How did you learn about the Progressive Era in school? Did you learn a lot about “social justice” and “political reform”? Chances are that you did not hear much about eugenics, a defining feature of the Progressive movement that took the late 19th and early 20th century by storm.
A recent study by Professor Thomas Cargill, published by the Independent Institute, looked at nine of the most popular high school history books in the country and discovered they “ignore the topic” of eugenics, including the dark history of one of feminism’s most celebrated activists, Margaret Sanger. Sanger’s organization, The American Birth Control League (now named Planned Parenthood), continues to pursue eugenic outcomes to this day.
Progressive eugenics of the early 20th century held there is a scientific ability to classify individuals and groups as “fit” or “unfit,” classifying the “unfit” by race, mental and physical disabilities, country of origin, and poverty. Eugenics was very popular among the intelligentsia and elite class and became a hallmark of the Progressive movement.
Ending Fertility Based on Race, Disability, and Class
To carry out eugenics theory, eugenicists used birth control, restrictions on immigration, and restrictions on interracial marriage. Their birth control measures included voluntary, coerced, and forced sterilization. The majority of states in America implemented involuntary sterilization policies. Cargill says eugenics is one of the greatest and most terrifying examples of the dangers of big government.
Of the nine U.S. history high school textbooks Cargill examined, a few include a “passing reference” to eugenics and sterilization, but do not “identify eugenics as a major part of progressivism,” although the historical evidence shows it clearly was.
According to Cargill, “eugenics sanctified racism.” In Nazi Germany, Jewish people were the main target of eugenicists. In the United States, racial eugenics focused on black people. In both Nazi Germany and the United States, the disabled, the poor, and immigrants were victims of eugenicists seeking to rid the world of “undesirables.”
Before World War II, Cargill told The Federalist, the progressive movement’s laws in America were Germany’s “role model” for Nazi race laws. Adolf Hitler “admired” American eugenics policies and even gave them a shout out in his famous book, “Mein Kampf.” In his review of high school textbooks, Cargill discovered that “eugenics and its influence on public policy in the United States and its relationship to Nazi Germany are ignored and when mentioned are presented as an incidental part of U.S. history.”
According to Cargill, the fall of the Third Reich revealed the logical outcome of eugenics, causing it to disappear “almost overnight” from public discourse. It quickly became an embarrassment to many who had openly supported it. This is what inspired the rebrand of Sanger’s “American Birth Control League” to its new and current name, “Planned Parenthood.”
Planned Parenthood Founder Sought to End Black Lives
Although Sanger is celebrated in schools as a feminist pioneer and a well-meaning advocate for women’s liberation, she was a key champion of eugenics. Her advocacy for birth control was rooted in her belief that society needed to rid itself of the “unfit.”
The American Birth Control League’s journal, the “Birth Control Review,” contains outright racist articles revealing Sanger’s true intentions. Sanger’s famous article, “A Plan for Peace” (1932), explicitly lays out her broad scheme to reduce the number of people classified as “unfit” by “apply[ing] a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation.” Cargill pointed out to The Federalist that Sanger’s “plan” to “segregate” calls to mind the horrors of Nazi concentration camps.
Sanger also instituted a “Negro Project,” which was advertised as a way to make “safe” contraception available to African Americans. However, Cargill told The Federalist it was actually implemented to “target” black Americans and “lower their birth rate.”
Sanger used black leaders to gain access to and trust in the black community. In a 1939 letter, Sanger wrote: “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
Sanger is referenced in six out of the nine U.S. high school textbooks. They present her as a “Progressive reformer and advocate of women’s reproductive rights.” Cargill’s research demonstrated that “none of the six textbooks” mention “she was a leading advocate of eugenics or of the racist perspective frequently found in the ‘Birth Control Review.’”
Cargill concludes that high school students reading any of the “widely used” textbooks he reviewed would be unaware of the fact that Sanger played a major role in “popularizing and rationalizing eugenics and eugenics-inspired policies,” and that she targeted African American populations.
