May 31, 2019

"The Washington Post spoke to seven scholars of the eugenics movement; all of them said that Thomas’s use of this history was deeply flawed."

Does anyone read something like that and simply trust the "scholars" to give the true account of the eugenics movement and what today resembles it? I say no, because I'm not including the trust that skips a step and believes the the scholars because they want to preserve abortion rights and they need Clarence Thomas to be wrong. My question is whether scholars these days are trusted as a source of truth about a hot social issue.

WaPo has 7 scholars, and they deliver the conclusion — "a gross misuse of historical facts,"  "amateur historical mistake," "really bad history," "historically incoherent," "ignorant and prejudiced," "just not historical." That's the bottom line if that's all you need, but I need the article to quote Thomas, accurately and in context, and to have the historians specify what is bad, otherwise I don't know whether they are doing the same thing they say he's doing, using what they can find and making interpretations that serve their policy preferences. The fact that they're "scholars" doesn't work anymore (if it ever did).
“Eugenicists were initially hostile to birth control because they knew that the women who would use it were the type of women they would want to encourage to reproduce, so-called ‘better’ women — upper-middle-class women,” said Kevles, the Yale professor. “When they finally came around to it, they did it in the face of a practical reality — they caught up to what their constituency was doing.... I’ve been studying this stuff for 40 years, and I’ve never been able to find a leader of the eugenics movement that came out and said they supported abortion,” Lombardo said. 
Thomas cited high rate of abortion for fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome in developed countries (98 percent in Denmark, 90 percent in the United Kingdom, 77 percent in France and 67 percent in the United States, according to the statistics he cites), the practice of sex-based abortions in Asia (to eliminate female fetuses), and statistics that show higher rates of abortion among blacks than whites, to make his argument that abortion is akin to eugenics.

But many of the historians were quick to point out that abortion — a personal choice by an individual — differed significantly from the state-mandated programs foisted involuntarily on others by eugenicists.
That's not a disagreement about history, their area of expertise. That's an argument about how far to go in using history. I agree with the historians about the distinction — and said so when the case came out, here — but I didn't use historical analysis to arrive at that view. The historians are reaching beyond their area of expertise and doing legal analysis. That's fine. They're entitled to participate in the debate about the meaning of legal rights, but the idea that because of their scholarship their opinion trumps Thomas's fails.

WaPo quotes a historian whose book was cited by Thomas — "It was absolutely decontextualized" — and a reaction from Ed Whelan at the National Review — "just another in the sorry genre of 'you properly cited my work in the course of an argument I don’t agree with.'"

99 comments:

Mike Sylwester said...

Democracy Dies in Darkness!

Ann Althouse said...

"Democracy Dies in Darkness!" ≈ the unborn don't vote. (It's dark in the womb.)

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

"scholars" - the new "experts"

Michael K said...

Was Michael_Bellesiles one of them?

daskol said...

Glenn Reynolds has made an art of properly citing people's work in arguments that are often anathema to the people being cited. It's a highly persuasive technique, when you create the impression of a broad and diverse consensus on specific points by collecting apt quotes from across the ideological spectrum. Thomas did that here and clearly it burns.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Democracy Dies in Darkness!

LOL. Their own Hillary lost Butthurt BS weaponized to mock them. Love it.

stevew said...

"But many of the historians were quick to point out that abortion — a personal choice by an individual — differed significantly from the state-mandated programs foisted involuntarily on others by eugenicists."

This is the essence of the disagreement and I agree the crux of the argument dismissing Thomas's assertions. The power of the State in the eugenics movement versus individual choices for an abortion.

WaPo does their readership a disservice by not focusing on this distinction. I guess they think the faux outrage of "7 Scholars" disagreeing with Thomas sells more papers. Assuming they edited the responses of these scholars to make the story they wanted I would say that undermines WaPo's credibility, not the scholars.

gspencer said...

Scholar v. bien pensant scholar.

rehajm said...

scholars" - the new "experts"

Too deferential. They're more like the 'some' in Some say...

Dave Begley said...

Althouse, per usual, makes a great point. Today who believes anything in the WaPo or NYT? Who believes so-called experts? Everything is political and biased.

Any trial lawyer knows you can buy an expert to say anything. Any expert can be discredited at a trial.

The best example is the unholy alliance created in the climate industry between the academy and the Dem party. John Hinderaker (former trial lawyer) and Steve Hayward (academic) at Power Line have dismantled the CAGW scam. Global warming is the biggest scam in American history.

rehajm said...

Now do Modern Monetary Theory.

Dave Begley said...

Here's my question: Did WaPo talk to other "scholars" and not publish the results because it didn't agree with the WaPo thesis?

