibility.” She had a reputation as “notoriously untruthful,” had been arrested for prostitution, and had allegedly given birth to illegitimate children. Perhaps most shockingly, her housework was “untidy.”

Emma was stamped with a diagnosis: “Mental Deficiency, Familial: Moron.”

The Eugenics Movement

The term “moron” is originally a “scientific” one, invented by Dr. Henry H. Goddard, a pioneer of the “science” of eugenics. His book, Feeble-Mindedness: Its Causes and Consequences, tried to classify and describe the attributes of those who are “incapable of performing his duties as a member of society in the position of life to which he was born.”

The feeble-minded were “ne’er do wells” who were “shiftless, incompetent, unsatisfactory and undesirable members of the community.” Goddard filled his book with pictures of his subjects, a supposed rogues gallery of the congenitally stupid.

Goddard created a taxonomy of the “feeble-minded.” “Idiots” were the lowest grade, with intelligence comparable to a child under two. Next, came “imbeciles,” those with intelligence comparable to a child from ages three to seven. Finally, came the “morons,” eight to ten.

It’s difficult to comprehend the extent of the popularity of eugenics during the first three decades of the twentieth century. According to one historian, eugenics ideas were integral to “the political vocabulary of virtually every significant modernizing force between the two world wars.” From marriage laws to immigration to schooling practices, eugenicists greatly influenced public policy — and in many ways, they continue to do so.

Eugenic goals were behind the Immigration Act of 1924, which created quotas for immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe that remained in effect until 1965. Harry Laughlin, one of the doyens of the American eugenics movement and, like Arthur Estabrook, also of the Eugenics Record Office, testified to Congress that immigration restrictions were necessary to defend “against the contamination of American family stocks by alien hereditary degeneracy.” Like those who today call immigrants “rapists and murderers,” anti-immigrant rhetoric often carries shameful, eugenical tinge.

Carrie was prosecuted under the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, but the anti-miscegenation part of that law wouldn’t be struck down until 1967 in the landmark case of Loving v. Virginia. At the time of Loving, Virginia’s marriage license not only required the couple to be of the same race, but also that the couple affirm that “neither is she nor am I a habitual criminal, idiot, imbecile, hereditary epileptic, or insane person,” all words which reek of eugenics origins. Loving would later become an essential precedent to overturning same-sex marriage bans in 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges.

In 1925, only a few months after Carrie’s first trial, the country was enamored with the famous Scopes “Monkey” Trial, when Tennessee schoolteacher John Scopes was put on trial for teaching evolution, famously dramatized in the 1960 movie (based off the 1955 play) Inherit the Wind. What’s remembered now as a valiant struggle of science over superstition was also a fight over an explicitly eugenics-favoring biology textbook.

Scopes used George Hunter’s A Civic Biology, which included such eugenics-promoting passages as:

If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with success in this country.

Well into the later parts of the 20th century, eugenics-inspired laws left people sterilized, prohibited to marry, committed to state institutions, or barred from the country. Even presidents got on board. Woodrow Wilson was a fan. As governor of New Jersey he signed the state’s forced sterilization law, and Theodore Roosevelt once wrote that “society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind.”

The first US sterilization law was passed in Indiana in 1907. “Heredity plays a most important part in the transmission of crime, idiocy, and imbecility,” read the preamble, and therefore surgeons would have broad discretion to “perform such operation for the prevention of procreation as shall be decided safest and most effective.” Many states followed Indiana’s lead, including Virginia in 1924.

Dr. Albert Priddy of the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-minded could fairly be described as a zealot of eugenics. Prior to 1924, Priddy had performed hundreds of forced sterilizations by creatively interpreting laws which allowed surgery to benefit the “physical, mental or moral” condition of the inmates at the Colony. He would operate to relieve “chronic pelvic disorder” and, in the process, sterilize the women.

According to Priddy, the women he chose were “immoral” because of their “fondness for men,” their reputations for “promiscuity,” and their “over-sexed” and “man-crazy” tendencies. One sixteen-year-old girl was sterilized for her habit of “talking to the little boys.”