Planned Parenthood Still Celebrates Sanger’s Vision
Despite its morally reprehensible legacy, particularly at a time Black Lives Matter and the Democrat Party are calling for a reckoning of America’s racist past and institutions, American schools continuously deny the disturbing and racist origins of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s number one abortion provider. Planned Parenthood continues to tout the fact they prioritize “service” to minorities in low-Caucasian neighborhoods.
Planned Parenthood to this day describes Sanger as “a woman of heroic accomplishments” and “a true visionary.” From 1966- 2015, Planned Parenthood presented an annual “Margaret Sanger Award,” which their website still describes as their “highest honor.” Recipients include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Of Sanger, Hillary Clinton said, “I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision… I am really in awe of her.” Even Barack Obama ended an address to an annual Planned Parenthood conference with “God bless” Planned Parenthood, something even some of his supporters found jarring, if not sacrilegious.
Planned Parenthood Funds Democrats, They Ignore Its Past
So why does the American education system ignore the full history of the Progressive movement? Now that Planned Parenthood and abortion are sacrosanct to contemporary leftists, Cargill theorizes, it is vital for “defenders of abortion” to attempt to “repackage” Sanger and get rid of the link between abortion and the eugenics of the Progressive movement.
The history of eugenics is “uncomfortable” for leftists, Cargill told The Federalist. Cargill wrote that progressives “ironically dismiss conservatives as fascists, Nazis, and racists who are insensitive to the weak.” In truth, those characteristics apply to progressives in the first part of the twentieth century.
The reason eugenics and Sanger have been allowed to be memory-holed from American schools is that “Progressives dominate the education system.” Cargill told The Federalist that progressives, “paint a picture of American society that is consistent with their ideology.” The result for unsuspecting students is “nothing short of the indoctrination of America’s youth.” Cargill says that memory-holing eugenics and Sanger gives “an incomplete and misleading view of U.S. history” to young Americans, which “denies them a foundation to participate in the democratic process.”
Abortion Still Overrepresented Among African Americans
Today, the vast majority of Planned Parenthood clinics remain in minority neighborhoods. According to a Centers for Disease Control report, black women undergo 34 percent of abortions in the United States, although they are only 13.4 percent of the U.S. population. According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, black women in New York City have more abortions than live births.
While leftists and abortion supporters work hard to memory-hole their ideology’s eugenics past, white supremacists and contemporary Nazis are not shy about supporting abortion. The keynote speaker and organizer of the infamous 2017 Charlottesville rally was Richard Spencer, the notorious neo-Nazi, and white supremacist. During his speech, he explained how abortion advances white nationalist goals: “The people who are having abortions are generally very often black or Hispanic or from very poor circumstances.”
Save Money: Kill Kids Who Cost Extra
Eugenics hasn’t disappeared, either. “Advances in genetics,” says Cargill, “increase the probability that abortion will be used to reduce the ‘unfit’ population as defined by the woman and her medical provider.” These grave decisions, he explains, are “influenced by the administrative state through subsidization, information campaigns, and genetic counseling.”
Advancements in the genetic testing of unborn babies have profoundly affected the fate and societal acceptance of the mentally and physically challenged. For example, studies show that babies prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome, a genetic abnormality, are aborted at a rate of somewhere around 80- 90 percent.
This normalization of the prenatal extermination of the disabled could lead to a resurgence of the eugenics movement in the United States, particularly if socialized universal health care becomes law. In the name of decreasing costs, the government could force or in some way incentivize mothers to abort “unfit” unborn babies.
Cargill told The Federalist he is very worried about what the future holds now that the history of eugenics is being removed from our national memory. It is hard to deny that eugenics has seeped back into cultural acceptance, which Cargill believes is one consequence of allowing ideological narratives, rather than truth, to fill American history textbooks.