Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Shop the Truthdig Gift Guide 2014
December 20, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Get Truthdig's headlines in your inbox!


A Win for the Cuban People






Truthdig Bazaar
The Conscience of a Liberal

The Conscience of a Liberal

By Paul Krugman
$17.13

Whose Vote Counts?

Whose Vote Counts?

By Robert Richie and Steven Hill
$15.00

more items

 
Arts and Culture

Tony Platt on American Eugenics

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Jun 20, 2008
book cover

By Tony Platt

(Page 2)

A prisoners’ committee raised $1,000 from McAlester’s canteen fund and hired well-connected lawyers: Fay Lester, a former chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and Claud Briggs, a populist leader in the Senate who had made his reputation fighting for the “masses against the classes.” The prisoners held media-savvy demonstrations inside the prison—with placards proclaiming “Save Your Manhood” and “Contribute here to the Sterilization Campaign”—and lobbied the Tulsa Daily World to publish “A ‘Life Termer’ Denounces Sterilization,” a smart essay written by “Convict No. 18051.” 

After a prisoner targeted for sterilization escaped in 1936, the state settled on a candidate who would pass judicial scrutiny. Jack Skinner was a short, skinny three-time loser with a limp, who had done time for chicken stealing and armed robberies. His first sterilization trial lasted less than a day. The appeal process took almost five years, until 1941, when Oklahoma’s Supreme Court in a split decision affirmed the decision to sterilize McAlester’s test case, even though by then Skinner had been paroled, had married and had moved to California.

In 1942, with a couple of small-town, inexperienced trial lawyers added to Skinner’s team, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Skinner v. Oklahoma. In a unanimous decision, the court decided for Skinner: “The power to sterilize, if exercised, may have subtle, far reaching and devastating effects. In evil or reckless hands it can cause races or types which are inimical to the dominant group to wither and disappear.” In the lead opinion, Justice William O. Douglas exposed the double standard of a law that punished “a person who enters a chicken coop and steals chickens,” while exempting the white-collar criminal who “appropriates over $20 from his employer’s till.” 

It was an extraordinary victory—greeted “with jubilation in the cells and trusty buildings”—for an improbable campaign begun in McAlester prison eight years earlier. While the Skinner case did not provide protection for women in institutions or on welfare, “at a minimum,” notes Victoria Nourse, “legislative expansion of compulsory sterilization was suspect.”

When the author sticks close to the details of this compelling story, “In Reckless Hands” is a fascinating tale. But when she ventures into historical analysis, the book loses traction. For it is then that the author tends to sacrifice complexity for pithiness, and to make too many sweeping, and sometimes inaccurate, generalizations. It’s facile, for example, to reduce the successes of Nazism to the conclusion that “the German public embraced Hitler as the last chance for a bit of order.” Or to suggest, without evidence, that the rise of Nazism was responsible for transforming the American “public’s understanding of racism from a matter of science into one of politics”— a point which Nourse herself contradicts in the epilogue: “It became obvious [in the 1940s] that the racism of eugenics would not die.” (The book’s subtitle adds to this confusion.)

Also, the author doesn’t need to inflate the importance of her book by suggesting that it is somehow groundbreaking to do research “in local archives where most fear to tread,” or ingenuously arguing that the history of eugenics “has largely been forgotten”—I have at least 15 books on my shelf written on this topic since the mid-1980s.

Nevertheless, “In Reckless Hands” is well worth reading because it gets us to think in new ways about the scope of eugenics. Moreover, by bringing us face to face with some of the typically anonymous victims of forced sterilization, Victoria Nourse teaches the important lesson that the masses can take on the classes.


Tony Platt, professor emeritus at Sacramento State University, is the author, with Cecilia O’Leary, of “Bloodlines: Recovering Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws, From Patton’s Trophy to Public Memorial.”

History of Eugenics: a Select Bibliography

Black, Edwin. “War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race.” New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003.

