The Darwin/Racism/Eugenics Connection


You know how books often have a “by-line”? Did you know that Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species had one?

Nah, neither did I.

Want to know what it was? Ready? Phil Ryken gives us the scoop:

The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life

Now, though I’d never heard that by-line, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Why? Because the dirty little secret of Darwinism, understood by eugenicist monsters like the founder of Planned Parenthood, Maggie Sanger, is that Darwinism is perfectly compatible with both racism and racism’s uglier sister, eugenics, the selective reduction of the inferiors in the gene pool by forced sterilization, selective breeding, etc. Yeah, it’s all of a piece.

Now that fact alone doesn’t render Darwinism false, of course; what it does do, though, is to illuminate the very natural consequences that flow from the adoption of Darwinism as one’s explanation of origins. If there’s no God, of course, then anything’s possible, and some things unthinkable become sane and moral.


  1. bobxxxx on February 17, 2009 at 3:36 am

    You don’t know what you’re talking about…

  2. Byron on February 17, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Dear bobxxxx,

    I’ve taken the liberty of editing your comment, since you chose to employ language that is verboten around here. I must say I wasn’t surprised, though; using that language when one has no argument is very, very common. I’d invite you to actually point out where I’m wrong, if you have the ability to defend your position. So…

    Am I incorrect about the by-line?

    Did Margaret Sanger and Darwin not favor eugenics?

    Tell me, Bob, about what do I not know I’m talking?

  3. Derlin on February 19, 2009 at 2:03 am

    I am not seeing how this by-line shows Darwin favored eugenics. It reads like simple scientific observation to me. He just states than mankind intentionally chooses to behave in a way that fights against the natural evolutionary processes when it comes to his own kind. I don’t see a value judgment that this is a good thing or bad thing, just that things are this way and have been this way. It is not clear to me whether his use of “ignorant” in the last line is indicating that people should treat themselves as animals, or if it is merely used to point out the irony of choosing to act in seemingly contradictory ways when dealing with animals versus people.

    His next lines are worth repeating as they suggest why this difference exists:
    “The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.”

    It’s much more clear that Margaret Sanger supported eugenics (from my reading anyway), but she came at it from a parental responsibility perspective (only have children if it is a “good” thing to do), and disagreed with attempts to force people to breed, or to be sterilized, or to be euthanized. So, based on that, I’m not sure she’s a good example of a supporter of eugenics.

    I’m beginning to see two sides of eugenics. One, which is essentially genetics, parents with good genes pass them to their children. I can’t really argue with that. The second requires manual intervention. Men choosing who may breed, who may live, who must die, to preserve or create a better human race. This is the eugenics I usually think of, and this I believe is pure evil. I see neither Sanger nor Darwin as supporting this.

    • Byron on February 20, 2009 at 9:56 am

      Wikipedia has this to say about eugenics: “Its advocates regarded it as a social philosophy for the improvement of human hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of certain people and traits, and the reduction of reproduction of certain people and traits.”

      If that definition is correct, it’s hard for me to see anything positive about eugenics at all. The facts of heredity are one thing–with which I agree we “can’t argue”. But eugenics are another requiring, as you say, “manual intervention”. And I do see Sanger, and likely Darwin, supporting this; at the very least, even if Darwin himself did not favor eugenics, his work lays out a foundation for its implementation.

      As to Sanger, I think you need to read more. From the website Black Eugenics:

      At a March 1925 international birth control gathering in New York City, a speaker warned of the menace posed by the “black” and “yellow” peril. The man was not a Nazi or Klansman; he was Dr. S. Adolphus Knopf, a member of Margaret Sanger’s American Birth Control League (ABCL), which along with other groups eventually became known as Planned Parenthood.

      Sanger’s other colleagues included avowed and sophisticated racists. One, Lothrop Stoddard, was a Harvard graduate and the author of The Rising Tide of Color against White Supremacy. Stoddard was something of a Nazi enthusiast who described the eugenic practices of the Third Reich as “scientific” and “humanitarian.” And Dr. Harry Laughlin, another Sanger associate and board member for her group, spoke of purifying America’s human “breeding stock” and purging America’s “bad strains.” These “strains” included the “shiftless, ignorant, and worthless class of antisocial whites of the South.”

      Not to be outdone by her followers, Margaret Sanger spoke of sterilizing those she designated as “unfit,” a plan she said would be the “salvation of American civilization.: And she also spike of those who were “irresponsible and reckless,” among whom she included those ” whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers.” She further contended that “there is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped.” That many Americans of African origin constituted a segment of Sanger considered “unfit” cannot be easily refuted.

      Also, here is an article by Julianne Malveaux, who is a far left-wing commentator, on Margaret’s legacy.

      At the very least, she associated with some racist eugenicists. Here are some more of her comments, albeit lacking a lot of context, which might make some of these things less egregious.

      As to Darwin, isn’t the term “favored races” problematic enough in its own right?

  4. Mary B. Lavin on March 6, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    The Eve of Man’s Manipulation

    Dying for designer genes
    Trying every new pair
    Acid washed, custom made
    Branded DNA wear

    We the people have a greed
    A better breed’s the answer
    Our self-enhancing power only
    Spreading like a cancer

    Scientists increase their scope
    Scalpels, needles, knives
    Off they go down the slope
    Crashing into lives

    They break into the master plan
    And make a master copy
    They try to freeze a mortal man
    And throw away the floppy

    Oh highest tech intellect
    Think about the scar
    Think before dissecting us
    Controlling who we are

    You scrub away and scour
    And carefully inspect us
    With microscopic power
    You claim you can perfect us

    So slipping down the slope we go
    To the deep abyss below
    Design a mind, create a face
    A polished, finished human race…

    copyright Mary B. Lavin/Lavinia Publishing 2009

    • Byron on March 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm

      Mary, you have a gift! Thanks for sharing.

  5. ECO on March 23, 2009 at 6:20 am

    The connection between famous Darwinians and eugenics is far more extensive than people imagine. See here:

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