Dr. Albert Priddy, superintendent of the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded, from eugenicsarchive.org

But Priddy got himself into hot water when he forcibly sterilized Willie Mallory and her daughter Jessie. In September, 1916, Willie, Jessie and seven other Mallory children were arrested in their home on suspicion of running a brothel. In reality, Priddy had directed police to the Mallory house because he felt the family was a particularly egregious case of congenital feeble-mindedness and immorality. Priddy felt the “germ plasm” of the Mallorys needed to be purged, and the charges were entirely manufactured. Once in Priddy’s hands, Willie was declared “unable to control her nerves” and sterilized, as was her daughter Jessie.

George Mallory, the husband and father, had been out of town when the arrests were made. When he found out what had happened, he fought to get his family back and to prevent any further sterilizations. After a protracted legal battle, Willie and the Mallory children were freed.

Although the courts did not overturn the sterilization program, Priddy worried that it now rested on shaky legal foundations. What he needed was a new law and then a test case to validate it once and for all. And in order to prove his theory of hereditary feeble-mindedness to the highest court in the land, he would need at least three generations of verifiable “imbeciles.”

Notes from the Eugenics Records Office on Carrie’s alleged lineage. From eugenicsarchive.org.

The Trial

Carrie Buck found herself in the Colony in June of 1924, shortly before her 18th birthday. Priddy quickly made the connection between Emma and Carrie, and he knew about the recently born Vivian. He began building his case.

Designed to withstand legal challenge, the new Virginia law provided more due process than the previous ad hoc regime that rested entirely on official discretion. Carrie’s case first had to go before the Colony Board.

Priddy testified that Carrie was “congenitally and incurably defective” with a mental age of only nine, and that she had borne “one illegitimate mentally defective child.” The Board agreed that “Carrie Buck … is the probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspring,” and that sterilization would benefit both her and society at large.

What did Carrie think of all this? During the hearing before the Board, we have the only contemporaneous record of Carrie’s reaction to her unfortunate circumstance:

Q: Do you care to say anything about having this operation performed on you?

A: No, sir, I have not, it is up to my people.

In order to fully validate the law to Priddy’s satisfaction, the Board’s determination had to be defended in court. Thus, Irving Whitehead was appointed to “defend” Carrie from the Board’s ruling. Whitehead was not only a close friend of Priddy, but he was a former member of the Colony Board and, unsurprisingly, a staunch believer in forced sterilization.

In order to build an ironclad case against Carrie and her genes, Priddy needed to verify that Carrie’s daughter, the 8-month old Vivian, was also feeble-minded. Vivian’s mental status had been merely asserted before the Colony Board. Priddy knew the court would demand more.

Enter Arthur Estabrook, the recognized expert in eugenics from the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Under questioning from Aubrey Strode, Estabrook explained how feeble-mindedness propagates due to “bad blood” and a “defective germ plasm” — “where two defectives’ germ plasms meet, the effect again appears.” Estabrook then gave his opinion of Carrie and Vivian:

Q: Did you give Carrie Buck any mental tests to determine her mental capacity?

A: Yes, sir. I talked to Carrie sufficiently so that with the record of the mental examination — yes, I did. I gave a sufficient examination so that I consider her feeble-minded.

Q: Have you a definition of “feeble-minded”?

A: Yes, I have.

Q: What is it?

A: A feeble-minded person is a person who is so weak mentally that he or she is unable to maintain himself or herself in the ordinary community at large.

Q: Now, what is a socially inadequate person?

A: That is anybody who by reason of any sort of defect or condition is unable to maintain themselves according to the accepted rules of society.

Q: From what you know of Carrie Buck, would you say that by the laws of heredity she is a feeble-minded person and the probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspring likewise afflicted?

A: I would.

The questioning turned to Vivian:

Q: Did you see Carrie Buck’s child?

A: I did.

Q: Were you able to form any judgment about that child?

A: I was.

Q: What is it?

A: I gave the child the regular mental test for a child of the age of six months, and judging from her reactions to the tests I gave her, I decided she was below the average for a child of eight months of age.

What is “the regular mental test” to determine if an 8-month old is feeble-minded? Easy, just wave a coin in front of her face and see if the infant’s eyes track it to a satisfactory degree. Vivian apparently failed that test.

Throughout Carrie’s trial, a succession of witnesses offered testimony that was hearsay, contentious, speculative, and simply absurd. Because Priddy and Strode felt it crucial to establish that Carrie’s entire family “stock” was defective, witnesses who had never met Carrie testified to rumors and anecdotes surrounding her and her family.

