Dinesh D’Souza: Where Were the Democrats in the Human Betterment Foundation?

In his book The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left, Dinesh D’Souza attempts to draw a link between the Democratic party and the eugenics movement in the United States and Nazi Germany. In the 2017 book D’Souza wrote, “Progressives in America founded a plethora of eugenic organizations.”(p. 135) He then listed leading eugenicists including, “Eugene Gosney (sic), director of the Human Betterment Foundation.” (p. 136). (Note: Gosney’s first name was Ezra).

As I pointed out in a post earlier today, Gosney was a registered Republican. He also supported the Boy Scouts and Paul Popenoe’s American Institute for Family Relations, the organization which gave James Dobson his start. While those are good things, that’s not the point. The point is that these guys were not progressives in the manner D’Souza depicts. They were Republicans and in many ways, they were socially conservative.

The Human Betterment Foundation Charter Members Were Republicans

Now to follow up on today’s post, I want to report that when the Human Betterment Foundation opened for business, none of the founding members described themselves as members of the Democratic party. I checked all of the voter registrations and other sources and found no Democrats.* There was only one person I couldn’t find any information about (A.D. Shamel), but all others were or became Republicans during their service to the organization. One member (George Dock) was a Democrat in 1924 but by 1928, he had joined his wife as a registered Republican and remained that way according to available records. Another HBF founding member (William Munro) did not state his affiliation until 1936 but when he did, it was Republican to match his wife.

So in short, in 1928, Republican philanthropist E.S. Gosney brought together 24 people, none of whom were Democrats, to form an organization that Dinesh D’Souza claims was influenced by the Democratic party.

Dinesh D’Souza is probably correct to say that the Human Betterment Foundation had an influence on the Nazis. At least HBF board member Charles Goethe said so when he wrote Gosney in 1934 after a trip to Germany:

You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.

D’Souza claims that eugenics groups like the Human Betterment Foundation are part of the “disgraceful legacy of the Democratic left.” In the light of history, the HBF is disgraceful but how can it be the legacy of the Democratic left when no Democrats were involved in it?

 

*Voter registrations were checked via Ancestry.com.

Eugenics and Republicans: What Dinesh D’Souza Should Learn from History

Last week in a Twitter response to Princeton historian Kevin Kruse, Dinesh D’Souza linked to a 2017 article published on Breitbart.com in which he claimed the following:

Hitler learned a great deal from the Democrats and from American progressives.  He got some of his core policy strategies from them.

Dinesh DSouza speaking at CPAC 2012 CC 2.0

Specifically, D’Souza claimed Hitler copied three policies from American Democrats – the treatment of native Americans, the segregation of African-Americans, and sterilization laws and the eugenics movement from the first half of the last century. While all of these claims are problematic, my intention in this post is to fact check him regarding immigration laws and eugenics.

1924 Immigration Act

D’Souza wrote:

Hitler also appealed to the racially exclusionary provisions of U.S. immigration laws, specifically the 1924 Immigration Act that had been pushed by American progressives as a model of enlightened eugenic legislation.

As Kruse pointed out on Twitter, the 1924 Immigration Act was sponsored by two conservative Republicans, Albert Johnson (R-WA) and David Reed (R-PA) and signed into law by Republican president Calvin Coolidge. When Republicans controlled the House, Johnson was the chair of the House Immigration and Naturalization Committee. While chair of that committee, Johnson appointed eugenicist Harry Laughlin to be the committee’s “Expert Eugenics Agent” and routed funds for eugenic research to Charles Davenport’s lab at Cold Spring Harbor where Laughlin also worked.

While it is true that the supporters of eugenics and race-based immigration had common cause, it is not true that the Democratic Party was the sole or even leading influence. Members of both parties voted for the bill but it was sponsored and promoted heavily by Republicans.

On a related note, Republicans today are typically the ones who want to slow immigration into the U.S. It was a recent Republican president who wondered why we couldn’t take more people from Norway than from “sh*thole” countries.

Sterilization Laws 

D’Souza wrote:

Third, Hitler learned from progressive sterilization laws that had been enacted in America through the influence of activists like Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.

Progressive eugenicist Paul Popenoe, himself an advocate of euthanasia by poison gas, praised Hitler for being on the front lines of modern eugenics.  Harry Laughlin and Charles Davenport’s Eugenic News termed the Nazi sterilization program “a milestone which marks the control by the most advanced nations of the world of a major aspect of controlling human reproduction.”

It is true that Hitler praised America’s laws allowing the sterilization of people deemed to be deficient in various ways. It is also true that many of the leaders in the eugenics movement supported Germany’s movement to enact similar laws. However, Sanger had little to do with sterilization laws because the eugenics supporters cited by D’Souza didn’t want her help.

