2015/03/20

Brief Views on Early New England


If ten people were to focus on the same aspect of time, all ten individuals would have different and unique perspectives on it. One person may see abundance, peace, and joy... while another sees pain, destruction and death. Still another may see parts of both of these views and then add another twist to their vision. I tried to look at some of the history of New England from some of these different perspectives: the people, animals and communities after the the colonies were started in the area of the United States that we still call New England. I also incorporated some commonly known history in the mix...


The most common way to study the history of New England is to study the perspective of the explorers and the reigning government's point of view. Another perspective is to look at the history from the standpoint from a colonial settler. Living in the 'new' world was hard. Most colonial settlers had no commercial talents – the majority of people came to this world to flee religious persecution, to find land and wealth, or to even try and escape punishment or the gallows for misdeeds such as murder; to have a fresh 'start'. A lot of money and wealth could be made by cutting down trees and shipping the created by-products to England as well as the collection and shipment of fish and other natural resources. However, many settlers had to learn that money can not be 'eaten' and couldn't be used to purchase food where none was available/grown. The major commodity for making money was through trees and created wood products- masts, casks, tools, lumber for construction, barrels, etc... This created the incentive for individuals to sell all the resources available...leaving none for yourself, your family or your community. From the settlers point of view, the land was a God given right, a place of hardship and work, but a place of potential- a new world of wonders and great fertility.

Another way to study the history of New England is to study it from the perspective of the beaver. In the world that the beaver inhabited before the arrival of the Europeans, the beaver was a king. It manipulated the physical environment more than any other animal on the continent... besides us. :) Through the efforts of the beaver, many trees were felled or downed, soil erosion was controlled as the water table rose, new homes are created for animals and fish, and new meadows would develop over time. Beavers had been on this continent for millions of years, and lived building dens and traveling over land and water. They were difficult for their predators to catch and the life they set up for themselves and their progeny was quite successful. The arrival of the Europeans found an animal quite spread out over its environment and in control of its land. Unfortunately for the beaver, the fact that their fur
was easily used to imitated a type of hat manufacturing already in existence in Europe created a further incentive to kill the beaver after if was discovered by the new settlers. In humans, the beaver found the ultimate apex predator who would chase them out of the water to kill them, had a significant incentive to do so, and would do so at will. Due to the economic inequality between the Europeans, the trade desires between the Indians and new settlers, and the profit margin of upwards of 2000% on the fur, beavers suffered horribly. It is believed that only the laws created by the early American government to control and limit the use of beaver products saved the animal from extinction. The beavers lost their land, safety and even the possibility to survive without the intervention of the same species who had brought them to near annihilation. The difference between these two histories in some ways is plain. It can certainly be said that the beaver's history in some ways mirrors the history of the Native Americans- both groups had made themselves comfortable and relatively at peace and in harmony with the land... the coming of the European settlers not only spelled the near annihilation of both groups, but also their loss of land, food, harmony and peace.

The relationship between Blacks and Indians in the colonial South is a bit complicated. Both Blacks and Indians could and had been enslaved by the white Europeans, but the rules of bondage that were held in the laws were interpreted more harshly for blacks. Many Indian tribes accepted runaway slaves into their tribes and intermarriage was acceptable in most of these cases. However, many Indian tribes would turn in runaway slaves and would get benefits and rewards for doing so. In some cases such as the Seminole tribe, Indians would also own blacks as slaves and at the end of the civil war, some tribes had to actually be forced to free their slaves. Europeans would in some cases cause problems between both of these groups by suggesting to members that the other group was working against them; i.e. Indians would be told that Blacks were working against them, etc.... Some sources suggest that working to cause and develop racism in Indian tribes against African Americans was part of
the early government's public policy. Europeans tried to stop the flow of runaway slaves to Indian tribes and even signed treaties with some tribes with the agreement that these tribes would return runaway slaves- most who signed did not follow through and did not return the runaway slaves. The reality is that Indian tribes welcomed runaway blacks into their folds for the most part which caused President Andrew Jackson to fight with and push the Indians out of many of their lands. In the area we now call Florida, so many blacks were escaping from Georgia and living with Indians that the local Indian tribes were seen as a threat for that reason alone. Some of the ways that these groups tried to deal with their conditions was to hold tight to their cultures (although some groups allowed forms of assimilation), some grew foods from their native lands and others tried to find other ways to find peace with their situation. Some ran away, assimilated, or found justification in exploiting others like their European counterparts.


