Sunday, September 13, 2015

Shame on the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institute refuses to remove a bust of eugenicist and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger from its “Struggle for Justice” exhibit from the National Portrait Gallery despite the demand from Ministers Taking a Stand (“MTS”), a group of black pastors led by Bishop E. W. Jackson.  While acknowledging Sanger’s involvement in the eugenics movement, in a letter to MTS, Director Kim Sajet responded, “There is no ‘moral test’ for people to be accepted into the National Portrait Gallery.” While allowing Sanger’s bust to remain alongside Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., Sajet said, “[Sanger’s] association with the eugenics movement shadowed her achievements in sex education and contraception…”

The Smithsonian’s response to MTS is offensive to anyone who understands the history of eugenics and Planned Parenthood and comparable to the symbolic requests to remove the Confederate flag in South Carolina after the horrific mass murder in Charleston.  By refusing to place the memory of Sanger in its proper place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Josef Mengale, the Smithsonian celebrates the founder of race suicide.

The following is an excerpt from my book The Prodigal Republican which provides an historical perspective on Sanger to underscore the Smithsonian’s naïveté: 

“Before the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down in 1973, white women were responsible for having 80 percent of all illegal abortions.

Since Roe v. Wade, the abortion rate among black women is five times that of white women in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.  Black women (15-44) are responsible for 40.2% of all abortions in the United States.

But there was a long, dark history before Roe v. Wade that led to the genocide in the black community we see today. The efforts of the American Eugenics Society… began right after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect….

Every aspect of the American economy was invested in the slave trade, so first and foremost, there was a general fear of retribution by the four million freed slaves. The North feared a massive migration. White elites also feared that freed slaves would flood the economic system with new costs for welfare, medical care, and education… [and they also feared] an increase in crime and the prison population.

The first response was colonization (shipping the Negro back to Africa), but the idea didn’t have wide support. Then [some of] the white and wealthy schemed to wipe out the Negro race in America. Eugenics was the answer.  Eugenics was a movement to shrink the future Negro populations by controlling the birth rate…

Eugenics failed over time but not for lack of trying. The movement imposed sterilization on black people by the thousands… [but ultimately] faced constitutional challenges.

Adolf Hitler mimicked the American eugenics playbook and exterminated Jews. Eventually, eugenics slithered below ground after getting a bad name from Nazi Germany… Reducing the growth of the black population around the world, but especially in America, was still the goal...

Negative eugenics followed. The idea was to create an environment that would convince blacks to limit the number of their children, in effect to accept “race suicide.” This movement was carried out by crusaders like Margaret Sanger, the founder of the American Birth Control League which became Planned Parenthood in 1942 the largest operator of abortion clinics in the United States...

In 1922, Sanger, referring to the Negro, said “we are paying for and even submitting to the dictates of an ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.”  This is the person who occupies space in the “Struggle for Justice” exhibit in the venerable Smithsonian Institute.  How can this be?


Sadly, the Smithsonian only portends to celebrate a pioneer of sex education as it explains in its response to MTS; rather, it misses the point that as a repository of history, the museum fails to recognize Sanger as the monster she was, highlights only her role in contraception while ignoring her intent to annihilate the black community and in so doing offends those of us who are informed. The museum owes the public a duty to tell the truth; it deliberately fails with respect to Margaret Sanger.  Shame on the Smithsonian!

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