Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Barack Obama's Heroine and her Plan for Peace

In July of 2007, Obama gave a speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. After noting that Martin Luther King, Jr. had received the "Margaret Sanger Award" in 1966, he said the following:

That struggle for equality is not over and now we are at one of those rare moments where we can actually transform our politics in a fundamental way. But it’s going to take people as resolute as Mrs. Sanger and Dr. King. . .

The "resolute" Sanger was also resolute in her racism and support for eugenics. A short nine years before Dr. King accepted that award (his wife gave his speech for him), Sanger was interviewed on television by Mike Wallace. In that interview she said, "I was what I would call a born humanitarian. I don't like to see people suffer. . ." Sanger is also concerned with reducing the amount of sin in the world, "I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world--that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they're born. That to me is the greatest sin -- that people can -- can commit.."

In order to achieve this reduction in sin and human suffering, Sanger proposed a "Plan for Peace", which was published in the April 1937 edition of Birth Control Review:

d. to apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to
that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

e. to insure the country against future burdens of maintenance for numerous offspring as may be born of feebleminded parents, by pensioning all persons with transmissible disease who voluntarily consent to sterilization.

f. to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of
segregation or sterilization.

g. 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.

The first step would thus be to control the intake and output
of morons, mental defectives, epileptics.

The second step would be to take an inventory of the secondary group such as illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, dope-fiends; classify them in special departments under government medical protection, and segregate them on farms and open spaces as long as necessary for the strengthening and development of moral conduct.

This woman, whose resolute nature Obama thinks we need more of, was also an unapologetic racist and eugenicist and the creator of the "Negro Project":

We do not want 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

This is the woman in whose name Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted an award. This is the woman whose type Obama thinks we need more of.

And if that isn't enough to convince you, Sanger also left her sickly daughter to die alone.

Oh, right, that's a peaceful woman who wants to reduce both sin and suffering.

Lord have mercy on us and preserve us from more of her kind!


Daniel Flynn, Intellectual Morons


Anonymous said...

We admire and honor all sorts of historical figures who happened to hold repugnant views or engage in repugnant behaviors. Thomas Jefferson was actually a slaveholder. G.K. Chesterton, if the New Yorker is to be believed, wanted to exile the Jews. But we can still appreciate the postive aspects of their legacy.

I am grateful to Margaret Sanger because she introduced the concept that women should have agency and choice in reproductive matters, a concept that has been a boon to countless women. My life would be quite different without her.

What bothers me is when people imply that Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice organizations and people are somehow tainted by Sanger's eugenicist ideas. I am not a eugenicist and neither is any pro-choicer I know. Sanger's legacy of empowering WOMEN has survived, and THAT is the legacy we honor. You may not like that legacy either, but it is not the same thing as promoting policies regarding which categories of people are worthy of life.

The irony is this: the true heirs to the eugenicist ideas of the early 20th century are those who complain about the demographic winter among white people.

Anonymous said...

Oops Maggie again.

Anonymous said...

Also, at the risk of quibbling, I smell a rat here:

We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro
population . .

I don't hear her saying she wants to exterminate anyone. She wants to stop that erroneous belief from going out.

I believe in honestly examining Sanger's distasteful ideas. But this quotation definitely sounds misleading and out of context.

-- Maggie

Kamilla said...


You're welcome to debunk the rats you smell - they have been thoroughly documented by Flynn and others. If you can impeach their sources, you are welcome to do so here.

As Chesterton's alleged anti-semitism - that has been thoroughly debunked. I commend to you any of the resources available at the American Chesterton Society's website and their blog.

Finally, as to whether or not Sanger empowered women? Just one reason I vigorously dispute that is the growing body of evidence that abortion is detrimental to women's health and that childbearing is protective against long term health risks. If you want to avoid breast cancer - have babies. If you want to increase your risk of getting it later in life - terminate your first pregnancy by abortion.

And this is not even to mention the long term psychological sequelae such as depression and suicide.

Empowered? Yeah, right.

Michael said...

> Sanger's legacy of empowering WOMEN has survived, and THAT is the legacy we honor.


> ...the demographic winter among white people.

That's because they are exercising their choice not to reproduce. Rather suicidal in the long term -- survival of the fittest, and all that. Simple mathematics.

While the nature-worshipping middle and upper classes are fulfilling their green civic duty to not bring too many new consumers into the world (or is it their own materialistic self-centeredness?), the rest are being fruitful and multiplying.

Anonymous said...

I was away from internet access for the last week or so, but appreciate the comments now that I am back.