One witness, John W. Hopkins, the Superintendent of the Albemarle County Home, testified that he did not know Carrie, Emma, or Vivian, but he did have this probing insight to offer about Carrie’s half-brother:

Q: Do you know Roy Smith, a half-brother of Carrie Buck here?

A: Yes, sir

Q: What do you know about him?

A: Well, all I know, I have just seen him passing through the place back and forth. That is the extent of my acquaintance with him.

Q: But you haven’t told us anything yet that you know about him. You say you have seen him passing through the place: do you know anything about him?

A: I don’t know anything particular about him. I think he is rather an unusual boy.

Q: In what way?

A: He struck me as being right peculiar.

Q: He is a peculiar boy?

A: I think so.

Q: Now, why can’t you tell us what you know about him?

A: Well, the only thing I know that could cause me to have an opinion about him at all is, he came through the place one day — he was going to school. He stopped and was waiting on the path, and I asked him who he was waiting for. He said he was waiting on some other children, they was going home to spend the night with him. I said: “Boy, those children have gone home,” and he said well, they was coming with him tomorrow night. He had been standing there waiting I suppose twenty or thirty minutes.

The trial goes on in that fashion, with various residents of Charlottesville testifying that Carrie’s siblings, half siblings and other family members were “right peculiar” in some way.

One of the few witnesses to testify with first-hand knowledge of Carrie, a nurse from Charlottesville who had intermittent contact with Carrie over the years, recalled that in grammar school Carrie had been caught writing notes to boys. Priddy, of course, had once sterilized a girl for that transgression. For his testimony, Priddy felt the need to point out that Carrie had a “rather badly formed face.”

Carrie’s lawyer offered essentially no defense. Not only did he call no witnesses, but Irving Whitehead did not challenge the prosecution’s witnesses’ lack of firsthand knowledge or their dodgy scientific claims. He did not even call Carrie’s teachers, who could have proven, with documented evidence, that Carrie had been an average student, including one teacher who wrote that Carrie was “very good” at “deportment and lessons.”

Instead, it seemed that Whitehead was often testifying against his own client, taking it for granted that she was of “low caliber.” He did not challenge the claim that Carrie was illegitimate, which was false as a matter of Virginia state law because Carrie’s parents were married at the time of her birth. Nor did he argue that Carrie’s supposed “immorality” and Vivian’s illegitimacy were due to a rape by the Dobbs’ nephew, Clarence Garland.

Why would he? After all, Whitehead served 14 years on the Colony’s Board and had always supported Priddy’s devotion to sterilization. In fact, only a few months before Carrie’s trial, the Colony named a building after him.

Buck v. Bell

Carrie lost in the trial court. On appeal, Whitehead offered a 5-page brief to the state’s 40-pager, and Carrie lost there too. Her only recourse was to the US Supreme Court, but that was merely an illusion. She lost her case when a charlatan was put in charge of defending her.

Even if Whitehead had put forth an effort, Carrie’s case was put before a Supreme Court with at least two avowed believers in eugenics: Chief Justice (and former president) William Howard Taft and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

In 1915, Taft had written the introduction to the book How to Live, which contained a sizable portion devoted to eugenics. As for Holmes, in 1921, he told future justice Felix Frankfurter that he had no problem “restricting propagation by the undesirables and putting to death infants that didn’t pass the examination.”

Scary words coming from the justice who, in Lochner — the legal professoriates’ favorite bête noire — accused the majority of reading their prejudices into the Constitution. In Lochner, Holmes had also accused his fellow justices of reading Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics into the Fourteenth Amendment.

Spencer was a famed laissez-faire thinker who is often unfairly accused of advocating “social Darwinism,” that is, eliminating socially beneficial programs and laws in order to kill off the poor and unfit. Perhaps the only problem Holmes had with this view (which Spencer himself never espoused) was that it wasn’t proactive enough.

Taft assigned the opinion to Holmes, who went at his task with a zealotry that bordered on bloodlust. His first draft was apparently even more brutal and was criticized by colleagues for substituting rhetorical flourishes about eugenics for legal analysis. The Chief Justice asked Holmes to focus on the supposed line of hereditary defects in Carrie’s case:

Some of the brethren [the other justices] are troubled about the case, especially [Justice Pierce] Butler. May I suggest that you make a little full [the explanation of] the care Virginia has taken in guarding against undue or hasty action, proven absence of danger to the patient, and other circumstances tending to lessen the shock that many feel over the remedy? The strength of the facts in three generations of course is the strongest argument.