These people are so predictable. They constantly use the appeal to authority and context fallacy. Any one who took logic in college can see through them.

Darkisland said...

But many of the historians were quick to point out that abortion — a personal choice by an individual — differed significantly from the state-mandated programs foisted involuntarily on others by eugenicists.

I don't think this makes sense. I don't think that "eugenics" depends on "state-mandated programs" does it? My understanding of the word is that it is any attempt to influence or control who has children, how many, what kind, etc.

I mentioned Heinlein's fictional Howard Families Foundation recently. They were a private organization that identified people who, by ancestry had a longer than normal life expectancy. They paid suitable couples to wed and have children.

The goal was to increase human life expectancy.

Seems to me that this is eugenics pure and simple.

Or does eugenics, properly defined, require state mandates?

John Henry

Dave Begley said...

This is how lawyers do it. You hire an expert and say don't write your report until I talk to you. If the report is bad for your side, no report is written. WaPo does the same thing.

Skeptical Voter said...

Ah "experts" and "scholars". I recall an eminent domain case I was involved in (how do you value special purpose property-in that case a water utility company) saying that he was a member of the American Appraisal Institute. Members of the Institute could put the letters MAI after their name. He said that the MAI meant "made as instructed".

And another old joke about "experts" is that all farmers are experts. After all they are frequently out standing in their field.

And it was experts and professors who rated Barack Hussein Obama as the most intelligent person to occupy the White House, maybe second only to Thomas Jefferson. Obama sort of agreed--he wasn't too sure that Jefferson was smarter than him.

Automatic_Wing said...

Are there some kind of restrictions on eugenics in the constitution? I wasn't aware of any.

M Jordan said...

Remember when people would cite those powerful experts THEY? As in, “We’ll, you know what THEY say ...”. Well, “They say” gave way to “STUDIES show” but it’s really just another They Say, an appeal to ambiguous authorities. The entire Global Warming argument is built on such appeals. It’s the 97% of CLIMATE SCIENTISTS that Lord Obama deferred to.

I defer to none of them, not THEY, not STUDIES, not SCIENTISTS. Show me the argument. Show me the reasoning. I’m a human being with the greatest gift of all the animal kingdom: REASON.

Jim Gust said...

apparently the always brilliant Thomas has touched a nerve here. the "pro-choicers" are in a panic because they recognize how persuasive his argument will be to many, including some who believe themselves "progressive."

CJinPA said...

The main job of professional journalists today is anti-intellectualism - assuring readers that every issue has a simple answer that cannot be opposed by any decent human being.

Wince said...

The WaPo should have consulted the author of the "dead baby on a meat hook" joke.

roesch/voltaire said...

Who would want to trust a scholar who studies the issue for forty years and for that matter who would want to trust a law professor in these matters? Trust no one but what your believe.

J Severs said...

"But many of the historians were quick to point out that abortion — a personal choice by an individual — differed significantly from the state-mandated programs foisted involuntarily on others by eugenicists."
1) Define 'quick': within first 5 minutes of interview? 10 minutes?
2) So if a pregnancy is terminated due to coercion by the state, is it somehow not an abortion any more?

Big Mike said...

"just another in the sorry genre of 'you properly cited my work in the course of an argument I don’t agree with.'"

Says it all, doesn’t it?

Darkisland said...

Why can't we be more like Germany, and other European countries on abortion?

I suspect that a lot of people, such as myself, who are opposed to abortion could accept that kind of approach. Not like it, but accept it as a compromise.

The real problem as I see it is that the pro-abortionist folks keep wanting to extend when abortions are permissible. At some point, that fetus becomes a living person entitles to protection against being murdered. Abortionists want to extend waaaaay past viability 2nd trimester, then third, then partial birth now to killing a living, breathing baby outside the womb. What's next? Abortion up to 3 years old? 5? 18?

As Virginia's blackface governor Northam said:

So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/virginia-abortion-bill-proposed-by-kathy-tran-third-trimester-today-2019-01-30/

MikeR said...

Off-topic: Hey, anyone read Barr interview this morning? https://www.cbsnews.com/news/william-barr-interview-full-transcript-cbs-this-morning-jan-crawford-exclusive-2019-05-31/ If I were one of the "small group of people at the head of the FBI" I would be terrified.

Bay Area Guy said...

Maybe the brilliant RBG could have consulted these 7 "scholars" and, you know, used their scholarship in her dissent or concurrence to dispute some of Thomas' points?

I generally thought lawyers did that in court cases.

Darkisland said...

Blogger M Jordan said...

