135. Eugenics Arrives: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org
Between 1890 and 1920, the percentage of our population adjudged "feeble-minded" and condemned to institutional confinement more than doubled. The long-contemplated hygienic form of social control formulated by eighteenth-century German social thinker Johann Frank, "complete medical policing," was launched with a vengeance. Few intimidations are more effective than the threat of a stay in an insane asylum. Did the population of crazies really double in those three decades? The answer given by one contemporary was elliptically Darwinian: "Marriage of these inferiors is a veritable manufactory of degenerates." It could no longer go unchecked.
The American Birth Control League 1 left no doubt about its plans. Its position, as expressed by Yale psychologist Arnold L. Gesell, was that "society need not wait for perfection of the infant science of eugenics before proceeding upon a course which will prevent renewal of defective protoplasm contaminating the stream of life. " Gesell's The Family and the Nation (1909), a thorough product of the new Zeitgeist, advocated "eugenic violence" in dealing with inferiors. According to Gesell, "We must do as with the feebleminded, organize the extinction of the tribe." [emphases added]
Here was a far different promise of American life, a Connecticut Valley Yale-style pledge. Yet governors of the Birth Control League were acclaimed heroes in every progressive assembly. With this thrust, old-line Calvinism converted its theological elements into scientific truth, supported mathematically by the new Galtonian discipline of statistics. Yale was the most important command center for the reemergence of old- time Puritan religion, now thoroughly disguised behind the language of research methodology.
The eugenics movement begun by Galton in England was energetically spread to the United States by his followers. Besides destroying lesser breeds (as they were routinely called) by abortion, sterilization, adoption, celibacy, two-job family separations, low- wage rates to dull the zest for life, and, above all, schooling to dull the mind and debase the character, other methods were clinically discussed in journals, including a childlessness which could be induced through easy access to pornography. 2 At the same time those deemed inferior were to be turned into eunuchs, Galtonians advocated the notion of breeding a super race.
Humanist Scott Nearing wrote his masterpiece, The Super Race: An American Problem, in 1912, just as the drive to destroy an academic curriculum in public schools was reaching its first crescendo. By "problem," Nearing wasn't referring to a moral dilemma. Rather, he was simply arguing that only America had the resources to meet the engineering challenge posed in creating supermen out of genetic raw stock.
1.'The early manifestation under Margaret Sanger's influence of the organization, which eventually changed its name to Planned Parenthood.
2.'As mentioned previously, this was Judge Ben Lindsey's idea; Lindsey was the man often credited with perfecting Children's Court procedures, particularly suspension of defendants' customary legal rights.
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