17 July 2009

What's a little eugenics between friends anyway?

Damian Thompson of the UK Telegraph loudly wonders why the American mainstream media have largely ignored Justice Ginsburg's seemingly pro-eugenics remarks in her recent NYtimes interview. In her words:
Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.
Commentary from First Things defends Ginsburg against the charge, but the comments following the post make a good case that Ginsburg meant exactly what she said.

If you recall, Roe came on the heels of Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb, published in 1968, which terrified society with admonitions on its cover like WHILE YOU ARE READING THESE WORDS FOUR PEOPLE WILL HAVE DIED FROM STARVATION. MOST OF THEM CHILDREN, and prophecies within its pages that "[t]he battle to feed all of humanity is over...the world will undergo famines...nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate..." He also predicted, among other things, that world hunger would cause the pope to capitulate on the issues of birth control and abortion (Ehrlich's batting average is zero thus far). Far from these wild and inaccurate assertions discrediting him, Ehrlich is still reverenced among advocates of population control, whose motives are often less charitable than they like to portray. In P.J. O'Rourke's words, overpopulation is just another way of saying there's "just enough of me, way too much of you"--the "you" being poor, brown-skinned people who beget poor, brown-skinned children.

You doubt this? Ask one of these advocates if he thinks poor, dirty, crowded, leprous Bangladesh could benefit from a little population reduction. "Probably," would come the answer--yet ask the same about the wealthy, suntanned, bejeweled country of Monaco, whose population density is among the highest in the world at 44,000 heads per square mile (compared to Bangladesh's 2,200 people per square mile), and the answer would undoubtedly be no. If it's strictly overpopulation that's the worry, surely the latter qualifies more than any other place on earth. But who wants to rid the world of the bountiful and the beautiful? Or take booming, buzzing Hong Kong; no one thinks this center of commerce is a trouble spot for overpopulation--yet it has one of the highest population densities in the world at 16,000 heads per square mile, happily packed into those stacks of neon-bright skyscrapers.

And so the real motive behind population control becomes evident: it isn't reduction in general population; it is reduction, in the words of the august Supreme Court jurist, "in populations that we don’t want to have too many of." (To be fair, J. Ginsburg may not have meant what it sounds like she meant.) In short, eugenics--an ugly word for an ugly sentiment--but at least one high-profile feminist has finally come clean (or at least let slip) as to the ugly moorings of the abortion movement.