“Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race.”
He goes on to say: ” It is highly unjust that a minute minority should be called upon to supply brains for the unthinking mass of the community, but it is even worse to burden the responsible and larger, but still overworked, elements in the community with an ever increasing number of moral perverts, mental defectives, and hereditary cripples”
An elementary knowledge of the history of Africa, or the more recent and much-quoted example of Haiti, is sufficient to prove[Pg 284] that the Negro’s own social heritage is at a level far below that of the whites among whom he is living in the United States. No matter how much one may admire some of the Negro’s individual traits, one must admit that his development of group traits is primitive, and suggests a mental development which is also primitive.
If the number of original contributions which it has made to the world’s civilization is any fair criterion of the relative value of a race, then the Negro race must be placed very near zero on the scale
In 1918, Paul Popenoe, an Army venereal disease specialist during World War I, co-wrote the internationally used textbook, Applied Eugenics.
Popenoe observed what he calledLethal Selection at work during the War.
“Poverty becomes rife, and sanitation and medical treatment are commonly sacrificed under the strain. During a war, that mitigation of the action of natural selection which is so common now among civilized nations, is somewhat less effective than in times of peace.”
For Popenoe the primary solution to the problem of mental defectives is execution by Lethal Neglect.
Robinson wrote: “The best thing would be to gently chloroform these children or to give them a dose of potassium cyanide.”
“Society cannot prevent the birth of all the unfit and degenerates, but it certainly has the right to prevent the birth of as many of them as possible…when it comes to distinctly and unquestionably anti-social acts, a human being has no more rights than an animal. We pity the paranoiac, we pity the insane, we pity the degenerate, but none the less we have not only the right but it is our duty to prevent the paranoiac, the insane, and the degenerate from reproducing their kind, from polluting the racial stock, and from being a social and economic burden to the sane, the normal and the healthy.”
The 1927 Supreme Court Buck v. Bell decisionupheld the right of the State to impose sterilization on the unfit. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmeswrote: “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…. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
With this decision the Mentally Ill and the disabled acquired a deeper and more sinister stigma.
The most commonly suggested method of execution was to set up local gas chambers. However, many in the eugenics movement did not believe that Americans were ready to implement a large-scale euthanasia program, so many doctors had to find clever ways of subtly implementing eugenic euthanasia in various medical institutions. For example, a mental institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk infected with tuberculosis (reasoning that genetically fit people would be resistant), resulting in 30-40% annual death rates. Other doctors practiced euthanasia through various forms of lethal neglect. Eugenics in the United States
Lethal Medical Neglect
Applied Eugenicsdevotes a chapter to Lethal Selection: Two forms of lethal selection were distinguished, one depending on starvation and the other on causes not connected with the food supply. Direct starvation is not a factor of importance in the survival of most races during most of the time at the present day so far as the civilized portion of the world is concerned. But disease and the other lethal factors not connected with the food-supply, through which natural selection acts, are still of great importance. From a half to two-thirds of all deaths are of a selective character, even under favorable conditions.