Briggs, Laura. “Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U. S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Broberg, Gunnar and Nils, Roll-Hanjsen (eds.). “Eugenics and the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.” Michigan State University Press, 1996.

Carlson, Elof Axel. “The Unfit: A History of a Bad Idea.” Cold Springs Harbor, N.Y.: Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory Press, 2001.

Davis, Angela Y. “Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights,” in “Women, Race & Class.” New York: Random House, 1981.

“Facing History and Ourselves. Race and Membership in American History: The Eugenics Movement.” Brookline, Mass: Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, 2002.

Ley, Astrid and Morsch, Günter. “Medical Care and Crime: The Infirmary at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, 1936-1945.” Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 2007.

Gordon, Linda. “The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America.” Chicago: University of Illinois Press 2002.

Haller, Mark. “Eugenics: Hereditarian Attitudes in American Thought.” New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1963.

Kevles, Daniel. “In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity.” Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985, 1995.

Kline, Wendy. “Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Kühl, Stefan. “The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism.” New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Kuntz, Dieter and Bachrach, Susan (eds). “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race.” Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2004.

LaPan, Amy and Platt, Tony ” ‘To Stem the Tide of Degeneracy’: The Eugenic Impulse in Social Work,” in Stuart A. Kirk (ed.), “Mental Disorders in the Social Environment: Critical Perspective.” New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

Molina, Natalia. “Fit to Be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

Nourse, Victoria F. “In Reckless Hands: Skinner v. Oklahoma and the Near Triumph of American Eugenics.” New York: W.W. Norton, 2008.

Ordover, Nancy. “American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism.” Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).

Platt, Tony (with Cecilia O’Leary). “Bloodlines: Recovering Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws, From Patton’s Trophy to Public Memorial.” Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2006.

Platt, Tony. Reviews of books on eugenics: “The Great White Hope,” Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2002; “Breeding Only the Best,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 7, 2003; “In and Out of the Shadow of the Holocaust,” Social Justice, April 2006.

Quine, Maria Sophia. “Italy’s Social Revolution: Charity and Welfare From Liberalism to Fascism.” Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002.

Quine, Maria Sophia. “Population Politics in Twentieth-Century Europe: Fascist Dictatorships and Liberal Democracies.” London: Routledge, 1996.

Stepan, Nancy Leys. ” ‘The Hour of Eugenics’: Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America.” Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Stern, Alexandra Minna. “Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

Turda, Marius and Weindling, Paul J. “Blood and Homeland: Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900-1940.” Budapest: Central European University Press, 2007.


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By Ga, June 27, 2008 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment

Eugenics and abortion…the two hands of the socialist monster…bloodied and barbaric…and now a part of our legal structure of our country.

Considering that Socialism (and Marxism, Communism and the Fabian Society) were are largely intellectual—what we in the West know as “The Reds” under people like Stalin and Mao, were not true Communism—the above quote is absolute in its absurdity.

Yes, Socialism influenced Britain and America, and of course it would, as are all other “isms,” be found in Acedemia. Duh!

But what is Barbaric? The policies of dictatorial “Unity Executive” thinking—Stalin and Mao all the way to Bush and Cheney!

War is the province of the “Right” and not of the “Left”!

The Liberal/Socialist Left are all “bleeding hearts” and negotiators and multi-culturists, etc., who would rather talk than fight. This view permates the Right’s hatred of the Left.

Barbarism—as in killing—comes from the Right or “Conservative” wings of societies.

As for abortion… Yes, “The Left” is known to “support” this “monster,” but only as in the basic, core, inalienable right of a Woman to PRIVACY and CHOICE over her own body. (Any bloody images are really in the heads of the anti-privacy/choice crowds.)

The Bloody Barbaric Monsters of this world are the War-Mongers and the Fear-Mongers and their ilk, aloong with their ignorant, blind followers.

Report this

By Chris Bieber, June 23, 2008 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Platt should be commended for not only the article itself but his use of usually offlimits topics.

Fabian Socialism, which took over England in 1924 has been the intellectual and philosophical underpinning of Western proganda and enactment of not only socialism itself but population control and eugenics. 

