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Eugenics and Evolution are Incompatible with Charity and Altruism

One of the common themes of eugenic writers is that if Darwinism and evolution were properly understood, charity and altruism could very well inflict a great harm on a population, and indeed, threatening to do just that.  This post will catalog quotes of eugenicists making that argument.

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From Madison Grant in The Passing of the Great Race:

Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race.

It is highly unjust that a minute minority should be called upon to supply brains for the unthinking mass of the community, but it is even worse to burden the responsible and larger but still overworked elements in the community with an ever increasing number of moral perverts, mental defectives and hereditary cripples. As the percentage of incompetents increases, the burden of their support will become ever more onerous until, at no distant date, society will in self-defense put a stop to the supply of feebleminded and criminal children of weaklings.

The church assumes a serious responsibility toward the future of the race whenever it steps in and preserves a defective strain. The marriage of deaf mutes was hailed a generation ago as a triumph of humanity. Now it is recognized as an absolute crime against the race. A great injury is done to the community by the perpetuation of worthless types. These strains are apt to be meek and lowly and as such make a strong appeal to the sympathies of the successful. Before eugenics were understood much could be said from a Christian and humane viewpoint in favor of indiscriminate charity for the benefit of the individual. The societies for charity, altruism or extension of rights, should have in these days, however, in their management some small modicum of brains, otherwise they may continue to do, as they have sometimes done in the past, more injury to the race than black death or smallpox.

As long as such charitable organizations confine themselves to the relief of suffering individuals, no matter how criminal or diseased they may be, no harm is done except to our own generation and if modern society recognizes a duty to the humblest malefactors or imbeciles that duty can be harmlessly performed in full, provided they be deprived of the capacity to procreate their defective strain.

Those who read these pages will feel that there is little hope for humanity, but the remedy has been found, and can be quickly and mercifully applied. A rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfit — in other words, Social failures — would solve the whole question in a century, as well as enable us to get rid of the undesirables who crowd our jails, hospitals and insane asylums. The individual himself can be nourished, educated and protected by the community during his lifetime, but the state through sterilization must see to it that his line stops with him or else future generations will be cursed with an ever increasing load of victims of misguided sentimentalism. This is a practical, merciful and inevitable solution of the whole problem and can be applied to an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased and the insane and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types.

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