Remember when people would cite those powerful experts THEY? As in, “We’ll, you know what THEY say ...”. Well, “They say” gave way to “STUDIES show” but it’s really just another They Say, an appeal to ambiguous authorities. The entire Global Warming argument is built on such appeals. It’s the 97% of CLIMATE SCIENTISTS that Lord Obama deferred to.

I think it was Special K which, back in the 90s, used to have an ad that said "Some studies suggest that eating Special K may have some effect in reducing the risk from certain types of cancer." (Quoting from memory, emph added)

If you watched the ad with an uncritical eye, as my wife did, you get the impression that if you eat Special K you will be immune from cancer. OTOH, I looked at it and thought it seemed vague to the point of meaningless.

I find a lot of what "scholar say" to be kind of like that when you look at what they actually say instead of what people say they say.

John Henry

SDaly said...

The "progressives" just moved from forced sterilization,

We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

O.W. Holmes, Buck v. Bell;

to birth control, Margaret Sanger's contribution;

to abortion:

Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae—in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Interview with Emily Bazelon, NYT July 7, 2009.

buwaya said...

Someone who has studied something for forty years has gathered a lot of facts.
But it does not mean his conclusions follow.

The only sort of expert you can rely on absolutely for conclusions is the sort that actually does things, implementing systems that work and are successful, or who makes correct predictions. That is a track record. They will often disagree, but you can objectively compare results. Otherwise, never.

Historians are good for providing a database to draw on, but in their conclusions they will often bitterly disagree. Hobsbawm vs Conquest for instance.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

The rhetoric in favour of abortion on demand often seems designed to appeal to women who would be pretty good mothers: you want what's best for your child, this just isn't the right time, it's not right to bring a child (for the child's sake) into this terrible world. So: the goals of many eugenicists would be poorly achieved, if at all, if there were a kind of predictable or rational abortion on demand. Bad mothers, or women who had good reason to think their children would have bad lives, would have no hesitation in having babies. On the other hand, there is surely a hope among pro-choicers that whatever the overall picture, more or less the right kids are disproportionately going to be chosen not to make it--kids who would be born in difficult circumstances. The incidence of abortion among African-Americans is surely kind of a guilty secret in this context.

Margaret Sanger wanted Catholics to have a lot fewer kids; she wanted a lot fewer Catholics in the world. She battled for birth control among Catholics, and she probably would have regarded it as a dream come true to replace Catholic births with Catholic abortions.

Ambrose said...

So what you're saying is: "No true Eugenicist would agree with Justice Thomas..."

Bay Area Guy said...

We need to boycott Eugene, Oregon until it changes its racist, white Supremecist name immediately.

Darkisland said...

For the record, I like Special K. I just don't think it makes me immune from cancer.

OTOH, I am getting on in years and have never had cancer so perhaps it does.

I've also found that keeping a box of Special K in the house at all times seems to have prevented elephant attacks.

John Henry

tim maguire said...

Dave Begley said...Global warming is the biggest scam in American history.

CAGW (not "global warming" or "climate change," BTW, which are dishonest euphemisms designed to interfere with intelligent debate) is a great example of how the convergence of incentives can create conspiracy-like behavior without an actual conspiracy.

1) People who believe in CAGW are more likely to go into climate science.
2) Climate scientists have a bias towards interpreting the data as supporting CAGW.
3) Prominent journals are more likely to publish studies with scary splashy conclusions.
4) Grants are more likely to go to people with a track record of publishing in prominent journals.
5) People who publish in prominent journals and get grants are more likely to get promoted and achieve tenure.

Therefore:
1) People who believe in CAGW are more likely to advance within the field, and
2) Most leaders in the field will embrace CAGW irrespective of the strength of the evidence.

Amadeus 48 said...

Do seven scholars have more credibility than a bench of bishops?

AlbertAnonymous said...

I think the problem is that they’re just arguing over the definition of eugenics and eugenicists.

Much like the arguments we see these days (even on this blog) over the definition of feminism and feminists.

Someone dumps on feminists and we’re faced with “well that’s not the kind of feminist I am” or “well I’m a second wave feminist” or whatever.

Something similar going on here I think. These “scholars” want abortion to be legal and praised. And it can’t be aligned with the bad Eugenics (or how people now see eugenics), so we start splitting hairs. “Well, not the state sponsored eugenics” or “well not the good kind of eugenicists”...

Whatever. It’s just the WAPO secular religionism. All praise the mighty abortion. Just don’t ever call it what it is. Call it a “choice” or “women’s reproductive health” or “privacy and liberty” or “if you disagree you’re anti-woman”...

I thought the interesting part of the case was the little tiff between Thomas and RBG in the opinions/footnotes.