The Fabian Society intertwined with American socialists and began its long takeover of academy and science at the turn of the Century. With Hull House and Harvard with Harold Laski and Keynes, the socialism they tought has crept into science and culture for the last century with the racist and barbaric eugenics movement going hand in hand with the Planned Parenthood(financed by the same elite) barbaric abortion industry. 

Eugenics and abortion…the two hands of the socialist monster…bloodied and barbaric…and now a part of our legal structure of our country.

This article and this book touch on it quite accurately.

Thanks for running this article.

Chris Bieber in Lake Elsinore

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, June 23, 2008 at 5:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By boggs, June 22 at 4:09 pm #

“Oklahoma has always been known for it’s lawlessness, ignorance and prison inhumanity.”

Really?  Around Wyandotte where I spent many summers (in my long-ago youth) there was a Group of Quakers led by a man named Larry Pickard who were struggling to make Oklahoma’s system fair and equitable.

I’ve been inside many prisons here in the US, down in South America, and in New Brunswick Canada.

I really have never seen any great or significant difference. Maybe we should start a star rating like they do with hotels. 

Actually come to think of it, the worst prison I’ve ever seen was Walpole at Cedar Junction in Massachusetts in one cell-block the floor was covered with human excrement.

Report this

By boggs, June 22, 2008 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

Oklahoma has always been known for it’s lawlessness, ignorance and prison inhumanity. Even though most Okies claim to be religious!
Guess this is fitting since we all know that most war is started by Christians.

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, June 22, 2008 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Suppose one says “I’m not so sure that in some cases sterilization is wrong.”  The State can execute a person, They can incarcerate a person for their natural life. Why are the genitalia sacrosanct?

Now there are cases where I favor compulsory sterilization (Radical penisectomy) Sexual abuse of children multiple cases of rape, and inappropriate sexual activity when coupled with a felony.

The other item which concerns me is society has deemed that it is NOT ok to setrilize a prisoner, BUT we still put the innocent families of prisoners through hell they don’t deserve… does it make sense to insure these folks have no additional family?

Report this

By cyrena, June 22, 2008 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

Another extraordinary piece here Louise. It is access to this kind of wisdom, (superbly presented) that keeps me hanging around, despite the fact that the TD ‘neighborhood’ is in decline. wink

Anyway, I thought it was worth reproducing some of the highlights here.

•  “..The honest person recognizes the possibility of their own corruption and the limitations of their own judgment…”

•  “When society decides to grant anyone the authority to determine what’s best for society, society is threatened.”

•  “Attendance to religious principles can teach the moral person recognition of personal responsibility for right and wrong behavior. Or, can teach an amoral person how to use the appearance of those principles for personal gain.”

There IS a trick here, and this is the case with absolutely everything..not just religious principles. Nearly ever concept or precept that exists in any society has dual or more purposes. POWER is maintained in a variety of ways, and is always dangerous when it’s concentrated.

•  “Maybe someday the human race will understand what, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” really means. But we haven’t got there yet.”

Sadly, this is true. We aren’t there yet, at least not as a human race. So, it takes those who DO understand it, to share the knowledge with the others.

So Louise, thanks for sharing.

Report this

By troublesum, June 22, 2008 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

When science screws up:  http://www.documentary-film.net/  scroll down to film 5: origin of aids

Report this

By Louise, June 22, 2008 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

The right education provides a piece of paper that allows the barer to go through doors that otherwise would be closed to them. But the ability to get that piece of paper is often blocked by forces the people who want it, have no control over.

Those who would have, if they could have, are forced to find alternatives to reach the success they desire.

The world is full of those who got where they are because of inner drive, rather than that piece of paper. Bill Gates for example. And the world is full of people who have success and power, who’ve never used that piece of paper. George W. Bush for example.

Connections and family support can help on the road to success. But there are many who’s family and connections would have guaranteed their failure, had they not moved away from that negative influence. In other words, education is just one part of the equation.

