Know the Dark Side of North Carolina Eugenics

Claude Wilson, Daily Tarheel, July 11, 2017

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The focal point of the Old North State’s relationship with eugenics over the years was the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, a state board formed in 1933. It forcibly sterilized citizens, many of whom were black and impoverished.

The stated targets of sterilization of the Eugenics Board were the so-called “feeble-minded,” which was bad enough, but they also sterilized the blind and deaf, expanding to the sterilization of any welfare recipients social workers chose to single out. Over the course of more than 40 years, about 7,600 people were sterilized by the state until 1977, when the Eugenics Board was formally abolished. However, laws allowing involuntary sterilization remained in place until as late as 2003.

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Despite the repeated debunking of eugenics by respectable academics and researchers, Social Darwinist thinking and support for eugenicist thought remain far more prevalent than they should. The most prominent example is Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s 1994 “The Bell Curve,” a perniciously ignorant, poorly researched and deliberately misleading book which claims human intelligence is linked to race. The book was published without any peer review, based itself on flawed statistical methods and faulty assumptions and has been torn to shreds by a number of prominent scholars.

But Charles Murray’s pseudo-research is still taken seriously in certain circles. The majority of Murray’s “research” came from the Pioneer Fund, a non-profit foundation that has funded prominent white supremacists, such as Roger Pearson and Jared Taylor.

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The original eugenicists saw themselves as philanthropists who were helping the world, and future neo-eugenicists will probably view themselves that way as well. This is why it is important we dispel the pseudoscientific, white supremacist myths that are perpetuated by people like Charles Murray and organizations like the Pioneer Fund.

 

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