Friday, July 15, 2005

Planned Genocide?

If you are ever in the D.C. area, I would highly recommend touring the Holocaust Museum. In doing so, ask yourself this question: how did Hitler rise to power? Although the museum is by no means a complete historical analysis, the attentive visitor will note the bad public policies in existence in the German government prior to Hitler. It was the combination of incentives and public policies that grant unnecessary power to government officials that enabled him to carry out his agenda. However, the most striking thing to me was the cunningness that Hitler used to make his agenda appear benign. In many ways, I was struck by the resemblance that Hitler bears to many of the modern liberals in the United States: he was an anti-smoking crusader and a champion of animal rights. Undeniably, Hitler appealed to many sides. The museum had displays regarding Hitler’s censorship and book-burning of noted authors as psychologist Sigmund Freud and Birth Control League founder Margaret Sanger. Ironically, Margaret Sanger supported much of Hitler’s agenda, knowingly or unknowingly. In her own publication, A Plan for Peace, she indicated that Congress should “set up a special department for the study of population problems and appoint a Parliament of Population, the directors representing the various branches of science: this body to direct and control the population through birth rates and immigration.”[1] The tasks that she believed the Parliament of Population should accomplish include application of “a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring,” and “take an inventory of the secondary group such as illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, dope-fiends; classify them in special departments under government medical protection, and segregate them on farms and open spaces.” Somehow the government should decide who is fit to reproduce and, in Sanger’s utopia, can segregate people on farms, just as Hitler segregated the Jews in concentration camps. In fact, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as any act that includes “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”[2] Yet many still laud Margaret Sanger as a hero, a champion of women’s rights. The Birth Control League, now known as Planned Parenthood, is an institution that has maintained its status in today’s world as an institution dedicated to freedom of choice, despite its beginnings in segregation and forced sterilization.
[1] Sanger, Margaret. A Plan for Peace, Birth Control Review (April 1932, pp. 107-108).
[2] U.N.T.S. (United Nations Treaty Series), No. 1021, vol. 78 (1951), p. 277.

No comments: