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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Eugenics
Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:25 pm
Almost a century ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, Carrie Bucks mother had been institutionalized for what was then called feeblemindedness.
Despite good grades Carrie was pulled from school by her foster parents at the end of sixth grade for domestic work. Soon Carrie became pregnant, and her foster family, knowing shed probably been assaulted by a visiting relative, also had her institutionalized for being feebleminded.
Carries circumstances made her the unfortunate legal target of the American eugenics movement.
As author Adam Cohen notes in his book, Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck, in the 1920s the United States was caught up in the belief that newly discovered scientific laws of heredity could perfect humanity. It was a compelling idea, and Eugenicists laid claim to a body of apparent scientific knowledge and practice that called for native-born Americans deemed mentally or physically deficient to be forcibly sterilized.
In a test case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, lawyers in Virginia presented expert evidence that would never stand up to scrutiny today, that Carrie, her mother, and Carries 8-month-old daughter were feebleminded. In 1927 Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a eugenics supporter, famously wrote that three generations of imbeciles are enough to justify the courts 8-1 ruling that allowed the State of Virginia to sterilize Carrie and countless others with qualities deemed undesirable.
Nazi Germany followed the lead of the American eugenics movement and forcibly sterilized 375,000 of their own citizens. In the Nuremburg trials, Nazi defendants attempted to use Holmes majority decision as a defense.
And heres the Immigration link, because eugenicists turned to immigration laws for non-citizens.
At the turn of the last century, record levels of immigrants poured into the country, bringing with them different religious, ethnic and political backgrounds. Fear of their numbers contributed to social unrest and set the stage for The Immigration Act of 1924.
Championed by eugenicists, the Act set quotas for immigration that favored northern European and Christian immigrants over southern and Slavic Europeans and Jews. This law barred Otto Frank from bringing his family here to escape the Holocaust. Its the tragic backdrop to his daughter Anns famous diary – in which she documents her life before perishing in Auschwitz.
I find it hard to accept that once again were debating immigration and religion in a similar atmosphere.
Posted: February 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm
In the 1920s, a legal victory against the rising eugenic tide was won by a Catholic doctor over prominent birth control advocate Marie Stopes. While Stopes is lauded today at a feminist hero, the story of the eugenics libel trial has been largely overlooked.
Marie Stopes in her laboratory in 1904. (Image via Wikipedia)
In 1923 in Britain, a Catholic doctor won an important victory in the battle against one of the most harmful ideologies of the 20th century: eugenics. The battle was fought in the law courts when British birth control advocate Marie Stopes sued Dr. Halliday Sutherland for libel.
Had Sutherland lost the case, opposition to eugenics in Britain would have suffered a blow, and would possibly have been silenced altogether. Sutherlands success was in large part because he was supported by the most consistently vociferous critic of eugenics in Britain at that time: the Catholic Church. But having won the legal battle, Sutherland subsequently lost the history war when the narrative of the losing side became the received history.
It is time to correct the record and, whats more, demonstrate why it matters today. Recent developments in biotechnology mean that eugenics is back. The issues in Stopes v. Sutherland are still relevant today and, when the centenaries of past events are commemorated in the next few years, it is essential that the correct narrative is used to influence the contemporary debate.
The centenary in 2023 of the Stopes v. Sutherland trial will be an opportunity to challenge the falsehoods of the last 100 years. Catholics can reflect on the Churchs record of standing up for ordinary people against the master plan of the elites. Remembering these events will help to educate and inspire those who will take up the cause in the contemporary debate.
Fake histories are warehouses to store fake news.
Theres lots of fake news around these days, isnt there? This article is about one of the sources of fake newsfake history.
Heres an example from the BBCs online biography of Marie Stopes:
In 1921, Stopes opened a family planning clinic in Holloway, north London, the first in the country. It offered a free service to married women and also gathered data about contraception. In 1925, the clinic moved to central London and others opened across the country. By 1930, other family planning organisations had been set up and they joined forces with Stopes to form the National Birth Control Council (later the Family Planning Association).
The Catholic church was Stopes fiercest critic. In 1923, Stopes sued Catholic doctor Halliday Sutherland for libel. She lost, won at appeal and then lost again in the House of Lords, but the case generated huge publicity for Stopes views.
Stopes continued to campaign for women to have better access to birth control
A second example of fake history is a 2015 press release from Marie Stopes International celebrating the 90th anniversary of the establishment of Stopes second London clinic:
90 years ago a woman called Marie Stopes made an extraordinary decision. She would open a service in the heart of London that offered women access to free contraception. In 1925, three years before women would win the right to vote, Marie Stopes bucked convention by showing women they had a choice regarding whether and when to have children.
On what grounds do I say that these items are fake? In my opinion, they are fake because of what they leave out.
There is no mention of Stopes eugenic agenda or of her intention to achieve, in her own words, a reduction of the birth rate at the wrong part and increase of the birth rate at the right end of the social scale.
