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Tag Archives: race
Posted: September 11, 2016 at 5:22 pm
The Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO) is a cyber-warfare intelligence-gathering unit of the National Security Agency (NSA). It has been active since at least circa 1998. TAO identifies, monitors, infiltrates, and gathers intelligence on computer systems being used by entities foreign to the United States. The NSA terms these activities “computer network exploitation”.
TAO is reportedly “now the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID) (SIGINT), consisting of more than 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.”
A document leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden describing the unit’s work says[not in citation given] TAO has software templates allowing it to break into commonly used hardware, including routers, switches, and firewalls from multiple product vendor lines”. According to The Washington Post, TAO engineers prefer to tap networks rather than isolated computers, because there are typically many devices on a single network.
TAO’s headquarters are termed the Remote Operations Center (ROC) and are based at the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland. TAO also has expanded to NSA Hawaii (Wahiawa, Oahu), NSA Georgia (Fort Gordon, Georgia), NSA Texas (San Antonio, Texas), and NSA Colorado (Buckley Air Force Base, Denver).
Since 2013, the head of TAO is Rob Joyce, a 25-plus year employee who previously worked in the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate (IAD). In January 2016, Joyce had a rare public appearance when he gave a presentation at the Usenixs Enigma conference. 
In the Remote Operations Center, 600 employees gather information from around the world. Their motto is “Your data is our data, your equipment is our equipment – anytime, any place, by any legal means.”
Details on a program titled QUANTUMSQUIRREL indicate NSA ability to masquerade as any routable IPv4 or IPv6 host. This enables an NSA computer to generate false geological location and personal identification credentials when accessing the Internet utilizing QUANTUMSQUIRREL.
The NSA ANT catalog is a 50-page classified document listing technology available to the United States National Security Agency (NSA) Tailored Access Operations (TAO) by the Advanced Network Technology (ANT) Division to aid in cyber surveillance. Most devices are described as already operational and available to US nationals and members of the Five Eyes alliance. According to Der Spiegel, which released the catalog to the public on December 30, 2013, “The list reads like a mail-order catalog, one from which other NSA employees can order technologies from the ANT division for tapping their targets’ data.” The document was created in 2008. Security researcher Jacob Appelbaum gave a speech at the Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg, Germany, in which he detailed techniques that the simultaneously published Der Spiegel article he coauthored disclosed from the catalog.
The TAO has developed an attack suite they call QUANTUM. It relies on a compromised router that duplicates internet traffic, typically HTTP requests, so that they go both to the intended target and to an NSA site (indirectly). The NSA site runs FOXACID software which sends back exploits that load in the background in the target web browser before the intended destination has had a chance to respond (it’s unclear if the compromised router facilitates this race on the return trip). Prior to the development of this technology, FOXACID software made spear-phishing attacks the NSA referred to as spam. If the browser is exploitable, further permanent “implants” (rootkits etc.) are deployed in the target computer, e.g. OLYMPUSFIRE for Windows, which give complete remote access to the infected machine. This type of attack is part of the man-in-the-middle attack family, though more specifically it is called man-on-the-side attack. It is difficult to pull off without controlling some of the Internet backbone.
There are numerous services that FOXACID can exploit this way. The names of some FOXACID modules are given below:
By collaboration with the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) (MUSCULAR), Google services could be attacked too, including Gmail.
Finding machines that are exploitable and worth attacking is done using analytic databases such as XKeyscore. A specific method of finding vulnerable machines is interception of Windows Error Reporting traffic, which is logged into XKeyscore.
QUANTUM attacks launched from NSA sites can be too slow for some combinations of targets and services as they essentially try to exploit a race condition, i.e. the NSA server is trying to beat the legitimate server with its response. As of mid-2011, the NSA was prototyping a capability codenamed QFIRE, which involved embedding their exploit-dispensing servers in virtual machines (running on VMware ESX) hosted closer to the target, in the so-called Special Collection Sites (SCS) network worldwide. The goal of QFIRE was to lower the latency of the spoofed response, thus increasing the probability of success.
COMMENDEER [sic] is used to commandeer (i.e. compromise) untargeted computer systems. The software is used as a part of QUANTUMNATION, which also includes the software vulnerability scanner VALIDATOR. The tool was first described at the 2014 Chaos Communication Congress by Jacob Appelbaum, who characterized it as tyrannical.
QUANTUMCOOKIE is a more complex form of attack which can be used against Tor users.
According to a 2013 article in Foreign Policy, “TAO has become increasingly accomplished at its mission, thanks in part to the high-level cooperation it secretly receives from the ‘big three’ American telecom companies (AT&T, Verizon and Sprint), most of the large US-based Internet service providers, and many of the top computer security software manufactures and consulting companies.” A 2012 TAO budget document claims that these companies, on TAO’s behest, “insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems, IT systems, networks and endpoint communications devices used by targets”. A number of US companies, including Cisco and Dell, have subsequently made public statements denying that they insert such back doors into their products.Microsoft provides advance warning to the NSA of vulnerabilities it knows about, before fixes or information about these vulnerabilities is available to the public; this enables TAO to execute so-called zero-day attacks. A Microsoft official who declined to be identified in the press confirmed that this is indeed the case, but said that Microsoft can’t be held responsible for how the NSA uses this advance information.
Posted: August 25, 2016 at 4:26 pm
Immortality Power/Ability to:
The power to never age and recover from almost any injury. Opposite to Mortality.
Users possess an infinite life span, and can shrug off virtually any kind of physical damage. Some users are the defensive type, simply preventing such damage from appearing (invulnerability/protection), while others are the regenerative type, surviving and quickly recovering from anything you throw at them.
Some may only possess the power of:
Reliant Immortality (Concept-Dependent Immortality, Self-Puppetry)
See Also: Immortality and Complete Immortality.
Zeus (Greek mythology) is immortal Father of Gods and ruler of Olympus.
Sun Wukong (Journey Into The West) become unable to die or be harmed in any way after eating both the food of the heavens and erasing his name off death’s register.
Teitoku Kakine (A Certain Magical Index) achieved a form of immortality by creating a human tissues (and a new body) out of his Dark Matter.
Ladylee (A Certain Magical Index) is an immortal, in that when she grew weary of living, she sought to use powerful magic to kill her, which did not work.
Tenzen Yakushiji (Basilisk) having his symbiote “eat” away his wounds and restoring any ravages of time or battle, even reattaching his head by sealing the cut.
Creed Diskenth (Black Cat) possesses the God’s Breath nano-machines within his body, regenerating even fatal wounds in seconds and maintaining his youth, thus granting him immortality aside from any brain damage being irreparable.
Ssuke Aizen (Bleach) gained immortality after fusing with the Hgyoku.
C.C (Code Geass) is immortal.
V.V (Code Geass) is immortal.
Garlic Jr. (Dragon Ball) made a wish via the Dragon Balls for eternal life, and will regenerate from any and all injuries seamlessly.
Kager (Flame of Recca) using a forbidden spell that opens a time portal, but it traps her outside of space-time, rendering her completely immortal.
The Truth (Fullmetal Alchemist) is invincible, immortal and invulnerable.
Utsuro (Gintama) possesses immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Earth to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases.
Kouka (Gintama) possessed immortality by harnessing the Altana energy of Kouan to prevent aging and recover from wounds and diseases. However, when she left the planet for good, she weakened overtime and died.
Yta (Mermaid Saga) is a 500 years old immortal since unwittingly eating mermaid’s flesh.
Mana (Mermaid Saga) is a 15 years old immortal since being fed mermaid’s flesh.
Masato (Mermaid Saga) is an 800 years old immortal since eating mermaid’s flesh.
Orochimaru (Naruto) considers himself immortal with his Living Corpse Reincarnation to transfer his soul to another body and his Cursed Seals as anchors of his conscious.
Hidan’s (Naruto) main advantage is his inability to die by physical damage, though he is vulnerable to death by lack of nutrient.
Kakuzu (Naruto) attained a form of immortality (though he denies to think of it as such) by tearing hearts out of others and integrating them into himself, extending his lifespan. He kept five inside him at all times.
Madara Uchiha (Naruto) claims he has achieved complete immortality due to hosting the Shinju, as he regenerated form his torso being blown apart. Only when the tailed beasts were all pulled out of him did he die.
Kaguya tsutsuki (Naruto) is immortal, in that she has tremendous regenerative powers, and that the only way to defeat her is to seal her person away by splitting her chakra into the nine tailed beasts.
Gemma Himuro (Ninja Scroll) putting his severed body parts back together, even his head is possible, rendering him immortal.
Due to her race, Jibril (No Game No Life) has age 6407 years old, she has incredibly vast knowledge and high magical abilities, in two words; she live with gathering many old and new knowledge, in other words; she can no longer age or die.
Rin Asogi (RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~) is immortal, due to a magic spore from Yggdrasil. she can even handle more alcohol than a normal person.
Free (Soul Eater) is a werewolf from the Immortal Clan, and therefore, immortal. He can only be harmed and killed by the “Witch-Hunt”.
Koj Akatsuki (Strike the Blood) is revealed to be immortal, even by vampire standards after regenerating from complete decapitation.
Tta Konoe (UQ Holder) cannot regrow limbs unless they are completely destroyed, but otherwise is immortal and can reattach any of it, including his head.
Karin Yki (UQ Holder) has one of the highest ranked forms of immortality, stating that she’s “not permitted to get hurt or die”
Elder Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho) stated that his regenerative powers enables him from dying. This prevented him from dying from Kurama’s torturous Sinning Tree.
Zeref (Fairy Tail) was cursed by Ankhseram with his contradiction curse which gives him uncontrollable Death Magic and Immortality.
Ban (Nanatsu no Taizai) acquired immortality after drinking the Fountain of Youth.
