In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, by a vote of 8 to 1, to uphold a state's right to forcibly sterilize a person considered unfit to procreate. The case, known as Buck v. Bell, centered on a young woman named Carrie Buck, whom the state of Virginia had deemed to be "feebleminded."Here is the logic.
Author Adam Cohen tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that Buck v. Bell was considered a victory for America's eugenics movement, an early 20th century school of thought that emphasized biological determinism and actively sought to "breed out" traits that were considered undesirable.
"There were all kinds of categories of people who were deemed to be unfit [to procreate]," Cohen says. "The eugenicists looked at evolution and survival of the fittest, as Darwin was describing it, and they believed 'We can help nature along, if we just plan who reproduces and who doesn't reproduce.' "
All told, as many as 70,000 Americans were forcibly sterilized during the 20th century. The victims of state-mandated sterilization included people like Buck who had been labeled "mentally deficient," as well as those who who were deaf, blind and diseased. Minorities, poor people and "promiscuous" women were often targeted.
Cohen's new book about the Buck case, Imbeciles, takes its name from the terms eugenicists used to categorize the "feebleminded." In it, he revisits the Buck v. Bell ruling and explores the connection between the American eugenics movement and the rise of the Nazi party in Germany.
Cohen notes that the instinct to "demonize" people who are different is still prevalent in the U.S. today, particularly in the debate over immigration. ...
Adam Cohen is a former member of The New York Times editorial board and former senior writer for Time magazine.
Eugenics was popular a century ago. Some of the science was inaccurate.
Buck v Bell said that the sterilization law had the constitutionally required due process. Many consider the decision embarrassing.
The 1924 immigration law had restrictions based on nationality, and eugenic arguments were used to support the law.
Nazi Germany also had eugenic laws, and may have gotten some inspiration from the USA.
With more lax immigration, maybe Anne Frank would have immigrated to the USA, and then she would not have died in a concentration camp.
Therefore we should open up our borders and let in more Third World immigrants today, and not discuss the eugenic effects.
Here is Buck v Bell:
In view of the general declarations of the legislature and the specific findings of the Court, obviously we cannot say as matter of law that the grounds do not exist, and, if they exist, they justify the result. We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.We still have compulsory vaccination, and California just passed the most coercive vaccination law in American history.
The Cohen logic has many flaws at every step.
Just ask yourself: Would the USA be a better or worse place, if the 1924 Act were not repealed in 1965?
When a young woman with mental problems repeatedly has illegitimate kids, and cannot care for them, then what do you suggest?
Forced vaccination or sterilization is depriving citizens of rights, but limits on immigration do not.
Gross and Cohen are Jewish, and love to make these Holocaust arguments. But when it comes to eugenics, the argument is always that Jews should practice eugenics, and non-Jews should not. And when it comes to immigration, the argument is always that Israel should restrict immigration to Jews, and that other countries should adopt immigration policies that destroy their ethnic identities.
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