Narr said...

I'm late, rushed, and haven't read the other comments yet. As a historian, I have always been intrigued at how eager the jurists of the Scientism-Progressivism era (say 1890-1970) were, to incorporate whole chunks of crappy psychosocioeconomic mythologizing into their deliberations--Freudism, Marxism, Eugenicism--u.s.w.

Not sure how it fits into the Thomas discussion, except that non-legal experts are involved.

Narr
"Experts" if you prefer

Caligula said...

"But many of the historians were quick to point out that abortion — a personal choice by an individual — differed significantly from the state-mandated programs foisted involuntarily on others by eugenicists."

Restricting the meaning of coercion to state mandates seems dishonest. As with the promotion of doctor-assisted suicide, one should also consider social pressures (aka "nudges") that encourage one choice over another. It's not as if individuals make life-and-death decisions in a vacuum with perfect autonomy.

See also "The Marching Morons" by C.M. Kornbluth,
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/51233

mtrobertslaw said...

While it is true that one can draw a distinction between an individual who justifies abortion as personal choice that may be made for eugenic reasons and a state that adopts eugenics as a matter of policy, that distinction misses the point. If the culture of a people, by and large, has the belief that eugenic reasons are a valid consideration for making the personal choice to have an abortion, that culture will be more open to a state adopting eugenics as public policy.

richlb said...

https://youtu.be/BDTZcj8Xink

iowantwo said...

This is how lawyers do it. You hire an expert and say don't write your report until I talk to you. If the report is bad for your side, no report is written. WaPo does the same thing.

The company I retired from hired structural engineers to evaluate the safety of aging facilities. The CEO, COO, VP of safety, all showed up on site to aid the engineers. No report was written, my spy in accounting said the bill was $25k. Pleading ignorance and incompetence is way better than informed negligence.

Dave Begley said...

tim:

I usually refer to the scam as CAGW as it is the most accurate.

Michael K said...

This is how lawyers do it. You hire an expert and say don't write your report until I talk to you. If the report is bad for your side, no report is written.

Yup. I spent years reviewing cases for lawyers who did med-mal. Always told not to write a report. We would talk on the phone and I would tell them, "I can't help you on this one," and that was the end of it. They could always find somebody else.

Amadeus 48 said...

Here in Chicago, we are practicing a form of eugenics--or is it very,very late-term abortion?--on the South and West sides every weekend. But like many things here, we just aren't doing it right. A lot of these characters have added their DNA to the gene pool before they are assisted out of this life by the guys on the next block, and there is no science in selecting who exits. And, far too often, they take worthy people with them.

I think the new mayor, who has already appointed a Chief Equity Officer, should move on, with the assistance of "scholars" and "experts", to a Chief Eugenics Officer, who can rationalize and improve the system. Let's face it, the government should have a say in who gets shot to bits every weekend. It will be fairer that way.

Sebastian said...

"My question is whether scholars these days are trusted as a source of truth about a hot social issue."

My answer is no.

Progs destroy everything they touch, including trust in "scholarship" used for public purposes.

ga6 said...

"When I was going to St Ives"

gspencer said...

From Michael Crichton, a very wise man,

Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.

This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high school classrooms.

I don’t mean global warming. I’m talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.

Its supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill. It was approved by Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis, who ruled in its favor. The famous names who supported it included Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone; activist Margaret Sanger; botanist Luther Burbank; Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University; the novelist H. G. Wells; the playwright George Bernard Shaw; and hundreds of others. Nobel Prize winners gave support. Research was backed by the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. The Cold Springs Harbor Institute was built to carry out this research, but important work was also done at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Johns Hopkins. Legislation to address the crisis was passed in states from New York to California.

These efforts had the support of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council. It was said that if Jesus were alive, he would have supported this effort.

All in all, the research, legislation and molding of public opinion surrounding the theory went on for almost half a century. Those who opposed the theory were shouted down and called reactionary, blind to reality, or just plain ignorant. But in hindsight, what is surprising is that so few people objected.

More at,

http://www.michaelcrichton.com/why-politicized-science-is-dangerous/

rcocean said...

Historians have always been liberal, but like other "Scholars" they've been abandoning all pretense of objectivity and pursuit of historical truth. Most history books I see now are either written by journalists or amateurs. "The Per-fessors" prefer to write PC books like "Gender, class, and Homophobia in Civil War Georgia" or "Jews, the Holocaust, and Midwest Farm belt" - that no one reads.

Every list of the "Greatest Presidents" by "Historians" is always just a list of liberals deciding who the greatest Liberal presidents were.

Amadeus 48 said...

