Those who seek to tear down statues of historical figures for a lack of perfection refuse to look at their own idols from history with the same demand. No human is perfect, and all are subject to the flaws of our nature. To demand perfection is to demand the impossible.
Charles Darwin was the father of eugenics, which led to the rise of National Socialism. His second book, Descent of Man, is filled with remarks that can only be called racist. He believed ‘savage’ species such as Africans were lesser racially than ‘privileged’ species. It was his work that turned racism into pseudo-science.
Before National Socialism soured eugenics, it had a popular following in the United States. In 1910, biologist Charles Davenport started an organization called the Eugenics Record Office whose purpose was “to improve the natural, physical, mental, and temperamental qualities of the human family”. Harry Laughlin, a former educator, became the first director.
One of the more influential eugenicists in the United States was Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood. In January of 2020, the Baltimore Sun ran an article covering a few things that Sanger believed. In 1921, Sanger wrote, “Today eugenics is suggested by the most diverse minds as the most adequate and thorough avenue in the solution of racial, political and social problems.”
The same article gives another quote from a speech Sanger gave in 1938. “There are 1,700 special courts and 27 higher courts in Germany to review the cases certified for sterilization there… The rights of the individual could be equally well safeguarded here.”
By 1938, many of the evils by the National Socialist was already known, including the murder of Jews in the name of eugenics. The full extent may not have been discovered for several more years, but no one could refer to any Nazi court as a body which cared about the rights of individuals.
In 1939, Sanger wrote a letter which stated the following:
The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to get 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.
As a eugenicist, she believed in the extermination of people she deemed to drag down humanity, which is nothing more than what Charles Darwin predicted in Descent of Man:
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state as we may hope, than the Caucasian and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
When Planned Parenthood gave Hillary Clinton the Margaret Sanger Award, she made it clear just how much she admired Margaret Sanger. She was quoted by the Washington Examiner as saying, “Now, I have to tell you that it was a great privilege when I was told that I would receive this award. I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision … And when I think about what she did all those years ago in Brooklyn, taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions, I am really in awe of her.”
Margaret Sanger’s vision was to have the United States succeed where National Socialism failed. Sanger died in 1966 as an unrepentant eugenicist. It did not matter to her just how evil National Socialism was under the guise of eugenics. At its heart, eugenics is the belief in racial superiority and the removal of those outside the ‘civilized’ races, which includes Jews.
In 1951, Sanger wrote an article where she made it clear of her continued support for forced sterilization:
The program in this country at least, does not involve compulsory features. No one here proposes that some official be endowed with the authority to order anyone to be sterilized… At present, sterilization programs under State laws are carried out chiefly in institutions… Most of the debate on sterilization as a method for improving the quality of peoples, the eugenic debate, has been on the level of prejudice and preconceived opinions.
That was from an article Sanger wrote years after the horrors of National Socialist eugenics became known. While other eugenicists slipped into the shadows, she continued to be a vocal supporter and never stopped believign eugenics was the only real solution, which meant she continued to embrace the idea racial identity having value. She continued to believe Darwin’s already cited, Descent of Man, “the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”
Her work predated National Socialism and continued after Hitler’s defeat She helped to pave the way for the rise of Nazis and deserves a place in every holocaust museum. I do not want her statues torn down and pictures removed, but a placard placed with each one stating exactly who she was and what she believed. Statues are used to commemorate the good and the bad in the United States and used to help teach lessons about the past.
Her defenders make excuses or flatly deny she was a racist, but her own words about eugenics cannot be hidden. They are there for all to see for any who choose to look. Eugenics and racism, which does include the Jews as a distinct race, cannot be separated. They are two sides of the same coin.