No mention of her view that, as she put it in 1924:
From the point of view of the economics of the nation, it is racial madness to rifle the pockets of the thrifty and intelligent who are struggling to do their best for their own families of one and two and squander the money on low grade mental deficients, the spawn of drunkards, the puny families of women so feckless and deadened that they apathetically breed like rabbits.
No mention was made that she advocated the compulsorily sterilization of the unfit, nor of her lobbying the British Prime Minister and the Parliament to pass the appropriate legislation.
No mention of the vituperative language she used to describe those whom she desired to see sterilized: hopelessly bad cases, bad through inherent disease, or drunkenness or character wastrels, the diseasedthe miserable [and] the criminaldegenerate, feeble minded and unbalancedparasites.
No mention is made of the bedrock tenets of the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress, set up by Stopes to run her clinics: to furnish security from conception to those who are racially diseased, already overburdened with children, or in any specific way unfitted for parenthood.
No reasons were given as to why the doctor opposed her. Dr. Sutherland opposed Stopes because he opposed eugenics. His opposition began many years before, when he was nominally a Presbyterian and in practice an atheist.
No mention was made of the fact that Dr. Sutherland specialized in tuberculosis, an infective disease of poverty. This fact is key, because it brought him into direct conflict with eugenicists (more commonly known at the time as eugenists). Eugenists believed that susceptibility to tuberculosis was primarily an inherited condition, so their cure was to breed out the tuberculous types. While Sutherland and others were trying to prevent and cure tuberculosis, influential eugenists believed their efforts were a waste of time. Furthermore, these eugenists thought tuberculosis was a friend of the race because it was a natural check on the unfit, killing them before they could reproduce.
Of course, both the BBC biography and the press release are brief summaries and, as such, cannot include all of the details that I have outlined. But thats not the point. The point is that neither item properly summarizes the issues. The excision of Stopes eugenic agenda makes her a secular saint. How could anyone oppose her in good conscience?
And thats the question that brought me to where I am now. As a grandson of Dr. Sutherland, I often wondered why he opposed her, because I used to believe the fake version of this story myself. No onefamily or otherwisetold me differently. Following many hours of research, including the examination of Dr. Sutherlands personal papers, I now know a different version of events.
Halliday Gibson Sutherland was born in 1882, and was educated at Glasgow High School and Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh. He studied medicine at Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and he graduated in 1908. At that time, he came under the influence of Robert Philip, who pioneered modern anti-tuberculosis treatments.
Tuberculosis was responsible for one-ninth of the total death-rate in Britain at the time. Tuberculosis killed over 70,000 victims, and disabled at least 150,000 more each year. Given that the disease often killed the bread-winner of a family, it was the direct cause of one-eleventh of the pauperism in England and Wales, a charge on the State of one million sterling per annum, Sutherland wrote in 1911.
In 1910, Sutherland was appointed the Medical Officer for the St. Marylebone Dispensary for the Prevention of Tuberculosis. In 1911, he edited and contributed to a book on tuberculosis by international experts.
Sutherlands religious journey is pertinent to this story. He was baptized a Presbyterian. In August 1904, at the age of 22, he was in theory an agnostic and in practice an atheist, he would later write. Ten years later, there came the hazards of war, and for me the time had come when it was expedient to make my peace with God. At that point he was admitted to the Church of Scotland. He became a Catholic in 1919.
Also relevant to this story is the falling birth rate, and two groups which had strong views about population.
Britains birth rate increased from 1800 onwards. In 1876, it peaked at 36.3 per thousand, and began to fall. By the end of 1901 it had fallen 21 percent, and by nearly 34 percent by 1914.
Not everyone was worried about the fall in birth-rate; one group in particular, the Malthusians, welcomed the fall.
It was T.R. Malthus (1766-1834) who had observed: The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man.
He drew up his natural law, that when the population increased beyond subsistence, the resulting competition for resources would lead to conflict, famine, and disease. Sexual abstinence was the way to keep the population at manageable levels. In the period of the Stopes v. Sutherland libel trial, the term Neo-Malthusian was used to differentiate Malthusians who advocated the use of contraceptives instead of abstinence.
Another group keenly interested in population were the eugenists. The word eugenics was coined by Sir Francis Galton, cousin of the naturalist Charles Darwin. But while the word was new, the idea was not; G.K. Chesterton described it as one of the most ancient follies of the earth.
In the decades before the Stopes v. Sutherland libel trial, eugenists were concerned about the differential birth rate, so-called because the poor were producing more children than the rich. Given that British eugenists used social class as a proxy for a persons racial fitness, it was clear that the worst stocks would be the progenitors of Britains future population. For this reason, British eugenists fretted about degeneration and race suicide.
While there was rivalry between the Malthusian League and the Eugenics Education Society, and they differed strongly over the use of contraceptives, both groups agreed that in relation to population, quality mattered. The areas of overlap meant that some people were members of both the League and the Society. One such person was Marie Stopes.
The reader of this article might assume that doctors cure diseases; this, however, was not always a pressing concern for some influential minds in medicine and science at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly in relation to tuberculosis.