The Kallikaks and the Jukes families (look it up) would like to be heard on this topic, if they could just think of something to say.

rcocean said...

Sanger didn't mention abortion because being pro-abortion was verboten before WW 2. That doesn't mean she was against it.

Bay Area Guy said...

I would like to pioneer the new socio-scientific field of Eufeminism.

It studies a cohort of woke, aggressive women who vow to upend the entrenched, male patriarchal hierarchy of all western societies and cultures - except they are all very good looking.

hombre said...

Oh perfect. The leftmediaswine at WaPo put forth a plethora of their pet scholars to argue from their bias to placate any potential disruption in the hivemind.

rcocean said...

Eugenics has gotten a bad name. The original idea was that smart, wealthy families like say Teddy Roosevelt's should have more kids. And poor, stupid families should use birth control and have fewer kids.

What's happened is that NOW *everyone* has fewer kids, and the USA is so rich, we import stupid people from overseas and very few people care. However, I can understand why this would a topic that Judge Thomas would be very sensitive about.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Dave Begley said...
This is how lawyers do it. You hire an expert and say don't write your report until I talk to you. If the report is bad for your side, no report is written. WaPo does the same thing.

Yup. I once worked for a professor of agricultural economics, who said he had been called in as an expert witness for a number of cases involving a manufacturer or a special type of silo. A large number of dairy operations who had purchased these silos ended up suing the manufacturer. My boss had sometimes given his expert testimony--a cost/benefit analysis of the purchase and use of these silos--for the plaintiffs (the dairy farmers), and sometimes for the defendant (the silo manufacturer).

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

It’s a classic DNC-Media Complex framing problem. Thomas spoke the truth about Planned Parenthood. That it was founded by a eugenics supporter who wanted to reduce Black births is not in dispute. That PP are overwhelmingly located in the Black and/or Brown parts of town is indisputable. So the Democrats media adjunct needs to swing into gear here and frame Thomas’s remarks as “ahistorical” because when they invert the cause and effect they can claim, with some remnant of authority, “eugenicists didn’t support abortion” when the issue Thomas raised was “abortion was proposed and promoted relentlessly by a eugenics proponent,” and they cannot refute that fact.

Michael McNeil said...

Abortionists want to extend waaaaay past viability 2nd trimester, then third, then partial birth now to killing a living, breathing baby outside the womb. What's next? Abortion up to 3 years old? 5? 18?

Althouse points out above that “the unborn don't vote.” Well, neither do kids — up to the age of 18. So, maybe that's the answer to your question: you won't be able to abort 18-year-olds (or 16 year olds if Democrats succeed in lowering the voting age).

Fernandinande said...

his argument that abortion is akin to eugenics

What difference does it make? It seems irrelevant.

the women who would use it were the type of women they would want to encourage to reproduce

And now we have dysgenic reproduction.

n.n said...

then partial birth now to killing a living, breathing baby outside the womb. What's next? Abortion up to 3 years old? 5? 18?

Until they are deemed worthy of life, have a voice to protest, and arms to defend their human rights. In the meantime, it's one-child, selective-child, the wicked solutions, and dodo dynasties. That said, the presumptive origin of human conscious from around the 5th week. Then there is the question of education that has forced a misunderstanding of human evolution, and the quasi-religion ("ethics") that is notoriously selective, opportunistic, and politically congruent.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

The rhetoric in favour of abortion on demand often seems designed to appeal to women who would be pretty good mothers: you want what's best for your child, this just isn't the right time, it's not right to bring a child (for the child's sake) into this terrible world. So: the goals of many eugenicists would be poorly achieved, if at all, if there were a kind of predictable or rational abortion on demand. Bad mothers, or women who had good reason to think their children would have bad lives, would have no hesitation in having babies. On the other hand, there is surely a hope among pro-choicers that whatever the overall picture, more or less the right kids are disproportionately going to be chosen not to make it--kids who would be born in difficult circumstances. The incidence of abortion among African-Americans is surely kind of a guilty secret in this context.

Margaret Sanger wanted Catholics to have a lot fewer kids; she wanted a lot fewer Catholics in the world. She battled for birth control among Catholics, and she probably would have regarded it as a dream come true to replace Catholic births with Catholic abortions.

n.n said...

“the unborn don't vote.” Well, neither do kids — up to the age of 18.

Without a voice to protest. Without arms for defense. Decapitated and dismembered in a wicked solution for social progress.

Bilwick said...

