March 5, 2006


Progressive genocide: Less than 100 years ago, America's finest minds were convinced the nation was threatened by sexually insatiable female morons. A new history of the eugenics movement sheds light on a bizarre chapter in U.S. history. (Farhad Manjoo, Mar. 04, 2006, Salon)

Among the many concerns that captivated the American educated class early in the last century, few were thought to be as urgent as the threat posed to the nation by sexually insatiable female morons. This may sound silly; today, our fear of morons is rather abstract, and on a national scale confined mostly to whomever is the current resident of the White House. But a hundred years ago, morons were public enemy No. 1, seen as a drain on the nation's resources and a grave danger to its stability. The situation was most keenly appreciated by progressives -- scientists, businessmen, feminists and liberal politicians -- who, as even the best of us sometimes do, feared that within a short time, the nation would be overrun by simpletons.

But how do you solve a problem like the moron? These poor people, for one, weren't easy to spot. "Feeblemindedness," the medical condition from which morons suffered, was chiefly manifested by subtle, difficult-to-diagnose symptoms, such as poor judgment and a susceptibility to deviance. The only way to tell if you were dealing with a certifiable moron -- an actual medical term -- was by administering an intelligence questionnaire (an early version of the IQ test), which scientists believed could accurately assess a patient's "mental age." Unlike idiots and imbeciles (who were characterized by significant, obvious mental defects), morons, who were grown-ups who showed mental ages that were far below their physical maturity, might do well in school, they might hold down jobs, and they might even manage to raise children -- but all this was to be thought of as a ruse, because sooner or later, they'd go astray.

As the journalist Harry Bruinius explains in "Better for All the World: The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America's Quest for Racial Purity," his comprehensive new history of the American eugenics movement, the problem wasn't just that morons were given to crime and poverty; because feeblemindedness was a genetic condition passed on from one generation to the next, their children, and their children's children, and on and on, were similarly suspect as well. Of particular concern were the afflicted women, in whom scientists had found the symptoms of feeblemindedness more pronounced. Female morons gave in to their sexual urges more quickly than feebleminded men, and they sometimes deceived normal men into consorting with them; in addition, they were "hyper-fecund," as doctors termed their apparent tendency to become pregnant easily. Put this all together, as many smart Americans did, and you had a big problem on your hands: an extremely fertile, extremely needy, apparently permanent underclass.

It's lately become fashionable to reckon with growing ignorance among one's countrymen by threatening to emigrate to Canada; for American intellectuals of an earlier generation the more obvious solution was forced sterilization. At the dawn of the medical age, when scientists were just beginning to discover both the evolutionary basis to biology as well as painless, "humane" procedures to render humans infertile, it was the nation's rationalists who hit upon the idea of sterilization as a way to solve the problem of multiplying morons, Bruinius explains; the main opposition to the horrific idea came from religious fundamentalists.

And nothing much has changed, other than the declining sway such folks have in our politics and law. The intellectuals remain Darwinist and Americans remain Creationist. Our persistent Judeo-Christianity and anti-intellectualism has been the insulation that enabled us to preserve Western Civilization here while the Europeans were leaving it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 5, 2006 9:16 AM

... the nation was threatened by sexually insatiable female morons.

A dream come true?

Posted by: erp at March 5, 2006 9:55 AM

A dream come true once they were sterilized.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 5, 2006 10:40 AM

I have a hard time imagining they tried to pair this with increased breeding of the unmoronic.

Posted by: RC at March 5, 2006 11:13 AM

I wonder if such "science" played a role in the Kennedy clans' decision to have that one poor daughter lobotomized and institutionalized.

(Certainly the feeblemindedness and giving in easily to sexual urges applies to many of the male of the Kennedy species. Hey wait, maybe this eugenics stuff ain't so bad after all . . .)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 5, 2006 11:34 AM

This was how Planned Parenthood got its start.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 5, 2006 12:16 PM

Oh, to put Anna Nicole Smith in a time machine...

Posted by: John at March 5, 2006 12:27 PM

. . . with no food.

Posted by: obc at March 5, 2006 12:34 PM

pretty much any zombie script could easily be re-worked with morons replacing the flesh eaters. was there a home moron test available ?

Posted by: toe at March 5, 2006 1:52 PM

We would have done better to keep the morans and sterilize the Progressives.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 5, 2006 3:55 PM

David, aren't they the same thing?

Posted by: erp at March 5, 2006 4:18 PM

Our persistent Judeo-Christianity and anti-intellectualism has been the insulation that enabled us to preserve Western Civilization here

Actually, the insulation was the Atlantic Ocean.

Posted by: Mörkö at March 5, 2006 7:46 PM

No, then Canada wouldn't be dying.

Posted by: oj at March 5, 2006 7:51 PM

Canada isn't dying. It will experience some demographic shifts like the US, but it won't die. Canada's problem is that is barely a part of the Western Civilization, or any other civilization, because it has no history or distinct culture of its own.

Posted by: Mörkö at March 5, 2006 8:01 PM

Canada has been living out Jimmy Carter's second term--the one we avoided in 1980--for the last 25 years. Hopefully, Stephen Harper will prove to be its Reagan and pull them back from the brink.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 5, 2006 8:31 PM

Because it's secular European.

Posted by: oj at March 5, 2006 9:04 PM