When society decides to grant anyone the authority to determine what’s best for society, society is threatened.

No single person or group, is wise enough to see the far-reaching consequence of their decisions. Besides, there’s something inherently wrong with anyone who thinks they should have the power of decisions over another. If someone wants that power, that’s a warning to all, look closely at that person. The wise will. The foolish wont, and the consequence will be felt by all.

Example, people like Newt Gingrich who believe the way to solve society’s problems is to remove children from “bad” homes and place them in “good” homes. Which begs the question, who is wise enough to decide which is which? Certainly not Newt!

The honest person recognizes the possibility of their own corruption and the limitations of their own judgment. That’s why the “founding fathers” established our rule of law. They knew the danger that could come from placing life and death decisions in the hands of a few who sought power. So they structured a system that placed limitations on time in office that would limit power.

We’ve watched as those in power have changed those limits. The fact that they wanted too, and we allowed them too, indicates education or the lack thereof is not the problem. Rather the problem is being able to think, or not. And amoral as opposed to moral. And we cant give ourselves or allow others, any absolutes in determining who is which, except by rule of law, based on their actions.

So the only sure way to maintain some level of control is to limit the time anyone is allowed to exercise power. And even that can not be determined by a single one.

Religion has a role in teaching morals, but with a catch. Attendance to religious principles can teach the moral person recognition of personal responsibility for right and wrong behavior. Or, can teach an amoral person how to use the appearance of those principles for personal gain.

Amoral, moral or conscience may be something we’re born with, or may be something learned. The thing is nobody knows. And there is no expert who knows how to know. So we have to assume the worst, hope for the best, and set limits on power.

The past tragedy of eugenics, just like any kind of class, gender, ethnic or racial control is based on the notion that someone is better. And that we have the right to determine who is, should be, can be, or will be better. And that we can do things to guarantee it all comes out right. And that we understand exactly what “right” is. All notions fundamentally flawed. Because there is no way any one of us can climb inside anyone else and decide what’s best for them.

Maybe someday the human race will understand what, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” really means. But we haven’t got there yet.

Meanwhile, in my humble opinion, if there is a failure in education, it’s that we fail to teach our students how to think. And that can happen in the best of schools as well as the worst.

Report this

By BlueEagle, June 22, 2008 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

Post-WWII the Nazi scientists and eugenics operators that weren’t tried at Nuremberg had to go somewhere. The US had complete control over their destiny. Instead of executing them, they decided to bring them over to the US - known as Operation Paperclip. These scientists were then scattered around into different government agencies, universities and corporations to continue with their operations.

One of the main “philanthropic” programs of the Melinda and Bill Gates foundation is the worldwide infant “vaccination” program, essentially bankrolling to the tune of $750 million one of the the largest eugenics operations in recent history.

Eugenics operations are currently up and running all over the world including the US. Some in plan sight, such as Planned Parenthood, and others behind the scenes.

Report this

By JMCSwan, June 22, 2008 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller

Educating the world on humane population reduction issues would indeed be a massive chore; one which I may add, I very seriously—probably very foolishly—attempted, with very little luck.

As for the evolutionary change of econoyum yum religious attitudes. Indeed, would probably require a culling of improbable proportions; as described occurred in the message visions of the Future, in the book Spiritwalker, by Dr. Hank Wesselman, where the only remaining human specimens, surviving a massive thermo-nuclear world war, were enlightened hunter gatherers, and accordingly could and wanted to live as such.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 22, 2008 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

JMCSwan,

Interesting premise, educating the world would be a massive chore. Birth control or even requesting lower birth rates would mean major changing of religious attitudes.

Report this

By JMCSwan, June 22, 2008 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

nrobi,

Agreed with your post, only had this interpretation to add to your final paragraph:

“To protect freedom, each and every individual must be educated, should participate in the electoral system and take notice of the events that are shaping the world around them.  This to be better informed, so that we as a society, can make better choices, to protect the freedoms we hold dear and work for a better world through peace and good will rather than at the end of a weapon that is pointing straight at us.”