There are a few differences between an organic and an inorganic economy. An organic economy consists of natural resources such as wind, water, animal and human labor. Inorganic economy consists of iron ore, charcoal, etc... In many instances the resources that make up an organic economy as more easily expanded and grown that those that govern the inorganic economy. Human labor is renewable through rest and the importation of servants, slaves and explorers. Wind and water are fairly abundant and while less controllable than human labor, they can be created, collected, and harnessed to squeeze all the available resourcs out of them. Animals can be bred, imported and even trained fairly easily. However, sources such as iron ore are not quickly duplicated. Iron takes a long time for nature to develop and charcoal can be made, but it takes a lot of 'waste' or resource usage to create a small amount of charcoal. So an inorganic economy can be made, but is a riskier
proposition- you risk the loss of the economy when resources run out... if you do not have a strong organic economy you risk starvation, etc... The Europeans focused so much in some cases on the creation for wealth through inorganic economies that they had to buy or steal food from the Indians to survive and some laws had to be passed in some areas that required the growth of grain if you participated in a part of the economy that did not actual create food. Learning about this phenomenon was really interesting because I was a little shocked that people would 'forget' or would be unwilling to waste their 'time' growing food... but would want to eat it later. In many ways we have that same economy today where people have separated themselves from the growing and making of their food... and our farmers can be quite poor even though they work really hard and product an important commodity. In many ways we still 'despise' this labor even as we eat from it.

The importance of Christopher Columbus's report to Queen Isabella cannot be understated. His report of a new land filled with potential converts to the Christian religion, gold and other riches, but most importantly.... land for the taking after conquering was staggering and exciting! While this news was important to the Queen and to Spain, the rest of Europe was also in a situation that caused desperation and it was only a matter of weeks before the letter that Christopher Columbus had written to the Queen had been translated, copied and traveled throughout all of Europe by other travelers and pilgrims, traders,and armies. Soon other countries were arming ships to head to the new land with people who had nothing to lose in the hopes for land, a better life, and riches to gain in the new world. Spain started the lead for colonies first, and when England had fought and beaten the Spanish army, the English came and started their own settlements. Other countries soon followed created French and Dutch colonies and more rivalries for land and resources.

Until the arrival of the Spanish, horses were not an animal known to the Americas since the prehistoric ice age. However, the Spanish brought them in abundance to the Americas to aid in their conquest of the native populations and it is thanks to the horse that Pizarro and his Spanish army conquered the local populations in such a small period of time (the diseases that the Spanish brought with them muct also be given some credit, but I digress :). As some horses escaped and became wild, a new breed of horse was developed that we today call the mustang. This breed became extremely numerous and they populated the land across the continent- the horses didn't stay in the 'conquered' lands. These large groups of wild horses changed the way that the Native Americans lived in a dramatic way. Horses gave the native populations new ways to do almost everything. They could fight, hunt and travel on horses and this 'blessing' transformed their lives. Some tribes become more nomadic as moving farther distances was easier/ possible and horses became a new part of the Indian's culture and lifestyle. It seems almost rare to hear about the culture of Indians and not hear about the horse. The horse becomes a symbol of the Indian's culture and life to the Europeans and their future progeny... even though the history of Native Americans is thousands of years long and their history with the horse is only a few centuries.

Pigs were brought from Europe with the explorers and they were a blessing to these non-native people. Pigs are prolific, small, not too picky about food, easy to care for and are willing to look after themselves. Some pigs were let loose into the 'wilderness' on purpose- with markings on their ears to show ownership- and then were hunted as needed by their European owners. This way their owners didn't have to care for them and just 'collected' their property when needed. As the Americas were conquered by the Spaniards, the pigs helped the conquerors by attacking and eating the local native's crops of corn- they competed with Indians for the Indian's food. Native Americans didn't fence their fields and so wild pigs were able to eat the small shoats and cultivated crops of the natives. (Between pigs and the entitlement felt by the Europeans that they could take the native's seed corn whenever they wanted to, the Native Americans must have felt quite trapped and desperate... which explains some of their aggression towards the incomers. Within a few generations, there would be tens of thousands of wild pigs which became more aggressive over time and developed tusks... becoming a serious and daily problem for the Native Americans.


The Europeans reacted to the seemingly endless supply of trees and fish with joy and greed. Europe was desperate for both wood and fish and the 'new world' seemed to be overabundant and unending in these resources. The land is describes as having rivers with more fish than water and trees that are so numerous that a squirrel can go from the north of the country to the south without ever touching the ground. The newcomers saw it as their 'duty' to tame the forests and civilize the land for God. So the forests are cut down for building and 'needs' for not only this new land, but the lands of Spain and the Old World. Fish were harvested as if there would always be an overabundance so it
took only 200 years to over-fish the Americas. Wood was taken so quickly that some areas in the Americas were literally denuded of trees – and this 'new world' begins to look like the land that they left. For the settlers, someone who owned land would be able to sell the fish for money or other goods creating wealth- and since the land wasn't owned, the land's resources cost nothing. I think it is safe to say that both wood and fish were harvested with only greed and need in mind and not conservation or with the thought that the resources might potentially be limited. Both of these resources with be overused and run low... and were probably a factor in the fight for independence from the European powers... it would allow those that lived in the Americas to keep more of the resources to themselves and not have the largest share (or what was left) travel across the seas.


