Ira Lacher: Eugenics forces us to consider how Donald Trump first reacted to the COVID-19 threat, how he dealt with its onset, and how he wants to “reopen” America. -promoted by Laura Belin
“Better baby” contests.
These attributes pertain not to Nazi Germany but the United States. They are components of the white supremacist pseudoscientific movement known as “eugenics.”
Those original eugenicists believed in building a master race to rid society of a wide-ranging “basket of deplorables” — anyone not of Nordic European descent. And the concept was embraced and practiced in America throughout much of the late 19th and the 20th centuries.
In an infamous 1927 Supreme Court ruling, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a majority decision legalizing the forced sterilization — a eugenics pillar — of Carrie Buck, a Virginia “mental defective” woman. In his book Imbeciles, author Adam Cohen notes that part of Holmes’ five-paragraph decision included these words:
“It is better for 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. … [T]hree generations of imbeciles are enough.”
After Adolf Hitler one-upped eugenicists’ “master race” superobjective into genocide, the philosophy fell into disrepute in America, though it never went away.
Does it remain with the president of the United States?
“The [Trump] family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development. They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”
Eugenics forces us to consider how Donald Trump first reacted to the COVID-19 threat, how he dealt with its onset, and how he wants to “reopen” America.
First, Trump refused to take the virus seriously, even while the World Health Organization was warning of a global pandemic. After all, the virus was Chinese in origin, and Trump had belittled the Chinese since before becoming president. During the 2016 campaign, he called climate disaster a “Chinese hoax.” He decried Chinese trade practices and as president, used his tirades to trigger a destructive trade war. His rhetoric has stirred up anti-Chinese feeling in America — at the heart of the eugenics-inspired Anti-Immigration Act of 1924.
Second, Trump delayed in procuring hospital supplies that could have saved the lives of thousands of people in the eugenicists’ untermenschen grab bag — African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, the poor, the aged, and the physically and mentally disabled. Since taking hold on our impregnable shores, the disease has infected and killed members of those groups disproportionately to the percentages of their populations.
Finally, as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in meatpacking and other factories that employ large numbers of blacks and Hispanics, Trump called for those plants to reopen, placing workers at high risk of infection. In general, Trump’s “reopening” guidelines, adopted by many Republican governors, put those populations at the greatest risk.
Some professors believe this “herd immunity” approach — letting the strong be infected with a slight fever and cough while the weak die gasping for breath — has its basis in eugenics. Vito Laterza and Louis Philippe Romer write:
“It is hard not to read eugenic implications in this kind of thinking: the ‘herd’ will survive, but for that to happen, other ‘weaker’ members of society need to be sacrificed.”
Pete Shanks, author of Human Genetic Engineering: A Guide for Activists, Skeptics, and the Very Perplexed, agrees.
“The pandemic has revealed continuing discrimination against racial and sexual minorities, poor people, and others regarded as less important by the power structure of our world. The disability rights community was quick off the mark in pushing hard against an upsurge of eugenic thinking in the COVID-19 guidelines that recommended putting people with disabilities at the end of the line in the allocation of scarce medical resources. But they were far from alone.”
Trump said America needs to accept that 100,000 people may die. But when you consider which groups are doing the greatest proportion of the dying, you wonder whether his pandemic strategy is influenced not simply by his re-election obsession but by an immoral social philosophy embraced by a diabolical regime that took the entire western world to vanquish.
Top image: Mark Reinstein’s photo of President-elect Donald Trump at a victory rally in Des Moines on December 8, 2016, available via Shutterstock.