In the context of an electroshock guineapig in Stanley Milgram’s experiment:

‘end of the weapon’ word association brought up for me, Chief Ira, in Flags of Our Fathers, standing in his bunker on Iwo Jima, with a sixth sense to turn around, and as he did, the Japanese soldier about to kill him in the bunker impaled himself on the end of Ira’s weapon, and Ira’s ghost nightmares thereof.

‘goodwill’ word association brought up for me, Christian, from Mutiny on the Bounty, where the ‘culture’ on Tahiti (Third World) considered ‘goodwill’ by the Bounty sailors, to be shown, if the soldiers, were sexually promiscuous with the women of Tahiti.

I would add this cultural concept of ‘goodwill’ being diametrically opposed by the Allied soldiers, such as Sean O’Sullivan, in Leon Uris’s Armageddon; where Americans were considered naive, by all other powers, for not exploiting the profits of war, nominally considered to be rape of the women, and theft of the resources; and insisting on upholding American values. [American, in my opinion being those demonstrated by Sean, therein]

Considering many, particularly Third World nations and particularly leaders refusal to clearly with words, education, voluntary family planning, etc. to enable humane low birth rate population policies as their ‘culture’; preferring to remain attached to their third world ‘goodwill’ (sic) patriarchal cultures attitudes to women; are they covertly endorsing the Animal pigletfarm consequences of AIDS and Lords of war depopulation of their people, while blaming these consequences on colonialism, etc.?

In a globalized world, ‘society’ requires the citizens of all nations to be better informed, so that we as a society, can make better choices, to protect the freedoms we hold dear and work for a better world through peace and sincere good will. When various nations refuse to do so, those who wish to do so, are unable to resolve these issues without pointing guns; or am I incorrect? Simplistically:  those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution possible: those who make a world of humane low birth rate population policies impossible, make violent revolution possible?

Report this

By William Colbert, June 21, 2008 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The 2422 after my [REAL] name was tacked on years ago by dejavu because there were other colberts in their system. It is an identifier, not a disguise. You can find lots more information about me more quickly by googling colbert2422 than by googling William Colbert.

Because of the many thoughtful and helpful comments in this thread, I would like to expand on my earlier comment.

Many high quality cross national studies have shown that average levels of educational attainment correlate strongly with standard of living. For example, Temple, Jonathan and Paul A. Johnson 1998: *Social Capability and Economic Growth,* The Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 1998, on their p. 988 state that the extent of literacy is highly correlated with economic growth. Romer notes that a permanent increase of 0.1 percent in annual growth rate is worth two years income to every person in the US. Romer(P), Paul M. 1989b: *Capital Accumulation and Long-Run Growth,* in Barro, Robert J. Ed.: *Modern Business Cycle Theory,* Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1989.

So when we see that fewer than half of the students in Los Angeles high schools will graduate on time, and that graduation rates dropped precipitously when a leaving school exam was made a requirement for receiving a diploma, we need to think what that means for the future. The leaving school exam tests skills at the eighth grade level.

http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-me-grads21-2008jun21,0,3489530.story


When government has to work efficiently with a low skill population, this comes at the expense of efficiency in using its high skill population. Caselli, Francesco and Wilbur John Coleman(WJII) II 2000: *The World Technology Frontier,* NBER WP. 7904, National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138. This would show up in the relative amounts that are spent on remedial versus gifted programs.

The logical deduction from these bits of information is that California is on a path of diminishing ability to sustain even its currently much diminished standard of living. [average weekly earnings in the US peaked in the late 1970s, and have now been rolled back to what they were in the 1950s, in terms of real purchasing power]. I blame those at high levels in our hierarchy for permitting this to happen. Simon and others have shown that if a hierarchical organization is to survive, those at higher levels have to have longer time horizons than those at lower levels.

