In 1859 an English naturalist and biologist named Charles Darwin published the book ‘On the Origin of The Species’. It was a book describing his new theory, the science of evolution, meaning that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors. It introduced to the public the concept of “natural selection” known later as Darwinism or “survival of the fittest”. It describes life in nature where “the struggle to survive has similar effect as natural selection.”
Darwin’s ideas were almost immediately used in the creation of eugenics in 1883. Eugenics, which means “Good Genes”, is the study of reproduction within a human population to increase characteristics that are regarded as desirable. It became a legitimate principle to many people. Some scientists and scholars believed this method would improve the human race. But I’m pretty sure, based on what happened next, this was code for whitening the human race.
Darwin was not a believer in eugenics. In fact, he believed in the “dependence of one being on another” thus all beings were valuable. Furthermore, he was a staunch advocate for emancipation of slaves and believed that all the world’s religions should be accepted as equal.
Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator that ruled from 1922 until 1943 was a strong believer in eugenics. He was the founder of Fascism which is an authoritarian form of government that believes in the supremacy of one nation or race. He ruled by terrorizing his citizens with thugs that were called The Blackshirts, a paramilitary group that swore an oath to Mussolini. He felt that eugenics would help him create a nation of pure and perfect Italian soldiers.
Hitler was a big fan of Mussolini. He even created his own paramilitary group of asshole thugs called The Brownshirts. We all know where this is going. Hitler created the Nazi party and became the dictator of Germany and started WWII by invading every country he could. Using the principles of eugenics, he murdered 6 million Jewish people along with any other undesirable he thought would make his Aryan race impure. So he also murdered gay people, gypsies and people with mental impairments. This was called the Holocaust and because of these atrocities and crimes against humanity people generally found the concept of Eugenics repulsive for quite some time.
The United States has its own dark history with eugenics which Hitler actually borrowed ideas from. In 1907 Indiana was the first state to declare it legal for state governments to sterilize people by force for what they deemed to be undesirable qualities. Thirty more states quickly followed, forcing sterilization on the poor, unwed, mentally or physically disabled, diseased and of course, anyone that was not white. The majority of the victims were, African American, Latina, and Native American women. At least 80,000 Americans were forcibly sterilized in our history and it is still legal to this day.
Side note, I kept looking for the magical Supreme Court hearing that made this illegal all over the nation but there has never been one. In fact, forced sterilization still exists!!! The only reforms that have taken place about this were just some regulations put in place by the Department of Health and Human Services in 1979 that are like, wait 30 days and make sure the person can read the paper work that they sign that allows the government to sterilize them even if they don’t understand what they read. Now it’s called “coerced sterilization”!! Holy shit! As recently as 2013, for example, California prisons sterilized 148 women prisoners leading to a 2014 bill that banned the procedure in California prisons.
So of course I immediately thought of America’s fucked up history with eugenics when COVID19 appeared here. I kept seeing politicians and rich business owners on TV calmly explaining that we shouldn’t shelter in place because it’s just senior citizens and the disabled and immune compromised that will die. Dan Patrick, the Lt. Governor of Texas actually went on TV and claimed that old people should be honored to die to save the economy. What??
What the pundits and politicians aren’t explaining as they shelter in place in their basements, is that the people that they want to have go back to work for the economy are the essential workers, aka the sacrificial workers who, guess what? are often the poor, minorities and women, the same people historically affected by the US’s forced sterilization policy. More than half of the people that die from COVID are African American, Latino and Native Americans which is totally disproportionate to their representation in society but matches up exactly with America’s eugenics history.
The frustrating disinterest and absolutely flaccid and ineffective response of the US Government in stopping a pandemic that, for the moment, is roaring through non white and poor communities like wildfire, is like a passive aggressive form of good old fashioned eugenics. This makes sense to me because the President of the United States is a white supremacist and also he and many in his cabinet are xenophobes which means they have a child like, irrational fear of immigrants.
For the United States, governing on the principles of eugenics is like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes that we return to in times of difficulty, fear and bad economies. This might work for a while to keep voters distracted– too stressed and fearful to notice what our government is up to, but a deadly virus cannot be controlled by billionaires, politicians or news hosts and pundits. It cannot be legislated to only affect some members of society.
The apathetic and incompetent response from our government might be overlooked or excused by some people for now, thinking that they aren’t “in the right demographic” to be affected. But the virus is just now sinking its teeth into the “heartland” of America where many people that truly believed COVID was a hoax are finding out that it’s not and that their genes will not save them.