Porky Minch (Earthbound) has abused Time Travel so much that his body is stuck in the current timeline and cannot age nor die.
It is believed that Ganondorf (The Legend of Zelda) is immortal due to the Triforce of Power.
Clockwerk (Sly Cooper) has kept himself alive for millennia thanks to his cybernetic body and his jealousy and hatred of the Cooper Clan.
Solaris (Sonic the Hedgehog) is a super-dimensional life form and the Sun God of Solenna, and exists in all timelines that he is immortal unless he is killed simultaneously in every temporal point.
Presea Combatir (Tales of Symphonia) is immortal and invulnerable because of a combination of her exsphere and her special ability Suppress
Kaguya Houraisan (Touhou Project) drank the Hourai Elixir, which grants her immortal in every sense of the word: she does not age, is immune to disease, and can regenerate from even being completely disintegrated.
Though he can be imprisoned and sealed away, Grima (Fire Emblem) can only be truly and permanently killed by his own hand.
Snow White (Valkyrie Crusade) is a immortal princess that is always trying to die, but nothing works.
Shadow the Hedgehog (Sonic the Hedgehog)
Chip/Light Gaia (Sonic the Hedgehog)
Dogmeat (Fallout 4) cannot die
Doomsday (DC Comics), being immune to all that once killed him.
Ra’s al Ghl (DC Comics) is granted immortality by the Lazarus Pit’s effects.
Lobo (DC Comics) possessing regenerative powers of such a level that he can recreate his entire body from nothing more than a puddle of his blood, as he is banned from Death.
Resurrection Man (DC Comics) is immortal, and will return to life no matter how many times he is killed, returning with a new power associated to how he was killed.
Hercules (Marvel Comics) an Olympic half God.
Deadpool (Marvel Comics) is in the same boat as Thanos, both banished from death.
Gaea (Marvel Comics), the Elder Goddess of Nature.
Loki (Marvel Comics), the God of Mischief, is immortal.
Zeus (Marvel Comics), the King of the Olympic Gods.
Atlas (Marvel Comics) no longer ages and is functionally immortal because of the ionic energy that empowers him.
Adam Destine (Marvel Comics) is immortal and invulnerable to physical harm.
Mr. Immortal (Marvel Comics) having evolved beyond death cannot be killed permanently, and will always come back to life without so much as a scar.
Count Nefaria (Marvel Comics) no longer ages and is functionally immortal because of the ionic energy that empowers him.
Wonder Man (Marvel Comics) no longer ages and is functionally immortal because of the ionic energy that empowers him.
Dr. Manhattan (Watchmen) is immortal due to his physiology.
Pariah Dark (Danny Phantom) is the powerful immortal, former king of ghosts.
Peter Griffin (Family Guy) Peter Griffin has survived many life threatening situations and came back unscathed.
Ernie the Giant Chicken (Family Guy) always comes back for a rematch despite Peter Griffin always dealing a fatal blow on Ernie.
Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter) acquired immortality by splitting his soul and hiding the fragments in various objects as anchors, though when his body was destroyed, he existed as a spectral form that many others would prefer death over.
Fawkes (Harry Potter) is a phoenix, who will be reborn with all of his memories intact upon death, and thus immortal, being the only known creatures in the wizarding world to have natural immortality.
Adam Monroe (Heroes) possessed immortality due to his tremendously advanced regeneration ability, though once the ability is taken away from him, he died within seconds.
The Dog Talisman (Jackie Chan Adventures) grants its master invincibility.
Nathan Young (MisFits) is immortal.
General Immortus (Teen Titans) knows the strategy of every battle in history because he was there to see it.
Starscream (Transformers G1) possesses an immortal Spark, soul energy, meaning even if his physical vessel is destroyed he will live on.
Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) can only be truly and permanently killed by his own family members.
The Beast (Doctor Who) claims to have existed before our universe was created
Candyman (Candyman) has lived for centuries
Ashildr AKA Me (Doctor Who) is effectively immortal due to being given a Mire computer chip.
Posted: August 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm
The Libertarian Party ticket, facing what polls show are two of the most unpopular presidential candidates in modern American history, is seeing a bump in support as the general election race moves into full swing and a surge in interest that could carry nominee Gary Johnson onto the prized debate stage this fall.
Despite Donald Trump and Hillary Clintons popularity issues and trust gap with voters, few expect the Libertarian ticket to pose a Ross Perot-style threat this year.
But the party is far more than a political curiosity in 2016. Rumors are swirling in the wake of the major-party conventions that high-profile Republicans are now considering backing the ticket; a recent video from Johnson and running mate William Weld generated considerable buzz; and the polls show Johnson getting close to 15 percent the threshold he needs to reach to land him on the debate stage with Trump and Clinton this fall.
The RealClearPolitics average has Johnson at 8.4 percent in a four-way race with Trump, Clinton and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, up from 4.5 percent in June. The latest Fox News poll released Wednesday, after the conventions, put Johnson at 12 percent.
An NBC poll taken toward the end of the Democratic convention put Johnson at 9 percent, roughly where he was in prior polling.
Party officials said the unpopularity of the Republican and Democratic candidates gives the party an unprecedented opportunity.
It goes from week to week and day to day watching for what new thing [Clinton and Trump are] going to do to become more unpopular with the American people, and frighten people, Nicholas Sarwark, chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, told FoxNews.com. Those candidates are the gift that keeps on giving. Were running as the qualified adult in the room.
Sarwark pointed to Johnsons record as a two-term New Mexico governor, re-elected as a Republican in a Democratic state, in touting his credentials and appeal.
Unclear is whether the support in the polls will translate into support at the ballot box. In 2012, Johnson won just 0.99 percent of all votes cast — making him the most successful White House candidate in Libertarian history, but not making much of a dent in the race as a whole.
But this year, there are plenty of signs more voters are seeking an alternative candidate. At the Democratic convention last week, many Bernie Sanders supporters were getting on board with the Green Partys Stein. But so far, Johnson is polling the best among third-party candidates.
He and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Weld, generated some buzz before the conventions with a slick video ad listing their accomplishments.
Weve been there … And done that! the candidates say.
Johnson said in an interview Monday with the Los Angeles Times that he believes in addition to appealing to disenfranchised Republicans on issues like free trade, low taxes and smaller government, the Libertarian stance on social issues and foreign policy could bring Sanders voters on board.
Sarwark said the party is banking that while Trump and Clinton are about as well-known as they are going to be, Johnson still can introduce himself to voters not familiar with his story especially if he is able to get on the debate stage.
This is far from a foregone conclusion.
So far, while Johnsons support is higher than in past years, an 8.4 percent average is still a distance from the 15 percent hed need to make the debates.
And he would need to get there by Aug. 15 to qualify, hitting 15 percent in not just one poll but an average of five recent polls chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Politically, where we stand, is we have to get into those presidential debates to really stand a chance, Weld told The Wall Street Journal last week. If we catch a break or two, we may get there.
Even then, the record for third-party or independent candidates is not strong.
In recent political history, the one who came closest to the presidency was businessman Perot in 1992 who was an independent, not technically a third-party candidate. At one point, Perot was leading in some polls against then-President George H. W. Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. However, after dropping out of the race before re-entering, he lost support. He eventually garnered 19 percent of the vote, with some Republicans arguing he split the GOP vote and handed the election to Clinton.
Republicans, meanwhile, were arguably given a boost by Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000, when Nader picked up 2.7 percent of the vote against Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush.
Johnsons potential impact is hard to gauge. The latest Fox News poll found Johnson siphoning support about equally from the Democratic and GOP candidates.
But he could get a boost in the coming weeks as some Republicans reportedly consider backing him.
Most notably, 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush reportedly are mulling endorsements for Johnson. Marvin Bush, youngest brother of Jeb and George W., also endorsed Johnson last week.
From what Ive heard from the Bush and Romney camps, theyre still considering it, Sarwark claimed.
Asked if the party is looking just to make a strong showing, or go all the way, Sarward was bullish: Theres a path to the presidency. The ground is there.
Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.
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Posted: June 30, 2016 at 3:29 am
There is increasing recognition that G. K. Chesterton was one of the greatest Christian apologists of the twentieth century. He was probably exceeded in this regard only by C. S. Lewis who was, of course, greatly influenced by the older man. Nevertheless, Chesterton, unlike Lewis, was busily engaged in political debate and public action for most of his life. It is here that his contribution has been almost forgotten, and yet a typical paradox it was in this area that his achievements were of the greatest public importance. This is true of Chesterton’s writings and campaigning for a sane economics under the banner of “Distributism,” but it is perhaps most true of his fight against eugenics. Whilst re-reading the main Chesterton biographies over the last couple of years, I was struck by the fact that all of them seem to skate over his battle against eugenics in a few lines, and this essay aims to redress the balance somewhat.
Eugenics was the belief that the human race needed to be protected from “degenerates,” the “unfit” or the “feebleminded.” Of course, this policy was most enthusiastically adopted by Nazi Germany. One of the first acts of the new Reich in 1933 was to pass a Eugenic Sterilisation Law, ordering doctors to sterilise any one suspected of suffering from hereditary diseases. “We want to prevent the poisoning of the entire bloodstream of the race” to quote Goering’s legal assistant. By 1939 some 250,000 “degenerates” had been forcibly sterilised, over half of whom were diagnosed as “feebleminded.” The Nazi regime took what it regarded as the logical next step in 1939, when it decreed euthanasia for all severely disabled or mentally ill people in German asylums. Any Jew in these asylums automatically qualified, irrespective of degree of handicap, and about 70,000 people were murdered. It can thus be said, without exaggeration, that eugenics was one policy which paved the way for the “Final Solution” of European Jewry, which itself did not start until the Wansee Conference of December, 1941.