Simon(HA), Herbert A. and Albert Ando 1961: *Aggregation of Variables in Dynamic Systems,* Econometrica, v. 29, n. 2, pp. 111-138. This and Simon’s chapter 8 in Simon(HA) 1998 deal with what may be one of the most significant considerations in planning, namely, the time horizon that is appropriate to different levels of hierarchies. Simon(HA), Herbert A. 1998: *The Sciences of the Artificial,* Third edition, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England. Cited in Axelrod and Cohen 1999. Chapter 8 describes in detail his argument that higher levels in a hierarchy have longer time horizons, as a result of sizeable evolutionary forces.

Report this

By Paracelsus, June 21, 2008 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

“I don’t know what world Colbert is living in, but he certainly isn’t living in the one I am. I teach in San Jose, California. My students are mostly undocumented immigrants. Adults, men and women, some as young as 19, some as old as 60, 70 or even 80. Some had some high school or even college, most had some primary school, some had no opportunity to study at all before they came to our family learning center. They get up at 3, 4, 5 am; they work til late afternoon or early evening, at the lowest paid jobs, sometimes the dirtiest, most backbreaking jobs.”

Edmund Burke was fond of quoting this out of Ecclesiastes, “The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure; and he that hath little business shall become wise.—How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad; that riveth oxen, and is occupied in their labors; and whose talk is of bullocks?”

These undocumenteds(illegal aliens) remind me of Spartan youths who stole away from their barracks to have relations with their lovers. Virtuous were they who did not get caught for they learned steath and deception. Woe to those who did get caught for they were brutalized by their pedagogues. Better that they learn in their own country, but our betters want to force criminality and social darwinism upon us.

Report this

By Paracelsus, June 21, 2008 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

“The Germans were the most highly educated people in the world when they excepted Hitler, i.e. “gave up freedom for security.” The German university system was the greatest in the world.  It produced the greatest scientists, philosophers, novelists, and poets of that time.  Education isn’t going to save us.  Jung and Heidegger, no intellectual slouches, found some of the principles of Nazism attractive.”

Who is more liable to atrocity than one who is has been very civilized? Wasn’t it Nietzche himself who said that all high culture is based on cruelty? The heights of classical Greek civilization were based upon brutality toward the barbarian.
Even Greek religion had a violence to it with its pious frauds in the use of rudimentary steam engines to make doors open and idols dance. The Germans had grabbed the root of Hindu and Greek cultures and extended it to its logical absurdities.

Report this

By Paracelsus, June 21, 2008 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

“The educated in the US are much easier to manipulate than the uneducated.”

Terrific point. It takes a very intelligent person to be able to reconcile an untenable paradox. Look at the startling complexity of models of the Ptolomiac planetary system with its epicycles within revolutions. It takes genius to justify an earth centered universe.

Report this

By troublesum, June 21, 2008 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

The documentary films of Adam Curtis make a case very conclusively, I think, that education is not an antidote for propaganda or manipulation by the powers that be.  Propaganda makes its appeal to the emotions not to the intellect or reason and that’s why education does not make a difference here.

Report this

By troublesum, June 21, 2008 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

The educated in the US are much easier to manipulate than the uneducated.  Listen to some of the lyrics to rap music written by kids who probably never made it through junior high school.  They know what the US government is.  50% of the working class does not vote because they know that elections are a farce.  The well educated lawyers and businessmen in congress continue to rob the public treasury for war and their educated constituents continue to vote for them.  How many educated people did it take to bankrupt the country?

Report this

By Paracelsus, June 21, 2008 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

@troublesum

“The problem with us is not that education isn’t valued enough; its that the value of cooperation and compassion have been denied and replaced with market values of competition and greed.”

