Anti-Immigration rhetoric and Eugenics
Monday, June 23, 2008
Eugenics: Literally, meaning normal genes, eugenics aims to improve the genetic constitution of the human species by selective breeding. The use of Albert Einstein's sperm to conceive a child (by artificial insemination) would represent an attempt at positive eugenics. The Nazis notoriously engaged in negative eugenics by genocide.The word "eugenics" was coined by Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) to denote scientific endeavors to increase the proportion of persons with better than average genetic endowment through selective mating of marriage partners.The practice of eugenics was first legally mandated in the United States in the state of Indiana, resulting in the forcible sterilization, incarceration, and occasionally euthanasia of the mentally or physically handicapped, the mentally ill, and ethnic minorities (particularly people of mixed racial heritage), and the adopting out of their children to non-disabled, Caucasian parents. Similar programs spread widely in the early part of the twentieth century, and still exist in some parts of the world. It is important to note that no experiment in eugenics has ever been shown to result in measurable improvements in human health. In fact, in the best known attempt at positive eugenics, the Nazi "Lebensborn" program, there was a higher-than- normal level of birth defects among the resulting offspring.
During the first decades of the century… major political figures such as Henry Cabot Lodge had unblushingly defended Anglo-Saxonism, the superiority of the “original” American stock. The eugenics movement flourished in these years. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson embraced racist theories; Henry Adams, Henry James, the president of Harvard, and other cultural heavyweights did the same. Many key members of the new generation of social scientists, including E.A. Ross and John R. Commons, doubted the intellectual capacity of racial and ethnic minorities. These pioneers in sociology and economics provided additional authority to nativists’ arguments. As late as the early 1920s, when the prominent social psychologist William McDougall proposed a racist interpretation of history based on the results of intelligence tests, when Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race and Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color found a wide audience of college-trained readers for their racist theories, the “genetic case” for nativism remained a position that could be defended in rational discourse. (“The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Bovement,”David H. Bennett (Vintage Books 1988) p. 283)
The decline of American intelligence will be more rapid than the decline of the intelligence of European national groups, owing to the presence of the negro. These are the plain, if somewhat ugly, facts that our study shows. The deterioration of American intelligence is not inevitable, however, if public action can be aroused to prevent it. There is no reason why legal steps should not be taken which would insure a continuously upward evolution.The steps that should be taken to preserve or increase our present intellectual capacity must of course be dictated by science and not by political expediency. Immigration should not only be restrictive but highly selective. And the revision of the immigration and naturalization laws will only afford a slight relief from our present difficulty. The really important steps are those looking toward the prevention of the continued propagation of defective strains in the present population. (Brigham 1923) (“The Mismeasure of Man,”Stephen Jay Gould, p. 260)
Laughlin’s efforts at immigration restriction included an attempt to survey every public charitable institution or mental hospital in American. He combined those data with material on the number of foreign-born persons in jails, prisons, and reformatories to provide a basis for testimony to Congress as its appointed “Expert Eugenics Agent.” Reflecting in large part Laughlin’s testimony, Congress passed the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, which was consciously drawn to block the flow of Jews and Italians from 1900 to 1920.Hitler praised the racist features of American immigration legislation in Mein Kampf even before he came to power. He condemned the automatic grant of citizenship, extended indiscriminately to “every Jewish or Polish, African or Asiatic child” born in Germany as “thoughtless” and “hare-brained.” America, “by simply excluding certain races from naturalization,” was making “slow beginnings” toward a vision Hitler could support. A preoccupation with controlling migration was just one of the habits that Laughlin and his fellow immigration restrictionists shared with Adolf Hitler. "The American Breed" (“The American Breed”: Nazi Eugenics and the Origins of the Pioneer Fund, by Paul A. Lombardo, J.D., Ph.D., Albany Law Review (2002) (emphasis added)).
The success of U.S. English taught Tanton a crucial lesson. If the immigration restriction movement was to succeed, it would have to be rooted in an emotional appeal to those who felt that their country, their language, their very identity was under assault. “Feelings,” Tanton says in a tone reminiscent of Spock sharing some hard-won insight on human behavior, “trump facts.More than anyone, Tanton served as the liaison between the “mainstream” anti-immigration movement, whose arguments were still rooted in population and job concerns, and its natural allies on the far right, who saw an epic struggle to maintain America’s national and racial character. He courted mainstream conservative donors, like the Scaife family, as well as the fringe Pioneer Fund, whose current president argues that blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites. He had the Social Contract Press translate, publish and promote The Camp of the Saints, a starkly racist apocalyptic novel about a wave of Indian immigrants overrunning France. In 1996, Tanton coauthored The Immigration Invasion with Wayne Lutton, who sits on the advisory board of a publication put out by the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens. Editor of the Social Contract Press since 1998, Lutton now occupies an office just a few feet from Tanton’s.Though he plays the victim, Tanton wants it both ways: harnessing the political power that comes from tapping into nativist grievances and building bridges with outright racists, while at the same time dismissing any of the negative consequences that might come from such partnerships. Perhaps Tanton shares the views of his allies, or perhaps he simply understands that if what people like Taylor euphemistically call “cultural” issues were taken out of the equation, there wouldn’t be the same flood of phone calls to senators. “If the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country were all good-looking, English-speaking, white people,” Taylor told me, “the opposition to illegal immigration would be considerably less.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is almost certainly the most-quoted immigration restriction organization in America. … In the past six years, FAIR officials have testified at least 30 times to Congress. Day in and day out, FAIR is taken seriously as a mainstream commentator on the immigration debate…The founder, chief ideologue and long-time funder of FAIR is a racist. Key staff members have ties to white supremacist groups, some are members, and some have spoken at hate group functions. FAIR has accepted more than $1 million from a racist foundation devoted to studies of race and IQ, and to eugenics — the pseudo-science of breeding a better human race that was utterly discredited by the Nazi euthanasia program. It spreads racist conspiracy theories. Its political ads have caused numerous politicians, Democratic and Republican, to denounce it.Much of this has been known for years. But last February , underlining the way that FAIR does business, its leaders met with the leaders of Vlaams Belang — a hastily renamed Belgian party that under a prior appellation, Vlaams Blok, was officially banned by the Belgian Supreme Court as a racist and xenophobic group. It was, for some, a final straw — the Rubicon of hate, as it were. When FAIR officials met with Vlaams Belang leaders to seek their “advice” on immigration, we decided to take another look at FAIR. When our work was done, it was obvious that FAIR qualified as a hate group.The identification of FAIR as a bona fide hate group is important. FAIR is the hub of the American nativist movement, the group that more than any other has contributed to the rancid turn the national immigration discussion has taken. With FAIR fanning the flames of xenophobic intolerance, hate groups, hate crimes and hate speech directed at foreigners and Latinos continue to rise in America.