"Trust no one but what your [sic] believe." That's why I tend to believe pro-freedom sources more than I believe the "liberal" Hive and its priesthood, the Academy and the MSM. If you have a basic socioeconomic agenda of legalized looting, why would I trust you? (Also valid: "If you want to take my gun, why would I trust you?) Especially if you come from the "no truth but socialist truth" school of thought. I tend to believe people who aren't trying to lift my wallet and disarm me more than I believe people who are lifting my wallet and pointing a gun at my head. I'm funny that way.

Karen said...

It amounts to using the power of the “state” when the MSM has for almost fifty years buried any truth or even the opportunity for cogent pro-life arguments to be discussed alongside the parade of hurrahs and virtue signaling from among the abortion celebrants. And that Planned Parenthood is supported by our tax dollars and places their clinics in minority neighborhoods...

Krumhorn said...

Gspencer, great link to the writings of an incredibly talented and smart fella. I wish he were still alive today.

- Krumhorn

elkh1 said...

Scholars = experts = pinheads

Krumhorn said...

I wonder what the racial profile of aborted children works out to be. Without knowing any facts, I strongly suspect the there is a hugely disproportionate representation of one group or the other. That could well be part of the political calculation.

- Krumhorn.

chuck said...

I'm reminded of the one word review one of my professors -- a well known scholar -- gave of a work by an East German scholar: bullshit. These days most scholars are East German in spirit. Sad!

elkh1 said...

What did the eighth scholar say? What did the scholars that WaPo had not spoken to say?

Narr said...

Yeah, but those East German Youthsex teams!

Narr
Worldbeaters

joshbraid said...

Here is a quote from a letter by Margaret Sanger that is interesting (copied from a photograph of the original). From what I have read, the eugenics movement was very much an attempt to "help" evolution and "the survival of the fittest" by stopping the less fit from reproducing and polluting their deficient genetic material which would overwhelm the "good" genes of the more fit. It was mainstream in American "elite" culture in the first decades
(Of note is that another sentence is attached to the front of this quote
"We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities."
but it does not appear in the letter.)

"The ministers[sic] work is also important and also he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. 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."

Letter from Margaret Sanger to Dr. C.J. Gamble
December 10, 1939

The Negro Project dealt with artificial contraception and sterilization but I do not believe it included abortion (perhaps because mass abortion was not feasible in those times.)

Yancey Ward said...

Appeal to authority is pretty much always unconvincing whenever it is done with no detail at all, just like this article.

James K said...

When they report unanimity on a subjective issue, you can pretty much assume the deck was stacked.

mockturtle said...

Like the claim, "Scientists agree...". If you know any scientists, you would know that they seldom agree on anything. It pains me to know that so many readers are incapable of critical thinking and analysis.

George Grady said...

"But many of the historians were quick to point out that abortion — a personal choice by an individual — differed significantly from the state-mandated programs foisted involuntarily on others by eugenicists."

That's the same as the distinction between the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow. Very convincing.

Big Mike said...

Now let’s be honest here. The only reason for anyone to oppose Clarence Thomas is straight up racism. Especially Jewish women like Ginsburg and Kagan, who are ready to abort black children up to the point where the mother is ten centimeters dilated, and beyond!

joshbraid said...

From the National Review article
"The only point on which Cohen actually disagrees with Thomas is semantic: over whether voluntary abortion has the potential to become (in Thomas’s words) “a tool of eugenic manipulation.” As Cohen puts it, a woman “who has an abortion because the child will be born with a severe disability is not acting eugenically—she is not trying to uplift the human race.”"

I agree with both of them. I believe that Cohen is technically correct in that women choosing abortion to kill an unborn child showing (supposedly) one or more severe "disabilities" do not do so to support eugenics purposefully. I believe Thomas is correct in the idea that children who show unwanted genetic variations (sex, race, Downs) are thus eligible for killing without moral compunction through the ideas of eugenics .

While the extreme right and left may still believe in avoiding pollution of the gene pool by "inferiors", I think most people are simply inheritors of the idea that some people (here unborn children) can be thought of as "inferior". I wonder, though, if Judge Thomas is correct that "eugenic manipulation" is still ongoing--I just don't know--or just so part of American culture that we don't even think in those terms

Steve said...

I picture a cigar chomping editor in the bowels of the Washington Post: Larry, I need an article to attack Clarence Thomas's eugenics opinion.

Larry: I don't know, who gets to define the eugenics movement?

Editor: Whoever the hell disagrees with Thomas. Get some historians on the phone.

Sam L. said...

I have NO faith in anything printed in the WaPoo.

hombre said...


Blogger roesch/voltaire said...

“Who would want to trust a scholar who studies the issue for forty years and for that matter who would want to trust a law professor in these matters? Trust no one but what your believe.”