Sir James Barr, president of the British Medical Association (BMA), provides an excellent example of the attitude of many of those in the medical establishment of the time. At the BMAs annual conference in Liverpool in 1912, Barr was explicit that moral and physical degenerates should not be allowed to take any part in adding to the race. He then he turned his attention to tuberculosis:
If we could only abolish the tubercle bacillus in these islands we would get rid of tuberculous disease, but we should at the same time raise up a race peculiarly susceptible to this infectiona race of hothouse plants which would not flourish in any other environment. Nature, on the other hand, weeds out those who have not got the innate power of recovery from disease, and by means of the tubercle bacillus and other pathogenic organisms she frequently does this before the reproductive age, so that a check is put on the multiplication of idiots and the feeble-minded. Natures methods are thus of advantage to the race rather than to the individual.
Sutherlands opposition to this mindset and to eugenics can be traced to the article The Soil and the Seed in Tuberculosis, published in the British Medical Journal on November 23, 1912. In it, he recognised that doctors had traditionally believed in an inherited disposition to tuberculosis, and admitted that he had been one of them. Now he had changed his mind.
Sutherland again spoke out against eugenics on September 4, 1917, when he addressed the National Council of the YMCA. He rebutted the notion that consumption was hereditary, and he attacked the eugenists:
But why should you set out to prevent this infection and to cure the disease? There are some self-styled eugenistswho declaim that the prevention of disease is not in itself a good thing. They say the efficiency of the State is based upon what they call the survival of the fittest. [World War I] has smashed their rhetorical phrase. Who talks now about survival of the fittest, or thinks himself fit because he survives? I dont know what they mean. I do know that in preventing disease you are not preserving the weak, but conserving the strong.
His disagreement with eugenists, previously on medical and scientific grounds, was now on ethical and moral grounds as well.
In March 1918, Marie Stopes book Married Love was published, became a bestseller, and made her a celebrity. According to biographer June Rose:
Marie had written Married Love for women like herself, educated middle-class wives who had been left ignorant of the physical side of marriage. Her tone in her book and in the letters of advice sent to readers implied that they shared a community of interests and of income. She had no particular interest in the lower classes and in Wise Parenthood had written censoriously of the less thrifty and conscientious who bred rapidly and produced children weakened and handicapped by physical as well as mental warping and weakness. The lower classes were, she wrote in a letter to the Leicester Daily Post, often thriftless, illiterate and careless.
It was in her other books that the eugenic agenda was more clearly expressed. In Radiant Motherhood, she urged the compulsory sterilization of wastrels, the diseasedthe miserablethe criminal.
Stopes and her husband opened the Mothers Clinic in Marlborough Road, Holloway on March 17, 1921. She established the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress to run the clinic. She engaged eminent people as vice-presidents of her society, including Bertrand Russell, H.G. Wells, John Maynard Keynes, and Sir James Barr.
On July 7, 1921, Sutherland attended a talk at the Medico-Legal Society by Dr. Louise McIlroy, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and first female professor at the Royal Free Hospital. In the discussion that followed her presentation, McIlroy addressed the negative physical effects of contraceptives. Sutherland, by this time a Catholic, wrote an article in which he observed that the medical profession now concurred with Catholic doctrine. The editor of The Month, in which the article appeared, suggested that he develop it into a book.
Sutherland wrote Birth Control: A Statement of Christian Doctrine Against the Neo-Malthusians. Despite the title, the book was very political and it described Malthusianism as an attack on the poor. It was a polemic for the fair treatment of the poor, and for an equitable structure in society to share the abundance of wealth. His conclusion foreshadows the demographic problems that developed nations face today:
The Catholic Church has never taught that an avalanche of children should be brought into the world regardless of the consequences. God is not mocked; as men sow, so shall they reap, and against a law of nature both the transient amelioration wrought by philanthropists and the subtle expediences of scientific politicians are alike futile. If our civilisation is to survive we must abandon those ideals that lead to decline.
In Birth Control, under the heading Exposing the Poor to Experiment, Sutherland wrote:
But, owing to their poverty, lack of learning, and helplessness, the poor are natural victims of those who seek to make experiments on their fellows. In the midst of a London slum a woman, who is a doctor of German philosophy (Munich), has opened a Birth Control Clinic, where working women are instructed in a method of contraception described by Professor McIlroy as the most harmful method of which I have had experience. When we remember that millions are being spent by the Ministry of Health and by Local Authoritieson pure milk for necessitous expectant and nursing mothers before and after childbirth, for the provision of skilled midwives, and on Infant Welfare Centresall for the single purpose of bringing healthy children into our midst, it is truly amazing this monstrous campaign of birth control should be tolerated by the Home Secretary.
Shortly after the book was published on March 27, 1922, Humphrey Roe, Stopes husband, wrote to Sutherland inviting him to publicly debate his wife. Sutherland did not respond to the letter, and a month later, he received a writ for libel.