The animals that were brought over from Europe such as the horse and pig changed the landscape of the American continent in many ways and the arrival of women and their animals also create great change. Women brought the way of life that they were used to in Europe which included plants such as wheat, barley, fig trees, olives, bananas, other fruit trees, etc … and animals such as goats, chickens, sheep, cows, etc…. Through these passengers that traveled to the America's, other 'tagalongs' such as weeds like dandelions and European insects (including bees) arrive and start to populate the environment. With all of these changes, the Americas and it's land literally fall under an environmental revolution as the land becomes a mirror image of the European lands that these people have left behind. The land was invaded by all of these animals and the new plants and the land is forever changed through the trampling and domination of the new animal population. In the end, the settlers do not have to tame the land... they practice environmental imperialism and conquer the land itself, bending it to their will and leaving death, destruction and sometimes extinction to the native flora and fauna that were once strong. One quote I found stated- “livestock and grains changed this world into a true New England.” The land was permanently changed and today looks nothing like it did before the Europeans arrived.

The new discoveries of resources in the Americas created a demand for luxury goods that were purely American products. Fur and other 'hide' products became in high demand and some animals (such as beavers) were hunted almost to extinction... (But I bet everyone in England and some of the other European countries look very fashionable in their fur coats and beaver hats. :) The land was quickly cleared for gardens and orchards/plantations and the demand for fruit from the 'New World' is high in Europe. Sugar and tobacco (the luxury goods with highest demand) were also desired luxury items which were packed and shipped in large amounts to Europe. To satisfy the large demand of these products in the Old World, huge plantations or large mono-cultures were developed that stretched over enormous swaths of land and Africans are captured, forcibly immigrated, and then compelled to work these huge areas/ plantations for the profit of the white Europeans. These African slaves were needed as the Native American population could not really be enslaved – too many of them had been killed or died out from the new diseases brought by the European immigrations. The downside of growing sugar and tobacco is that they really can not be eaten(for nourishment and health)and these plants tend to rape the soil of all it nutrients. So growing these products in many ways required the development of slavery and the loss of forests as more land had to be cleared to grow these crops when current fields were no longer fertile. The upside is that sugar tastes really good... sorry, couldn't help that comment. :)



The discovery of the potato took a few centuries to really take hold in Europe, but when it does it becomes a necessary and needful food item for the poor as a healthful and nutritious product. Potatoes are introduced to Spain and from there to Europe and it is embraced in Ireland. Ireland is constantly short of food for its population due to bad land, wars, exc... The potato is easy to grow and has less chances in war time of being burned and destroyed. The population in Ireland will more than double due to the potato and other towns in Europe with explode in population due to the impact of this easy to grow tuber. The fact that potatoes also have a goodly amount of nutrients including vitamin C (which helps prevent scurvy) made them an indispensable food for a moving and financially strapped population.


The impact that the new diseases brought from Europe had on the native populations was nothing short of devastating. Conservative death estimates suggest that around 50% of these native populations died, but it appears that the estimates that suggest death numbers might be over 90% mortality may be a lot more accurate. Historians are still trying to discover all the diseases that were spread and to grasp a clear and accurate mortality number, but we are sure that one of the diseases that caused such devastation was smallpox and, because the virus was so strong and traveled so easily, many populations of native tribes fell to the disease and death without ever meeting any of the Europeans who originally brought the disease to their lands. Another disease that is know to have causes large scale death and destruction to the Native Americans was influenza. Neither of these diseases was known in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans so no native animal or person was immune from these diseases and had little to no defense. As the Native Americans fell sick and perished (and their civilizations failed), the Europeans would give thanks to God and see the death/destruction of the natives as a blessing and a mandate from God; that the land was theirs to tame and occupy, that the natives were sinners, etc... and not worthy of the land, and that the land was a gift from God for them. These thoughts and prejudices allow the settlers to see themselves as the true owners of the land and to see themselves as better and more worthy than the native populations. These viewpoints would justify the exploitation of the land and the European settlers would feel justified in their minds that their actions were right and appropriate... and not greedy and unrighteous. It allowed them to look at the natives and label them 'savages' and other forms of animals - not actually human beings like unto themselves (and God's image).

Some of these views we as a human race are still struggling with. Racism, exploitation, belief in Godly entitlement... these are all viewpoints that can easily be found on a daily basis in our communities. I wish I had easy answers to solve the problem but I really don't. What I know I can do is work to change myself and work to create change in my community. What do you think? What are you doing?


pictures from: http://www.instantshift.com/2010/08/24/88-brilliant-examples-of-forced-perspective-photography/, http://www.albinocrowgallery.com/murals.html, http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/animals-ecology/beaver-damn-climate-change-17122014/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_among_Native_Americans_in_the_United_States, https://www.pinterest.com/russellgavin/black-native-americansmixed-race/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_slave_trade, http://www.billsbearrugs.com/clearance/, http://natureworksct.blogspot.com/2012/03/grow-food.html, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/05/21/american-history-myths-debunked-columbus-might-have-been-jewish-and-other-unknown-facts, http://myhorse.com/blogs/horse-breeds-information/wild-or-rescued-horses/colorado-state-university-researchers-try-birth-control-vaccine-on-wild-horse-herd/, http://research.cnr.ncsu.edu/blogs/news/2011/05/04/wild-hogs-researchers-examine-impact-of-feral-pigs-in-eastern-n-c/, http://inhabitat.com/epa-declares-more-than-half-of-us-rivers-unfit-for-aquatic-life/, http://miriadna.com/wallpapers/forest, http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Dandelion.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver_hat, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato, http://espressostalinist.com/genocide/native-american-genocide/

