Mendoza Eugenics Stalled As California Legislator Considers Deaf to Be Defective Americans

Dan Levin, Cutting Edge, June 21, 2010

California Assemblyman Tony Mendoza has been stalled in his effort to pass legislation the deaf community feels will launch a eugenic campaign against them. {snip}

California eugenics was a system of eliminating unwanted bloodlines of those who were deemed “social misfits” in the twisted pseudoscience. Those targeted included such groups as the poor, prostitutes, Asians, whites with brown hair, those needing glasses, the deaf and many others. The radical early twentieth century social engineering plan became entrenched decades before Hitler came to power. Hitler emulated the California state statutes in his own Nazi eugenic crusade. Ultimately, some 66,000 Americans under 27 state laws were forcibly sterilized for a variety of eugenic reasons, with about a third to a half of the victims in California. That state’s legislature has already issued a formal apology for targeting groups for extinction.

Mendoza’s eugenic bill, known as AB2072, {snip} calls for all newborns to be screened for hearing problems; and if found to be deaf, their parents are to be given an “informative brochure” describing the options. The problem, complain large numbers of deaf people, is that the brochure is under the control of the well-financed cochlear implant industry, the audiology profession and various Alexander Graham Bell foundations–all of which are determined to see deaf culture, and its distinctive American Sign Language, disappear. Alexander Graham Bell was a pioneer of American eugenics. Cochlear implants are controversial medical devices that augment hearing and, in many ways, tend to do away with the need to communicate using American Sign Language.

For their part, the generation-to-generation deaf are passionately determined to keep their special identity which depends upon visual communication, including sign language. They have fought back with mass protests and letter writing campaigns, as well as STOP AB2072 Internet sites and t-shirts. The deaf community also brought in the historical expertise of Edwin Black, author of the award-winning eugenics book War Against the Weak, which chronicled the deep relationship between California eugenicists and the Third Reich.

Last week, Black lectured on eugenics in Sacramento to more than 500 members of the deaf community, including many who traveled from around the state to attend the event and thousands more who attended online. {snip}

The following day, June 16, 2010, at a mass rally was held by the deaf community on the steps of the California State Capitol with speakers, including Black, giving perspective on why AB2072 would endanger the existence of the generation-to-generation deaf. {snip}

“Mendoza Eugenics seems to be supported,” explained Black, “by the medical industry that stands to profit from the cochlear implants buttressed by passionate, hearing parents of deaf children who have no connection to the traditional deaf community. These loving but distressed parents see deafness as an unexpected family tragedy. At the same time, the deaf are seen by Mendoza as defective Americans whose affliction requires American Sign Language. Mendoza believes neither should exist in the next generation of Californians. He thinks the deaf can be legislated away.”

{snip}

{snip} Mendoza’s office issued an email that audiologists are “doctors” and competent providers of medical advice. Audiologists, in truth, are “technicians” who, in large measure, screen for hearing problems; but they are not doctors, cannot diagnose or offer medical advice. The relevant medical doctors are ear, nose and throat specialists, also known as otolaryngologists. The fact that Mendoza sits on the Health Committee but did not know that audiologists are not trained or licensed to render medical opinions caused one observer to refer to Mendoza as “incompetent.” Discussions among the deaf began about recalling him.

Nor was progress made when a deaf contingent met at a nearby hotel restaurant with advocates of the measure. One pro-AB2072 mother said her son’s cochlear implants were so successful, “you can’t even tell my son is deaf.” That was taken as an offensive remark by the deaf adults who celebrate their status. During the get-together when an effort was made to explain California’s eugenic past and its impact on deaf people, AB2072 advocates abruptly stopped the presentation, asserting they did not want to know details of the historical past and preferred “to negotiate.” The deaf, however, were fundamentally unwilling to negotiate away their group’s continuing existence, but said they would listen to suggestions for fixing the legislation.

Political observers familiar with the Health Committee process predicted the bill was dead for this session unless it could be revived before July 2, 2010. {snip}

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