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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


May 15, 2013

America’s Shameful Immigration Attitude

Patrick W. Allen

Anti-Immigration efforts and activities are the 21st century version and return of 20th century eugenics. The term eugenics comes from the Greek roots for "good" and "generation" or "origin" and was first used to refer to the "science" of heredity and good breeding in about 1883.

 

A Bit of History…

 

Within 20 years of the term eugenics being first introduced into the World’s lexicon, the word was widely used by scientists who had rediscovered the work of Gregor Mendel. Mendel had meticulously recorded the results of cross-breeding pea plants, and found a very regular statistical pattern for features like height and color. This introduced the concept of genes, opening the field of genetics to a tumultuous century of research.

 

One path of genetic research branched off into the shadows of social theory, and in the first quarter of the twentieth century became immensely popular as eugenics. It was presented as a mathematical science that could be used to predict the traits and behaviors of humans, and in a perfect world, to control human breeding so that people with the “best” genes would reproduce and thus improve the species. It was an optimistic school of thought with a profound faith in the powers of Science.

 

Local eugenics societies and groups sprang up around the United States after World War I, with names like the Race Betterment Foundation. The war had given many Americans a greater fear of foreigners, and immigration to the United States was still increasing. In 1923, organizers founded the American Eugenics Society, and it quickly grew to 29 chapters around the country.

 

At fairs and exhibitions, eugenicists spread the word and hosted "fitter family" and "better baby" competitions to award blue ribbons to the finest human stock -- not unlike the awards for prize bull and biggest pumpkin. Not only did eugenicists promote better breeding, they wanted to prevent poor breeding or the risk of it. That meant keeping people with undesirable traits in their heritage separate from others or, where law allowed, preventing them from reproducing.

 

These vocal groups advocated laws to attain their aims, and in 1924, the Immigration Act was passed by majorities in the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. It set up strict quotas limiting immigrants from countries believed by eugenicists to have "inferior" stock, particularly Southern Europe and Asia.

 

Republican President Calvin Coolidge, who signed the bill into law, had stated when he was vice president, "America should be kept American. . . . Biological laws show that Nordics deteriorate when mixed with other races." [1]

 

So followed white ethnic supremacy (eugenics) thinking … who knew? Protecting a specific segment of the human gene pool from mixing with ethnicities considered to be lesser is racism, pure and simple, whether it is attempted and / or achieved by legislative or other means.

 

While the term eugenics did not receive an official label until the 1880s, it is clear that separation of peoples based on race and ethnicity has been woven into the fabric of our nation since its earliest days. There are those who wavered from the strict discipline of this dogma, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who experimented reproductively outside of prevailing eugenic boundaries. Or, said in a less politically correct fashion, these two white gentlemen and former presidents of the United States raped their slaves!

 

Today, we tend to socially marginalize white-is-right groups and individuals even though eugenic thinking has been around since the founding of the Republic and powdered wigs. Blacks, although not technically considered immigrants, given that the vast majority did not come to these shores of their own accord, have been the principle, but not sole, recipients of gene pool protectionist policies. The fact that they were looked upon as lesser beings and treated as such, led to our nation taking four years out of its history to argue the point in the 1860s.

 

Through the balance of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, Irish and Chinese immigrants were treated in a similar fashion as they labored under whip and arduous circumstances to build America’s railroads, tunnels and mines.

 

Jews in this country have not fared so well either. The 1921 Emergency Quota Act restricted immigration to 3% of foreign-born persons of each nationality that reside[d] in the United States in 1910. “I think we now have sufficient population in our country for us to shut the door and to breed up a pure, unadulterated American citizenship,” Senator Ellison DuRant Smith (D., SC) declared, siding with the Republican controlled Congress, in support of the Quota Act of 1921. And let’s not forget that Henry Ford was a Nazi sympathizer as was Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of two American presidents, a key figure in financing the rise of the Nazi Party. [2]

 

D. W. Griffith’s 1915 silent film epic, The Birth of a Nation, did more to solidify eugenic thinking among America’s white elite and reignited an explosion of growth in membership for organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. While the KKK as an organization has been virtually eliminated, its toxic, eugenic, doctrine continues to exist in smaller groups, hiding in the shadows, but making themselves relevant to ignorant and self-disenfranchised individuals via Internet web sites and social media technologies.

 

Although not spoken about explicitly during polite conversation, eugenics remains in the fabric of American culture and its current target is Hispanic and Latino ethnic immigrants. Eugenic thinking and policy initiatives are being aged out as each successive generation matures, but, it’s not disappearing without a last stand. Former Sen. Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation is a key player and toxic voice in eugenic immigration policy management.

 

Jason Richwine, co-author of the right-wing, conservative Heritage Foundation’s most recent immigration study, wrote in his 2009 doctoral dissertation on immigration policy, “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”

 

Unfortunately, as we gather each July to celebrate our nation’s independence and cry out that we are a nation of immigrants, far too many Americans have shared Mr. Richwine’s opinion regarding various immigrant groups over the last several hundred years. And far too many Americans share Mr. Richwine’s opinion today.

 

Mr. Richwine, who was forced to resign from Heritage Foundation on May 10th, demonstrates that eugenics and the bigotry it represents continues to survive in the United States.

 

[1] Eugenics Movement Reaches Its Height -1923 ... http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dh23eu.html

[2] How Bush’s Grandfather Helped Hitler’s Rise to Power …http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar

 



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