2015/03/17

Eugenics in America After 1945: Term Post #2


...Here are some examples:

North Carolina had a sterilization program in place from 1929-1974 in which approximately 7,600 individuals were sterilized with over 70% of those coming after 1945 when the program expanded after World War II. One unique aspect of North Carolina's laws was that they were written allowing people to be recommended for sterilization by doctors, social workers and other government employees they dealt with in their communities and homes. About 85% of those referred for sterilization were women. One guideline for sterilization was if a person had an IQ of less than 70. In July 2013, the state set aside ten million dollars for compensation to the verifiable victims of this program of which approximately 3000 are thought to be still alive.

In the 1950’s, black women in the south became targets of forced sterilization via tubal litigation or hysterectomy, commonly referred to by women as “Mississippi appendectomies,” because women entered hospitals to have abdominal surgery and left unknowingly without their uteri. In 1972, testimony before a US Senate committee brought to light at least 2,000 involuntary sterilizations that had been performed on poor black women who were mothers with multiple children. They were usually told that their appendix needed to be removed and were sterilized at that time or at the birth of a child, especially if the women was unmarried. There is evidence that many women may never have known why they couldn't conceive.


Forced sterilization practices changed and were focused on specific populations in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s through newly established federal family planning programs. Mexican and Mexican-American women were coerced or tricked into forced sterilization at the Women’s hospital of the University of Southern California- Los Angeles County Medical Center. Public concerns that the rise in Mexican immigration was overpopulating the state and purposely expanding state welfare needs was high. The idea that women became pregnant and then worked their way across the American – Mexican border to give birth and give themselves and their new family a secure financial benefit through the various welfare programs available is still an active concern in our present political climate. There is no known number of how many involuntary and coerced sterilizations there were before the federal class court case Madrigal v. Quilligan - a lawsuit brought against a hospital and their doctors by some women who discovered their unwanted sterilization. However, statistics show that elective hysterectomies had a 742% increase and tubal ligations a 470% increase within a two year time frame. At least 140 women shared their stories of being forced to agree or not being given any kind of informed consent at all. Some described situations that can only be described as blackmail. i.e.; I will not give you pain medication to finish your labor and delivery unless you comply. The lead defendant in the court case, Dr. Edward Quilligan, was quoted by a medical technician as stating, “poor minority women in L.A. County were having too many babies; that it was a strain on society; and that it was good that they be sterilized.” The plaintiffs lost their case, but the case did change and created stronger informed consent rules through legislation in California including bilingual language on the consent forms.

In 1955, the federal government changed the way that health care for Native American populations was provided. Depending on many factors, the quality of care throughout the Indian Health System varied considerably due to individual facilities, staff opinions/prejudices, and changes in 'coverage' due to Congressional appropriation hearings and decisions. These changes had some significant benefits as the new program was much better funded which helped increase services and decrease mortality. Another potential benefit which was added was the provision of family planning services. On reservations, Native American women became targets of physicians employed by the Indian Health Services who believed that restricting these women’s reproduction would reduce their poverty and dependence on the state. Through the
sharing of stories, complaints of coercion or harassment, and from research and interviews preformed through investigations, it is estimated that IHS hospitals and their affiliates sterilized between 25 and 42 percent of all Native American women of childbearing age between 1970 and 1976. Even with mandated changes requiring informed consent, added waiting periods and added safeguards, in 1974 more accusations cropped up that IHS staff in some places were not following the new guidelines and questionable sterilizations were still taking place - almost all subsidized with federal funds. Evidence shows that these types of experiences not only changed the relationships between Native Americans and the government/Indian Health System but also caused significant changes in an individual’s life and their standing in the community, as well causing economic and familial harm- some marital relationship were also severed over the procedure. In 1976, Congress passed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act which gave tribes the right to control Indian Health Service programs and there is no evidence that inappropriate sterilizations have happened after that time.

In case we believe that our society’s beliefs and behavior has changed since the late 1970's, we have other more recent examples. In 1909, California was the third state to pass a eugenics sterilization law and over the years had sterilized around 20,000 patients or around 1/3 of all the sterilizations in the country. That law was finally repealed in 1979 after a lawsuit by several women who had been coerced or forced into their own sterilizations. Yet, at least 148 women incarcerated in four California prisons were illegally sterilized in the years 2006-2011 costing the state $147,460 for the procedures. One of the physicians, Dr. James Heinrich, has stated that the practice of sterilizing female prisoners saves the state money because the patients would no longer have “unwanted children as they procreated more.” Auditors found in those cases that sometimes paperwork was altered to look like compliance with current laws was achieved and in many cases, no informed consent was attained. On September 25, 2014 California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill prohibiting forced sterilization in the state.