Of course, it is easy to argue that Nazi Germany was a pariah state, to feel that such things could not “have happened here.” The whole idea of eugenics became discredited following the defeat of the Third Reich in 1945. Yet, in fact, eugenics was widely practised in the free world, and more and more evidence is coming to light which shows how prevalent it was. In August 1997, the Swedish government shamefacedly admitted the widespread eugenic sterilisation of “feeble-minded or racially inferior women.” It seems that 60,000 Swedes who were either mentally defective, or who merely regarded as lacking “Nordic” racial features, such as gypsies, were compulsorily sterilised in the period 1935-1970. Many others were locked up for years. Evidence is also appearing that this practice also occurred in many other European countries, including 15,000 mentally handicapped women forcibly sterilised in France. Most states in the United States had extensive eugenics laws, some still on the statute books as late as the 1970s.
The United Kingdom was one of the few major countries where eugenics was not effectively put into law. Yet people should not feel smug that it did not happen in Britain because it nearly did. The United Kingdom escaped eugenics laws by the skin of its teeth, as they were backed by some of the most powerful people in the land. As far as can be seen, only one public figure waged a vigorous, and ultimately successful, campaign against the proposed Mental Deficiency Bill in 1912. That man was G. K. Chesterton. The battle against eugenics is Chesterton’s great, unknown victory. To explore it properly, I have given a brief introduction to the subject, followed by an account of Chesterton’s battle against what he called the “feeble minded Bill.” An account of draconian eugenics laws in the United States, including forced sterilisation, shows what might have happened in Britain without his fight against it. Lastly, I have included some pieces from Chesterton’s 1922 book, Eugenics and Other Evils, which show, once again, what great prophetic insight he possessed.
The word “eugenics” (from the Greek for “of noble birth”) was in fact a British invention, the term being first used in 1883 by Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. Born in 1822, Galton was one of those rich dilettante scientists who were quite common in the Victorian period. A highly neurotic individual, he dropped out of Cambridge University in 1842, but fortunately the inheritance in 1844 of a large fortune from his father prevented him from needing to work. From the 1850s onward he was dabbling in the nascent science of genetics, and in particular on the family trees of illustrious men. Thus he published a book in 1869 under the title of Hereditary Genius, which contained his eugenic ideas even if they had not yet found a name. From the beginning, they were based upon fears that lower races or social classes would outbreed the noble Anglo-Saxon upper classes who practised “restraint,” and it was therefore necessary: “to give the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable.”
Galton’s marriage was childless, and it has been noted that the more this fact became obvious, the more he aggressively lectured the Victorian middle classes on the need to propagate. Eugenics was first taken up by radicals in the United States. In 1869, John Humphrey Noyes, prompted by Galton, founded the first experimental programme of selective human breeding at his “free-love” Oneida community in upstate New York. In Britain, it was given widespread publicity by the magazine Biometrika, edited by the statistician Karl Pearson, a friend of Galton’s. Although employed as a mathematician by London University, from 1895 Pearson started giving lectures in eugenics there. In 1911, when Galton died he left his fortune to London University to endow a Professorial Chair in eugenics on condition that Pearson got the job.
There were a number of intertwined ideas in eugenic belief. Part of it was social Darwinism, the idea that Darwin’s idea of the survival of the fittest had to be applied to the human race, else false compassion would lead to the human race drowning in a sea of degenerates. Of course, for eugenists, who were overwhelmingly White, Protestant, and middle class, the fittest meant the rich, and the unfit meant the poor. Secondly, it was avowedly racist, particularly in the United States. The worry was that lesser, feckless, races, generally agreed to include Blacks, Jews, and other immigrants such as Irish Catholics, were breeding much faster than those of “Nordic” origin. Lastly, it was founded upon fears of a vast army of mentally handicapped people being born who would be a burden on the State. Much eugenics literature expanded o
n the alleged sexual licence of the poor, the mentally ill, and the lower races. At that time, sexual matters among the middle classes were regarded as too private to mention in public, and it may well be that sexual frustration lay behind part of the frequent tirades about the sex lives of the delinquent, and possibly even the fervent clamour for forced sterilisation.
Eugenics, like Galton’s own writings, was never a subject of great scientific precision. Its two main descriptive terms were often “feeble-minded,” referring to hereditary mental incapacity (not just mental illness, but anyone believed to be of low IQ), and “degenerate,” referring not just to physical disability, but also to alleged moral lapses such as alcoholism, crime, or sexual promiscuity. Indeed, in many cases the arguments were circular, as alcoholism or crime were argued to be evidence of “degeneracy” or “incapacity.” Yet on this flimsy intellectual basis two main policies were strenuously argued for: that the “feebleminded” should be compulsorily segregated away in asylums for life, in order to prevent them reproducing, and also that “degenerates,” should be forcibly sterilised for the same reason. As Chesterton pointed out in a late essay (“The Fallacy of Eugenics,” published in Avowals and Denials (London, 1934):
Eugenic ideas gained ground at the time of the Boer War (1899-1903), when it was found that many young men from slum backgrounds were unfit for military service. It was also noticed that healthy men from richer backgrounds also came from smaller families. The same fact was also observed in 1939 when it was discovered that the cause had nothing to do with hereditary factors but was simply the result of poor diet leading to the bone-deforming disease, rickets. In 1904, the Conservative government of Arthur Balfour established a Royal Commission “On the Care and Control of the Feebleminded,” which reported in 1908 to the new Liberal government. It recommended compulsory detention of the mentally inadequate, as well as sterilisation of the unfit. Up to this point mental asylums were used only for the criminally insane, judged to be a danger to themselves and others.
Eugenics became a widespread progressive cause promoted by the Fabian Society, and was closely allied with similar arguments for birth control. In 1903, H. G. Wells wrote: “the conclusion is that if we could prevent or discourage the inferior sort of people from having children, and if we could stimulate and encourage the superior sort to increase and multiply, we should raise the general standard of the race.” Dr. Saleeby, one of the most distinguished doctors of his day, advocated that people intending to marry should have “health books” proving that they had no congenital deformity. Other enthusiastic eugenists were Shaw, who put forward eugenic arguments in his play, Man and Superman, and the sex investigator Havelock Ellis. Ellis was a weird pervert worthy of his successor, Kinsey. Impotent himself, it never seems to have occurred to him whether he was a “degenerate” or “unfit.” The leaders of the radical Socialist Fabians were the husband and wife team of Beatrice and Sydney Webb. Fabian Tract No. 131, written by Sydney in 1907, states:
Yet it was not just the radical Left which promoted eugenics. One of its most vocal advocates in Britain was the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral from 1911-1934, Dr. William Inge. Ex Officio one of the most senior members of the Church of England, he was known as the “Gloomy Dean” for his warnings about overpopulation. In an essay published in 1917 called simply Eugenics, he pointed out that all the males in his family had won scholarships at Eton, Oxford and Cambridge, but that: “Unfortunately the birth-rate of the feeble-minded is quite 50% higher than that of normal persons.” The answer was eugenics, beginning with “the compulsory segregation of mental defectives.”
Any regular reader of Chesterton’s essays will have come across the name of Dean Inge, so it may be appropriate here to explain who he was, and what he represented. Chesterton never had any enemies, but if he ever had a regular opponent, that man was Dean Inge. Inge seemed to have little interest in the traditional doctrines of Christianity, calling himself “a modern churchman.” He was however a convinced Erastian, that is, dedicated to maintaining the “established” position of the Church of England as a pillar of the British State. In a late essay called The Erastian on the Establishment (1934), Chesterton wrote: “A bitter and cynical man said, ‘The Church of England is our last bulwark against Christianity.’ This is quite unjust as a description of the Church of England. But it is not altogether unjust as a description of Dean Inge.” Inge was known as the “Gloomy Dean” for his Malthusian worries about the poor overbreeding. He also proclaimed, in thoroughly modern terms, that global competition meant that the British workers simply had to accept lower wages and poor working conditions, although somehow this never applied to the members of the Establishment itself. In “The New Theologian” (published in A Miscellany of Men, 1912) Chesterton takes him apart with wit and precision: “When next you hear the “liberal” Christian say we should take what is best in Oriental faiths, make quite sure what are the things that people like Dr. Inge call best. . . . You will find the levelling of creeds quite unexpectedly close to the lowering of wages.”
Eugenics fervour reached its peak in the United Kingdom in 1912, when the first International Eugenics Conference, with over 750 delegates, was held in London. It was addressed by the former Prime Minister Balfour, and attended by an enthusiast who had the power to make law in Great Britain the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill. He called for a “simple surgical operation (sterilisation) so the inferior could be permitted freely in the world without causing much inconvenience to others.” In 1910, on becoming Home Secretary, he had asked the civil service to investigate putting into practice the Indiana law (see below): “I am drawn to it in spite of many Party misgivings. . . . Of course it is bound to come some day.” Churchill was put off by the chief Medical Advisor of Prisons, Dr. Horatio Donkin, who wrote of the Indiana arguments for eugenics: “the outcome of an arrogation of scientific knowledge by those who had no claim to it. . . . It is a monument of ignorance and hopeless mental confusion.”
The International Conference on Eugenics led to great public pressure for Britain to adopt eugenics laws, something Churchill was only too pleased to see. As he wrote to Prime Minister Asquith: “I am convinced that the multiplication of the Feeble-Minded, which is proceeding now at an artificial rate, unchecked by any of the old restraints of nature, and actually fostered by civilised conditions,
is a terrible danger to the race.” He was wary of the cost of forced segregation, preferring compulsory sterilisation instead. In 1912, the government introduced a draft proposal, the Mental Deficiency Bill, for the compulsory detention of the feeble-minded. Hundreds of petitions arrived in Parliament urging the government on.
