Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Flashback: Harvard, Columbia, and National Education Association Teach Courses In Eugenics

Flashback to racism of "the progressives". How did the racist eugenics movement get so popular in America? The Eugenics Archive reports:
After 1914, courses on eugenics were being offered at some of America's leading universities. Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, and Brown were among those listing courses that included eugenics. In the 1920s, the National Education Association's Committee on Racial Well-Being sponsored programs to help college teachers integrate eugenic content in their courses.

By 1928, eugenics was a topic in 376 separate college courses, which enrolled approximately 20,000 students. A content analysis of high school science texts published between 1914 and 1948 indicates that a majority presented eugenics was as legitimate science. These texts embraced Galton's concept of differential birthrates between the biological "fit" and "unfit," training high school students that immigration restriction, segregation, and sterilization were worthy policies to maintain in American culture.

While eugenics was indeed popular, it was poor science and it was rejected on scientific grounds. However, the hereditarian social attitudes that supported popular eugenics remain in the public consciousness to this day. From news stories about "novelty-seeking" genes, to supposedly academic tomes on intellectual "bell curves," to "reawakened" racist interpretations of American history, the social seeds for resurgent eugenics are still alive. If we are not to repeat the errors of the past, we will need to examine modern eugenic visions with intellectual rigor.
The great moments of progressive education in America. No word yet on this story from Harvard's Al Gore.