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Can someone please help me debunk this bullshit about Margaret Sanger being a racist and eugenicist?

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Hugabear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 03:48 PM
Original message
Can someone please help me debunk this bullshit about Margaret Sanger being a racist and eugenicist?
I had some right-wing nutjob telling me how Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was involved in the Eugenics movement, and actually wanted to exterminate African-Americans. Indeed, a quick Google search of Margaret Sanger brings up several websites accusing her of saying some pretty horribly racist stuff.

My gut tells me that this is nothing more than a well-orchestrated right wing smear campaign against Ms. Sanger, in an attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood. But is there a way to actually debunk this bullshit?
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cali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 03:54 PM
Response to Original message
1. no. it's true. she was leading voice on Eugenics
and some of that seems to be rooted in racism. I wanted to defend her on this too, but research leads to the inescapable conclusion that she held some pretty repugnant views.
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Donnachaidh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
2. umm, IIRC Prescott Bush was also interested in eugenics, and was involved with PP
I'd have to look it up, I think it was Kitty Kelley's book about the Bush family. But she and he were linked to the fan club for eugenics.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #2
11. George W. Bush belonged to "Zero Population Growth"
or whatever it was called.

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Donnachaidh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. Prescott was involved with Planned Parenthood
I'll have to dig the source book out.
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tanyev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
3. Well, you could drag the Bush family into the mix.
Prescott Bush served as treasurer for the first national campaign to establish PP. His name is at the top of the letterhead:

http://www.randomhouse.com/doubleday/thefamily/media/thefamily_document007a.pdf
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 03:56 PM
Response to Original message
4. Harder to find liberal information on searches now . . . especially Yahoo . ..
Edited on Mon Apr-27-09 04:06 PM by defendandprotect
much of the useful stuff has been washed --

You're right, the internet is overladen with attacks on Sanger . . .

Unfortunately, even Wiki has some of it --

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Sanger

From what I'm seeing, it's being used as a weapon against Planned Parenthood which

is their actual target -- and Hillary and anyone else who champions Sanger's birth

control work and/or Planned Parenthood.

Keep in mind that they also use the fact that Susan B. Anthony was against abortion.

Certainly Planned Parenthood is neither racist nor anti-Catholic -- everyone seems

to have abortions at equal rates. Including Catholics.



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DonP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
5. I wish I could but ...
Sanger was the product of her times and, from most of what I've read over the years (I did a research paper profile on her in Grad School), she had some pretty ugly beliefs about race and genetics by todays standards.

Back then a lot of people believed you could actually predict criminal and anti social behavior based solely on looks. Look up Lombroso (sp?) for another example.

If you find anything else with a decent source I'd be interested. I'll keep track of this thread to see if anyone turns something better up.
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
6. She wanted poor women to have the same reproductive choices as wealthy women.
Edited on Mon Apr-27-09 03:59 PM by Quantess
Poor women kept having so many unwanted children, and with no affordable birth control available to them, they had little control over the fate of themselves and the resulting worsened poverty of their large families. Wealthy women already had these options. Legal or not, wealthy women paid doctors for abortions, and were able to afford birth control. Sanger wanted poor women to have access to birth control.

I think Margaret Sanger is a remarkable Women's Rights pioneer for that.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 04:01 PM
Response to Original message
7. Alas, Sanger had some serious flaws
and a large part of her push for birth control was so that fewer "undesirables" would be born, black and white but predominately black.

I think it's part of why, to this day, so many are leery of family planning and abortion services.

Knowing history means knowing all of it and a lot of our heroes and heroines had warts aplenty.
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #7
19. Agreed. Remember that a lot of those undesirables were
Catholic immigrants, and you have a better understanding of the institutional hostility to birth control.
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mikita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 04:02 PM
Response to Original message
8. I learned something of her
in F. William Engdahl's book, Seeds of Destruction. Well referenced information on her that supports what you heard. BTW, I highly recoommend the book for anyone to read about other marvelous things our controllers have in store for us.

Mikita
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TexasProgresive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 04:02 PM
Response to Original message
9. This is not a new charge against Sanger
It would take someone totally unbiased to do the research to either debunk or prove the charges. From what I've read of Sanger quotes it very well may be true.