Opposition seemed minimal. The Catholic Social Guild commissioned a pamphlet by Father Thomas Gerrard, which roundly condemned eugenics, but the influence of the Catholic Church was small in Britain in 1912. Indeed, Dean Inge complained that eugenics was so logical it was only opposed by “irrationalist prophets like Mr. Chesterton.” Chesterton’s response was a series of lectures, public talks and essays ridiculing what he called “the Feeble-Minded Bill.” Chesterton later compiled his arguments against eugenics into a book published in 1922 Eugenics and Other Evils. It begins:
In his book, Chesterton showed that eugenics was an unholy mixture of social Darwinism, coupled with mad Nietzsche’s dream of breeding the Superman. (It is one of ironies of history that Nietzsche, his brain destroyed by the wormholes of syphilis, should have been one of the inspirations of eugenics. He would have not lasted long when Germany really began to breed the Superman.) Chesterton also argued that the real target was not the mad, for which the Lunacy Laws were quite sufficient, but the poor, and he put his finger on the key weakness of eugenics its essential vagueness:
According to Chesterton, the real target was the poor, as the clause highlighted above rather gives the game away. He marshals compelling arguments that eugenics was one more logical progression in the tools used by the State to suppress the landless poor, initially needed in the factories, and now surplus to requirements. One more step in the road of the Exclusion Acts and Game Laws which had forced the poor from the common lands which had once belonged to them, one more step in the Poor Laws and the workhouse with its treadmills and flogging.
At this time, around 1910-1914, Chesterton wrote much about how the new Liberal Government, far from making things better for the poor, was actually making them worse. The Industrial Revolution and enclosure of the common lands had reduced the ordinary people to destitution; now these new Liberal reformers punished them for their destitution. Chesterton’s great work of social criticism, What’s Wrong with the World (1910), ends with the story of urchin children whose hair was cut off at school for fear of lice a treatment which was never handed out to children of the rich, only the poor:
Those great scissors of science that would snip off the curls of the poor little school children are ceaselessly snapping closer and closer to cut off all the corners and fringes of the arts and honours of the poor. Soon they will be twisting necks to suit clean collars, and hacking feet to fit new boots.
In Eugenics and Other Evils, he mentions the case of a farm labourer’s wife sent to prison for not having running water in her rural cottage, although her children were recognised as healthy and well-looked after. The full story is given in detail in the essay The Mad Official, 1912. The book also has the bizarre story of two tramps sent to prison for sleeping in a field, who would have committed no crime if they had done so with money in their pocket. Chesterton argues that eugenics was just one more logical step in this policy of:
Chesterton’s campaign was a success, as a normally supine Parliament began to question the new law. The Independent Member of Parliament, Josiah Wedgewood stressed the threat to civil liberties. Churchill had moved on to the Admiralty, so the measure had less support in the Home Office. After much criticism, the Mental Deficiency Act was passed in July, 1913 in a severely watered-down form. The attempt to prevent the pro-creation of the unfit was abandoned. Sterilisation was not even mentioned, nor was there compulsory segregation of the mentally deficient. The only real new power was to take the illegitimate children of paupers into care. In the 1930s, new eugenics bills were submitted to Parliament, but sentiment had so turned against the idea that they did not even make the first stage of becoming law. Chesterton always kept an eye on eugenics, and was one of the first to note their introduction in Germany once Hitler had come to power. As he wrote in 1934 in “The Fallacy of Eugenics”: “It is as well to repeat our unanswered answer to the creed behind such barbarous tricks; for they are not confined to the curious commonwealth of Mr. Hitler.”
The American experience shows how rapidly the enthusiasm for eugenics could sweep a civilised country and be turned into punitive law. The United Kingdom was rare and lucky to avoid what happened in most of Europe. Eugenic sterilisation laws were passed in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland, as well as being practised in France. Chesterton’s victory was great indeed. Eugenics became fashionable in the United States about the same time as in Britain. In 1904, the biologist, Charles Davenport, persuaded the Carnegie Foundation to give him a huge grant to establish a eugenics research facility on Long Island. Eugenics in America was always racially based, probably because immigration was running at such a high level, whereas it was almost negligible in Britain at that time. Davenport exclaimed: “New blood will make the American population darker in pigmentation, smaller in stature, more mercurial . . . more given to crimes of larceny, kidnapping, assault, murder, rape, and sex-immorality.” This from a supposedly objective scientist! In 1896 Connecticut was the first State to pass explicitly eugenic marriage laws, and by 1917, twenty States had such laws on the statute book. The 1905, Indiana law was typical: marriage was generally forbidden to the mentally deficient, to those with transmittable diseases, or to habitual drunkards. Both parties to a marriage had to present a certificate of medical soundness before the marriage could take place. Indiana then went further in 1907 with the first compulsory sterilisation law. By 1917, sterilisation laws had been approved by sixteen States, most of which prescribed such treatment for habitual criminals, rapists, epileptics, and idiots. Eugenics was a “progressive” cause, and was mostly taken up by States which believed themselves to be “advanced.” California was the lead of eugenic treatments being carried out, while eugenic laws were slow to pass in the “backward” Deep South. In the 1920s a number of legal challenges were made questioning whether such punishment was not “cruel and unusual,” and hence prohibited by the United States Constitution. From 1924-1927 a legal test case, Buck vs. Bell, was fought all the way to the United States Suprem
e Court. Despite the presence on the bench of such humane jurists as William Howard Taft and Louis Brandeis, the court voted 8:1 in favour of forced sterilisation of a young Virginia girl, Carrie Buck, whose only crime had been to have an illegitimate child. Only one judge, a Roman Catholic, voted against. Buck vs Bell opened the floodgates. By 1929, twenty-four States had eugenics laws. 9,000 forced sterilisations were carried out from 1909-1927, but the pace accelerated from Buck vs Bell, so that by 1939 the total had reached 30,000, 10,000 of them in California alone. Eugenics won another victory in 1924 when the Immigration Act severely restricted new immigration into the United States. President Calvin Coolidge stated: “America must be kept American. Biological laws show . . . that Nordics deteriorate when mixed with other races.”
Eugenics was also fashionable in Canada, being aggressively pushed by Helen MacMurchy, Head of the Division of Maternal and Child Welfare in the federal Department of Health from 1920-1934. In 1912, a Dr. Godrey presented a bill to the Ontario state legislature, a bill based on that of Indiana to segregate the unfit and compulsorily sterilise these, although the bill was not passed. Again there were strong racist overtones, with concern that the dominant Anglo-Saxon Canadian type was being outbred by French Canadians and immigrants.
Eugenics and Other Evils also illustrates Chesterton’s almost uncanny ability to foresee the distant future. Perhaps I may be permitted the luxury of quoting myself:
It is becoming increasingly accepted that the relativism of the late Twentieth Century has resulted in a collapse of moral discourse; Alasdair McIntyre’s After Virtue explores this in detail. Secondly that into this void has entered a strange doctrine known as political correctness, coupled with an extension of the powers of the State into areas that were formerly felt to be none of its business. Chesterton saw this coming in 1912. As he wrote in Eugenics and Other Evils:
White Slavery was the fear that English girls were being kidnapped in order to sell them into prostitution in the East. If we move forward to the late 1990s, and substitute “child abuse” or “wife battering” for “White Slavery”, we see how emotional slogans can engender draconian laws.
In his book, Chesterton also presciently identified eugenics with the German cult of the Superman. It had fallen out of fashion after 1914 because it was identified with Germany: “England went to war with the Superman in his native home. She went to war with that very land of scientific culture from which the very ideal of a Superman had come.” The German attempt to build a Nietzschean warrior-state had fallen in 1918, and with its fall eugenics in England became somewhat discredited. However Chesterton did fear that this project might revive in its German homeland:
In 1922 Hitler was an unknown agitator in the beer-halls of Munich, with no chance yet of putting the eugenic manifesto fully into practice.
RUSSELL SPARKES is the Editor of Prophet of Orthodoxy, a compilation of Chesterton’s religious writings, with a critical introduction, published by Harper Collins, and Chief Consultant on the Sane Economy Project of the Chesterton Institute. The present article was published in The Chesterton Review for February-May 1999.
Originally posted here:
The Enemy of Eugenics – Second Spring
Posted: June 29, 2016 at 6:28 pm
eugenics is based to a very large extent upon the principles underlying sex hygiene.
I try so hard not to be afraid of men, for I know they are necessary to eugenics.
eugenics is the science of reproducing better humans by applying the established laws of genetics or heredity.
It is a sin of our race that the eugenics Office should have bred out–but they have failed.
eugenics deals with the even more vital subject of improving the inherent type and capacities of the individuals of the future.
It has been said that eugenics is futile because it cannot define its end.
British Dictionary definitions for eugenics Expand
(functioning as sing) the study of methods of improving the quality of the human race, esp by selective breeding
eugenic, adjectiveeugenically, adverbeugenicist, nouneugenist (judnst) noun, adjective
C19: from Greek eugens well-born, from eu- + -gens born; see -gen
Word Origin and History for eugenics Expand
1883, coined (along with adjective eugenic) by English scientist Francis Galton (1822-1911) on analogy of ethics, physics, etc. from Greek eugenes “well-born, of good stock, of noble race,” from eu- “good” (see eu-) + genos “birth” (see genus).
eugenics in Medicine Expand
eugenics eugenics (y-jn’ks) n. The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.
eugenics in Culture Expand
The idea that one can improve the human race by careful selection of those who mate and produce offspring.
Posted: June 27, 2016 at 6:27 am
Eugenics, the set of beliefs and practices which aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States prior to its involvement in World War II.
Eugenics was practised in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany and U.S. programs provided much of the inspiration for the latter. Stefan Khl has documented the consensus between Nazi race policies and those of eugenicists in other countries, including the United States, and points out that eugenicists understood Nazi policies and measures as the realization of their goals and demands.
