Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Making Eugenics As Real As A Young Girl's Life and Body

For once, I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about Leilani Muir, one of the surviving victims of eugenics who is quite able to speak for herself. Ms. Muir was one of the 2,800 girls and women sterilized by the Alberta Eugenics Board after her abusive mother dumped her at the Provincial Training School for Mental Defectives.   Despite the fact that she has quite normal intelligence, the, no doubt "science-based" program and staff kept her there and sterilized her without her knowledge in 1955, ten years after the crimes of German eugenics were exposed to the world and punished by an international tribunal.    But Ms. Muir can say that better than I can.

Here is an interview of Leilani Muir from the CBC Radio show The Current.  

I will call your attention to the clip of former Eugenics Board member,Dr. Margaret Thompson starting after 16:00, where she describes how they met with the people they were going to sterilize to see "what kind of people" they were.  Here is the way the ruling in Ms. Muir's successful lawsuit described how the Board acted:

The circumstances of Ms. Muir's steriliz­ation were so high-handed and so con­temptuous of the statutory authority to effect sterilization, and were undertaken in an atmosphere that so little respected Ms. Muir's human dignity that the community's, and the court's, sense of decency is offended*.

You should listen to Leilani Muir at about 17:45 talking about her confrontation with Thompson, during a break in Ms. Muir's successful lawsuit for her involuntary sterilization.  She told Thompson that she had no conscience, only to be told by Dr. Thompson that no one has one. If you want an insight into how the crime of eugenics happened, that is as good a piece of evidence as any.

*  The ruling discusses Dr. Thompson's testimony in the case and entirely refutes her characterization of the Eugenics Board's activities on a number of important issues.

The ruling also notes that Alberta Eugenics Board was a bigoted  operation posing as a progressive, idealistic enterprise.  In its history, sterilizations were approved for Aboriginal and Metis in numbers proving that racism was one of the motivations of those involved.   About 27% of sterilizations were of  Aboriginal and Metis individuals, though those groups were about 2.5% of the population.  74% of cases involving Aboriginal and Metis subjects resulted in sterilization, as compared with 14% of all others.  Ethnic, regional and religious groups were also targeted for sterilization,   It is clear that, in reality instead of stated intent,  promoting a British majority population was one of the goals of eugenics.

Sterilizations under the Eugenics Board continued into 1972 when it was disbanded.   Eugenics was an ongoing thing, it didn't disappear with the Nazis, it was in effect in North America into living memory.  I have no doubt that it could return.

As a leftist, the ruling's details about how eugenics came about in Canada and its history has some disturbing details with few reassuring instances of people changing their minds.   The contemporary left was as responsible for eugenics as anyone else, including some people considered heroes of enlightened progress.  If there's one thing a leftist needs to face it's the worst of our own history.   It's the only way to learn and prevent history from repeating itself, it helps us to understand what we need to change.  Lying about history should be one of the things that is unacceptable for the left because it is dangerous.   People who like to think of themselves as humanitarians, who sell their proposed programs on the basis of their stated good intentions can do some quite depraved things.   It's necessary to look past those self-deceptive poses.  That's something the left needs to do as much as anyone else.   No one should be allowed to remain a hero and a symbol of the left when their real biography contains this kind of thing.  It's better to have no heroes than to maintain them by lying about them.

UPDATE:   Also from the decision in the lawsuit:

I do not accept Dr. Thompson's evi­dence concerning the discussions that she had with Dr. le Vann regarding the taking of testicular tissue from vasectomized or cas­trated trainees. Both she and Dr. le Vann were conducting studies of "male mongols", males with Down's syndrome. She gave Dr. le Vann detailed instructions about how to take samples of the tissue that resulted from the sterilization. In all the circumstances, this constituted encouragement to Dr. le Vann to use the trainees as medical guinea pigs. This is all the more repugnant because, from the 1940s on, Dr. Thompson and the Board knew, as did all those involved in genetics, that male "mongols" are infertile: their sterilization was unnecessary.

Dr. Thompson's evidence demonstrates that the operations of the Board, initiated on a purported scientific rationale, degenerated into unscientific practices. The, decisions of the Board were not made according to the standards imposed on them by the legisla­tion, but because the members of the Board, like Dr. Thompson, thought that it was socially appropriate to control reproduction of "these people".

It's pretty obvious that Dr. Thompson and the board authorized the castrations to supply her and her colleague with material for their studies, clearly, without consent. I'm sure they considered it for the better good, that is how German eugenics was presented, that's how Haeckel presented his early calls for murdering "deaf-mutes" and other named groups of people. Whether or not it's admitted, those are the kinds of things that can be done when you consider people to be objects.

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