While it is safe to say that Margaret Sanger was progressive in her views, she wasn’t viewed as a colleague by those in the mainstream of the eugenics and sterilization movement. She hoped to attach herself to it to further her own cause but leaders in the eugenics movement didn’t seem to want her. Read what eugenics leader Paul Popenoe said in a letter to fellow eugenicist Madison Grant about Sanger’s American Birth Control League:

Dear Mr. Grant,

I have been considerably disquieted by the letter you showed me yesterday, suggesting a working alliance between the American Eugenics Society and the American Birth Control League. In my judgement we have everything to lose nothing to gain to such an arrangement.

[The American Birth Control League] is controlled by a group that has be brought up on agitation and emotional appeal instead of on research and education… With this group, we would take on a large quantity of ready-made enemies which it has accumulated, and we would gain allies who, while believing that they are eugenics, really have no conception of what eugenics is and are actually opposed to it.

[At a recent international birth control conference] two members of our advisory council … put through a resolution at the final meeting, urging that people whose children gave promise of being of exceptional value to the race should have as many children, properly spaced, as they felt that they feasibly could. This is eugenics. It is not the policy of the American Birth Control League leaders, who in the next issue of their monthly magazine came out with an editorial denouncing this resolution as contrary to all the principles and sentiments of their organization.

If it is desirable for us to make a campaign in favor of contraception, we are abundantly able to do so on our own account, without enrolling a lot of sob sisters, grand stand players, and anarchists to help us. We had a lunatic fringe in the eugenics movement in the early days; we have been trying for 20 years to get rid of it and have finally done so. Let’s not take on another fringe of any kind as an ornament.

Sincerely,

Paul Popenoe

Acknowledged eugenics leader Popenoe called Sanger’s group “sob sisters” and a “fringe.” The principle leaders in the movement to enact sterilization laws were people like Popenoe, Davenport, and Laughlin. Continue reading “Eugenics and Republicans: What Dinesh D’Souza Should Learn from History”

Note to Mark Driscoll: Racism Doesn't Evolve from Evolution

See updates at the end…
Although he doesn’t believe in Malthusian eugenics now, Mark Driscoll told his The Trinity Church audience on Sunday that he once did. Watch:

Transcript:

Some would say, Pastor Mark, I disagree with you. Let me speak to you very personally. You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Now I know you’re not supposed to say it like that, but if you don’t say it like that, people are confused, so let me make it clear.
I started in a home, my parents were um, Irish Catholic, okay? So we were the O’Driscolls from County Cork, southern Ireland, and Catholics are pro-life. I somehow grew up, and I started studying in high school, and I was a debater, and a thinker, and a bit of a hack philosopher. And I came to actually take not only a pro-choice position, but a pro-abortion position. Forced population controls.
So when Gracie and I met, she came from a pastor’s home, she was strongly pro-life, and I was strongly pro-abortion. And we would have these debates. And we were friends in high school. And she was right, and I won the debates, because I’m a terrible person to debate. My mom said it was like raising a small attorney. That’s what it was like. So I can debate, I can think on my feet, I can articulate a position, and I can win a debate, even when I’m wrong. And so I would win these debates with Grace, and she would get very frustrated, because she was right and I was wrong.
And I came to believe in the position, for a while, end of high school, early college, called Malthusian eugenics. Now if you’ve done your homework, I’ve done mine, too. I probably know your arguments and I could probably argue your arguments. And it comes out of this evolutionary belief that certain people and races are more evolved and fit than others. And that other races are less fit and less evolved, and as a result, we should terminate the life of those who are less fit, so the race can excel.
This Malthusian eugenics position was held by Nazi Germany. This Malthusian eugenics position was held by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. She was a disciple of Malthus. I read all of their literature, I did my homework, I actually won a high school debate, and a college debate, on this position. I was so good at it, in college, in a large philosophy class, I won the debate, and my professor, who was an African Marxist, asked to mentor me as a student leader for abortion rights.
I did believe for a season, in a full evolutionary ideology, that certain people are more advanced and more valuable than others. We should keep those who are valuable, we should get rid of those who are not valuable, and like all arrogant people, I assumed that I was one of the more valuable evolved ones.
This is why Planned Parenthood puts its clinics historically in poorer neighborhoods to serve certain races, to eliminate certain people from having children and entering the world. You may not have known that, but you can trace the history. Just do your homework. Look at Malthusian eugenics, and look at the history of Margaret Sanger.