During the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century, eugenics was considered[by whom?] a method of preserving and improving the dominant groups in the population; it is now generally associated with racist and nativist elements (as the movement was to some extent a reaction to a change in emigration from Europe) rather than scientific genetics.
The American eugenics movement was rooted in the biological determinist ideas of Sir Francis Galton, which originated in the 1880s. Galton studied the upper classes of Britain, and arrived at the conclusion that their social positions were due to a superior genetic makeup. Early proponents of eugenics believed that, through selective breeding, the human species should direct its own evolution. They tended to believe in the genetic superiority of Nordic, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon peoples; supported strict immigration and anti-miscegenation laws; and supported the forcible sterilization of the poor, disabled and “immoral”. Eugenics was also supported by African Americans intellectuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Thomas Wyatt Turner, and many academics at Tuskegee University, Howard University, and Hampton University; however they believed the best blacks were as good as the best whites and “The Talented Tenth” of all races should mix. W. E. B. Du Bois believed “only fit blacks should procreate to eradicate the race’s heritage of moral iniquity.”
The American eugenics movement received extensive funding from various corporate foundations including the Carnegie Institution, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Harriman railroad fortune. In 1906 J.H. Kellogg provided funding to help found the Race Betterment Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. The Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was founded in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in 1911 by the renowned biologist Charles B. Davenport, using money from both the Harriman railroad fortune and the Carnegie Institution. As late as the 1920s, the ERO was one of the leading organizations in the American eugenics movement. In years to come, the ERO collected a mass of family pedigrees and concluded that those who were unfit came from economically and socially poor backgrounds. Eugenicists such as Davenport, the psychologist Henry H. Goddard, Harry H. Laughlin, and the conservationist Madison Grant (all well respected in their time) began to lobby for various solutions to the problem of the “unfit”. Davenport favored immigration restriction and sterilization as primary methods; Goddard favored segregation in his The Kallikak Family; Grant favored all of the above and more, even entertaining the idea of extermination. The Eugenics Record Office later became the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Eugenics was widely accepted in the U.S. academic community. By 1928 there were 376 separate university courses in some of the United States’ leading schools, enrolling more than 20,000 students, which included eugenics in the curriculum. It did, however, have scientific detractors (notably, Thomas Hunt Morgan, one of the few Mendelians to explicitly criticize eugenics), though most of these focused more on what they considered the crude methodology of eugenicists, and the characterization of almost every human characteristic as being hereditary, rather than the idea of eugenics itself.
By 1910, there was a large and dynamic network of scientists, reformers and professionals engaged in national eugenics projects and actively promoting eugenic legislation. The American Breeder’s Association was the first eugenic body in the U.S., established in 1906 under the direction of biologist Charles B. Davenport. The ABA was formed specifically to “investigate and report on heredity in the human race, and emphasize the value of superior blood and the menace to society of inferior blood.” Membership included Alexander Graham Bell, Stanford president David Starr Jordan and Luther Burbank. The American Association for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality was one of the first organizations to begin investigating infant mortality rates in terms of eugenics. They promoted government intervention in attempts to promote the health of future citizens.[verification needed]
Several feminist reformers advocated an agenda of eugenic legal reform. The National Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and the National League of Women Voters were among the variety of state and local feminist organization that at some point lobbied for eugenic reforms.
One of the most prominent feminists to champion the eugenic agenda was Margaret Sanger, the leader of the American birth control movement. Margaret Sanger saw birth control as a means to prevent unwanted children from being born into a disadvantaged life, and incorporated the language of eugenics to advance the movement. Sanger also sought to discourage the reproduction of persons who, it was believed, would pass on mental disease or serious physical defect. She advocated sterilization in cases where the subject was unable to use birth control. Unlike other eugenicists, she rejected euthanasia. For Sanger, it was individual women and not the state who should determine whether or not to have a child.
In the Deep South, women’s associations played an important role in rallying support for eugenic legal reform. Eugenicists recognized the political and social influence of southern clubwomen in their communities, and used them to help implement eugenics across the region. Between 1915 and 1920, federated women’s clubs in every state of the Deep South had a critical role in establishing public eugenic institutions that were segregated by sex. For example, the Legislative Committee of the Florida State Federation of Women’s Clubs successfully lobbied to institute a eugenic institution for the mentally retarded that was segregated by sex. Their aim was to separate mentally retarded men and women to prevent them from breeding more “feebleminded” individuals.
Public acceptance in the U.S. was the reason eugenic legislation was passed. Almost 19 million people attended the PanamaPacific International Exposition in San Francisco, open for 10 months from February 20 to December 4, 1915. The PPIE was a fair devoted to extolling the virtues of a rapidly progressing nation, featuring new developments in science, agriculture, manufacturing and technology. A subject that received a large amount of time and space was that of the developments concerning health and disease, particularly the areas of tropical medicine and race betterment (tropical medicine being the combined study of bacteriology, parasitology and entomology while racial betterment being the promotion of eugenic studies). Having these areas so closely intertwined, it seemed that they were both categorized in the main theme of the fair, the advancement of civilization. Thus in the public eye, the seemingly contradictory[clarification needed] areas of study were both represented under progressive banners of improvement and were made to seem like plausible courses of action to better American society.[verification needed]
Beginning with Connecticut in 1896, many states enacted marriage laws with eugenic criteria, prohibiting anyone who was “epileptic, imbecile or feeble-minded” from marrying.
The first state to introduce a compulsory sterilization bill was Michigan, in 1897 but the proposed law failed to garner enough votes by legislators to be adopted. Eight years later Pennsylvania’s state legislators passed a sterilization bill that was vetoed by the governor. Indiana became the first state to enact sterilization legislation in 1907, followed closely by Washington and California in 1909. Sterilization rates across the country were relatively low (California being the sole exception) until the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell which legitimized the forced sterilization of patients at a Virginia home for the mentally retarded. The number of sterilizations performed per year increased until another Supreme Court case, Skinner v. Oklahoma, 1942, complicated the legal situation by ruling against sterilization of criminals if the equal protection clause of the constitution was violated. That is, if sterilization was to be performed, then it could not exempt white-collar criminals. The state of California was at the vanguard of the American eugenics movement, performing about 20,000 sterilizations or one third of the 60,000 nationwide from 1909 up until the 1960s.
While California had the highest number of sterilizations, North Carolina’s eugenics program which operated from 1933 to 1977, was the most aggressive of the 32 states that had eugenics programs. An IQ of 70 or lower meant sterilization was appropriate in North Carolina. The North Carolina Eugenics Board almost always approved proposals brought before them by local welfare boards. Of all states, only North Carolina gave social workers the power to designate people for sterilization. “Here, at last, was a method of preventing unwanted pregnancies by an acceptable, practical, and inexpensive method,” wrote Wallace Kuralt in the March 1967 journal of the N.C. Board of Public Welfare. “The poor readily adopted the new techniques for birth control.”
The Immigration Restriction League was the first American entity associated officially with eugenics. Founded in 1894 by three recent Harvard University graduates, the League sought to bar what it considered inferior races from entering America and diluting what it saw as the superior American racial stock (upper class Northerners of Anglo-Saxon heritage). They felt that social and sexual involvement with these less-evolved and less-civilized races would pose a biological threat to the American population. The League lobbied for a literacy test for immigrants, based on the belief that literacy rates were low among “inferior races”. Literacy test bills were vetoed by Presidents in 1897, 1913 and 1915; eventually, President Wilson’s second veto was overruled by Congress in 1917. Membership in the League included: A. Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard, William DeWitt Hyde, president of Bowdoin College, James T. Young, director of Wharton School and David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University.
The League allied themselves with the American Breeder’s Association to gain influence and further its goals and in 1909 established a Committee on Eugenics chaired by David Starr Jordan with members Charles Davenport, Alexander Graham Bell, Vernon Kellogg, Luther Burbank, William Ernest Castle, Adolf Meyer, H. J. Webber and Friedrich Woods. The ABA’s immigration legislation committee, formed in 1911 and headed by League’s founder Prescott F. Hall, formalized the committee’s already strong relationship with the Immigration Restriction League. They also founded the Eugenics Record Office, which was headed by Harry H. Laughlin. In their mission statement, they wrote:
Society must protect itself; as it claims the right to deprive the murderer of his life so it may also annihilate the hideous serpent of hopelessly vicious protoplasm. Here is where appropriate legislation will aid in eugenics and creating a healthier, saner society in the future.”
Money from the Harriman railroad fortune was also given to local charities, in order to find immigrants from specific ethnic groups and deport, confine, or forcibly sterilize them.
With the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, eugenicists for the first time played an important role in the Congressional debate as expert advisers on the threat of “inferior stock” from eastern and southern Europe.[verification needed] The new act, inspired by the eugenic belief in the racial superiority of “old stock” white Americans as members of the “Nordic race” (a form of white supremacy), strengthened the position of existing laws prohibiting race-mixing. Eugenic considerations also lay behind the adoption of incest laws in much of the U.S. and were used to justify many anti-miscegenation laws.
Stephen Jay Gould asserted that restrictions on immigration passed in the United States during the 1920s (and overhauled in 1965 with the Immigration and Nationality Act) were motivated by the goals of eugenics. During the early 20th century, the United States and Canada began to receive far higher numbers of Southern and Eastern European immigrants. Influential eugenicists like Lothrop Stoddard and Harry Laughlin (who was appointed as an expert witness for the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization in 1920) presented arguments they would pollute the national gene pool if their numbers went unrestricted. It has been argued that this stirred both Canada and the United States into passing laws creating a hierarchy of nationalities, rating them from the most desirable Anglo-Saxon and Nordic peoples to the Chinese and Japanese immigrants, who were almost completely banned from entering the country.