That the United States has not been able to shake the ideas and prejudices that informed and created the original Eugenics movement. Today eugenical ideas and procedures are still officially permitted. Voluntary sterilization for therapeutic or for reproductive reasons is a great blessing for thousands of people and should be accessible for those who need it. However, its availability gives eugenic proponents the tools they need to pressure individuals to give up their dignity and human right to reproduction. Some women may lose that right without being told of the procedure or are given false information such as it is reversible. There is even incidental evidence that federal money is being spent on experiments and science that are clearly eugenic in nature. In the end, eugenics is still very much successful in America. I am aware that I personally fit several of the ideals for eugenic sterilization –I am so myopic I am considered legally blind, suffer from celiac disease, and have two other severe medical issues as well as PTSD, and severe sensory/ anxiety issues. I have given birth to a child that also has problems with celiac disease, has sensory problems and had seizures for seven years before outgrowing them. And yet, my son is a wonderful human being and he is well liked in his community. He is smart and compassionate in spite of his disabilities and my life wouldn’t really feel worth much without him. I have chosen to not have any more children and being able to make that choice for myself is one of the most wonderful things I appreciate in my life. I am hopeful that as society recognizes the individual worth of all individuals, may the concept of eugenics pass away… and rest in peace.



pictures from: http://www.carolinapublicpress.org/9854/house-passes-eugenics-compensation-bill, http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-american-eugenics-movement-after-world-war-ii-part-1-of-3/Content?oid=2468789&storyPage=3, http://gloriamolina.org/2014/01/15/looking-back/, http://www.quora.com/Native-Americans, http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/SD/SD.html, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jul/12/opinion/la-ed-sterilization-female-prisoners-california-20130712, http://www.examiner.com/article/illegal-sterilizations-forced-on-women-california-prisons, http://rt.com/usa/167660-california-illegal-sterilization-women/

2015/03/16

Eugenics in America After 1945: Term Post #1


The study of human history shows the many achievements and journeys of our race. From our humble beginnings, through the development of culture, religion, communities, hierarchy and power structures, to what and who we are today... well, as a less-than-humble commercial suggests- 'You've come a long way, Baby!’ The path to the twenty-first century has not been smooth nor painless and, like our predecessors, we view ourselves, our lives, and our world as an improved and civilized place with the human race as the most intelligent and virtuous beings on it. Looking at the history of the human race, I see many recurring themes that are a part of every society; hope, love, beauty, want, etc. The theme of self-improvement or change that benefits ourselves and, in turn, society has been a reappearing idea that became more pronounced after the Enlightenment and the Renaissance along with the concept of improving groups of people to improve society. However, like all virtues, self-improvement or personal development can come with a dark side that is exposed when the virtue itself is placed on a pedestal or idolized without regard to the thoughts and rights of those we consider 'lesser' than us. When this happens, any noble or virtuous ideas are shown to be the shallow horrors that they can become ... the virtue is pulled and stretched out of its normal view to a pained and stretched mask of what it actually is. During the twentieth century, the themes of human breeding, genetics, prejudice, self-improvement and social progress collided to serve the virtue of better breeding and health of human beings. Eugenics, which means 'well born', was created in
America. This movement was so strong and large that it was able to spread into other cultures and countries before its horrors and Machiavellianism tendencies became apparent enough to create a sizeable opposition that attempted to crush it. In response to the common belief that eugenics was no longer an important movement after World War II, I will discuss briefly the history of eugenics in the United States before WWII and then analyze the way the movement changed after the war. I will show that the ideas behind eugenics are still alive, well and being acted upon in our society today. Recognizing the way the movement itself has adapted to our changing culture and its opposition helps place us in an informed position to focus on the fearful and reactive areas of ourselves and our society so we may work to create a more lasting and peaceful change in our thoughts and fears. Hopefully, that will help us change how we act upon our fears and prejudices and how we justify acting on them in our communities and society.

The idea of eugenics is a simple idea with more complex answers. The word was coined in 1883 by Sir Francis Galton who advocated the scientific regulation of human breeding to ensure that 'better' genes had a larger chance of predominating in the continuation of the human species. Eugenics encompassed the progress of medical practice and scientific thought and recognized the inseparable relationship between medicine and social progress. To be blunt, the idea of the eugenics movement was that better breeding would lead to a healthier population and was an effective way to deal with social problems. It provided a comfortable way to rationalize people's prejudices about race, poverty, etc... and also suggested that 'undesirable traits' could be minimized within a few generations if people were only brave and good enough to work towards it. Undesirable traits that were thought
to be correctable through eugenical reproduction included epilepsy and other physical disabilities, alcoholism, tendencies towards rape (rapists), and other criminal behavior, promiscuity, and more. Races and immigrants that were not of Anglo-Saxon heritage were also of 'suspect' genetic material and poverty was thought to be a characteristic of genetic inferiority. Always a controversial movement, eugenics has had its loyal adherents since its conception and even the tragedy and knowledge of the German Holocaust in World War II didn't change those who believed and followed its tenets. Before the war, it was common to institutionalize the ‘feebleminded’ or those that those in power worried about reproducing. The rationale was that the only way to stop a living being from reproducing was to limit its movements, monitor it in risky situations, or make it biologically impossible for breeding to take place. Institutions for those who were ill, the ‘feebleminded’ or those who had medical difficulties were created to isolate and remove those individuals from active society. Laws were passed that forbade marriages between people who had specific medical or mental health problems. However, locking people up costs a lot of money and the inability to remove everyone from the community that fit the criteria (due to lack of funds or institutional space) made the original eugenics process less effective than its early adherents wished. Sterilization allowed the individuals to be released back into their local communities to support themselves while not crating any more individuals like ‘them’. Because of that, sterilization became the easy, cheap, and irreversible weapon in the eugenics supporter’s arsenal.