I asked a former insider at Mars Hill Church if Driscoll ever mentioned these views. The source had never heard about the debate victories but had heard in general terms about an interest in Malthus. Although he did mention the debates in this Mars Hill Church article, it is a little hard to place when his African Marxist professor wanted to recruit him based on the history he described in Real Marriage.
In any case, I post this because I want to address a misconception about those who accept the scientific foundations of human evolution. Driscoll implies that those who accept an evolutionary account of origins also believe in eugenics.  This, of course, is not true. I accept the evidence for evolution but I certainly don’t believe in eugenics. I work with numerous colleagues here at Grove City College who accept evolution and none of them believe in eugenics.
Holding to an evolutionary account does not require an individual to believe “certain people are more advanced and more valuable than others.” Also, believing God created in six days does not prevent such a belief. I grew up in small town Southern Ohio where many young Earth creationists believed whites were superior to all others.
UPDATE: Wenatchee the Hatchet wonders if Driscoll fully abandoned his Malthusian beliefs. I had forgotten about Driscoll’s quaint “shoot the dogs” strategy of handling underperforming church leaders and strategies. Furthermore, Driscoll’s teachings about demonically inspired “family lines” may reveal left over influence from those Malthusian days. Time will tell if Driscoll continues his Mars Hill mentality at the new church.
UPDATE: I updated the title since some concern was expressed by readers that I focused unnecessarily on Driscoll’s past views. As WtH points out in his post, those views may have infiltrated his current views, but even so, I think the new title (thanks to Ragan Ewing) better captures the reason I posted.
 

Ginsburg Was Right about Abortion and Population Control

In her remarks to Emily Bazelon, which I linked to on Sunday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the following regarding Roe v. Wade, a feminist legal agenda and population control:

Q: If you were a lawyer again, what would you want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.

Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.

Except she wasn’t “altogether wrong” — at least she wasn’t wrong about Roe v. Wade being “set up for Medicaid funding” and population control. Surrounding late 1960s and through the 70s, there was much public debate about the “population explosion.” In 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut struck down a law banning contraceptives. This case helped to establish the right to privacy as based in the Constitution which, in turn, was basis for Roe v. Wade.

As an example of the zeitgeist of the time, here are some excerpts from the 1972 Rockefeller Commission Report on Population Growth and the American Future. The Commission recommended that

…present state laws restricting abortion be liberalized along the lines of the New York statute, such abortion to be performed on request by duly licensed physicians under conditions of medical safety. In carrying out this policy, the Commission recommends:

That federal, state, and local governments make funds available to support abortion services in states with liberalized statutes.

That abortion be specifically included in comprehensive health insurance benefits, both public and private.

Sarah Weddington, co-counsel with her husband Ron Weddington, submitted this report as a part of her brief supporting Roe. Ron Weddington’s views were more pointed. He wrote then President-elect Clinton in 1992 and advised the president-to-be that traditional Democratic programs would not be effective unless Clinton started “immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor segment of our country.” How did Weddington propose to implement this draconian suggestion? He wrote to Clinton:

No I’m not advocating some kind of mass extinction of these unfortunate people. Crime, drugs and disease are already doing that. The problem is that their numbers are not only replaced but increased by the birth of millions of babies to people who cannot afford to have babies.

There I’ve said it. It’s what we all know is true, but we only whisper it, because we are liberals who believe in individual rights, we view any programs which might treat the disadvantaged as discriminatory, mean-spirited and well…so Republican.

…government is going to have to provide vasectomies, tubal ligations and abortions…RU486 and conventional abortions.

Weddington ended his letter with more words of sympathy for the children of poor families—and the need to prevent their existence:

We don’t need more cannon fodder. We don’t need more parishioners. We don’t need more cheap labor. We don’t need more poor babies.

So where Ginsburg was altogether wrong was not in her understanding of one of the forces behind Roe v. Wade. Where she was wrong was in her understanding of the High Court in the subsequent decisions regarding public funding of abortion. In any case, Ginsburg has been a consistent champion of tax-payer funding for abortions, even when she thought one purpose of Roe was to curb growth of “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

For Weddington such a policy seemed to be “discriminatory, mean-spirited and well…so Republican.” However, Ginsburg views public financing of abortion as a way to reduce, what she perceives as, gender discrimination. Which is it?

One thing seems sure. The issue of public abortion funding is as current as now. Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee rejected a bid by GOP Senators to eliminate abortion as a benefit in any government subsidized health reform package. If abortion as a benefit survives, then it will no doubt be challenged in the courts, eventually reaching the Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg is ready.