Both class and race factored into eugenic definitions of “fit” and “unfit.” By using intelligence testing, American eugenicists asserted that social mobility was indicative of one’s genetic fitness. This reaffirmed the existing class and racial hierarchies and explained why the upper-to-middle class was predominantly white. Middle-to-upper class status was a marker of “superior strains.” In contrast, eugenicists believed poverty to be a characteristic of genetic inferiority, which meant that that those deemed “unfit” were predominantly of the lower classes.
Because class status designated some more fit than others, eugenicists treated upper and lower class women differently. Positive eugenicists, who promoted procreation among the fittest in society, encouraged middle class women to bear more children. Between 1900 and 1960, Eugenicists appealed to middle class white women to become more “family minded,” and to help better the race. To this end, eugenicists often denied middle and upper class women sterilization and birth control.
Since poverty was associated with prostitution and “mental idiocy,” women of the lower classes were the first to be deemed “unfit” and “promiscuous.” These women, who were predominantly immigrants or women of color, were discouraged from bearing children, and were encouraged to use birth control.
In 1907, Indiana passed the first eugenics-based compulsory sterilization law in the world. Thirty U.S. states would soon follow their lead. Although the law was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Buck v. Bell, upheld the constitutionality of the Virginia Sterilization Act of 1924, allowing for the compulsory sterilization of patients of state mental institutions in 1927.
Some states sterilized “imbeciles” for much of the 20th century. Although compulsory sterilization is now considered an abuse of human rights, Buck v. Bell was never overturned, and Virginia did not repeal its sterilization law until 1974. The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963, when over 64,000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United States. Beginning around 1930, there was a steady increase in the percentage of women sterilized, and in a few states only young women were sterilized. From 1930 to the 1960s, sterilizations were performed on many more institutionalized women than men. By 1961, 61 percent of the 62,162 total eugenic sterilizations in the United States were performed on women. A favorable report on the results of sterilization in California, the state with the most sterilizations by far, was published in book form by the biologist Paul Popenoe and was widely cited by the Nazi government as evidence that wide-reaching sterilization programs were feasible and humane.
Men and women were compulsorily sterilized for different reasons. Men were sterilized to treat their aggression and to eliminate their criminal behavior, while women were sterilized to control the results of their sexuality. Since women bore children, eugenicists held women more accountable than men for the reproduction of the less “desirable” members of society. Eugenicists therefore predominantly targeted women in their efforts to regulate the birth rate, to “protect” white racial health, and weed out the “defectives” of society.
A 1937 Fortune magazine poll found that 2/3 of respondents supported eugenic sterilization of “mental defectives”, 63% supported sterilization of criminals, and only 15% opposed both.
In the 1970s, several activists and women’s rights groups discovered several physicians to be performing coerced sterilizations of specific ethnic groups of society. All were abuses of poor, nonwhite, or mentally retarded women, while no abuses against white or middle-class women were recorded. Although the sterilizations were not explicitly motivated by eugenics, the sterilizations were similar to the eugenics movement[according to whom?] because they were done without the patients’ consent.
For example, in 1972, United States Senate committee testimony brought to light that at least 2,000 involuntary sterilizations had been performed on poor black women without their consent or knowledge. An investigation revealed that the surgeries were all performed in the South, and were all performed on black welfare mothers with multiple children. Testimony revealed that many of these women were threatened with an end to their welfare benefits until they consented to sterilization. These surgeries were instances of sterilization abuse, a term applied to any sterilization performed without the consent or knowledge of the recipient, or in which the recipient is pressured into accepting the surgery. Because the funds used to carry out the surgeries came from the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, the sterilization abuse raised older suspicions, especially amongst the black community, that “federal programs were underwriting eugenicists who wanted to impose their views about population quality on minorities and poor women.”
Native American women were also victims of sterilization abuse up into the 1970s. The organization WARN (Women of All Red Nations) publicized that Native American women were threatened that, if they had more children, they would be denied welfare benefits. The Indian Health Service also repeatedly refused to deliver Native American babies until their mothers, in labor, consented to sterilization. Many Native American women unknowingly gave consent, since directions were not given in their native language. According to the General Accounting Office, an estimate of 3,406 Indian women were sterilized. The General Accounting Office stated that the Indian Health Service had not followed the necessary regulations, and that the “informed consent forms did not adhere to the standards set by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).”
One of the methods that was commonly suggested to get rid of “inferior” populations was euthanasia. A 1911 Carnegie Institute report mentioned euthanasia as one of its recommended “solutions” to the problem of cleansing society of unfit genetic attributes. The most commonly suggested method was to set up local gas chambers. However, many in the eugenics movement did not believe that Americans were ready to implement a large-scale euthanasia program, so many doctors had to find clever ways of subtly implementing eugenic euthanasia in various medical institutions. For example, a mental institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk infected with tuberculosis (reasoning that genetically fit individuals would be resistant), resulting in 30-40% annual death rates. Other doctors practiced euthanasia through various forms of lethal neglect.
In the 1930s, there was a wave of portrayals of eugenic “mercy killings” in American film, newspapers, and magazines. In 1931, the Illinois Homeopathic Medicine Association began lobbying for the right to euthanize “imbeciles” and other defectives. The Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938.
Overall, however, euthanasia was marginalized in the U.S., motivating people to turn to forced segregation and sterilization programs as a means for keeping the “unfit” from reproducing.
Mary deGormo, a former classroom teacher was the first person to combine ideas about health and intelligence standards with competitions at state fairs, in the form of “better baby” contests. She developed the first such contest, the “Scientific Baby Contest” for the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport, in 1908. She saw these contests as a contribution to the “social efficiency” movement, which was advocating for the standardization of all aspects of American life as a means of increasing efficiency. deGarmo was assisted by the pediatrician Dr. Jacob Bodenheimer, who helped her develop grading sheets for contestants, which combined physical measurements with standardized measurements of intelligence. Scoring was based on a deduction system, in that every child started at 1000 points and then was docked points for having measurements that were below a designated average. The child with the most points (and the least defections) was ideal.[verification needed]
The topic of standardization through scientific judgment was a topic that was very serious in the eyes of the scientific community, but has often been downplayed as just a popular fad or trend. Nevertheless, a lot of time, effort, and money were put into these contests and their scientific backing, which would influence cultural ideas as well as local and state government practices.[verification needed]
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People promoted eugenics by hosting “Better Baby” contests and the proceeds would go to its anti-lynching campaign.
First appearing in 1920 at the Kansas Free Fair, Fitter Family competitions, continued all the way until WWII. Mary T. Watts and Dr. Florence Brown Sherbon, both initiators of the Better Baby Contests in Iowa, took the idea of positive eugenics for babies and combined it with a determinist concept of biology to come up with fitter family competitions.
There were several different categories that families were judged in: Size of the family, overall attractiveness, and health of the family, all of which helped to determine the likelihood of having healthy children. These competitions were simply a continuation of the Better Baby contests that promoted certain physical and mental qualities. At the time, it was believed that certain behavioral qualities were inherited from your parents. This led to the addition of several judging categories including: generosity, self-sacrificing, and quality of familial bonds. Additionally, there were negative features that were judged: selfishness, jealousy, suspiciousness, high temperedness, and cruelty. Feeblemindedness, alcoholism, and paralysis were few among other traits that were included as physical traits to be judged when looking at family lineage.
Doctors and specialists from the community would offer their time to judge these competitions, which were originally sponsored by the Red Cross. The winners of these competitions were given a Bronze Medal as well as champion cups called “Capper Medals.” The cups were named after then Governor and Senator, Arthur Capper and he would present them to “Grade A individuals”.
The perks of entering into the contests were that the competitions provided a way for families to get a free health check up by a doctor as well as some of the pride and prestige that came from winning the competitions.
By 1925 the Eugenics Records Office was distributing standardized forms for judging eugenically fit families, which were used in contests in several U.S. states.
After the eugenics movement was well established in the United States, it spread to Germany. California eugenicists began producing literature promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German scientists and medical professionals. By 1933, California had subjected more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined. The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired by California’s.
The Rockefeller Foundation helped develop and fund various German eugenics programs, including the one that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.
Upon returning from Germany in 1934, where more than 5,000 people per month were being forcibly sterilized, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe bragged to a colleague:
“You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.”
Eugenics researcher Harry H. Laughlin often bragged that his Model Eugenic Sterilization laws had been implemented in the 1935 Nuremberg racial hygiene laws. In 1936, Laughlin was invited to an award ceremony at Heidelberg University in Germany (scheduled on the anniversary of Hitler’s 1934 purge of Jews from the Heidelberg faculty), to receive an honorary doctorate for his work on the “science of racial cleansing”. Due to financial limitations, Laughlin was unable to attend the ceremony and had to pick it up from the Rockefeller Institute. Afterwards, he proudly shared the award with his colleagues, remarking that he felt that it symbolized the “common understanding of German and American scientists of the nature of eugenics.”
After 1945, however, historians began to attempt to portray the US eugenics movement as distinct and distant from Nazi eugenics.Jon Entine wrote that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States.” According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution.”
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In August 1912, Harvard president emeritus Charles William Eliot addressed the Harvard Club of San Francisco on a subject close to his heart: racial purity. It was being threatened, he declared, by immigration. Eliot was not opposed to admitting new Americans, but he saw the mixture of racial groups it could bring about as a grave danger. Each nation should keep its stock pure, Eliot told his San Francisco audience. There should be no blending of races.
Eliots warning against mixing raceswhich for him included Irish Catholics marrying white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, Jews marrying Gentiles, and blacks marrying whiteswas a central tenet of eugenics. The eugenics movement, which had begun in England and was rapidly spreading in the United States, insisted that human progress depended on promoting reproduction by the best people in the best combinations, and preventing the unworthy from having children.