Holmes would certainly highlight those three generations. He would take just over 1000 words to sentence Carrie Buck to forced sterilization, writing that the majority has a right to “prevent our being swamped with incompetence.” A Civil War veteran, he invoked the moral clarity of war — “we have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives” — and curtly explained how Carrie had received ample due process because “the very careful provisions” of the law “protect the patients from possible abuse.”

He punctuated his paean to brutality by penning arguably the most heartless line in Supreme Court history: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

And that was that. Only Justice Pierce Butler dissented, possibly because he was a Catholic, but he didn’t offer a written opinion.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Aftermath and Lessons

Buck v. Bell carries with it eternal lessons that are relevant as long as governments purport to use science to deal with “public health” problems. More and more, we characterize issues as “public health” matters — from guns to smoking to eating cheeseburgers — and, without a proper respect for individual rights, there is no feasible stopping point for “public health” crusades.

Are home swimming pools, which kill hundreds of people a year, a public health issue? How about not exercising? Riding motorcycles? Cooking with butter? Science can be an important tool for effective public policy, but if it is not tempered by skepticism and an unfailing respect for individual rights, then it can become a mask for deplorable policies.

After Holmes’s opinion, the rate of sterilizations around the country increased dramatically. According to historian Edwin Black, between 1907 and 1927, the year the Court decided Buck v. Bell, approximately 6,000 people were forcibly sterilized. In just the 13 years after Buck, there would be 30,000 more. Virginia alone would sterilize about 8,300 citizens. The 1924 law was altered over the years, for example by removing “epileptics” from the list in 1968, and then finally repealed in 1974.

Carrie’s “feeble-minded” daughter Vivian would be an honor roll student in second grade, but, in 1932, she died of an intestinal infection. She was the last of the Bucks.

Vivian Buck’s (listed as Dobbs) 2nd grade report card showing that she was on the “April Honor Roll.” From eugenicsarchive.org.

Carrie was released from the Colony in 1929, and she married in 1932. Her husband died in the 1950s, and Carrie spent most of her life in poverty. Carrie’s story, and Carrie herself, were rediscovered by reporters in 1980, prompting a flurry of stories.

In the early 1980s, Carrie was living near Charlottesville with her sister Doris. Doris had spent years trying for children, only to have a researcher reveal to her that he had uncovered papers showing the state had secretly sterilized her during a supposed appendectomy. Carrie’s case was also rediscovered by legal historian Paul Lombardo, whose research into true history of Buck v. Bell has been invaluable to all subsequent accounts, including this one.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. sat on the Supreme Court for 30 years and is one of our most famed jurists. For his entire career he insisted on letting majorities “embody their opinions in law,” and this would include not just forcibly sterilizing people, but also arresting those who distributed anti-draft literature (Schenck v. United States).

Holmes’s view of judging generally required bending over backwards to accommodate the views of the majority. He later called Buck v. Bell one of his proudest moments, a part of his legacy, telling one friend, “One decision that I wrote gave me pleasure, establishing the constitutionality of a law permitting the sterilization of imbeciles.”

Buck v. Bell has never been explicitly overruled.

The last photograph of Carrie Buck, taken in 1982 by legal historian Paul Lombardo, at the nursing home where she lived in the last years of her life. From eugenicsarchive.org.

This post first appeared at Medium.com. Reprinted with permission.

Trevor BurrusTrevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus is a research fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies. His research interests include constitutional law, civil and criminal law, legal and political philosophy, and legal history. He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

Planned Parenthood Lobbying as College ‘Classics’ Education

After the series of undercover films by the Center for Medical Progress showing high-ranking Planned Parenthood executives negotiating the sale of fetal body parts, the House had no trouble passing a bill freezing funding for Planned Parenthood for a year.  This was in spite of efforts on college campuses by performance artist Rhodessa Jones, sympathetic professors, and, at Hamilton College, about a dozen representatives from the Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson.

Jones specializes in working with women in prison and with HIV across the country and in Russia and South Africa.  She has also enjoyed lucrative gigs on college campuses, such as at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She was recently appointed a visiting professor at St. Mary’s College.

But she has enjoyed regular visits to Hamilton College since at least 2004, when she performed “Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women.”  In addition to getting funding from campus social justice programs and various academic departments, Jones receives grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, private foundations, and local and state arts programs.  She also collaborates with Planned Parenthood.

