dead racists

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: You're Just Lucky God Isn't Here Edition

Reverend Lovejoy: Oh now, please. I-I-I thought saints were supposed to be friendly.

St. Eleutherius: You...! You're just lucky God isn't here!

--The Simpsons, "In Marge We Trust"

A number of people like to tell us what Jesus would do if he were around today--and astonishingly, it's almost always exactly what they have done or plan on doing.

And it's amazing what Jesus was into in the past:
If Jesus had been among us, he would have been president of the first Eugenics Congress. Interpreting the spiritual significance of Weissman's microscope, Darwin's experiments, and Gregor Mendel's peas, he would have cried: "A new commandment I give unto you — the biological golden rule, the completed golden rule. Do unto both born and the unborn as you would have both the born and the unborn do unto you." This is the biologist's conception of the brotherhood of man. This is the real golden rule. This, and this only, is the final reconciliation of science and the Bible.

This was from a 1922 article for Century magazine by one Albert Wiggam, entitled "The New Decalogue of Science". It's written as a letter by an anonymous "biologist" to an equally anonymous "statesman"--the subtitle is, in fact, "An Open Letter from the Biologist to the Statesman." He would later embellish this into a three-hundred page book. A digital reproduction of the article can be found in the Eugenics Archive (do a search for image number 1349).

This notion that God supports eugenics is prevalent in his little article. In the opening pages:
You are familiar with some ten commandments which God wrote on tables of stone and gave to one of your predecessors as a true chart of statesmanship. He later added two supplements known as the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount. You have failed conspicuously to put these ancient principle into practice, and it may surprise your Excellency to learn that God is still revealing to mankind now and revolutionary aspects of these principles of statesmanship and life. However, instead of using table of stone, prophecies, visions, and dreams, He has in this day given men the microscope, the telescope, the spectroscope, and the chemist's test tube to enable them to make their own revelations. And these new instruments have not only added an enormous range of new commandments, an entirely new decalogue to man's moral code, but they have supplied a technic for putting the old ones into effect. Men have never been really righteous because they did not know how. They could not obey God's will, because they had no way of finding out what it was. But science has at last given to men a true technic of righteousness. And this new dispensation is just as divine as the old. It is filled with warnings of wrath, both present and to come, for the biological ungodly as well as alluring promises to them who do His biological will. These warnings should, first, make you tremble. They should, second, make you pray. They should, third, fill you with the militant faith of a new evangel.

But what exactly are these biological warnings? Well, he declared that races must create their own cultures, and cannot mix for fear of "biological holocaust".
[V]ast problems of race migrations, mixtures and hybridizations will tomorrow tax all the genius of both science and statesmanship. Biology has exploded the myth of the melting-pot as well as the myth of war. Each race and nation must still create its own culture, its own national or racial psychology, its own specific intellectual discipline. But if one culture crushes another by war, or great spiritual disciplines are lost by hybridizations of strange and disharmonic peoples, all civilization will go down in the biological holocaust. Consequently your narrow nationalistic patriotisms, loyalties, and ambitions must merge, not disappear, but merge into the larger loyalties, the wider moralities, and the higher processes of the unitary development of man.

The problem of "disharmonic" races dragging each other down, however, wasn't the main focus of his paper. Instead he spent a long time arguing that for a race to advance, it had to also get rid of the dregs of its own society--apparently statesmen of 1922, like the Lumati of 2259, hadn't yet thought of that. Most of the article is then typical eugenics nonsense: we have to let evolution run its course, we can't pamper idiots and insane by giving them treatment, we shouldn't try to treat men equally, nature is everything & nurture is nothing, etc.

Why is this?
The first warning that biology gives to statesmanship is that the advanced races of mankind are going backward; that they are biologically plunging downward; that civilization as you administer it is self-destructive; that civilization always destroys the man that builds it; that your vast efforts to improve man's lot, instead of improving man, are hastening the hour of his destruction; that the brain of man is not growing; that man as a breed of organic beings is not advancing; that microbe diseases are, in all probability, lessening, but man's incapacity to resist them is apparently increasing; that the physiologic and structural diseases of man's body and mind - "heart disease," Bright's disease, diabetes, cancer, degenerative diseases of the arteries, liver and central organs, the functional neuroses - neurasthenia, hysteria, epilepsy and insanity are increasing; that weaklings, wastrels, paupers, hoboes and imbeciles are increasing; that leadership and genius, great men and first class work men are decreasing.

...

[Y]ou defy nature with your civilization. Evolution is a bloody business, but civilization tries to make it a pink tea. Barbarism is the only method by which man has ever organically progressed, and civilization is the only method by which he has ever organically declined. Civilization is the most dangerous enterprise upon which man ever set out. For when you take man out of the bloody, brutal, but beneficent, hand of natural selection, you place him in the soft, perfumed, daintily gloved, but far more dangerous, hand of artificial selection. Unless you call science to your aid and make this artificial selection that we call civilization as efficient as the rude methods of nature, you bungle the whole colossal task.

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October 2007

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