Thursday, 19 January 2012

Darwin in America: Eugenics

Darwin’s ideas had consequences for thousands of Americans. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Ideas have consequences. Some of Charles Darwin’s thoughts had extremely dire consequences for thousands of people in America.

According to the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation website: “Between 1929 and 1974, an estimated 7,600 people were sterilized by choice, force or coercion under the authority of the N.C. Eugenics Board program.”

North Carolina was just one of the U.S. states that had a Eugenics Board. Inspired by Darwinism, eugenics was seen as a way of solving social problems such as poverty and illegitimacy. Unfit individuals were not deemed fit to have children.

Recently, the her.meneutics blog of Christianity Today had a concise appraisal of the strategy that caused so much suffering to so many people: “Eugenics attempts to eliminate human suffering by eliminating humans who suffer.”

It has been suggested that the German Nazis under Adolf Hitler adopted the American model for helping natural selection to rid humanity of the “less fit”.


NC Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation.

Prior, Karen Swallow. 2012. When the State Took Away My Life: North Carolina Grapples with Sterilization Practice.her.meneutics (18 January)