Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Real Margaret Sanger Cont'd.

         The following is the continuance of a research paper written by my sister, and I am posting it here with her full permission.  It is a bit long and parenthetically notated, but quite informative.  For the first part see The Real Margaret Sanger

          In a speech titled "A Plan For Peace", published in the April 1932 issue of Birth Control Review, Sanger proposed a federal United States "Population Congress" be appointed to control the births of those society has no need for (Sanger, "Plan" 11). Their tasks would include keeping "the doors of immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens" (Sanger, "Plan" 11).  Those she wished to keep out included those whom it was known were "detrimental to the race" like the "feeble-minded" (Sanger, "Plan" 11).  Her definition of "feeble-minded" included, but was not limited to, those who are epileptic, those who have a family history of crime, the uneducated, and the poor as a whole (Sanger, "Plan" 11).  She also wanted the "Population Congress" to "apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring" (Sanger, "Plan" 11).  She also suggested "pensioning" the "feeble-minded" if they agreed to submit to being sterilized (Sanger, "Plan" 12).  Sanger wished to "corral" the "illiterates, paupers, unemployables, prostitutes, dope-fiends" into work farms where they would work for life or until they are found acceptable to be in the normal population (Sanger, "Plan" 12).  In the October 1921 issue Sanger discussed Birth Control propaganda and wrote "the campaign for Birth Control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal with the final aims of eugenics" (American Medicine, "Eugenic Value" 5).  She went on to say that the "most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective" (American Medicine, "Eugenic Value" 5).  In the same issue she lamented the fact that the "dysgenic (those with bad genes) breeding" could not be "magically eliminated" and stated that "drastic methods" should be "forced on society" if the "chaotic breeding" was allowed to continue (American Medicine, "Eugenic Value" 5).  The May 1919 issue of the Birth Control Review, of which she was editor, published an article entitled "Intelligent or Unintelligent Birth Control", which stated, quite bluntly, "More children from the fit, less from the unfit - that is the chief purpose of Birth Control" (Sanger, "Intelligent" 12).  In the October 1926 issue of the Birth Control Review Sanger discussed the lower birth rate of the "intelligent" compared to the ignorant and how she thought the only way to "remedy" the situation is through the sterilization of the latter (Sanger, "Function" 7).  Sanger's intended purpose for birth control was further shown in a heading in the November 1921 issue which literally stated that the use of birth control was to "Create a Race of Thoroughbreds" (Sanger, "Unity" 3).
          In her 1922 book titled "The Pivot of Civilization" Sanger explained the eugenic value of birth control and how it should be used to combat her fear of overpopulation from the "unfit" and poverty stricken classes.  In the chapter titled "The Fertility of the Feeble-minded" she urged all state legislatures to take steps to stop the "reckless and irresponsible procreation" of those "feeble-minded" (Sanger, Pivot 115).  Sanger even cited a statistic from Sir James Chrichton-Brown that showed that less than two-thirds of those born of "feeble-minded" parents grow up to be feeble-minded, leaving over one-third of them to become "profitable members of the community" (Sanger, Pivot 112).  This fact, that being the child of "feeble-minded" parents does not automatically guarantee that they too will be "feeble-minded", did no phase her, however, from her desire to keep all of the "feeble-minded" from ever becoming parents.  As an "emergency measure" Sanger proposed the segregation of feeble-minded women and men to keep them from procreating for two generations as a starting point to keep their numbers from growing, but stated that she would much prefer the "immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded" (Sanger, Pivot 122).  In the chapter "The Cruelty of Charity" she blamed humanitarian and charitable organizations for condoning and facilitating the propagation of those unfit because of their efforts to make the lives of those less fortunate better.  "The very idea of humanitarian and altruism," she wrote, "has produced their full harvest of human waste" (Sanger, Pivot 128).  In the chapter titled "The Dangers of Cradle Competition" Sanger further laid out how the use of birth control and eugenics go hand-in-hand toward the goal of racial purification, happily stating, "Birth Control has been accepted by the most clear thinking and far seeing of the Eugenicists themselves as the most constructive and necessary of the means to racial health" (Sanger, Pivot 187).
          In 1939 Sanger launched the "Negro Project".  The purpose of the project was to pitch birth control exclusively to the African-American community as a means of controlling their numbers.  In an effort to make the idea of birth control seem more palatable she place leaders of the African-American communities in high ranking places in the organization.  On the surface these efforts might seem innocent and well intentioned to give the less fortunate access to birth control, but given her outspoken views listed above is this really the case?  We all know the state of race relations at that time in American history were terrible.  African-Americans were seen as and treated like less than second class citizens and were even segregated.  African-Americans, at that time, were poorer and less educated than whites.  Given her views that the poor and uneducated are "human waste" (Sanger, Pivot 128) why would we think that she wanted to help the African-American community that was already viewed so poorly by society?  The logical conclusion is that she wanted to control, reduce, and erase the African-American community just like the rest of those she deemed "unfit".
          When you analyze her words and actions it is clear that Margaret Sanger is not the warrior for Women's Rights that she is being presented as.  A major reason she fought for birth control was to use it as a means of furthering her own radical agenda of removing all of the people whom she deemed "unfit", "human waste" from society.  Should we sit silently by while today's society tries to sweep Margaret Sanger's true intentions under the rug to be forgotten?  I know I will not be silent and I will not forget.

Works Cited
  • A and E Television Networks.  "Margaret Sanger Biography."  Biography.com.  2012.  Web.  5 Mar. 2012
  • American Medicine.  "Intelligent or Unintelligent Birth Control."  The Birth Control Review May 1919: 12-13.  Print.
  • Sanger, Margaret.  "A Plan for Peace."  The Birth Control Review April 1932: 11-12.  Print.
  • Sanger, Margaret.  "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda."  The Birth Control Review Oct. 1921: 5.  Print.
  • Sanger, Margaret.  "The Function of Sterilization." The Birth Control Review Oct. 1926: 7.  Print.
  • Sanger, Margaret.  "Unity."  The Birth Control Review Nov. 1921: 3.  Print.
  • University of Colorado.  Valparaiso University GEO 101 World Human Geography Spring 2011 Glossary.  1996-97.  Valpo.edu.  Web. 4 Mar. 2012.
  • Witherbee, Amy.  "Margaret Sanger."  Points of View Reference Center.  2005.  Web.  5 Mar. 2012  

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