Her visit last week came just in time to encourage students to call Congressman Richard Hanna and encourage him to vote against the bill to defund Planned Parenthood.  He was one of three Republicans to do so on September 18.  The Senate is trying to fast-track the bill.

On Constitution Day, September 17, Jones gave the second of her two talks on campus.  Among the students and professors in the Kennedy Auditorium were about a dozen representatives from Planned Parenthood.  Jones had shown previews of her film called “Birthright,” which she told students was about “honoring” and “standing with Planned Parenthood.”  Near the end of the long question-and-answer session, Professor of Comparative Literature Nancy Rabinowitz encouraged the largely female audience to present any question that would challenge what had been said.  She implied that free debate was encouraged. “If you have an objection, please speak up,” she said, reminding the students that the campus event was intended to be “educational.”

Two days previously, during her introduction to Jones’s first talk, Rabinowitz had encouraged students to participate in all the activities offered during the week related to Jones’s residency: drama workshops, meals, and the September 17 showing of “Birthright” with “open discussion” afterward.  Until the last few minutes of the “open discussion” period at the end of the second lecture no mention had been made of a possible alternative view.  In fact, Rabinowitz had launched off the first day by ominously warning that “the right to choose” is “under attack right now.”

Jones herself had opened her first lecture by reaffirming Rabinowitz and dramatically declaring that we must “trust women” to make their own choices.  The women “acting” in her films repeated the message.  The clips that were shown on September 17 were testimonials to Planned Parenthood.  That should not be surprising because the film was a joint project of Jones’s non-profit performance company, Cultural Odyssey, and Planned Parenthood of Northern California.  The topic of selling of fetal body parts by Planned Parenthood was never mentioned.  The upcoming vote by Congress to defund Planned Parenthood was simply presented as unjustified.

"MargaretSanger-Underwood.LOC" by Underwood & Underwood - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division

MargaretSanger-Underwood.LOC” by Underwood & Underwood – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division

On a campus where many professors insult dissenting students in class or punish them with low grades it would take an extreme amount of self-confidence to accept Rabinowitz’s invitation.  Such a student was surrounded by about a hundred of her peers, several professors, and representatives from Planned Parenthood.  The film clips had shown testimonials by women who had undergone horrific experiences of childhood rape, addiction, and abuse.  Several board members and employees of the local Planned Parenthood had stood up to present the benefits of Planned Parenthood.  One who is involved in public affairs urged students to call “longtime supporter and wonderful advocate” Congressman Richard Hanna, whose number she wrote on the blackboard from memory. Hanna, she said, was hearing from “anti-woman, anti-choice” constituents, so needed to hear from them.  She urged students to call the next day, reciting a script for them.  Students were also encouraged to register to vote and vote for pro-choice candidates.  The next day Hanna went against his party that had voted for the bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

One student did accept Rabinowitz’s invitation to question the points made, but only in the meekest form possible.  She presented a question in the form of a hypothetical.  What about the claims that “some people” make about the “potential for life?” she asked.  This was a counter to the preceding steady message about women’s choices, the decades-old slogan about having control over one’s future, not having a baby until one is “ready,” and so forth.  In fact, it had been presented as crueler to subject a child to a life of potential poverty, hunger, and abuse than to abort it.  The student tentatively presented a counter-argument: the “other side” said that in spite of not having all the advantages, an unplanned child could still enjoy life.

The student had plenty of people to answer her question.

A biology professor repeated what he said he told his classes: that the same standard as the biological standard for death could be applied to preborn life.  Death is determined by the end of brainwaves, he said.  Brainwaves and “consciousness” do not appear until the third trimester, so the fetus was not really alive until the third trimester.

Philosophy professor Katheryn Doran, who had introduced Jones that day and who is also vice chair of the local board of directors of Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, responded by implying that this was similar to the “faux feminist” argument that claims that the real oppression occurs when women are put into the position of having an abortion.  It’s about “choice,” she asserted to a lot of head-nodding in the audience.

A man in the audience then stood up and introduced himself as the CEO of Planned Parenthood.  This was Kim Atkins.  He stated that Planned Parenthood was in the position of preventing the “situations” that require abortion.  That means making contraception readily available.  “We share the vision to reduce abortion,” he said, while adding that everybody should have the right to make the “choice” for herself of whether or not to have an abortion.

