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Sun May 27, 2012, 07:30 PM

How racist was Margaret Sanger, the creator of PP, in your opinion?

Here is her Wiki page, which talks about her views on eugenics and race...

Here is the thread where I call her an extreme racist, but then I am chastised for spreading right-wing lies, because she is only a little racist...

Am I spreading right-wing lies, or am I right, or are we all wrong? What do you think?

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Response to ZombieHorde (Original post)

Sun May 27, 2012, 07:55 PM

1. I wouldn't call her an 'extreme racist' nor an 'extreme eugenicist' even,

although she did hold some racist views and believed in eugenics.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Original post)

Sun May 27, 2012, 08:31 PM

2. Who cares? She did a lot of good and wasn't perfect.

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Response to virgogal (Reply #2)

Sun May 27, 2012, 08:34 PM

3. I am being accused of spreading right-wing lies, so I care. nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Original post)

Sun May 27, 2012, 09:18 PM

4. To me, being a little racist is like being a little pregnant

Either you are or you are not. She was right about some things but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Original post)

Sun May 27, 2012, 10:31 PM

5. For a racist she sure hung around a lot of black people.


"Sanger believed that lighter-skinned races were superior to darker-skinned races, but would not tolerate bigotry among her staff, nor any refusal to work within interracial projects."

This is the only thing I see in there that would be considered racist and I think that is the product of the times she lived in more than any burning hatred for black people.

Based on the evidence presented on the wiki page, I would have to say calling her an extreme racist is way out of line.

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Response to MrSlayer (Reply #5)

Sun May 27, 2012, 10:36 PM

6. The bit about using eugentics to "assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit" seems

extreme to me.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #6)

Sun May 27, 2012, 10:43 PM

7. That was in reference to mentally retarded people, yes?


Not people of color specifically. So while you might find that wrong, it isn't racist. Her reference to "the race" is clearly the human race.

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Response to MrSlayer (Reply #7)

Sun May 27, 2012, 10:48 PM

8. I think that is seperate from her racial eugenics plan, because of the following...

"Sanger's eugenic policies included an exclusionary immigration policy,"

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #8)

Sun May 27, 2012, 11:03 PM

9. That's really vague.


Without a full explanation of what that policy would entail, it's hard to say whether or not it is racist.

I'd need to have the policy outlined in order to agree or disagree with you.

For what it's worth, I did vote to leave your post up.

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Response to MrSlayer (Reply #5)

Mon May 28, 2012, 02:53 AM

10. agreed. it was another planet then. check what people do.it will tell

You who they are. People didn't have info then like now. Hard to learn and grow without info.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Original post)

Mon May 28, 2012, 05:26 PM

11. if nothing else, she's repugnant

I think anyone who tries to elevate themselves to the position of attempting to play God by deciding who is fit or unfit to bear children is loathsome, arrogant and vile.

To answer your question, from what you've provided, yes, I think she is an extreme racist; plenty of racists can be congenial towards minorities and still not believe they deserve or have a right to their own dignity and destiny. Also because her views were based upon her belief in caste/class.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Original post)

Mon May 28, 2012, 06:10 PM

12. I'll take racist for $200 Alex. A product of her times but still racist

This is just awful:

the Negro Project, an effort to deliver birth control to poor African Americans.[87] Sanger wanted the Negro Project to include black ministers in leadership roles, but other supervisors did not. To emphasize the benefits of involving black community leaders, she wrote to Gamble: (introduction quoted from wiki)

"We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with
social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most
successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal.
We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro
population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if
it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."

-- Margaret Sanger's December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255
Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith
Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in
Linda Gordon's Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth
Control in America . New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.



When Margaret Sanger severed her ties with the Socialist party for the purpose of building an independent birth control campaign, she and her followers became more susceptible than ever before to the anti-Black and anti-immigrant propaganda of the times. Like their predecessors, who had been deceived by the "race suicide" propaganda, the advocates of birth control began to embrace the prevailing racist ideology. The fatal influence of the eugenics movement would soon destroy the progressive potential of the birth control campaign.