Part II of this story will be published at CWR next week.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 1:20 pm
Im tempted to say, in response to Robert VerBruggens lament, that yes, thats Twitter for you, and this is one of many reasons why Im not on it. But Ithink there is more to say about the problem of eugenics than merely its immoral but not ineffective.
First of all, as Im sure VerBruggen would agree, not all efforts to improve the gene pool are immoral, and though we may disagree about exactly where the line is, we both surely agree that its laudableto get tested for Tay-Sachs before you marry, and we both surely agree that forced sterilization of undesirables is an abomination. For myself, Ive written about this before, and I stand by what I wrote then.
Second, we shouldprobably limit the word eugenics to collectiveprograms to improve the gene pool, and not apply the word to individual choices about who to have children with, because only collective programs can actually change the population as a whole. As such, its important to recognize that to breed for particular traits, you have to prevent elements within the population thatdont have those traits from breeding. For example, if you assume that intelligence is highly heritable, and wanted to increase the intelligence of the population, it wouldnt do to get smart people to marry other smart people. Youd have to get smart people tooutbreed less-smart people. I cant think of away to do this that is both ethical and plausible and most of the ways I can think of are neither.
Finally, while we know from extensive experience in selectively breeding animals and plants that such programs work, by work we meanthat weve maximizedparticular traits, abilities and behaviors. And in the course of doing so, you always get tradeoffs. The swift greyhound has chronic hip problems. The highly-trainable poodle is also prone to stress. The large-breasted chicken cant fly. And so forth.
There is no reason to doubt that the same would be true of humans, and that any serious attempt to breed people for particular traits even if undertaken on an entirely voluntary basis and involving no abortion or sterilizationor whatnot would have unexpected side effects. Perhaps breeding for ambitionwill result in lower empathy. Perhaps breeding for intelligence will result in greater incidence of anxiety anddepression. Perhaps breeding for greater athletic prowess will result in higher rates of marital infidelity and divorce. Who knows?
We dont and we cant ethically conduct the kinds of controlled experiments that would allow us to determine with high confidence that we had avoided unexpected side effects. That cautionholdsaswell for genetictherapies that are surely on the horizon. Fitness is only meaningfulrelative to a set of environmental conditions. Narrow the set of traits by which you definefitness and you have implicitly narrowed the set of environments within which an organism will prove fit. Which is not, generally, a good way for a species to maximize its survival prospects.
Im not arguing that people should blithely ignore genetic history or the science of inheritance more generally in matters like mate selection. (If I did, nobody would listen to me anyway.) But I am arguing both for humility and for a broad understanding of what constitutes fitness. Someone especially smart who says, I need to marry someone just as smart as I am so that ourchildren are likely to be similarly smart and hence similarly successful is not only running the risk of disappointment due to mean-reversion (which remainsa factor even when you stack the deck in your favor), but running the risk of having ignored other vital dimensions of the human personalityby reducing fitness to a narrow, measurable trait.
(Also, if you want a good marriage, you should probably marry someone who you love and desire, who is good for you and who you are good for, andwith whom you share certain core values and a robustability to communicate,rather than thinking of your spouse primarily as breeding stock. Not to mention not treating your children as pint-sizedsuccess machines. And staying off Twitter when your wife is in the next room with the OB/GYN. Just saying.)
See original here:
Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:22 pm
A panel of researchers from the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Medicine released a report last week indicating preliminary support for embryonic gene editing in cases of severe disease or disability.
This support for genome editing represents not only the potential alteration of human germlines, the genetic material we may pass on to our children, but also the crossing of an ethical line. Genetic selection, after all, has its own questionable historical lineage.
I believe germline editing is a eugenic process. From the Greek term for well-born, eugenics refers to the selection of heritable biological traits with the aim of producing ideal progeny.
Amid post-Darwinian theories of biological degeneracy in the 19th century, eugenics emerged as a scientifically backed effort to eliminate disability, mental illness and non-white races from the human gene pool through forced sterilization and other intrusive measures.
In the 20th-century United States, eugenic efforts consolidated into federally funded sterilization programs in 32 states, some of which endured well into the 1970s. Indiana, in fact, was the first in the world to enact compulsory eugenic sterilization legislation in 1907.
A notorious 1927 Supreme Court ruling in Buck v. Bell upheld the constitutionality of sterilization laws in the case of Carrie Buck, a woman deemed feebleminded and unfit in Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes majority opinion.
It is essential to recognize that eugenic practices received overwhelming scientific, medical and governmental backing in the name of public health. Though the practice is now acknowledged as unethical, it was legally dismantled only about half a century ago.
Embryonic gene editing procedures are not on the same ethical level as forced sterilization, but the processes nonetheless share eugenic goals.
An underlying principle of eugenics is that society gets to decide which conditions should be eliminated from the human gene pool.
This determination involves a subjective value judgment in selecting which specific diseases or disabilities should not be permitted to exist.
