Sunday, February 2, 2020

Conservation and Eugenics

HOW DO WE MAKE SENSE of this behavior? How could progressives who worked for conservation, national health insurance, and the rights of workers adopt an ideology of hatred against the weak?

In some ways, the inconsistencies reflect the diversity of a temporary political coalition. A lot of money and establishment power backed the eugenics supporters — a list that included John Kellogg, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller Jr., Andrew Carnegie, George Eastman, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Alexander Graham Bell, and many eminent anthropologists, psychologists, and biologists, including the founder of the movement, Francis Galton, who was Charles Darwin’s cousin. Joining with them was smart politics.

Roosevelt wanted women to stay home with large families; Margaret Sanger, the mother of Planned Parenthood, wanted smaller families and gender equality — but both were involved with the eugenics movement.

A desire for power is hardly an excuse, however, especially for powerful opinion leaders such as Roosevelt and Pinchot, who constantly invoked moral authority for their policies.

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