Our semi-annoying, semi-enlightening commenter and sometimes contributor Thought Provoker has spent the better part of the past week valiantly attempting to defend Charles Darwin from Ben Stein's charge in the movie Expelled that Darwinism led to eugenics, and eugenics led to Adolph Hitler's eugenics laws, which led to… The Holocaust.
I admit to sensitivity on this issue, as both my Godparents were Jews, very recent immigrants from Europe. Both of them had tattoos and had lost their entire families in the Holocaust. They never had any children of their own. Can you guess why? So I got 'indoctrinated' very young in the importance of what Never Again! means.
My husband's Aunt Melba (still spry but blind at 96) was sterilized as an adolescent when she and her sister were dropped off at an orphanage back when being an orphan was considered a symptom of "undesirable genetic inheritance" in America. So both sides of this family have some eugenics horror stories in the family album and a serious commitment to making sure it never happens again.
These family stories are related. Such things were as common when I was growing up as unfortunate survivors of polio and thalidomide babies and radiation-induced cancer clusters from atmospheric bomb testing. What happened to my Godparents had its insidious roots in what happened to Aunt Melba years earlier in Oklahoma. Direct, irrefutable connections, as history amply documents in collections from Cold Spring Harbor to the Holocaust Museum.
It just hasn't been that long – the history isn't ancient. I can understand why the history is uncomfortable to those who defend Darwin himself, and who want to blame Hitler on Christianity. But that does not excuse historical revision or holocaust denial. This thread is for discussion of the actual history of eugenics, its scientific support and medical practitioners, its connection to Darwinism, the propaganda that sold it to populations in the US and Europe, and how it got turned into Holocaust by the sick, twisted mind of Adolph Hitler. Having laid out my commitments to Never Again! I expect that if you want to comment, you will do your homework first. Those archival links again are:
Pertinent quote from the ushmm Deadly Medicine exhibit -
"Support of eugenics was by no means unique to the German scientific community," explains exhibition curator Susan Bachrach. "Leading scientific voices throughout the industrialized world supported eugenics, and sterilization laws were enacted in a number of countries including the United States. However, only in Nazi Germany was eugenic sterilization implemented on a mass scale, and only there did it pave the road to mass murder."
Eugenics theory sprang from late 19th-century beliefs asserting that Charles Darwin's theories of the "survival of the fittest" should be applied to humans. Proponents everywhere argued that by keeping the "unfit" alive to reproduce and multiply, modern medicine and costly care interfered with "natural selection." Supporters, spanning the political spectrum, believed that through careful controls on marriage and reproduction, a nation's "genetic health" could be improved.
I apologize for my anger in that other thread, TP. I will make an effort to control my temper. But I'm not going to be happy to see holocaust denial per the connection between Darwinism and eugenics, or eugenics and The Holocaust. Yes, Hitler was definitely a sick and twisted man. He justified his egomania and weird racial/sexual/occult mishmash of a philosophy any way he could, drawing from every influence he could name. He was inconsistent and he lied, even to himself. A lot. But what he did to millions of innocent people required support at high diplomatic, financial, scientific, inter-governmental and medical levels, from supposedly 'sane' people – a world full of 'em. That's the plain, unvarnished truth of history. Please don't play games with it.