More testimony came as a few women admitted to having had abortions and having no regrets.  A student who had interned at Planned Parenthood gave a plug.  A Planned Parenthood representative testified that the abortion pill made a first trimester abortion a private and relatively easy procedure.  Some repeated the advice given by Planned Parenthood counselors to young women with unplanned pregnancies: that this is the best choice that you can make now and that you are being a “good mother” by having an abortion.  Any “regrets” result from hormonal changes, which are temporary.

"Black Lives Matter protest, Mall of America, December 2014" by Nicholas Upton.

Black Lives Matter protest, Mall of America, December 2014.

 by Nicholas Upton.The presentation ended at 6:00 p.m., right before a dinner for the attendees.  Rabinowitz closed out by telling the audience that she had forgotten to mention that the event was funded by the Literature and Creative Writing Department, in addition to the other departments, such as Classics and Philosophy (as well as the Levitt Center and other offices).  Rabinowitz also encouraged students to attend the Black Lives Matter event the following day, stating that they were privileged to have one of the founders, Alicia Garza, speak.

Jones’s visit had been billed as an exploration of the role of myth.  Indeed, Rabinowitz had stated that it was during the teaching of Medea that she had discovered Jones’s work. Medea, Euripides’s tragedy about a woman who murders her two children in revenge for her husband’s philandering, has become a signature play for feminists because of the sympathetic portrayal of Medea.

But even that much was not mentioned during Jones’s talks.  Nor was there anything remotely related to literature or philosophy.  Instead, students received a lot of indoctrination, while being subjected to amateurish theater.  A large part of the credit goes to Nancy Rabinowitz, who continues to use her position to bring radical friends to the college, even after her attempts to bring Ward Churchill and Susan Rosenberg were stymied.  But Rhodessa Jones served the purpose just as well, as will be revealed in the next installment.

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How Do Planned Parenthood Supporters Talk to their Children?

What is it going to take? After the release of another horrific Planned Parenthood video, what is it going to take for the American Left to call evil what it is?

The Planned Parenthood videos began with discussions of the harvesting of the organs of aborted children. Next, the videos graduated in their depravity to conversations about selling the organs for a “better than break even” price. A short time later, another video was released where Planned Parenthood officials were caught on tape discussing using “less crunchy” abortion techniques to preserve the organs of aborted children in order to sell them. Despite the disgusting content of the aforementioned videos, sadly, the videos have grown in their gruesomeness. The latest video released, where a former Planned Parenthood employee describes in disturbing detail how an aborted child, with a beating heart, had its face cut through with scissors to harvest his brain, is so painful to watch that I had to stop just a few minutes into it.

I am proud to call myself a liberty loving conservative and I take every opportunity to explain to my two young daughters why I believe in free people, free markets, free speech, freedom to worship, and the respect for, and the preservation of, all human life. How do Planned Parenthood supporters talk to their children? If they are so proud of what Planned Parenthood is doing then I wonder if they proudly show these videos to their children and discuss the content with them.

Please spare me the “medicine can be disturbing to watch” garbage because I have zero problem watching a medical operation on video, nor do I care in the least if my daughter watches one. I have an arthritic left shoulder that needs to be replaced and recently watched a YouTube video of the surgery to prepare myself for what’s in store for me. There was nothing gruesome about the shoulder surgery video because, in watching the amazing power of medicine, through a talented surgeon’s hands, give the gift of pain-free movement back to someone like me who lives with chronic pain I was comforted that, despite the anatomical visuals during the surgery video, it was to preserve and further the quality of life, not destroy it.

Also, please spare us all the “these videos are edited” tripe that some Planned Parenthood sycophants are desperately floating to the media in an attempt to preserve this evil organization.

First, the unedited videos are available for the world to watch. Second, no one at Planned Parenthood is claiming that the Planned Parenthood employees and business associates in the videos are actors. Third, the same frauds claiming that the videos are “edited” had ZERO problem with promoting the Mitt Romney “47%” video which was unquestionably “edited.”

Again, what is it going to take? What more does Planned Parenthood have to do before the American Left does the right thing? What level of depravity and gruesomeness in Planned Parenthood’s talk and actions do they have to reach before the Left is willing to call evil what it is? Despite my dealings with the hard Left and my skepticism that they are straight shooters, even I am surprised at their callous defense of Planned Parenthood in the face of such obvious evidence of Planned Parenthood’s ghoulish actions.