The panels report does acknowledge the troubling relationship between eugenics and human germline editing. While the awareness of this history is crucial in considering the ethical principles at stake, it does not resolve the problem.
The report offers no concrete guidelines for assessing which conditions qualify as severe disease or disability, nor does it clarify whether this determination would be based on quantitative measures, like fatality rates, or other more subjective measures.
Research for treatments is a better investment of resources, and it enables progress toward less ethically questionable options.
The National Institutes of Health currently allocate no funding to gene editing in embryos and for good reason.
Fortunately, it will likely require several years before embryonic gene editing would be a viable option. In the meantime, its time to reassess the ethical heritage of the practice: eugenics.
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Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:25 am
Trump campaignIn an essay that makes Meryl Streep look like an astute political commentator, The New Republic’s social media editor, Sarah Jones, claims “Trump Has Turned the GOP Into the Party of Eugenics.” Well, not literally, Jones concedes in the sixth paragraph. Or at all, it turns out, once you’ve waded through all 2,300 words of increasingly desperate argumentation.
At first it seems Jones wants to prove that Trump believes in eugenics, which she defines as “the idea that the human race could improve itself through selective breedingthrough propagating good traits and quarantining the bad ones.” Jones notes that Trump once told Oprah Winfrey, “You have to be born lucky, in the sense that you have to have the right genes.” And according to one biographer, the Trumps “believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”
In case you are not yet convinced that Trump is eager to push a program of government-sponsored genetic improvement, Jones adds that anonymous sources interviewed by The New York Times said Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, “occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners.” Jeff Sessions, the new attorney general, “praised the Immigration Act of 1924 in a 2015 interview with Bannon,” and Trump adviser Michael Anton has written (under a pseudonym) that Charles Lindbergh’s America First Committee was “unfairly maligned.”
That’s pretty much it, which is why Jones ends up switching her focus from Trump to the Republican Party and from eugenics to “the party’s agenda,” which “in many ways channels the spirit of eugenics, even if it does not accept the theory in a literal sense.” Hence the article’s subhead, which contradicts the headline by suggesting that eugenics was not introduced to the GOP by Trump but has “always been embedded in the Republican platform.”
How so? Republicans oppose Obamacare, like capitalism, talk about welfare reform, and support school choice, which according to Jones makes them eugenicists in spirit.
Jones omits a major target of anti-Republican rants: the GOP’s pro-life stance, which is inconvenient for her argument because it entails rejecting tools favored by coercive eugenicists: abortion, euthanasia, and sterilization. She also conspicuously ignores the intimate relationship between eugenics and progressivism. It was progressive icon Oliver Wendell Holmes, after all, who declared that “three generations of imbeciles are enough” in Buck v. Bell, the 1927 Supreme Court decision upholding Virginia’s forced sterilization of “mental defectives” (a decision that was joined by progressive luminary Louis Brandeis). Jones quotes a book about that case in her second paragraph but shows no interest in the ideological roots of the policy Holmes endorsed. She is so intent on exposing metaphorical eugenicists that she overlooks the political philosophy of actual eugenicists.
Jones’s article is an excellent example for progressives who want to alienate allies while discrediting criticism of Trump. She manages to exaggerate the odiousness of the president’s views even while conflating them with those of mainstream Republicans, turning what should be a discussion of Trumpism’s peculiar dangers into a familiar attack on cruel privatizers and budget cutters. If this is what the anti-Trump movement is all about, you can count me out.
The rest is here:
Posted: at 1:25 am
ROME Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge on Monday said that theres a link between abortion and child abuse, and a Church which has been strong in defense of the unborn has to be no less strong in defending the young and vulnerable whenever and wherever.
The same, he added, is true for the state.
Coleridge delivered his comments on a video that was shared on his dioceses website, Brisbane. Hes currently one of several bishops of the Catholic Church who are participating in the final hearings by theAustralian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.
Last week during a pro-life rally, Coleridge was asked by a journalist to weigh in on Queenslands ongoing debate about decriminalizing abortion. Under the current code, both the woman seeking an abortion and the doctor providing the procedure can be criminally prosecuted, unless its performed to prevent serious danger to the womans physical or mental health.
During the interview, as he says in his post, the archbishop was asked about new technologies that can detect disabilities and also gender-based abortion.
I couldnt disagree with what he was saying, because eugenics is part of the complexity surrounding abortion, Coleridge said. The journalist mentioned the eugenics of Nazi Germany, and again I couldnt deny the historical fact.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, a pro-abortion rights Catholic, responded through Facebook, saying that shes a Catholic but also a woman, and she simply disagree[s] with the Churchs views on a womans right to choose.
Its also sad that we have reached a new low in this debate when women who have abortions are compared to Nazis, Trad wrote.
That, according to Coleridge, wasnt the point of what he had said, but instead the fact that the proposed legislation in Queensland can open the door to the kind of eugenics weve seen before and are seeing in other parts of the world now.
It has to do with law and policy, not the individual women who decide to have an abortion, he said.
Coleridge, or the Catholic Church for that matter, is far from being the first to raise the risks of genetics-based abortion.