Lots of racists and eugenicists in her day.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 04:13 PM
Response to Original message
10. Genetics was in its "infancy" in that era,
Edited on Mon Apr-27-09 04:14 PM by SoCalDem
and MANY prominent people looked for reasons for some of the deformities & infirmities they saw.. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why they might have dabbled in eugenics.. We were an agrarian society, and farmers knew about breeding stock animals , to arrive at the "perfect" specimens they all wanted..

"Science" in that era, was on the cusp of understanding, but not quite "there" yet.. Racism was still mainstream, and in all segments of society. There was no TV, not much radio...(many did not even have electricity, phones or indoor plumbing) , and many people were iliterate..The common people trusted science, and if a scientist thought that "selective breeding" of certain groups of people would help society, many people were quite okay with that..

Looking at the era, from our vantage point is not totally fair, since we now know that their ideas were not valid..but at the time, they thought they might have been "onto something"..

Educated people of that era mostly missed the fact that, perhaps the reason there were so many "morons" and people of low intelligence, could have been that people were mal-nourished as kids and never went to school.. It was also an era of intense immigrant-bashing (sound familiar?), so to them , it made sense to portray people from "there" to be of low value, and not worthy of reproducing..:(

Think about it.. Even today, it's not about how many young strong men come here to work in car washes, trim palm trees, work in the fields for shitty wages... it's a "problem" when those young men form FAMILIES and need services for their wives & children.. It';s always about finding the money to provide SERVICES to "people we don't like"..
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 05:21 PM
Response to Original message
12. Sorry, but it isn't bullshit
She was a leading proponent of eugenics back in her day(along with several other prominent Americans, Henry Ford among them), and her support of eugenics was based, at least in part, upon her inherent racist outlook.
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readmoreoften Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 05:22 PM
Response to Original message
13. Sanger was a eugenicist. But it was a common scientific opinion before the Nazi era. /nt
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 05:25 PM
Response to Original message
15. No rebuttal cause it's true. Another fun fact: Katherine Hepburn's mother: also among
the founders of PP.
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librechik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 05:53 PM
Response to Original message
16. Right--Progressives 120 years ago were different. So were Democrats,
(at least the Southern ones) also racists and leaders of the KKK--until the Civil Rights laws passed Congress, after which they all jumped off the Civil Rights loving Dem train and became Republicans, happy to welcome racists and the KKK into their dwindling demographic.

People used to think Lead was good in makeup, too, and they used to put radium on clock dials, cuz they didn't know any better.

After 120 years, Progressives got smarter, Republicans got stupider. Go figure.
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 05:54 PM
Response to Original message
17. Sorry she was...
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 05:58 PM
Response to Original message
18. Not bullshit, but true
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:17 PM
Response to Original message
20. Why?
I'm no expert, but it jives with what I know of her.

But so what? Nobody is a caricature of good or evil in every aspect of their lives, and people who do great things can be slimeballs. PP is not into eugenics or racism. What if its founder was? Hitler loved the same dog breed I do. Wagner was a virulent anti-semite who wrote some of the most sublime music in history. Ulysses S Grant saved the Union but was a total lush. When we seek to completely whitewash those who do good things, or believe it devalues those good things when they cannot be whitewashed, we are exhibiting bias every bit as troubling as those she is accused of, because we are not treating people equally and allowing them the freedom to err like the rest of us. Heroes on the side of causes we agree with can be despicable. Villains on the other side can be noble in other areas.
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juno jones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:30 PM
Response to Original message
21. There is some peripheral information in 'War On the Weak'
by Edwin Black.

It's a mixed bag. She had her attitudes, but distanced herself after awhile from the purely eugenics crowd and associations. I think she was more classist than racsist. She also genuinely wanted to better women's places in life, as opposed to the eugenics types, which was anathema to them, desiring women who were genetically capable to serve as brood mares.

The deal for their respective associations to merge their forces in 1936 fell apart when the eugenisists realized that Sanger could siphon off a huge number of their more moderate supporters. Sounds like a plum time for Prescott to have been involved.
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Codeine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:33 PM
Response to Original message
22. It's a fair cop, guv.
Sorry, but she was just as described.

Of course, this has absolutely fuck-all to do with modern PP, so tell them to get bent when they bring it up.
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janx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:34 PM
Response to Original message
23. I would urge you to go beyond the "internets" in doing research
about Margaret Sanger. If possible, find some good library/scholarly databases to get the full story.
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