It is time for a great American awakening. I refuse to believe that America has morphed into a country where a major political party’s values have degenerated to such a point that the statement “all lives matter” is controversial to them, yet using scissors to cut through the face of a live child to harvest its brain for sale isn’t.

We must stop the moral decay that appears to be growing in intensity. I’m not a preacher or a counselor but I ask that you please, talk to your children about these videos and, more importantly, about the people who support the people in the Planned Parenthood videos. Truth is our most powerful weapon in the war for our collective moral future and avoiding uncomfortable topics, because of the gruesome nature of what is happening, only allows what is happening to continue happening.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review. The featured image of abortion protesters in Columbia, Missouri is by Don Shrubshell | AP Photo.

Susan Nolon: Lies, Damn Lies and Defending the Indefensible

susan nolan

Susan Nolon

Susan Nolon from Sarasota, Florida is a typical “conflicted collectivist”, who is trying hard to support Planned Parenthood’s use of aborted babies for scientific research. I say conflicted because in an op-ed column for SRQ Magazine Nolan states that she is both “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” This is a typical tactic used by collectivists, like Nolan, to lie to the people about what they truly believe.

The bulk of her op-ed column is in support of aborting babies and then using their “fetal tissue” for research for the greater good.

You see for Nolon the ends always justify the means. Using babies body parts to save the inflicted is okay, so long as you have no moral compass. In her op-ed Nolan states:

The one thing we have to consider is that although this research has brought findings that have actually preserved life, it is highly regulated.  Only five states actually allow this process. What the video does not mention is that fetal tissue is from causes both natural (a miscarriage) and unnatural (an abortion).  And while the outrage is directed toward Planned Parenthood, you need to recognize the fallout will be huge.  The National Institutes of Health funds research using fetal tissue with grants to more than 50 universities, including Columbia, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Yale and the University of California in Berkeley, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

Nolon somehow believes that if the government regulates the use of baby body parts and big name universities use these baby body parts for research that makes everything right as rain.

What Nolon leaves out of her op-ed is how this lack of respect for life began under Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and the impact of the Eugenics movement to create a superior race in America in the 1900s has led to this indefensible end. The Eugenics movement changed its name after Adolf Hitler used this uniquely American idea to cleanse society of the unwanted. Eugenics became known today as Genetics. To understand why Nolon is wrong please read my column “GENETICS: ‘Racial hygiene’ in America one baby at a time.

Nolon supports what is legal rather than what is morally right. Remember when slavery was legal? Remember when it was legal to involuntarily sterilize children considered unfit to have a family? Remember when it was legal to make blacks sit at the back of the bus? All of these dark times in American history were supported by people like Nolan.

Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was a proponent of Eugenics, the racial cleansing of American society. In Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12, Sanger wrote:

We should 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.

We don’t want the 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.

Kelsey Harkness from The Daily Signal reports:

Following allegations that Planned Parenthood is selling aborted fetal body parts for profit, black pro-life leaders are calling to defund the organization and address what they call “targeting” of their community.

“It’s an open secret that they are targeting the black community, that they have located their facilities within a two-mile walking radius of a black or Latino neighborhood…and they are coming after black women,” Catherine Davis of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition told The Daily Signal while gathering with other pro-life leaders in Alexandria, Va.

To hear that this organization is allowed by our government to do that kind of targeting is very disturbing to me. I call it today’s 21st Century Jim Crow.

You see, where we are today has always been the final solution for the Eugenicists such as Sanger and her modern day counterpart Susan Nolon. She is pro-life because her family did not abort her. She is pro-choice when it comes to other people, mostly black babies, being aborted.

Nolon concludes her op-ed with, “Planned Parenthood always had my support because they were there for me when I needed it. And I want them to be there for those that need it now.”

For the Susan Nolon’s of the world it is all about racial purity for the greater good. Nolon is part of the throw away society, only this time it is babies and their body parts.

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In Georgia, 53.6% of the Babies Aborted Are Black | CNS News

Scientists create first ‘designer chromosome’

Genetics accounts for more than half of variation in exam results

EDITORS NOTE: Susan Nilon is the president of Florida Talk Radio and owner of WSRQ Radio. She hosts The Nilon Report on WSRQ Sarasota 1220AM/106.9FM. Email her at susan@sarasotatalkradio.com.