For instance, in late January, Lord Kevin Shinkwin, a member of the United Kingdoms Parliament, gave a speech that has gone viral in many circles, in which he said: I can see from the trends in abortion on grounds of disability that the writing is on the wall for people like me.
Shinkwin, who is disabled, moved on to say that people with congenital disabilities are facing extinction.
If we were animals, perhaps we might qualify for protection as an endangered species, he said. But we are only human beings with disabilities, so we do not.
Coleridge also addressed Trads comment regarding the Churchs views on a womans right to choose, saying that this is slippery language, making him or the institution seem anti-woman, which is a common stereotype.
However, he argued, the Churchs position is genuinely pro-woman. Women are damaged by abortion, which is a short-term solution leading often to long-term trouble.
Then theres also the fact that many women choose to have an abortion because they either feel or are made to feel like they have no choice, and no other choices are presented to them.
To speak of a womans right to choose prompts other questions about rights: What of the rights of unborn children, or do they have no rights, no real human status? What of the rights of the spouse or partner of the woman considering an abortion? What of the rights of society to a guarantee of the right to life as the foundation on which all other rights are built? What of the rights of conscience?
In his interview, the archbishop also spoke about the contradiction of a government that strongly opposes domestic violence but favors a greater access to abortion, which according to Church teaching, as well as much scientific research in embryonics, means terminating a human life.
According to The Daily Telegraph, on Monday Trad went after Coleridge again, saying that she would have thought there was probably more importance in focusing on the outcomes of the findings of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse and the role the Catholic Church has played in that rather than the legislation before the Queensland Parliament, which prompted his response.
View original post here:
Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:23 pm
Eugenics, which was endorsed by politicians and scientists across the ideological spectrum, sought to improve and strengthen human populations by means of compulsory sterilisation and restrictive immigration policies. The US were leaders of eugenics in the 1920s, but soon the Nazi state would take over this mantle.
What is less well known is that eugenics also provided pro-Nazi America First propagandists such as the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh with the scientific evidence needed to demand drastic measures to protect the superior Nordic, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon genes of Western Europeans. The US advocates of immigration restrictions drew on H.H. Goddards 1912 study, which used intelligence tests for identifying the feebleminded among immigrants arriving on Ellis Island.
Such studies allowed eugenics activists such as Charles Davenport and Madison Grant to successfully lobby the US Congress to introduce these immigration restrictions. Eugenics went into sharp decline soon after this 1924 legislative victory. A decade later, the Nazi regime used eugenics to justify racial laws to protect pure Aryan genetic stock.
In his history of scientific racism in America, The Legacy of Malthus, Allan Chase claims that these country quotas prevented an estimated 6-million southern, central and eastern Europeans from entering the US from 1924 to 1939. As Stephen Jay Gould concludes in The Mismeasure of Man: We know what happened to many who wanted to leave but had no place to go. The pathways to destruction are often indirect, but ideas can (be) agents as sure as guns and bombs.
Trumps presidential campaign seems to have borrowed from Lindberghs rhetoric of America First, which the latter deployed during his unsuccessful 1940 US presidential campaign. In an interview in the 1939 edition of Readers Digest, Lindbergh had referred to a metaphorical Western Wall to protect white Americans from the infiltration of foreign blood: It is time to turn from our quarrels and to build our White ramparts again. This alliance with foreign races means nothing but death to us. It is our turn to guard our heritage from Mongol and Persian and Moor, before we become engulfed in a limitless foreign sea. Our civilisation depends on a united strength among ourselves; on strength too great for foreign armies to challenge; on a Western Wall of race and arms which can hold back either a Genghis Khan or the infiltration of inferior blood; on an English fleet, a German air force, a French army, an American nation, standing together as guardians of our common heritage, sharing strength, dividing influence. As the by now very familiar refrain goes — history repeats itself, first as farce, then as tragedy. With Trump it is wall-to-wall tragicomedy.
It was the tragic history of the Holocaust that prompted Mark Hetfield, the chief executive of Jewish refugee programme HIAS, to recently observe that it is a deep and tragic irony that Donald Trump is slamming the door in the faces of refugees right before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This was especially disturbing since the entire refugee convention came out of the Holocaust and the failure of the international community to protect Jews and survivors. Trump antagonised Jews and Holocaust survivors further when he omitted to mention Jews in his public statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Both Holocaust amnesia and denial seemed to converge in Trumps enactment of the Muslim ban. Yet, some do insist on remembering.
In commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January this year, Russell Neiss, a 33-year-old grandson of Holocaust survivors, set up a Twitter account to automatically generate the names and photographs of German Jewish refugees who were on board the St Louis Manifest in May 1939, when the majority of passengers were refused entry into the US. The 937 passengers had left Hamburg on 13 May 1939. After being refused entry to the US, their ship was forced to return to Europe, where 532 passengers were later transported to various concentration camps where 254 were murdered; the 254 are the names that are tweeted at a rate of one every five minutes for 21 hours.