During the first decades of the twentieth century the rising popularity of the eugenics movement was hardly a fortuitous development. Eugenic ideas were perfectly suited to the ideological needs of the young monopoly capitalists. Imperialist incursions in Latin America and in the Pacific needed to be justified, as did the intensified exploitation of Black workers in the South and immigrant workers in the North and West. The pseudoscientific racial theories associated with the eugenics campaign furnished dramatic apologies for the conduct of the young monopolies. As a result, this movement won the unhesitating support of such leading capitalists as the Carnegies, the Harrimans and the Kelloggs.26

By 1919 the eugenic influence on the birth control movement was unmistakably clear. In an article published by Margaret Sanger in the American Birth Control League's journal, she defined "the chief issue of birth control" as "more children from the fit, less from the unfit."27 Around this time the ABCL heartily welcomed the author of "The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy" into its inner sanctum.28 Lothrop Stoddard, Harvard professor and theoretician of the eugenics movement, was offered a seat on the board of directors. In the pages of the ABCL's journal, articles by Guy Irving Birch, director of the American Eugenics Society, began to appear. Birch advocated birth control as a weapon to

"... prevent the American people from being replaced by alien or Negro stock, whether it be by immigration or by overly high birth rates among others in this country."29

By 1932 the Eugenics Society could boast that at least twenty-six states had passed compulsory sterilization laws and that thousands of "unfit" persons had already been surgically prevented from reproducing.30 Margaret Sanger offered her public approval of this development. "Morons, mental defectives, epileptics, illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes and dope fiends" ought to be surgically sterilized, she argued in a radio talk.31 She did not wish to be so intransigent as to leave them with no choice in the matter; if they wished, she said, they should be able to choose a lifelong segregated existence in labor camps.


from "Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights" by Angela Davis


A disturbing quote from the Negro Project

"t)he mass of Negroes, particularly in the South, still breed carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes, even more than among whites, is from that portion of the population least fit, and least able to rear children properly."

The passage below is from a pro-life religious site. Enter the link at your own risk if that offends you.

"Lothrop Stoddard was on the board of directors (of Margaret Sanger's Population Association of America) for years.... He had an interview with Adolf Hitler and was very impressed. His book, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy, was written while he served on Sanger's board. Havelock Ellis, one of Sanger's extra-marital lovers, reviewed this..book favorably in The Birth Control Review".

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.

Margaret Sanger's beliefs about social works of charity are revealing: She criticized the success-- not failure-- of charity... She called for the halt to the medical care being given to slum mothers, and decried the expense to the taxpayers of monies being spent on the deaf, blind and dependent. She condemned foreign missionaries for reducing the infant mortality rates in developing countries, and declared charity to be more evil than for the assistance it provided to the poor and needy. Sanger's thinking moved to fascism in an elitist attitude that presumes to judge who is worthy to live and to die.


These quotes settle it:
"Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated." - Margaret Sanger

"Today eugenics is suggested by the most diverse minds as the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems. - Margaret Sanger

In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feebleminded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation. - Margaret Sanger

"The third group [of society] are those irresponsible and reckless ones having little regard for the consequences of their acts, or whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers. Many of this group are diseased, feeble-minded, and are of the pauper element dependent upon the normal and fit members of society for their support. There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped." - Margaret Sanger

"Slavs, Latin, and Hebrew immigrants are) human weeds ... a deadweight of human waste ... (Blacks, soldiers, and Jews are a) menace to the race."

"Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need ... We must prevent Multiplication of this bad stock."
- Margaret Sanger, April 1933 Birth Control Review

The more I'm reading, the sicker I'm getting. What's this?

"To apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted. . . to apportion farm lands and homesteads for these segregated persons where they would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives. . ." -Margaret Sanger, "Plan for Peace." Birth Control Review, Volume XVI, Number 4 (April 1932), pp. 107-8.

What percentage of the population did she consider *tainted*?

". . .nearly half - 47.3 per cent - of the population had the mentality of twelve-year-old children or less - in other words that they are morons." Mararet Sanger, The Pivot of Civilazation, p. 263

"a special type of philanthropy or benevolence, . . . which strikes me as being more insidiously injurious than any other. . . to supply gratis medical and nursing facilities to slum mothers." The Pivot of Civilization, p. 114

". . . we are paying for and even submitting to the dictates of an ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all, . . ." The Pivot of Civilization, p. 187

"Borderline cases" - "a greater menace" = 39.2%

"Morons" - Sterilize and Segregate = 47.3%

"Thoroughbreds" - Allowed to Reproduce = 13.5%

Fun fact. F. Scott Fitzgerald took a poke at the nasty eugenics movement and at Stoddard and his book, The Rising Tide of Color in The Great Gatsby.

One of the novel’s least attractive characters expresses enthusiasm for a book by “Goddard:”

“Civilization’s going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently. “I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read “The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?”

“Why no,” I answered, rather surprised by his tone.”

“Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be—will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”

“Tom’s getting very profound,” said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. “He reads deep books with long words in them. What was that word we—”

“Well these books are all scientific,” insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. “This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”

“We’ve got to beat them down,” whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.

“You ought to live in California—” began Miss Baker, but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.

“This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and—” After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. “—And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization—oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?”

There was something pathetic in his concentration…

I vote racist and elitist for $200. Make that $500. Her easy acceptance of racism is inexcusable, even for her times. There's no sense in white-washing this. She probably wouldn't be a racist if she were around today, but it is what it is.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Original post)

Mon May 28, 2012, 07:04 PM

13. I'm really glad you started this thread

I'm reading part 3 of Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights by Angela Davis. I've never read this before and welcome learning more. All 3 parts are worth reading.

The 3 parts are only of Chapter 12 of her book "Women, Race & Class". Now I want the book.

Part 1
Part 2

The abortion rights activists of the early 1970s should have examined the history of their movement. Had they done so, they might have understood why so many of their Black sisters adopted a posture of suspicion toward their cause. They might have understood how important it was to undo the racist deeds of their predecessors, who had advocated birth control as well as compulsory sterilization as a means of eliminating the "unfit" sectors of the population. Consequently, the young white feminists might have been more receptive to the suggestion that their campaign for abortion rights include a vigorous condemnation of sterilization abuse, which had become more widespread than ever.

It was not until the media decided that the casual sterilization of two Black girls in Montgomery, Alabama, was a scandal worth reporting that the Pandora's box of sterilization abuse was finally flung open. But by the time the case of the Relf sisters broke, it was practically too late to influence the politics of the abortion rights movement. It was the summer of 1973 and the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortions had already been announced in January. Nevertheless, the urgent need for mass opposition to sterilization abuse became tragically clear. The facts surrounding, the Relf sisters' story were horrifyingly simple. Minnie Lee, who was twelve years old, and Mary Alice, who was fourteen, had beer unsuspectingly carted into an operating room, where surgeons irrevocably robbed them of their capacity to bear children.34 The surgery had been ordered by the HEW-funded Montgomery Community Action Committee after it was discovered that Depo-Provera, a drug previously administered to the girls as a birth prevention measure, caused cancer in test animals.35

In the aftermath of the publicity exposing the Relf sisters' case similar episodes were brought to light. In Montgomery alone eleven girls, also in their teens, had been similarly sterilized. HEW-funded birth control clinics in other states, as it turned out had also subjected young girls to sterilization abuse. Moreover individual women came forth with equally outrageous stories. Nial Ruth Cox, for example, filed suit against the state of North Carolina. At the age of eighteen — eight years before the suit — officials had threatened to discontinue her family's welfare payments if she refused to submit to surgical sterilization.37 Before she assented to the operation, she was assured that her infertility would be temporary.38

Nial Ruth Cox's lawsuit was aimed at a state which had diligently practiced the theory of eugenics. Under the auspicies of the Eugenics Commission of North Carolina, so it was learned, 7,686 sterilizations had been carried out since 1933. Although the operations were justified as measures to prevent the reproduction of "mentally deficient persons," about 5,000 of the sterilized persons had been Black.39 According to Brenda Feigen Fasteau, the ACLU attorney representing Nial Ruth Cox, North Carolina's recent record was not much better.

"As far as I can determine, the statistics reveal that since 1964, approximately 65% of the women sterilized in North Carolina were Black and approximately 35% were white."40



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Response to ZombieHorde (Original post)

Sat Feb 22, 2014, 01:03 PM

14. Davis was wrong, Sanger was no racist

Angela Davis was way off base in regard to Margaret Sanger. She was not a racist, and many of the quotes attributed to her were taken out of context or were completely fictitious. I highly recommend Peter Bagge's new book, "Woman Rebel."

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Response to moishe (Reply #14)

Sat Feb 22, 2014, 01:05 PM

15. Welcome to DU

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Response to gopiscrap (Reply #15)

Sat Feb 22, 2014, 01:34 PM

17. Thanks for the welcome


(Strangely enough, Sanger was also anti-abortion. And recognized the way to stop abortions, was to stop unwanted pregnancy. Something that should be obvious to anyone. except of course today's GOP.)

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Response to moishe (Reply #17)

Sat Feb 22, 2014, 06:26 PM

18. My pleasure

hope we can learn from one another and have a few laughs in the process!!

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Response to ZombieHorde (Original post)

Sat Feb 22, 2014, 01:09 PM

16. I don't know -

and I want to thank you for this thread because now I am going to read the Davis book.

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