UPDATE: Since it is relevant to the above topic, I want to include the entire article by Paul Kengor and I and posted at World magazine on 7/16/09. In it, we find more information about what Ginsburg may have meant by “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

Disturbing Declarations

As Sonia Sotomayor was readying for her confirmation hearings, The New York Times Magazine cast a loving gaze toward the lone female Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In so doing, the Times inadvertently shed light on some remarkable thinking by Justice Ginsburg. Those thoughts are so bracing that they ought to upstage the abortion questions surrounding the Sotomayor nomination.

Ginsburg long ago declared her support for Roe v. Wade. Now, however, she has declared something more.

When the subject in her interview with the Times’ Emily Bazelon turned to abortion, Ginsburg said, “Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. . . . So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.”

Bazelon then asked, “Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?”

Ginsburg replied, “Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae-in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.”

Ginsburg is correct in noting that concerns about population growth animated many of those who backed Roe v. Wade. For instance, Sarah Weddington, co-counsel in Roe, along with her then-husband, Ron, wrote in her book A Question of Choice that team Weddington submitted as evidence the controversial 1972 Rockefeller Commission Report on Population Growth and the American Future, which included a call for public funding of abortion.

As for Ron Weddington, his views are even more direct, as was evident in a January 1993 letter to President-elect Bill Clinton. Weddington advised Clinton to strive “immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor segment of our country.”

How did Weddington propose to implement this draconian suggestion? In his letter to Clinton, he candidly wrote, “[G]overnment is going to have to provide vasectomies, tubal ligations and abortions . . . RU486 and conventional abortions.”

Weddington ended his letter with more words of sympathy for the poor: “We don’t need more cannon fodder. We don’t need more parishioners. We don’t need more cheap labor. We don’t need more poor babies.”

A year later it was Clinton who appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. For Ginsburg, that path was paved with help from one of the Weddingtons. As Sarah Weddington said in a 2007 interview, “I’ve also known Ruth Bader Ginsburg for years, and helped her get her appointment.”

Thanks to The New York Times Magazine, it looks like the Weddingtons and Ginsburg may be kindred spirits more than we had realized.

In fact, the Times piece prompts us to reconsider previous Ginsburg statements relating to “populations” that the justice doesn’t “want to have too many of.”

For instance, in an April 6, 1984, address to the University of North Carolina School of Law, published in the North Carolina Law Review, Justice Ginsburg described a 1971 speech where she faced tough questions on abortion policy:

“The questions were pressed by black men. The suggestion, not thinly veiled, was that legislative reform and litigation regarding abortion might have less to do with individual autonomy or discrimination against women than with restricting population growth among oppressed minorities. The strong word ‘genocide’ was uttered more than once. It is a notable irony that as constitutional law in this domain has unfolded, women who are not poor have achieved access to abortion with relative ease; for poor women, however, a group in which minorities are disproportionately represented, access to abortion is not markedly different from what it was in pre-Roedays.”

Ironic indeed. Instead of reducing “cannon fodder and cheap labor” via abortion, as the Weddingtons of the world had hoped, the Supreme Court upheld congressional bans on federal funding of abortion. According to her recent interview, Ginsburg was surprised the court upheld such bans. She continues to lament the fact that government does not fund abortions. Why?

Ginsburg’s comments to The New York Times Magazine open a floodgate of disturbing questions regarding a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Perhaps even more amazing than her comments was the lack of clarification or follow up from theTimes. Maybe another newspaper can do the job. These questions are too serious to be left to speculation.

While I think Ginsburg would be fine with expanded access to abortion for poor women, I am not sure she believes poor women should be targeted. She believes all women should have access to abortion. She was repeating the irony that at least some of those who advocated for abortion wanted to reduce poor populations but, as it turned out, affluent women have access whereas many poor women don’t.

To me, an appropriate move would be to restrict abortion to medical necessity for rich and poor women and reject any elitist notion that poor people can be reduced by abortion. As those black men protested and Ginsburg acknowledged, such policies have unacceptable adverse effects on minorities.

What did Justice Ruth Ginsburg mean when she said “populations that we don’t want to have too many of”?

Read this GetReligion post and ask yourself, what could she possibly mean?

This section of a New York Magazine article out this week is what is at the focus of what should be significant controversy.

Q: If you were a lawyer again, what would you want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.

Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.

Roe was decided in the way it was to curb population growth? — “…particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

Which populations would those be, Justice Ginsburg?

And we may never know because the no one writing for a big paper or news outlet (save the UK Telegraph) has picked up this story.

Message to the US Senate: Please ask Sotomayor if she believes Roe was decided in order to help set up Medicaid funding to support aborting certain populations.