Nazi America: Our Recent Eugenic Past makes the News

Why Nazi America? As late as 1979, people were forcibly sterilized according to state eugenics laws.

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I was alive and conscious in 1979. It was the age of trucker songs and I associate the time with a lot of roller skating (perhaps that was just me). I remember an obsession with the music of the forties and fifties as some kind of golden age—which I now recognize as the equivalent of my own nostalgia for music from the eighties.

But I don’t remember ever being aware that we lived in a land of compulsory sterilization according to eugenic ideology.

It was tapering off during the seventies, but it still blows my mind that it was happening.

If you are like me, you are aware that the Eugenics movement was in the heart and soul of the “Progressive Movement” in the United States, from the end of the Nineteenth Century into the beginnings of World War II. Planned Parenthood founder and matron saint, Margaret Sanger, is sometimes remembered for this, but the important point to remember is that Sanger did not stand out among Progressives as an anomaly. She believed what all her friends and fellow travelers believed. And they firmly embedded themselves in America’s ruling class.

So this brings me to a recent Associated Press story about a senior citizen from Virginia who just received $25,000 from the state.

Lewis Reynolds didn’t understand what had been done to him when he was 13.

Years later, after getting married, the Lynchburg man discovered he couldn’t father children. The reason: He had been sterilized by the state.

Reynolds was among more than 7,000 Virginians involuntarily sterilized between 1924 and 1979 under the Virginia Eugenical Sterilization Act.

Advocates for the surviving victims won a three-year fight Thursday when the Virginia General Assembly budgeted $400,000 to compensate them at the rate of $25,000 each.

It’s welcome news, Reynolds said.

“I think they done me wrong,” he said. “I couldn’t have a family like everybody else does. They took my rights away.”

Eugenics is the now-discredited movement that sought to improve the genetic composition of humankind by preventing those considered “defective” from reproducing. Virginia’s Sterilization Act became a model for similar legislation passed around the country and the world, including Nazi Germany. Nationwide, 65,000 Americans were sterilized in 33 states, including more than 20,000 in California alone, said Mark Bold, executive director of the Christian Law Institute, which has been advocating the cause of the Virginia victims since 2013.

Virginia is the second state to approve compensation for victims of the eugenics program. North Carolina approved payments of $50,000 for each victim in 2013.

But the money from the state comes too late for most of those who were sterilized in Virginia, Bold said. There are only 11 known surviving victims, he said. Two have died in the past year, he said. Those who are left greeted the news with tears and hugs, Bold said.

I often toy with a “we live on a Nazi Planet” thesis—including, of course, a Nazi America; but it also extends to the United Nations. This story doesn’t prove my theory. In fact, it could be taken at face value as evidence that we have repented.

[See also, “42 Years of Legal Abortion Eugenics.”]

But as late as 1979 this stuff was still going on!

So after the Nazis (the ones ruling Germany anyway) were defeated, no one changes these laws. We go through the rest of the forties, the fifties, the sixties, and on into the seventies. That is over thirty years of sterilizations.

Are we really past it? Or is the eugenic ideology just waiting for a chance to go public again?

PS. Notice that, because of this story, the mainstream press was forced to acknowledge the work of a Christian law group.