Eugenics Reaction

Eugenics was advocated in the United States from the 1890s up until the 1940s to encourage genetically healthier and more intelligent human beings. My purpose is to analyze why there was a great push for eugenics and also contrast the ethical drawbacks of attempted human breeding.

In my opinion, the concept of creating a pure race appeals as a utopia where each individual would be equal. I hold this belief because humans usually have a tendency to classify and compartmentalize, which allows our brain to more easily understand the world around us. If each person were similar in characteristics people could avoid dealing with “inferiors” and reach a higher plateau of living. For example, Plato’s “The Republic” taught, “The best men must have intercourse with the best women as frequently as possible, and the opposite is true of the very inferior.” I believe Plato sought a more perfect humanity where each individual with eloquence and wit could mingle with those having eloquence and wit. Perhaps war and general human strife could be brought to a halt through eugenics. The human race could enter a “golden era” like civilizations of old.

Another argument that could have merit, in my opinion, is that as those termed less genetically desirable continue to have more and more children the intellectual and physical quality of society could slowly decline. William Shockley, a Nobel Prize winner, wrote that “the future of the population was threatened because people with low IQs had more children than those with high IQs.” I believe Mr. Shockley saw eugenics as a way for civilization to avoid collapse. If people with generally lower intelligence populate in greater abundance than those of greater intellect, eventually the earth would be overrun by the “lesser” population, which could lead to a collapse of civilization.

My true belief is that, eugenics, much like other theories such as communism, would have been much better had it stayed at just that, a theory. The crimes of Hitler quickly revealed that eugenics could easily be taken to extremes and lead to the deaths of millions of “undesirables.” R.L. Hayman commented that “the eugenics movement is an anachronism, its political implications exposed by the Holocaust.” Attempting to force a perfect race through genetic manipulation can never work in my opinion. There are too many variables to control and how could there possibly be a true consensus of what perfection really means? You could continually eliminate more and more individuals as you narrow down “undesirable” traits..

I believe that limiting diversity could tremendously affect the level of human experience in a negative way. There can be great lessons learned from dealing with people who may not be included in the category of “genetic desirabales.” I think learning to interract with a disabled person or building a friendship with an individual of different ethnic origin can broaden our understanding of life.

Most people, in my opinion, who may not qualify as acceptable under eugenics probably have no desire to change their genetic defects. For example, many in the deaf community stand firmly against artificial hearing devices. I do not think we have a right to deny the freedom of choice. In my opinion all characteristics a human being receives at birth have been given to them for a reason. We should not mess with variables that we do not totally understand. Perhaps, by eliminating those traits we deem unacceptable we realize the genetic diversity prevented other more dangerous disorders and diseases from appearing.