On His 127th Birthday Hitler Takes Selfie with Planned Parenthood

Hitler_Holding_Paper_HashtagPlanned Parenthood activists were reminded today of their organization’s pro-Nazi roots when an unexpected supporter arrived today to join their rally, introducing himself as Adolf Hitler.

Sporting an iconic “drip pad” mustache, Mr. Hitler unfolded his hand-written sign in support of Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, assuring everyone that he is fully on the side of weeding out the unfit in order to create a cleaner race.

“I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision,” Hitler told the stunned onlookers. “Mrs. Sanger was a huge proponent of the forced sterilization program of the Third Reich, leading a heroic personal fight to purify the white race by exterminating Jews, Slavs, and especially blacks, through government-mandated abortions.”

Speechless at first, Planned Parenthood supporters finally found words to express their indignation by repeatedly chanting “black lives matter,” hoping to shout down Hitler before any of the media reporters could record his comments.

“I understand,” Hitler nodded. “As Margaret Sanger said, we don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. We just need to quietly pull out these human weeds and stop all those reckless breeders from spawning degenerate and defective children who never should have been born, nicht wahr? All the feel-good rhetoric aside, this is the purpose of your organization anyway, is it not?”

The group responded with another chant, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Adolf Hitler go away!”

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” observed Hitler dreamily, while taking a selfie in front of the Planned Parenthood building with his phone camera. “We used to chant back in the day, just like that.”

After communicating with the activists in this manner for about half an hour, Hitler folded his sign and inquired if anyone knew where the closest chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was, preferably the one where Margaret Sanger used to speak about her views on pure race and eugenics. Since no one could give him directions, Hitler entered “KKK” into Google map search on his iPhone and slowly walked away, looking for the nearest hotspot.


Here’s a blank picture of “Hashtag Hitler” for kollektive usage.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Peoples Cube. While this column is political satire the link between the Eugenics movement in the United State, Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood are real. Please read our column: Planned Parenthood Openly ‘Targets’ Black Community. In this column you will read the words of Margaret Sanger that mirror what is said in this column.

The ‘Cognitive Dissonance Void’ on the Left

  • Regarding which organs of the aborted children they sell, “A lot of people want liver” and “we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
  • Regarding the price of the aborted children’s organs, it “has to be big enough that it’s worthwhile for me”, the Planned Parenthood doctor later explaining that she “wants a Lamborghini” and “I just don’t want to lowball.”
  • Regarding the procedure used in the abortion and harvesting process, they prefer the “less crunchy technique” for keeping the child’s organs intact during a partial-birth abortion.

When I was in graduate school studying psychology I frequently encountered a concept known as cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is generally defined as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.” After watching the recent Planned Parenthood videos, where Planned Parenthood medical personnel discuss the harvesting, and trafficking, of organs of aborted children, I wonder when it will become a priority of supporters of this evil organization to do the right thing, and not simply to win a political argument.

How can you be a self-declared liberal and, with a straight face, support this unquestionably evil act and still claim to align yourself with a party claiming to support the “collective good”?  Does this cause you to suffer from uncomfortable levels of cognitive dissonance?

planned parenthood cartoonIn case you were still up in the air regarding this deeply disturbing story, here is a collection of quotes from Planned Parenthood personnel caught in the act of discussing their disgusting trade:

How does anyone read these words and not respond with absolute disgust? Are electoral victories, the accumulation of power, and the advancement of an agenda, so critical to the supporters of Planned Parenthood on the Left that they are willing to forgo basic human decency? Does the sale of an unborn child’s organs cause them any cognitive dissonance? These are babies these people are talking about in these videos. These are human beings, not fishing chum. Throw all of the concerns about “tone” and “language” in politics out of the window in this case and, as a movement, we need to fight back with a responsible fury.  If we cannot organize and stop this evil organization from the harvesting, and trafficking of, the organs of aborted children, using our tax payer money, then the movement is useless. This is not primarily a political fight, it is a moral one.

After reading this, you know the heart and soul of what we are up against in the fight for life. If we cannot beat them then, at a minimum, we must force them to confront the hard reality of the carnage they are imposing on the unborn and then, maybe some of them will take step one and feel a small bit of cognitive dissonance.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review. The featured image is of a Planned Parenthood office in Oklahoma.