The former Harvard president was an outspoken supporter of another major eugenic cause of his time: forced sterilization of people declared to be feebleminded, physically disabled, criminalistic, or otherwise flawed. In 1907, Indiana had enacted the nations first eugenic sterilization law. Four years later, in a paper on The Suppression of Moral Defectives, Eliot declared that Indianas law blazed the trail which all free states must follow, if they would protect themselves from moral degeneracy.
He also lent his considerable prestige to the campaign to build a global eugenics movement. He was a vice president of the First International Eugenics Congress, which met in London in 1912 to hear papers on racial suicide among Northern Europeans and similar topics. Two years later, Eliot helped organize the First National Conference on Race Betterment in Battle Creek, Michigan.
None of these actions created problems for Eliot at Harvard, for a simple reason: they were well within the intellectual mainstream at the University. Harvard administrators, faculty members, and alumni were at the forefront of American eugenicsfounding eugenics organizations, writing academic and popular eugenics articles, and lobbying government to enact eugenics laws. And for many years, scarcely any significant Harvard voices, if any at all, were raised against it.
Harvards role in the movement was in many ways not surprising. Eugenics attracted considerable support from progressives, reformers, and educated elites as a way of using science to make a better world. Harvard was hardly the only university that was home to prominent eugenicists. Stanfords first president, David Starr Jordan, and Yales most acclaimed economist, Irving Fisher, were leaders in the movement. The University of Virginia was a center of scientific racism, with professors like Robert Bennett Bean, author of such works of pseudo-science as the 1906 American Journal of Anatomy article, Some Racial Peculiarities of the Negro Brain.
But in part because of its overall prominence and influence on society, and in part because of its sheer enthusiasm, Harvard was more central to American eugenics than any other university. Harvard has, with some justification, been called the brain trust of twentieth-century eugenics, but the role it played is little remembered or remarked upon today.It is understandable that the University is not eager to recall its part in that tragically misguided intellectual movementbut it is a chapter too important to be forgotten.In part because of its overall prominence and influence on society, and in part because of its sheer enthusiasm, Harvard was more central to American eugenics than any other university.
Eugenics emerged in England in the late 1800s, when Francis Galton, a half cousin of Charles Darwin, began studying the families of some of historys greatest thinkers and concluded that genius was hereditary. Galton invented a new wordcombining the Greek for good and genesand launched a movement calling for society to take affirmative steps to promote the more suitable races or strains of blood. Echoing his famous half cousins work on evolution, Galton declared that what Nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly.
Eugenics soon made its way across the Atlantic, reinforced by the discoveries of Gregor Mendel and the new science of genetics. In the United States, it found some of its earliest support among the same group that Harvard had: the wealthy old families of Boston. The Boston Brahmins were strong believers in the power of their own bloodlines, and it was an easy leap for many of them to believe that society should work to make the nations gene pool as exalted as their own.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.A.B. 1829, M.D. 36, LL.D. 80, dean of Harvard Medical School, acclaimed writer, and father of the future Supreme Court justicewas one of the first American intellectuals to espouse eugenics. Holmes, whose ancestors had been at Harvard since John Oliver entered with the class of 1680, had been writing about human breeding even before Galton. He had coined the phrase Boston Brahmin in an 1861 book in which he described his social class as a physical and mental elite, identifiable by its noble physiognomy and aptitude for learning, which he insisted were congenital and hereditary.
Holmes believed eugenic principles could be used to address the nations social problems. In an 1875 article in The Atlantic Monthly, he gave Galton an early embrace, and argued that his ideas could help to explain the roots of criminal behavior. If genius and talent are inherited, as Mr. Galton has so conclusively shown, Holmes wrote, why should not deep-rooted moral defectsshow themselvesin the descendants of moral monsters?
As eugenics grew in popularity, it took hold at the highest levels of Harvard. A. Lawrence Lowell, who served as president from 1909 to 1933, was an active supporter. Lowell, who worked to impose a quota on Jewish students and to keep black students from living in the Yard, was particularly concerned about immigrationand he joined the eugenicists in calling for sharp limits. The need for homogeneity in a democracy, he insisted, justified laws resisting the influx of great numbers of a greatly different race.
Lowell also supported eugenics research. When the Eugenics Record Office, the nations leading eugenics research and propaganda organization, asked for access to Harvard records to study the physical and intellectual attributes of alumni fathers and sons, he readily agreed. Lowell had a strong personal interest in eugenics research, his secretary noted in response to the request.
The Harvard faculty contained some of nations most influential eugenics thinkers, in an array of academic disciplines. Frank W. Taussig, whose 1911 Principles of Economics was one of the most widely adopted economics textbooks of its time, called for sterilizing unworthy individuals, with a particular focus on the lower classes. The human race could be immensely improved in quality, and its capacity for happy living immensely increased, if those of poor physical and mental endowment were prevented from multiplying, he wrote. Certain types of criminals and paupers breed only their kind, and society has a right and a duty to protect its members from the repeated burden of maintaining and guarding such parasites.
Harvards geneticists gave important support to Galtons fledgling would-be science. Botanist Edward M. East, who taught at Harvards Bussey Institution, propounded a particularly racial version of eugenics. In his 1919 book Inbreeding and Outbreeding: Their Genetic and Sociological Significance, East warned that race mixing would diminish the white race, writing: Races have arisen which are as distinct in mental capacity as in physical traits. The simple fact, he said, was that the negro is inferior to the white.
East also sounded a biological alarm about the Jews, Italians, Asians, and other foreigners who were arriving in large numbers. The early settlers came from stock which had made notable contributions to civilization, he asserted, whereas the new immigrants were coming in increasing numbers from peoples who have impressed modern civilization but lightly. There was a distinct possibility, he warned, that a considerable part of these people are genetically undesirable.
In his 1923 book, Mankind at the Crossroads, Easts pleas became more emphatic. The nation, he said, was being overrun by the feebleminded, who were reproducing more rapidly than the general population. And we expect to restore the balance by expecting the latter to compete with them in the size of their families? East wrote. No! Eugenics is sorely needed; social progress without it is unthinkable.
Easts Bussey Institution colleague William Ernest Castle taught a course on Genetics and Eugenics, one of a number of eugenics courses across the University. He also published a leading textbook by the same name that shaped the views of a generation of students nationwide. Genetics and Eugenics not only identified its author as Professor of Zoology in Harvard University, but was published by Harvard University Press and bore the Veritas seal on its title page, lending the appearance of an imprimatur to his strongly stated views.
In Genetics and Eugenics, Castle explained that race mixing, whether in animals or humans, produced inferior offspring. He believed there were superior and inferior races, and that racial crossing benefited neither. From the viewpoint of a superior race there is nothing to be gained by crossing with an inferior race, he wrote. From the viewpoint of the inferior race also the cross is undesirable if the two races live side by side, because each race will despise individuals of mixed race and this will lead to endless friction.
Castle also propounded the eugenicists argument that crime, prostitution, and pauperism were largely due to feeblemindedness, which he said was inherited. He urged that the unfortunate individuals so afflicted be sterilized or, in the case of women, segregated in institutions during their reproductive years to prevent them from having children.
Like his colleague East, Castle was deeply concerned about the biological impact of immigration. In some parts of the country, he said, the good human stock was dying outand being replaced by a European peasant population. Would this new population be a fit substitute for the old Anglo-Saxon stock? Castles answer: Time alone will tell.
One of Harvards most prominent psychology professors was a eugenicist who pioneered the use of questionable intelligence testing. Robert M. Yerkes, A.B. 1898, Ph.D. 02, published an introductory psychology textbook in 1911 that included a chapter on Eugenics and Mental Life. In it, he explained that the cure for race deterioration is the selection of the fit as parents.
Yerkes, who taught courses with such titles as Educational Psychology, Heredity, and Eugenics and Mental Development in the Race, developed a now-infamous intelligence test that was administered to 1.75 million U.S. Army enlistees in 1917. The test purported to find that more than 47 percent of the white test-takers, and even more of the black ones, were feebleminded. Some of Yerkess questions were straightforward language and math problems, but others were more like tests of familiarity with the dominant culture: one asked, Christy Mathewson is famous as a: writer, artist, baseball player, comedian. The journalist Walter Lippmann, A.B. 1910, Litt.D. 44, said the results were not merely inaccurate, but nonsense, with no more scientific foundation than a hundred other fads, vitamins, or correspondence courses in will power. The 47 percent feebleminded claim was an absurd result unless, as Harvards late professor of geology Stephen Jay Gould put it, the United States was a nation of morons. But the Yerkes findings were widely accepted and helped fuel the drives to sterilize unfit Americans and keep out unworthy immigrants.The Yerkes findings were widely accepted and helped fuel the drives to sterilize unfit Americans and keep out unworthy immigrants.
Another eugenicist in a key position was William McDougall, who held the psychology professorship William James had formerly held. His 1920 book The Group Mind explained that the negro race had never produced any individuals of really high mental and moral endowments and was apparently incapable of doing so. His next book, Is America Safe for Democracy (1921), argued that civilizations declined because of the inadequacy of the qualities of the people who are the bearers of itand advocated eugenic sterilization.
Harvards embrace of eugenics extended to the athletic department. Dudley Allen Sargent, who arrived in 1879 to direct Hemenway Gymnasium, infused physical education at the College with eugenic principles, including his conviction that certain kinds of exercise were particularly important for female students because they built strong pelvic muscleswhich over time could advantage the gene pool. In giving birth to a childno amount of mental and moral education will ever take the place of a large well-developed pelvis with plenty of muscular and organic power behind it, Sargent stated. The presence of large female pelvises, he insisted, would determine whether large brainy children shall be born at all.
Sargent, who presided over Hemenway for 40 years, used his position as a bully pulpit. In 1914, he addressed the nations largest eugenic gathering, the Race Betterment Conference, in Michigan, at which one of the main speakers called for eugenic sterilization of the worthless one tenth of the nation. Sargent told the conference that, based on his long experience and careful observation of Harvard and Radcliffe students, physical educationis one of the most important factors in the betterment of the race.
