Monday, June 11, 2012

Progressive Eugenics

How did this article appear in the June 9, 2012 New York Times?  Some sort of prank?
The American elite’s pre-World War II commitment to breeding out the “unfit” — defined variously as racial minorities, low-I.Q. whites, the mentally and physically handicapped, and the criminally inclined — is a story that defies easy stereotypes about progress and enlightenment. On the one hand, these American eugenicists tended to be WASP grandees like Fisher — ivory-tower dwellers and privileged have-mores with an obvious incentive to invent spurious theories to justify their own position.
But these same eugenicists were often political and social liberals — advocates of social reform, partisans of science, critics of stasis and reaction. “They weren’t sinister characters out of some darkly lighted noir film about Nazi sympathizers,” Conniff writes of Fisher and his peers, “but environmentalists, peace activists, fitness buffs, healthy-living enthusiasts, inventors and family men.” From Teddy Roosevelt to the Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, fears about “race suicide” and “human weeds” were common among self-conscious progressives, who saw the quest for a better gene pool as of a piece with their broader dream of human advancement.
This is one of the deep dark secrets that the left prefers not to be discussed: progressives were at the forefront of the eugenics movement until World War II, a logical outgrowth of their enthusiasm for Social Darwinism and contempt for "old-fashioned" ideas about the inherent dignity and worth of human life.

The article goes on to point out that it is becoming increasingly practical to determine an unborn child's genetic makeup without invasive procedures--and where that is likely to lead.  As you might expect, the usual progressives are throwing fits in the comments section, but I only have one question to ask: if homosexuality turned out to be genetic, and you could determine if an unborn child was going to go gay, would liberals considerable abortion for sexual-orientation selection purposes acceptable?


Rich Rostrom said...

My guess is that there is no such thing as a "gay gene". Rather, there are combinations of genes which can interact to produce homosexual potential - possibly by affecting fetal development. I.e., a combination of genes in a woman could produce a prenatal environment which in combination with a fetal gene from either parent causes partial miswiring of sex-attraction neural paths in the brain...

However - it is highly probable that in the near future, the underlying processes of sexuality development will be understood. A bit later, it will become possible to modify these processes to taste.

Some years back I read an SF story in which the protagonists were aging homosexuals, observing the extinction of "homosexual culture". The sexuality of a child could be predicted and shaped in development, and it had been over a generation since any homosexual children had been born.

IIRC the phrase "homosexual culture" or an equivalent appeared in the story. If this sounds crazy, look up "deaf culture". There are "deaf militants" who object to cochlear implants or any other cure for deafness because it damages "deaf culture".

Josh said...

Of course they would; the Democratic Party has relied on women's support for abortion far more and for far longer than it has GLBT support. I've shown progressives news stories about fairly late-stage abortions over things like a hair-lip. They'll do the same thing here as there; make a big show about how terrible it is that folk make bad decisions because of social whatsits, but waves their hands about actually prohibiting such a thing since any law against it would be a terrible infringement on their medical privacy. Perhaps if we work to fight the stigma, they say, we'll make Progress.

Not a terribly happy thought, to my bisexual-leaning mind, since I've seen how a number of these very same folk reacted to the thought of Sarah Palin not aborting a kid with Down's Syndrome.