Neiss, who builds apps and interactive technology for Jewish education, came up with the idea as International Holocaust Remembrance Day was approaching. At the time, he was aware that there were other name-reading Twitter bots such as the Every Three Minutes account, which uses the fact that a person was sold into slavery every three minutes in the antebellum US. He was also aware of a bot that reads the names of the St. Louis victims based on data from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
In addition to the reading of the names, Neiss included photographs in these tweets. One of the photographs in this stream of tweets is that of a small, smiling boy all dressed in white. This photograph has a standardised caption: My name is Joachim Hirsch. The US turned me away at the border. I was murdered in Auschwitz. One of the countless responses to these tweets was from the Democratic Partys Elizabeth Warren who declared that Trumps order restricting immigrants from seven Muslim countries and refusing admission of Syrian refugees was a betrayal of American values. Under Trump, immigration restrictions are not rooted in early twentieth century eugenics ideas about feebleminded foreigners, but rather through the conflation of Islam and terrorism. So, how did we get from Nazi eugenics to the Muslim ban?
My 2016 book, Letters of Stone: From Nazi Germany to South Africa, is a Holocaust family memoir that tells the story of how eugenics-influenced immigration policies resulted in Jews being unable to escape Nazi-occupied Europe. The book is based on one hundred letters my father received from his parents and siblings who were trapped in Berlin. The letters were sent from 1936, when my father arrived in South Africa, until 1943, when his parents and siblings were deported from Berlin to Auschwitz and Riga. My grandmothers letters to my father, Herbert Leopold Robinski and his younger brother Arthur, who had managed to escape to Northern Rhodesia in 1938, are mostly about the immense difficulties facing German Jews who desperately wanted to.
Although I wrote Letters of Stone in the shadow of the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, I never imagined the possibility of Trumps Mexican wall, the Muslim travel ban and the closing of US borders to Syrian refugees. Neither did I realise then that a US president would resuscitate Lindberghs 1940 America First campaign and inspire far right movements in Europe. While my book focuses on how the Nazi state used eugenics to justify its persecution and murder of Jews, Roma, Sinti, homosexuals, the disabled and other racially inferior groups, US immigration policy in the first half of twentieth century relied upon eugenics to justify shutting its doors to unwanted foreigners. Now Trump administration is using the imperatives of national security to justify its Muslim ban. So how did we get here?
Whereas most histories of Nazism tend to be confined to Europe, Letters of Stone draws attention to its transnational roots. Hannah Arendts concept of the boomerang effect shows how the seeds of Nazi racial hygiene, as well as later US immigration policies, were planted in the far-flung fertile soils of the colonies. In 1913, the German physical anthropologist and anatomist Eugen Fischer published his ethnographic study of racial mixing among the Rehoboth Basters in German South West Africa. Hitler praised the book after reading it in a Munich prison in 1923. The trajectory of Fischers professional career reveals how scientific findings incubated in the human laboratories of German South West Africa later rebounded back into the heartland of Europe. By the mid-1930s, Fischer had become one of the Nazis most senior racial scientists, and from 1929 to 1942 he was director of the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin. It was here that Fischers Rehoboth study and his Berlin Institute became intimately entangled with Mengeles experiments in Auschwitz as well as Nazi racial classifications of Jews, Roma and Sinti.
Letters of Stone tells the story of the desperate attempts by my grandmother and my father to get the family out of Germany. It is also about the moral indifference of immigration law in the face of human catastrophe. We now witness Trumps travel bans that, in the name of national security, demonstrate a similar indifference to the human suffering of refugees from Syria and other countries engulfed in war and violence. Trumps Muslim ban re-enacts an especially dark period in Americas past when Lindbergh was the leader of the pro-Nazi America First Movement. In 2004, Philip Roth published The Plot Against America, an alternative history in which Franklin D Rooseveld is defeated by Lindbergh in the 1940 presidential elections. While Roths book is fictional, the rise to power of Trump has made it frighteningly prophetic. Roths novel implies that there has always been this dangerous undercurrent of chauvinistic patriotism and fascism embedded within conservative American politics.
German Jewish scholars such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who were exiled in the United States following the rise of Nazism, also identified this potential for fascism and authoritarianism in America. Whereas Trumps medium for his America First messaging is twitter, Adorno and Horkheimer were concerned about the fascist aesthetics of the US Culture Industry. In 1940, Lindbergh was the spokesperson for the America First movement; now, almost 80 years later, Trump and Bannon promise to Make America Great Again, resuscitating once more this dangerous American brand of populism. Bannons valorisation of apocalyptic war and destruction as the ideological furnace for forging a return to traditional white American values has eerie echoes with Nazism and other catastrophic forms of fascism. Just as economic depression in Germany paved the way for Hitler, so too has neoliberalism and growing economic inequality in the US created the conditions for Trumps rise to power. Trumps particular brand of Islamophobic populism may not look exactly like Nazism, but its logic certainly mirrors Lindberghs pro-Nazi America First movement and his calls for a Western Wall to keep foreigners out.