As expected r/v doesn’t get it. First, it is necessary to trust WaPo. Next, one must get past the knowledge that scholar/experts are for hire - the currency being money or political accolades - on any subject. Finally, one must succumb to the argument from authority.

Of course, it is possible that the scholars are correct. It is also possible that the research done by Thomas’ clerks is correct. However, it boils down to questions of integrity and logical fallacy. We know from observation that WaPo lacks integrity, as do many scholars. Consequently, it makes little sense to buy into Wapo’s logical fallacy, appeal to authority.

But then, what are integrity and logic to people of the left?

hombre said...

“I wonder, though, if Judge Thomas is correct that "eugenic manipulation" is still ongoing--I just don't know--or just so part of American culture that we don't even think in those terms.”

Could the close proximity of many abortion clinics to black neighborhoods be of significance?

YoungHegelian said...

Left out of most discussions of the eugenics movement is the fact that the greatest (and ultimately successful) opponent of eugenics was the Catholic Church. This shouldn't be surprising, since Catholic theology had a by that time 800 year old "discourse" of natural right/natural law that it could use to counter the eugenicists at a level of sophistication that could not be easily dismissed.

Modern popular memory imagines that poor blacks were the primary victims of the eugenics movement. They weren't. It was poor rural whites who were its primary victims in the US. As the evangelical clerical leadership began to figure out that it was their flocks who were targeted, they, too, began to oppose the eugenicists. They lacked, however, the organized clerical hierarchy, the urban culture centers to use as "bully pulpits" (e.g. Catholic University in DC), & a pre-composed theological or philosophical discourse. Thus, the evangelicals were late comers to the party as compared to the RCC.

You can read about it here.

h said...

“the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.” Margaret Sanger

But you can't expect history professors to know every last detail of inconsequential figures of US history.

Penn Neff said...

The key to seeing that it’s fake news is the fact that they got 7 “scholars”. Why 7? No need to read past this. Scot Adams explained this quite well in his how to identify fake news podcast.

mockturtle said...

“the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.” Margaret Sanger

Joseph Mengele would have wholeheartedly agreed.

Static Ping said...

I've been doing a lot of research recently involving history. It becomes very evident that historians, both ancient and modern, often have agendas beyond objective history. What those biases are vary. You have the historians that see everything through a religious or philosophical lens, you have historians who are intensely tribal and make out all their enemies to either be monsters or near godlike worthy opponents that they overcame because the tribe was so awesome, and you have historians that prefer a good story over the truth. There is also the matter that many historians, including famous and well respected ones, just get things wrong for any variety of reasons: accepting primary and secondary sources without any skepticism (or too much skepticism), misinterpreting ambiguous evidence, accepting hypotheses as proven facts, herd mentality, a need to please their patron, the need to build a narrative and dispense with whatever inconvenient facts that get in the way, making things up rather than admit to not know what is going on, etc.

So, no, I don't find this article all that convincing. There is also the matter that journalists have been notorious for having people on call that they know will produce the quotes that they want, so the fact that the Washington Post managed to find scholars to agree with their narrative is very much dog bites man. It would only be interesting if the story went against their interests or if the argument was fleshed out in a logical way.

MB said...

This is not how all this stuff works. It doesn't matter whether you, personally, trust the experts or not. If you are a leftist, you wait until your opponent publicly espouses an unauthorized opinion, then you triumphantly bring up the expert pronouncements to shut him up.
If the opponent persists, you can dismiss him or her as a troglodyte, out of step with the times. Case closed.
The expert opinion is not meant to inform anyone (otherwise, they would have asked for a more balanced sample), it's meant to shut down conversation.
This is the main point of reading newspapers: you are an informed person and can safely dismiss the opinions of the uninformed.
It's all about social class. By holding unapproved opinions, Thomas has one again shown himself to be lower class, hence not due the same respect as a normal (read Democrat) Supreme Court justice.

joshbraid said...

“the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.” Margaret Sanger

This really defines the problem with being an acolyte to god Evolution. How does one determine the "mentally and physically defective" in service to this god as this god only works through "random chance", assuming that is available.

I find it ironic that in trying to worship her god, Sanger did the opposite of what her god does. As such, I think she would have supported mass abortions of the "defective"s because artificial contraception and forced sterilization are not precise enough and take too long satisfy her religion.

traditionalguy said...

Eugenics has always 100% been about culling the flock to stop the low IQ members from reproducing their line. The Group in power gets to decide who is and is not low in IQ and, strangely, their families all get an exemption from extermination. All except JFK's sister. The severely depressed and slow minded are not killed outright anymore. Instead their brains are Electro-shocked or Thorazined to semi-death.