I have to admit that I do scratch my head in puzzlement at the notion that choice is somehow bad for women in the area of reproductive rights. Sure, any choice involves trade-offs and there is always the risk that one's choices in life will lead to unhappiness. That is true for all people, male and female, and in all aspects of life. But, at least in the U.S., we treasure the freedom to pursue happiness on our own terms, even if it means that we might make choices that turn out to make us unhappy.

I think we women can figure out what is best for us as individuals just as competently as any male citizen. Sure, everything is a trade off. One woman may decide that the joy of multiple babies is well worth the burdens and risks of multiple pregnancy. Another woman like me may say that pregnancy is not for her, even childlessness means increased risk of ovarian cancer or breast cancer. To me, those risks are worthwhile because the life I want to live, and the areas in which I am contributing to society's welfare, have not thus far included pregnancy (and are unlikely to include pregnancy in the future). All choices in life are a trade-off, but that does not mean that choices should be removed from the individual.

I think the idea that contraception and abortion are "bad" for women is insulting to all of us women, regardless of our personal choices. It is insulting because it implies that women do not have the capacity (or should not be permitted to) decide for ourselves as individuals what is "good" for us. Rather, under this view, we must have what is "good" for us dictated to us by other people.

-- Maggie

Kamilla said...

But Maggie,

Abortion and contraception (other than barrier methods) ARE bad for women. The science is clear on this, as are the warnings that come with every package of hormonal contraception. Hormonal birth control carries significant risk with it - risks that rise with age and length of use and certain other lilfe-style factors, such as smoking.

Abortion is not a reproductive right - because you only seek an abortion when you have already reproduced! Contrary to the propaganda of Sanger's ideological progeny, it is very bad for women. Women who have had an abortion have an increased risk for suicide, substance abuse and depression. They also have an increased risk of breast cancer. If you want to avoid breast cancer, have babies early, if you want to increase your risk - end your first pregnancy in abortion.

Rather than an insult, it is a sad state of affairs when we value our own liberty so greatly we are willing to buy a lie. This is the true insult to women - and we have done it to ourselves.

Anonymous said...

"Good" and "bad" are subjective terms. As such, I don't think other people have the right to tell a woman what is "good" and "bad" for her. Only the individual herself can define her own best interests.

I don't think liberty here means buying into a lie. What lie? When I was being prescribed hormonal birth control, my doctor repeatedly advised me of the various medical risks. But I concluded that these medical risks were worth the benefit of not incurring an unwanted pregnancy. I don't think I am a stupid person, nor do I think my doctor somehow duped me. I think that, for me personally, the benefits of a fairly foolproof way to avoid pregnancy outweighed the risks. I made my choice with my eyes wide open and, even years later, I view it as a life-enhancing choice.

You can say that mine was a choice that was bad for all the potential babies I could have conceived but didn't. But you can't say it was a bad choice for me, because, in a free society, I get to define my own best interests. I certainly wouldn't want the government to define them for me, and I doubt most other Americans would either.

-- Maggie

Kamilla said...

The lie, Maggie is that we have any "right" to personal liberty at the expense of another's life.

And yes, there are objective goods and objective bads. The terms can also be used subjectively. However, for all the reasons I have given in this post and on others, I argue that abortion is most certainly not an objective good for women.

Anonymous said...


The lie, Maggie is that we have any "right" to personal liberty at the expense of another's life.

But isn't that a separate issue than what we have been talking about? That argument has to do with what is best for the fetus, and the extent to which we have an obligation to protect the fetus, regarless of the costs.

But we have been talking about what is best for the woman. In The very reason the abortion debate is so polarizing and so difficult for people is that there is a very real conflict between the interests of the woman and the interests of the fetus. They are not the same unless and until a particular woman decides she wants a baby.

Pregnancy is no picnic. It often involves discomfort, incredible pain and, even in modern day America, grave health risks. Imposing this on women against our will may be in the best interests of the fetus. (I think there is a whole different discussion on whether the woman's best interests should trump that of the life inside her.) But I can't fathom how compulsory pregnancy against a woman's will can be in the best interests of the woman.

Protection of the fetus at all costs may be the right thing to do. But that protection DOES come at a steep cost in women's lives.

-- Maggie

Kamilla said...


Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

It is a bit of a change of tack - I thought I was following up on you where you say, "I don't think liberty here means buying into a lie."

The science is increasingly clear that abortion is NOT good for women. Using a loaded term like "compulsory pregnancy" won't help you here either, I am afraid. There is nothing compulsory about prenancy - it is a natural, expected and easily forseable consequence of a certain action. And there is no one going around enforcing compulsory sexual intercourse, is there? If so, there's always latex.