The Holocaust did shift some of the popular views of how eugenics should work, but didn’t change any of the eugenic and popular thoughts of a large part of the populace nor did it change the most popular procedures that were used. In 1927, psychologist George Ordahl explained at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco that if it was possible to calculate “the economic burden of the moron” that [was] paid for by taxpayers, “every patriotic citizen would become a eugenicist in search of methods of prevention even more drastic than any now known.” The tone may have softened since WWII, but not by much. Dr. Charles Gamble wrote in 1947, “Tomorrow's population should be produced by today's best human material” and he complain[ed] that only one in forty-one people with severe mental illness had been sterilized, leaving dozens of others to spread defective genes. In 1966, C. Lee Buxton published an article titled
“The Doctor’s Responsibility in Population Control” in which he reminded his colleges that “medical responsibility demands more action than just passing resolutions and making recommendations...” and advocated sterilization as a solution to the ‘problem’ of unwed mothers on welfare. In his view, the problem was multiplying “because the medical profession has controlled the death rate but has done very little about the birth rate.” The exact number of women- for women were by far the more common victims of eugenics- involuntarily sterilized after the end of World War II into the 1980’s remains unknown due to the lack of collected statistics, listings in medical records of coerced sterilizations as ‘voluntary’, the social and reluctance of women to file formal complaints, and the ignorance of individuals who never knew or were never told that they had been sterilized. (The reason I stop at the 1980’s is due to a lack of information on current trends.)

Euthanasia programs never gained popular ground in the Unites States, but did have their supporters before WWII. One egregious example is Dr. Harry Haiselden who advocated and practiced denial of life saving treatment (even of newborns) and thought it was acceptable for an institution to give inmates tuberculosis through infected milk because only those with ‘defective’ genes would get the disease and die. In the end, after the Holocaust, sterilization was the procedure of choice and was perfectly legal through the decision in Buck vs Bell decided by the Supreme Court. This court decision has never been overturned and has been used to support involuntary sterilizations since its publication and over the last sixty years. Here are some examples....



pictures from: https://mediachecker.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/bill-gates-its-gods-work-monsanto-vaccines-eugenics/, http://www.uvm.edu/~eugenics/whatis1.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Galton, http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-horrifying-american-roots-of-nazi.html, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/05/darwin_day_in_may_buck_vs_bell003669.html, http://galleryhip.com/american-eugenics.html, http://365daysofthis.blogspot.com/2013/02/define-eugenics.html
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2015/03/15

Eugenics in America after World War II /1945 : An Introduction to the Term Paper

I know a few people have been waiting for this paper so here it is! I will need to break up the paper into a few posts but it will give a very basic outline of eugenics before World War II and our influence on other countries… and then move into how eugenics changed and what groups were affected by these legal policies. I do give current examples when I was able to find some and I am hopeful that after I share this research, maybe we can have a discussion about how to create community awareness and change in our areas…..

Here is my abstract paragraph:

The study of human history shows the many achievements and journeys of our race. From our humble beginnings, through the development of culture, religion, communities, hierarchy and power structures, to what and who we are today... well, as a less-than-humble commercial suggests- 'You've come a long way, Baby!' The path to the twenty-first century has not been smooth nor painless and, like our predecessors, we view ourselves, our lives, and our world as an improved and civilized place with the human race as the most intelligent and virtuous beings on it. Looking at the history of the human race, I see many recurring themes that are a part of every society; hope, love, beauty, want, etc. The theme of self-improvement or change that benefits ourselves and, in turn, society has been a reappearing idea that became more pronounced after the Enlightenment and the Renaissance along with the concept of improving groups of people to improve society. However, like all virtues, self-improvement or personal development can come with a dark side that is exposed when the virtue itself is placed on a pedestal or idolized without regard to the thoughts and rights of those we consider 'lesser' than us. When this happens, any noble or virtuous ideas are shown to be the shallow horrors that they can become ... the virtue is pulled and stretched out of its normal view to a pained and stretched mask of what it actually is. During the twentieth century, the themes of human breeding, genetics, prejudice, self-improvement and social progress collided to serve the virtue of better breeding and health of human beings. Eugenics, which means 'well born', was born and This movement was created in America and was so strong and large that it was able to spawn into other cultures and countries before its horrors and Machiavellianism tendencies became apparent enough to create a sizeable opposition that attempted to crush it. In response to the common belief that eugenics was no longer an important movement after World War II, I will discuss briefly the history of eugenics in the United States before WWII and then analyze the way the movement changed after the war. I will show that the ideas behind eugenics are still alive, well and being acted upon in our recent history. Recognizing the way the movement itself has adapted to our changing culture and its opposition helps place us in an informed position to focus on the fearful and reactive areas of ourselves and our society so we may work to create a more lasting and peaceful change in our thoughts and fears. Hopefully, that will help us change how we act upon our fears and prejudices and how we justify acting on them in our communities and society.