Anonymous said...

30 Helens agree: Argument from Authority is a sure sign of a weak mind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDTZcj8Xink

Fen said...

Does anyone read something like that and simply trust the "scholars" to give the true account of the eugenics movement and what today resembles it? I say no,

100 Legal Scholars signed a petition stating that perjury did not rise to the level of High Crimes and Misdemeanors necessary to impeach Bill Clinton. Althouse was one of the signers, and she said (correct me if I misremember) that the organizers of that petition changed the wording of the cover sheet AFTER everyone had signed on.

Would like to hear more about that opinion, esp as Pelosi is pondering impeachment.

Fen said...

100 Legal Scholars signed a petition stating that perjury did not rise to the level of High Crimes and Misdemeanors necessary to impeach Bill Clinton.

But they could only find 7 Historians to disagree with Thomas. That's the story.

narciso said...

and they rustled up 400 former prosecutors to ascertain that trump was guilty of impeachable offenses,

The Godfather said...

I remember well that in the early years after Roe v. Wade people I knew who "identified" as Republicans saying -- in private -- that the decision was good because it would reduce the birthrate among black, brown, and other undesirable groups. I think the statistics show that a lot of Black babies have been aborted (correct me if I'm wrong). I'm glad to say that this no longer appears to be an acceptable opinion among most Republicans.

rcocean said...

"As the evangelical clerical leadership began to figure out that it was their flocks who were targeted, they, too, began to oppose the eugenicists."

Using the word "Target" makes in really scary. In the USA, don't know about elsewhere, but there no forced compulsion to do anything on a large scale. Criminals and the mentally ill and mentally handicapped under Govt care, were in some states, sterilized. IRC, that's when Oliver Wendell Holmes made his statement about "6 Generations of criminal idiots is enough".

But it wasn't just the Catholic Church that opposed it. So did William Jennings Bryan, and many Evangelicals. The dislike of "Social Darwinism" formed the basis for his attacks on Evolution. People forget that BOTH Stalin and Hitler love Darwin.

rcocean said...

Like the claim, "Scientists agree...". If you know any scientists, you would know that they seldom agree on anything. It pains me to know that so many readers are incapable of critical thinking and analysis.

The use of the vague word "Scientist" is usually the give away. What KIND Of Scientist? A Biologist doesn't know anymore about Physics and I do. And vice-versa.

The same thing is done with "Historian". Someone specializing in US Civil War history is no more qualified to comment on "Ranking the Presidents" than I am. He may have a good idea of who was a good President from 1850-1877 but otherwise, no.

Joanne Jacobs said...

I recall reading mockery of Sarah Palin because she and her husband chose not to abort when they discovered their son would have Down's Syndrome. Perhaps that's just because it was Palin, but I do think some people think it's wrong (or weird) to bring a child into the world who won't have a shot at the Ivy League.

Perhaps we could say that abortion is eugenics "adjacent." That seems to be a hot word now.

Also, did the story provide the race, gender, sexual orientation and cis/trans status of the seven historians? We need to know if they're entitled to criticize a black man.

The Vault Dweller said...

"just another in the sorry genre of 'you properly cited my work in the course of an argument I don’t agree with."

I like this quote. It reminded me of when Trump said that Muslims were celebrating on 9-11 in New Jersey. All the media jumped on him claiming he made it completely up. Then he cited an article published near 9-11 that reported exactly that. The reporter who wrote that article just happened to be the one the left falsely claimed Trump was making fun of for being disabled. No, he was making fun of him for being exasperated and struggling for an explanation for why his reporting was suddenly wrong 15 years later.

I'm also reminded of when Mark Levin, first argued that it looked like the intelligence community was spying on the Trump campaign. Everyone in the media jumped on him claiming it was a conspiracy theory, but he merely pointed out the reporting by outlets like the NY Times that he relied on to forum that idea. The NY Times subsequently changed their headline that "Trump tower was wiretapped."

Birkel said...

I interview led nine normals who think college professors couldn't find their own respective ass hole with a road map, a flashlight, and both hands.

My study is just as impressive, but with nine instead of seven.

Birkel said...

Cement factories are situated in majority-black communities. (false claim)
Leftist Collectivists: That proves racism. Racism by the industry. Racism by the zoning commission. Racism by the managers.

Abortion clinics are situated in majority-black communities. (true claim)
Leftist Collectivists: *crickets*

It's all about power.

stlcdr said...

Even if we make abortion completely legal and convince the proletariat that it’s not a big deal, but also acceptable, we will definitely draw the line at the government using abortion as a tool to control the proletariat. No sir, no way, no one has ever done such a thing in history.