If Harvards embrace of eugenics had somehow remained within University confinesas merely an intellectual school of thoughtthe impact might have been contained. But members of the community took their ideas about genetic superiority and biological engineering to Congress, to the courts, and to the public at largewith considerable effect.
In 1894, a group of alumni met in Boston to found an organization that took a eugenic approach to what they considered the greatest threat to the nation: immigration. Prescott Farnsworth Hall, Charles Warren, and Robert DeCourcy Ward were young scions of old New England families, all from the class of 1889. They called their organization the Immigration Restriction League, but genetic thinking was so central to their mission that Hall proposed calling it the Eugenic Immigration League. Joseph Lee, A.B. 1883, A.M.-J.D. 87, LL.D. 26, scion of a wealthy Boston banking family and twice elected a Harvard Overseer, was a major funder, and William DeWitt Hyde A. B. 1879, S.T.D. 86, another future Overseer and the president of Bowdoin College, served as a vice president. The membership rolls quickly filled with hundreds of people united in xenophobia, many of them Boston Brahmins and Harvard graduates.
Their goal was to keep out groups they regarded as biologically undesirable. Immigration was a race question, pure and simple, Ward said. It is fundamentally a question as towhat races shall dominate in the country. League members made no secret of whom they meant: Jews, Italians, Asians, and anyone else who did not share their northern European lineage.
Drawing on Harvard influence to pursue its goalsrecruiting alumni to establish branches in other parts of the country and boasting President Lowell himself as its vice presidentthe Immigration Restriction League was remarkably effective in its work. Its first major proposal was a literacy test, not only to reduce the total number of immigrants but also to lower the percentage from southern and eastern Europe, where literacy rates were lower. In 1896the league persuaded Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, A.B. 1871, LL.B. 74, Ph.D. 76, LL.D. 04, to introduce a literacy bill. Getting it passed and signed into law took time, but beginning in 1917, immigrants were legally required to prove their literacy to be admitted to the country.
The league scored a far bigger victory with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924. After hearing extensive expert testimony about the biological threat posed by immigrants, Congress imposed harsh national quotas designed to keep Jews, Italians, and Asians out. As the percentage of immigrants from northern Europe increased significantly, Jewish immigration fell from 190,000 in 1920 to 7,000 in 1926; Italian immigration fell nearly as sharply; and immigration from Asia was almost completely cut off until 1952.
While one group of alumni focused on inserting eugenics into immigration, another prominent alumnus was taking the lead of the broader movement. Charles Benedict Davenport, A.B. 1889, Ph.D. 92, taught zoology at Harvard before founding the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, in 1910. Funded in large part by Mrs. E.H. Harriman, widow of the railroad magnate, the E.R.O. became a powerful force in promoting eugenics. It was the main gathering place for academics studying eugenics, and the driving force in promoting eugenic sterilization laws nationwide.Davenport explained that qualities like criminality and laziness were genetically determined.
Davenport wrote prolifically. Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, published in 1911,quickly became the standard text for the eugenics courses cropping up at colleges and universities nationwide, and was cited by more than one-third of high-school biology textbooks of the era. Davenport explained that qualities like criminality and laziness were genetically determined. When both parents are shiftless in some degree, he wrote, only about 15 percent of their children would be industrious.
But perhaps no Harvard eugenicist had more impact on the public consciousness than Lothrop Stoddard, A.B. 1905, Ph.D. 14. His bluntly titled 1920 bestseller, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy, had 14 printings in its first three years, drew lavish praise from President Warren G. Harding, and made a mildly disguised appearance in The Great Gatsby, when Daisy Buchanans husband, Tom, exclaimed that civilizations going to piecessomething hed learned by reading The Rise of the Colored Empires by this man Goddard.
When eugenics reached a high-water mark in 1927, a pillar of the Harvard community once again played a critical role. In that year, the Supreme Court decided Buck v. Bell, a constitutional challenge to Virginias eugenic sterilization law. The case was brought on behalf of Carrie Buck, a young woman who had been designated feebleminded by the state and selected for eugenic sterilization. Buck was, in fact, not feebleminded at all. Growing up in poverty in Charlottesville, she had been taken in by a foster family and then raped by one of its relatives. She was declared feebleminded because she was pregnant out of wedlock, and she was chosen for sterilization because she was deemed to be feebleminded.
By an 8-1 vote, the justices upheld the Virginia law and Bucks sterilizationand cleared the way for sterilizations to continue in about half the country, where there were similar laws. The majority opinion was written by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., A.B. 1861, LL.B. 66, LL.D. 95, a former Harvard Law School professor and Overseer. Holmes, who shared his fathers deep faith in bloodlines, did not merely give Virginia a green light: he urged the nation to get serious about eugenics and prevent large numbers of unfit Americans from reproducing. It was necessary to sterilize people who sap the strength of the State, Holmes insisted, to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. His opinion included one of the most brutal aphorisms in American law, saying of Buck, her mother, and her perfectly normal infant daughter: Three generations of imbeciles are enough.
In the same week the Supreme Court decided Buck v. Bell, Harvard made eugenics news of its own. It turned down a $60,000 bequest from Dr. J. Ewing Mears, a Philadelphia surgeon, to fund instruction in eugenics in all its branches, notably that branch relating to the treatment of the defective and criminal classes by surgical procedures.
Harvards decision, reported on the front page of The New York Times, appeared to be a counterweight to the Supreme Courts ruling. But the Universitys decision had been motivated more by reluctance to be coerced into a particular position on sterilization than by any institutional opposition to eugenicswhich it continued to embrace.
Eugenics followed much the same arc at Harvard as it did in the nation at large. Interest began to wane in the 1930s, as the field became more closely associated with the Nazi government that had taken power in Germany. By the end of the decade, Davenport had retired and the E.R.O. had shut down; the Carnegie Institution, of which it was part, no longer wanted to support eugenics research and advocacy. As the nation went to war against a regime that embraced racism, eugenics increasingly came to be regarded as un-American.
It did not, however, entirely fade awayat the University, or nationally. Earnest Hooton, chairman of the anthropology department, was particularly outspoken in support of what he called a biological purge. In 1936, while the first German concentration camps were opening, he made a major plea for eugenic sterilizationthough he emphasized that it should not target any race or religion.
Hooton believed it was imperative for society to remove its worthless people. Our real purpose, he declared in a speech that was quoted in The New York Times, should be to segregate and to eliminate the unfit, worthless, degenerate and anti-social portion of each racial and ethnic strain in our population, so that we may utilize the substantial merits of its sound majority, and the special and diversified gifts of its superior members.Our real purposeshould be to segregate and to eliminate the unfit, worthless, degenerate and anti-social portion of each racial and ethnic strain in our population, so that we may utilize the substantial merits of its sound majority.
None of the news out of Germany after the war made Hooton abandon his views. There can be little doubt of the increase during the past fifty years of mental defectives, psychopaths, criminals, economic incompetents and the chronically diseased, he wrote in Redbook magazine in 1950. We owe this to the intervention of charity, welfare and medical science, and to the reckless breeding of the unfit.
The United States also held onto eugenics, if not as enthusiastically as it once did. In 1942, with the war against the Nazis raging, the Supreme Court had a chance to overturn Buck v. Bell and hold eugenic sterilization unconstitutional, but it did not. The court struck down an Oklahoma sterilization law, but on extremely narrow groundsleaving the rest of the nations eugenic sterilization laws intact. Only after the civil-rights revolution of the 1960s, and changes in popular views toward marginalized groups, did eugenic sterilization begin to decline more rapidly. But states continued to sterilize the unfit until 1981.
Today, the American eugenics movement is often thought of as an episode of national follylike 1920s dance marathons or Prohibitionwith little harm done. In fact, the harm it caused was enormous.
As many as 70,000 Americans were forcibly sterilized for eugenic reasons, while important members of the Harvard community cheered andas with Eliot, Lowell, and Holmescalled for more. Many of those 70,000 were simply poor, or had done something that a judge or social worker didnt like, oras in Carrie Bucks casehad terrible luck. Their lives were changed foreverBuck lost her daughter to illness and died childless in 1983, not understanding until her final years what the state had done to her, or why she had been unable to have more children.
Also affected were the many people kept out of the country by the eugenically inspired immigration laws of the 1920s. Among them were a large number of European Jews who desperately sought to escape the impending Holocaust. A few years ago, correspondence was discovered from 1941 in which Otto Frank pleaded with the U.S. State Department for visas for himself, his wife, and his daughters Margot and Anne. It is understood today that Anne Frank died because the Nazis considered her a member of an inferior race, but few appreciate that her death was also due, in part, to the fact that many in the U.S. Congress felt the same way.
There are important reasons for remembering, and further exploring, Harvards role in eugenics. Colleges and universities today are increasingly interrogating their paststhinking about what it means to have a Yale residential college named after John C. Calhoun, a Princeton school named after Woodrow Wilson, or slaveholder Isaac Royalls coat of arms on the Harvard Law School shield and his name on a professorship endowed by his will.
Eugenics is a part of Harvards history. It is unlikely that Eliot House or Lowell House will be renamed, but there might be a way for the University community to spare a thought for Carrie Buck and others who paid a high price for the harmful ideas that Harvard affiliates played a major role in propounding.
There are also forward-looking reasons to revisit this dark moment in the Universitys past. Biotechnical science has advanced to the brink of a new era of genetic possibilities. In the next few years, the headlines will be full of stories about gene-editing technology, genetic solutions for a variety of human afflictions and frailties, and even designer babies. Given that Harvard affiliates, again, will play a large role in all of these, it is important to contemplate how wrong so many people tied to the University got it the first timeand to think hard about how, this time, to get it right.
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