In recent weeks, political activists and media commentators have stressed parallels between the refusal to allow European Jews to enter the US in the 1930s and Trumps Muslim ban. In a YouTube video produced by UNICEF, an elderly German Jewish refugee and Holocaust survivor speaks about how, as a small boy, he became a stateless refugee fleeing from Nazi terror; sitting right next to him, a small boy describes his own terrifying flight from war in Syria.
As UNICEFs description of the video states: 80 years apart, these two refugees have more in common than youd think. Similarly, in an article published in the Independent on 27 January 2017, the journalist Peter Walker writes that many Holocaust survivors find that Donald Trump’s refugee ban is tragically similar to what happened in the 1930s. What has not been mentioned much is the history of eugenics-inspired immigration restrictions and how early twentieth century ideas about dangerous foreigners have re-entered American public consciousness. This is a reminder of how immigration policies continue to be shaped by histories of racism and scientific studies that were incubated in the human laboratories of the colonies. DM
Professor Steven Robins is with the Department of Sociology & Social Anthropology, University of Stellenbosch.
Photo: US President Donald J. Trump waves outside the entrance to the West Wing after seeing off Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (not pictured) following their meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 15 February 2017. This is the first official meeting of the two leaders since President Trump has taken office. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
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Abortion technically is illegal and carries criminal charges in parts of the Land Down Under even though the law is not enforced. However, Queensland is considering decriminalizing abortion in upcoming State Parliamentary proceedings in March, and Brisbanes archbishop has received tremendous criticism for comparing the move to the Nazi eugenics programs, RT News reported.
The classic term for it is eugenics, Archbishop Mark Coleridge told the Courier Mail. It is the kind of thing that went on in Nazi Germany.
The archbishop elaborated on his fears that women would abort their unborn babies based on gender, citing the atrocities of Chinas One Child Policy, or based on womens fears of the natural weight gain associated with pregnancy. This could be a reference to a story Pope Francis recently told about a woman who aborted her baby to preserve her figure.
We know this is happening in China. There are even women having abortions because they are worried about their figure. At that point you have a culture in trouble, Archbishop Coleridge stated. I think a government that is very strongly opposed to domestic violence but strongly in favor of greater access to abortion has a kind of a contradiction at its heart. Its a contradiction and probably is hypocrisy.
The Queensland Crimes Code of 1899 currently bans abortion. There are exceptions to prevent serious danger to the womans physical or mental health, RT News states. The proposed legislation, to be voted on March 1, would not only decriminalize abortion but also create buffer zones surrounding abortion centers and permit abortions post-24 weeks should two doctors agree upon endangerment of the mothers physical or mental health.
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Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, a Catholic who said she simply disagrees with church doctrine on the sanctity of life, told the RT Times: With all due respect to Archbishop Coleridge, I dont need counseling about my position on abortion. I have been pro-choice all my adult life.
Its also sad that we have reached a new low in this debate when women who have abortions are compared to Nazis, Trad elaborated. I would have thought the Archbishop had more important things to focus on, like the [Royal Commissions] inquiry into institutional [child sex] abuse and the findings that are coming out of that inquiry than what is before the Queensland Parliament, Trad told the Brisbane Times.
The Archbishop has since apologized for the comments comparing abortion to the Nazi eugenics programs, the Courier Mail reported. However, he also stated: For her [Trad] it may be more a political judgment than a moral judgment. But I have a problem when political judgment and moral judgment part company.
According to the International Business Times, the archbishops apology also included the following sentiments: Women are damaged by abortion, which is a short term solution often leading to long term trouble. To speak of a womans right to choose prompts other questions about rights. What are the rights of unborn children? Or do they have no rights no real human status?
In a letter sent to Queensland State Parliament, the archbishop criticized the legislation, saying it does not protect womens health and it would lead to the destruction of innocent, vulnerable babies in the womb.
For most medical procedures, one needs to indicate that there is a medical reason for undertaking the procedure, the archbishop wrote. The Bill being considered makes no such provision. Indeed it treats abortion as a trivial procedure.
As well as in the Criminal Code, in Queensland the law on abortion is governed by legal precedent: the decision in R v. Bayliss and Cullen in 1986. While that decision allowed for abortion in certain restricted circumstances. Justice McGuire stated: The law in this State has not abdicated its responsibility as guardian of the silent innocence of the unborn. It should rightly use its authority to see that a mentality of abortion on whim or caprice, does not insidiously filter into our society. There is no legal justification for abortion on demand.
It is sometimes suggested that times have moved on and community expectations are different. But this would not seem to be the case. It is true that the majority of the population believe that women should have access to abortion, but it is also true that there is preference for women to have real and immediate access to alternatives to abortion. Furthermore it would appear that even among those who support abortion in principle, many do not support it other than for medical reasons.
A recent Galaxy Poll in Queensland found that 72 per cent of Queenslanders were opposed to abortion after three months.
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