Posted on August 4, 2004

Eugenics Backer Causes Stir in Tenn. Race

Amber Mcdowell, AP, My Way News, August 3, 2004

Republican congressional candidate James L. Hart acknowledges that he is an “intellectual outlaw.”

He is an unapologetic supporter of eugenics, the phony science that resulted in thousands of sterilizations in an attempt to purify the white race. He believes the country will look “like one big Detroit” if it doesn’t eliminate welfare and immigration. He believes that if blacks were integrated centuries ago, the automobile never would have been invented.

He shows up at voters’ homes wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a gun, and tells them that “white children deserve the same rights as everyone else.”

Despite his radical views, Hart may end up winning the Republican nomination because he is the only GOP candidate on the ballot in Thursday’s primary. His presence in the campaign has embarrassed Republican leaders, who were blind-sided by Hart after they didn’t bother fielding a candidate. Democratic Rep. John Tanner has held the seat for 15 years and is considered safe in November.

Republicans now desperately hope that a write-in candidate will stop Hart.

“I would characterize him as a racist, an elitist,” said write-in candidate Dennis Bertrand, a financial analyst and former military officer. “His idea of . . . genetically altering the human race in order to build a super race with super intelligence is appalling.”

Much of Hart’s platform revolves around eugenics, which arose in the early 20th century as a pseudoscientific movement to solve social problems by preventing the “unfit” from having children. It inspired 33 states to pass laws that allowed the sterilization of some 65,000 people, and Nazi Germany used the U.S. examples to justify programs that sterilized and killed millions.

Hart, a 60-year-old real estate agent, knows his views on eugenics are far from the mainstream and viewed as racist by most people.

He insists his beliefs have nothing to do with racism and everything to do with “favored races” from Europe and Asia and “less-favored races” from Africa. To achieve his goal of a country populated by “favored races,” Hart proposes eliminating both welfare and immigration.

“If an individual demonstrates the ability to produce and contribute to society, he or she would be encouraged to have more children. People on welfare would not,” Hart said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Bertrand says he found out about Hart’s views after returning from active duty with the National Guard and going on the Internet to learn more about the race in Tennessee’s 8th District. He says he is running to make sure Hart does not win the Republican Party’s endorsement.

“I was just appalled by what I’d seen there,” said Bertrand, who has been active in local politics for years. “It had nothing to do with the beliefs I have, or of any Republican I know — or any Democrat or independent for that matter.”

Bertrand immediately was endorsed by the statewide grass-roots group TeamGOP, which called for Republicans to “unite against the politics of hate.”

The 8th District covers the mostly rural counties of northwest Tennessee, stretching from north Memphis to Clarksville. Many of the counties have large black populations.

The two candidates continue to actively campaign for the nomination — Bertrand visiting local GOP gatherings and Hart going door-to-door with his unorthodox, gun-toting approach.

“Every person who opens the door — as long as they’re white — I’ll say, ‘I’m James Hart. I’m running for Congress. My name will be on the ballot in the Aug. 5 Republican primary. I think white children deserve the same rights as everyone else.’”