pictures from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States#/media/File:Eugenics_supporters_hold_signs_on_Wall_Street.jpg, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States

2015/03/13

Thoughts on the Film: "Forgiving Dr. Mengele"


I originally wrote this review last December. I hope you enjoy. :)

It is dark outside and I still see snow on the ground and feel the wind seeping through the cabin walls around me. There is very little moon outside... and so the only light in the room comes from my computer screen and the reflective views of light from my cat's blinking eyes nearby. I cannot see my face nor anything in the room around me, but I can feel the tears on my face as the moisture in them chills on my cheeks and I see the blurring images on the screen through the tears that are still gathering and pooling in my lower lids. This was a very painful and powerful documentary and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn some of the life, deeds and thoughts of Eva Mozes Kor.... prisoner number #8706 in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Germany during World War II.


Eva Kor was one of a set of twins that survived the Holocaust and Dr. Melange’s twin studies in Auschwitz during WWII. Her sister Miriam survived, but later died from complications with her kidneys from the experiments performed on her in the concentration camps. In an attempt to save her sister's life, Eva not only managed to will herself to live through the experimental treatments in the camp- for if she died her sister would be killed- but she donated a kidney to her sister after the war. She also tried to discover the records kept by Dr. Mengele of his experiments to possible help her sister and other victims. Miriam died in 1993 and Eva's efforts towards finding the documents were not successful, but those efforts helped create a group that brought many of the surviving 'twins' together and also brought her to the doorstep of Dr. Hans Munch.... a former SS doctor who knew Dr. Mengele in the past. Dr Munch has been tried for war crimes, but had also been found not guilty due to the number of people who testified that he saved them from death during the Holocaust. Ms Kor contacted him interviewed him looking for information on the experiment or any memories that he might have that could have helped. Dr Munch discussed his thoughts about Mengele and his experiments ('… did things in a very amateurish way) and his memories of Auschwitz – he still has nightmares about the gas chambers. This experience/ opportunity had a very profound impact on Ms Kor and she decided to go to Auschwitz for the anniversary of the liberation of the prisoners. She also made the unusual request that Dr Munch should also attend with her and her family. He agreed and she read out a statement that Dr Munch wrote stating that he was a witness to the 'gas chambers' and it was important to acknowledge his past as a testimony to the deniers and the revisionists of the Holocaust. After a chance emark from a reporter, she too decided to make a statement later . That statement was that for herself, she was forgiving not only Dr Mengele, but all the Nazi's who killed her family and the millions of others who died in the genocide.

Later, Eva opened up a small Holocaust museum in her town and has spent a lot of time traveling, teaching and talking about her experiences. Her work on forgiving Dr Mengele and the Nazi's who harmed her and her family has been met with different responses. Some of the individual twins that survived and were at Auschwitz when she brought Dr Munch were offended and angry. Others over time have been angry and have had negative responses to her talks and her advocating forgiveness as a way of healing. In November 2003, an arsonist successfully burned down the museum destroying almost all of the memorabilia and exhibits housed inside. One the outside of the building, a message was spray painted on the wall; 'Remember Timmy McVeigh'. (I am not really sure I understand what the arsonist was trying to say with that statement. I do not feel like what Timothy McVeigh was trying to express has anything to do with the Holocaust or its education, but I am pretty ignorant on all of his radical goals so there might be a clear link I haven't recognized.) She has begun rebuilding the museum and continues to travel and teach about the Holocaust and her experiences.

“... to forgive that God of Auschwitz. Me, the little nothing... I might as well forgive everybody.”
“It time to forgive, but not forget. It is time to heal our souls.” - Eva Kor

One thing that I found while listening to Ms Kor was the idea that she thought/thinks of herself as 'nothing' in comparison to Dr Mengele. In the documentary, the doctor was described as an individual who was at the forefront of German science and genetic research. In other research and testimony from survivors, his near obsession with twins and with his job as one of the doctors of Auschwitz camp is mentioned and some suggest that he went out of his way to work and make medical and life/death decisions for prisoners even when he was off duty. To be fair, before the war all of his studies were connected scientifically and for the most part ethically as well toward test subjects. It was only in the concentration camps where the life, death or pain of his subjects no longer mattered and so his studies and research were able to be given more of a full range in regards to his ideas and curiosity. It was here that Eva Kor, her sister, many other sets of twins as well as large populations of Jewish, Roma or other 'undesirable' individuals fell under his 'care' and supervision. In his work and what we know of it, Dr. Mengele tortured and killed hundreds if not more (depending on if you count arrivals to the camp in his numbers) and she is very lucky to have survived at all. To think of him as a 'God' seems so offensive to me and yet, I see it clearly. In his capacity, Dr Mengele had many of the powers that we ascribe to our deities (both good and bad). I can see the image of her- of myself- struggling to recognize that while the power situations are different, the human beings involved are equal... the same.... we are 'one'. To recognize that powerful fact is sometimes a hard and amazing moment. To seize the opportunity that she did within herself is simply breathtaking.

