There is a period of time in American History that is usually skipped over when it comes down to the history books. It was the time of selective breeding and genotype selection of humans. During this era, Eugenics was seen as a great potential solution to every defect humans had and to possibly change the future human race permanently. Analyzing it back today, the American Eugenics theories were flawed, corrupting, and morally wrong.
The science of eugenics was widely used during the 20th century in the United States to strategically eliminate the reproductive rights of women who were deemed inferior on the social ladder (“What is Eugenics?”). Some women of color, women with disabilities, and women from lower financial classes were sterilized for permanent birth control, and sometimes without their consent or knowledge (“What is Eugenics?”). The eugenics movement was aimed to promote selective human features in order to increase those with intelligence, good health, physical characteristics, and class. Currently, the recent controversy of human genetic engineering has scientist concerned that it will become the new eugenics. Sterilizing women as a precaution to prevent the overpopulation of unfavorable offspring would go against Jonathan Swift’s equal treatment of all humans, Benjamin Franklin’s hopes for men to understand the value of humanity, and be a direct violation to the natural born rights of all humans. Therefore, the controversial practice of genetic modification to restrict reproduction rights only to people of desirable traits is unethical because it promotes racial cleansing.
Hell is a road that was paved with good intentions; this cliché quintessentially describes the eugenics movement. Eugenics is the controlled reproduction of individuals; the main focus of eugenics is to isolate “good” genes from “bad” genes (Dolan DNA Learning Center). The main goal of Eugenics is to create a higher quality human race (Dolan DNA Learning Center). This movement became the center of which the twentieth century orbited around. The movement swayed numerous significant policies, which were implemented within the United States, ranging from immigration to sterilization (Selden). What is truly unsettling is the radical nature of the eugenics movement, which was originally founded with good intentions by Francis Galton (Carlson). The Eugenics movement made headway owing to the fact that America was frantic for a solution to social problems and believed that this scientific approach was the solution it yearned for; this is evident from the origin, purpose, supporters and policies that resulted from eugenics.
There are many events that happened in the 20th Century that overlap each other and some are results of previous events. Two specific events that were interesting and were as a result of one another, were the Eugenics movement in the early 20th century and the Disability Rights Movement in the 1960s.
The idea of eugenics was first introduced by Sir Francis Galton, who believed that the breeding of two wealthy and successful members of society would produce a child superior to that of two members of the lower class. This assumption was based on the idea that genes for success or particular excellence were present in our DNA, which is passed from parent to child. Despite the blatant lack of research, two men, Georges Vacher de Lapouge and Jon Alfred Mjoen, played to the white supremacists' desires and claimed that white genes were inherently superior to other races, and with this base formed the first eugenics society. The American Eugenics Movement attempted to unethically obliterate the rising tide of lower classes by immorally
I support the guidelines outlined by Kitcher for the use of genetic information because of their responsible and ethical nature. I believe that future generations will benefit as a direct consequence of these guidelines. I shall begin by defining eugenics as the study of human genetics to improve inherited characteristics of the human race by the means of controlled selective breeding.
The eugenics movement began in the 20th century by a man named Francis Galton. As the cousin of Charles Darwin, Galton believed that eugenics was a moral philosophy to improve humanity by encouraging the ablest and healthiest people to have more children (Carlson). This Galtonian ideal of eugenics is often thought of as positive eugenics. Eugenics can be defined as the outgrowth of human heredity aimed at "improving" the quality of the human stock (Allen and Bird). At the other end of the spectrum is what can be classified as negative eugenics and is presently in disrepute. Negative eugenics entails selective breeding in which the least able from the population is taken out of the reproduction pool to preserve humanity's best traits.
Starting in the late 19th century, American philosophers, theorists, and scientists began experimenting and theorizing the idea of eugenics. Derived from Darwinian theories and the extensive works of Gregor Mendel, eugenics is known as a set of practices aimed at enhancing the human genome into sameness. Edwin Black’s “War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race” looks at the horrific background of eugenics, the ones who supported it, and the twisted ends it came to. This source, along with the two others, brings light to the awful means pursued to obtain a brilliant, but illogical and immoral goal of sameness. Overall, a negative vibe is shown through these sources.
Eugenics is the pseudoscience of obtaining desired traits in a population through controlled repopulation, specifically by preventing those deemed “unfit” by “Nordic stereotypes” from breeding. Most modern day Americans do not realize the origins of eugenics, which was planted by Charles Darwin and Sir Francis Galton and bloomed in America, and what effect it had on the attempt to create a master race in Nazi Germany. America played a very influential role in German eugenics by collaboration between scientists and funding from American corporations. The negative connotation associated with this science is usually directed towards the scientists of the Holocaust under Adolf Hitler, and not towards American scientists who also partook in horrific experiments and performed inhumane acts as well. This is absurd when you consider that the United States was the backbone of the eugenics movement internationally and only developed a negative perspective of the research when it became affiliated with the holocaust and the troubling actions of Nazi Germany.
We have all heard of concentration camps, but we think about the Germans and the Jew. We usually never think of the Native Americans as being part of any type of concentration camps. But unfortunately they were. Back when the Germans started construction on their own camps in 1933 they based some ideas of them on some of the United States Civil War camps, the ending resolution was based on American Eugenics programs that were already working in the United States. You can obviously see there have been camps in the country for nearly 170 years. Even back before the Civil War we did the same exact thing to Native American Indians. One of the first "Happy Camps" was called Oklahoma.
Social injustice or inequality would have thought to have been a thing of the past. Yet, there are some countries who still practice this in a form called eugenics. Eugenics is “the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding” in order to achieve the social hierarchy said country desires (The Definition of Eugenics). As extreme and of the past as this sounds, this action is happening all over the world and even right under the United States nose. South America is still practicing eugenics in today’s society and enforces it through many means. It is unfortunate that social injustice along with eugenics is still a problem and not many people know about it. Many parallels can be drawn from the late twentieth century/ modern day South America to that of the Jim Crowe era within the United States. The eugenics that are taking place in South America are they drive for lighter skin citizens while disregarding those who have darker skin. This “disregarding” comes from fewer opportunities within the education system and jobs. This not a new thing however, social injustice has been dating back since colonial times and has continued to the present. Eugenics in South America is a problem in today’s society and should be addressed in a global matter to expect a change.
Hansen and king go over several reason why eugenics became popular in the United States but not in the United Kingdom. Supporter of eugenics in England were mostly focused on people with mental illness and mental disorders. Though there were many supporters of eugenics, the idea did not catch on. One of the reasons being the European connection with the Nazis and their system of eugenics on people with mental illness in addition to people of other races and religions.
The Eugenics era was said to have ended in 1981 with the last case of forced sterilization. The ideology of eugenics is viewed as pseudoscience now and as a inhumane event in American history. However, there are many individuals who still hold the same sentiment. This is evident in laws and different organizations in America. African Americans make up 13% of the population, however they make up 40% of inmates. This is due to racial bias leading to mass incarceration of minorities, specifically Black men. America implements racial bias laws and acts, such as the War on Drugs and alters the message to show it in positive light. The Dream Act proposed in America was not passed, however there is DACA for illegal immigrants. In this year Trump
The author name was Edwin Black, the publisher was History News Network and the URL link is http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1796. The publication was made on September 2003.