“... the pain of the shots that Mengele did to us...” - Pearl Pufeles

I just got shots in both my shoulders at the beginning of the week. For my internship in a doctor's office next year, I am getting all of my vaccines again as I have no titers to them in my body (long story.) When I am given one shot, I am febrile for a week with on and off migraines, vomiting, dizziness, weakness and shaking. I spend the days ahead downing Tylenol and ibuprofen and praying the symptoms and side effects will pass as quickly as Heavenly Father will allow. The effects are much stronger with two shots and so I found myself this week trying to rationally remind myself that the pain and discomfort will pass and it is short lived. Yet I sit with swollen shoulders and everything else and listening to Eva talk about a shot that her sister was given that eventually killed her and the years of pain and challenges that she struggled with and I listen to Ms. Pufeles and I am finally able to rationally realize how easy my situation is. I know it will pass.... I know it will pass soon.... I can be quite sure I will not have any significant long term problems. To recognize that these victims could not have even these simple assurances- if fact, they could be sure that it probably would cause pain and long term problems- is another window into a world and a reality that I have never had true first hand experience in. To be able to learn, to understand, to develop clarity about the experience of others, the depths of thought and behavior that humanity can dive and to recognize those traits or small flaws in myself... and work on transforming them to something positive and more wholesome is a beautiful gift

“Most of my fellow survivors are so hurting, they do not even have the ability to even understand what I am talking about. And so many of them will die without ever feeling free from that pain” - Eva Kor

“Forgiveness has nothing to do with the perpetrator, has nothing to do with religion- it has only everything to do with the way the victim is empowering him or herself and taking control of their lives” - Eva Kor


When watching and listening to the other survivors and their stories and emotions as they flowed forth, the overwhelming thing I felt was anger. They talked about sorrow and grief, but the tone of anger was interwoven throughout every word and motion they made. In some situations it was so palpable that I felt like I could reach out, touch it and even pick it up and hold it for a closer look. While I feel like sometimes Ms Kor pushes people too quickly to accept her thoughts and she acts defensive, I can see how she must find herself verbally confronted by many people about her choices. Not only does she have to deal with the deniers and the revisionists, but she must also deal with those who feel like she is giving the Nazi's and those who worked with them excuses or justification for their misdeeds. Few people have to deal with the challenges of the process of forgiving others while being criticized for participating and utilizing that process for their own healing. I couldn't figure out how anyone could criticize her and after that was mentioned in class and how her forgiveness was 'controversial', I decided I needed to see this film only to try and understand that. It feels so sad that people who are stuck can feel so much anger about someone working to loosen themselves from the grief and anger. I felt some anger listening to the arguments that forgiving was forgetting and forgiving was accepting and absolving the perpetrators of the crime. I can tell I'm still angry because I want to argue for the defense even as I write this. ;) Watching this has made me even more convinced that the process of reconciliation is so important to the well being of the survivors, the offenders and the communities which surround them both.


“... and not create a catastrophe for the Palestinians... and say what have we done”

I thought it was interesting to watch Eva Kor sit at the table with those working towards peace in Palestine and Israel and hearing her say she didn't want to hear the stories that were being shared. On one hand, she recognizes that stories are important and educate people about situations and yet when it comes to the idea that some groups of Jewish individuals themselves are now being perpetrators of genocidal violence towards Palestinians she is unable and unwilling to listen. I was disappointed and annoyed, but when I continued to think about it I realized how distinctly challenging that must be for anyone in her position. I heard this line and realized that, at least in my opinion, a catastrophe has already been created for the Palestinians and I do not think that at this point, the use of the word genocide is that far off. Here is an opportunity for her and she wasn't able to really use it. I wonder what opportunities I have that I haven't noticed or taken to work towards this horrible problem and ending it successfully. I do not think that I have had any opportunities, but I might not have recognized them when I did. I have decided to write my governor and my representatives to ask for a change of name for Columbus Day and to also ask for a state holiday acknowledging genocides- not sure how to address my thoughts on the latter.

Thank you so much for mentioning this film. I am very glad I watched it and that I have the opportunity to share it with others. I am also happy to learn a little more about Holocaust awareness and how Dr Mengele's experiments affected people long after the war was over.


pictures from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0489707/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lhAU868230, https://www.tumblr.com/search/forgiving%20dr.%20mengele, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2807743/How-Angel-Death-saved-mother-s-life-creator-world-s-iconic-dress.html, http://gauredevta.blog.com/2014/06/26/dr-mengele-experiments/, http://tmcnews.tendenciapp.com/articles/survivor-of-nazi-experiments-speaks-at-medical-ethics-conference/, https://googlingtheholocaust.wordpress.com/tag/forgiving-dr-mengele/