What I find interesting is that if you were to give a monkey a choice between a 100 ounce bar of gold and a banana, he would choose the banana. Do you rmember the scene in Marathon Man where Thomas Levy forces at gun point Dr. Szell to eat a load of diamonds? As for education, we are directed by a mercantile system to learn what are betters woud like us to learn. We have always been ruled by mercantilists. Education has never been entirely free from adulteration. And if you did get a good education then it was either an accident or else you were being groom for a high place in society. They don’t give these IQ tests for gifted students so that they can recruit saints.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 21, 2008 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Of course education cannot teach common sense or integrity, opportunism may be more like it. Uneducated people are easier to manipulate than the educated. Japan before WWII was manipulated by control of the media. Governments go to war and the people pay in many ways for it. 

What do Buddha and Christ have to do with education? Religion has it’s own way of manipulation and can be used by the government to support it’s wars for instance.  All they have to do is say God is on their side. Think I side tracked?

Interesting discussion anyway.

Report this

By troublesum, June 21, 2008 at 5:12 am Link to this comment

The problem with us is not that education isn’t valued enough; its that the value of cooperation and compassion have been denied and replaced with market values of competition and greed.

Report this

By troublesum, June 21, 2008 at 5:03 am Link to this comment

There is no correlation between education and compassion at all.  What colleges were Christ and the Buddha educated in?

Report this

By troublesum, June 21, 2008 at 4:50 am Link to this comment

The Germans were the most highly educated people in the world when they excepted Hitler, i.e. “gave up freedom for security.”  The German university system was the greatest in the world.  It produced the greatest scientists, philosophers, novelists, and poets of that time.  Education isn’t going to save us.  Jung and Heidegger, no intellectual slouches, found some of the principles of Nazism attractive.

Report this

By elitist, June 21, 2008 at 1:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sterilizing people against their will is usually a bad thing.

Eugenics is the enhanced quality of human births, dysgenics means the reverse, lowered quality.

Countless American and other progressives have championed eugenics.

Hitler’s view on the subject is not terribly germane.

The Nazis also believed in vegetarianism, discouraged smoking, and encouraged sport and outdoor activities.

Shall we ban these too?

Should we force people with IQs of 60 to have as many children as posible just to spite the Nazis?

Another book about forced sterilizations is probbaly less useful than a coherent, viable plan for encouraging brights to have more children and imbeciles to forego them altogether.

I would love to hear factual, coherent counter-arguments, assuming there are any (i.e., not simply: you are a facist!!!!)

Report this

By karen lee, June 20, 2008 at 11:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t know what world Colbert is living in, but he certainly isn’t living in the one I am. I teach in San Jose, California. My students are mostly undocumented immigrants. Adults, men and women, some as young as 19, some as old as 60, 70 or even 80. Some had some high school or even college, most had some primary school, some had no opportunity to study at all before they came to our family learning center. They get up at 3, 4, 5 am; they work til late afternoon or early evening, at the lowest paid jobs, sometimes the dirtiest, most backbreaking jobs. Then they come to school for 4 or five hours. Five nights a week. So they can not only learn English but get a high school diploma, make something of themselves, take care of their families. Sometimes they will get only a few hours of sleep before they have to get up for the next day’s work.
Some of my former students are already in college.
Maybe you are the one who is “uneducable”.

Report this

By cyrena, June 20, 2008 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

Seems you’ve hit the bulls-eye again Leefeller, in your reply to colbert2422. He doesn’t get where the ‘blame’ lies.

So, just beware these days, of the names (nearly always ‘unregistered’, though there are exceptions) that have NUMBERS as part of their names. Sometimes just two numbers, and every once in a while, a 3-number identity. The latest ‘batch’ of them though, have mostly 4 numbers in their IDs.

Just keep on the ‘look-out’ for those. That’ll give you a hint to the time and ‘purpose’ of these comments.

(watch, somebody is going to accuse me of ‘speaking in code’ - maybe I am! wink )

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 20, 2008 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

colbert2422

Not sure from you comment, I believe you are blaming the Hispanics for their education ignorance, instead of it being a part of the grand plan. Promoting differences for division by those in charge, would be a more likely suspect.

Report this

By cyrena, June 20, 2008 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment

No Leefeller, there’s more than just the two of you. I’ve joined on. wink

It’s just that you’ve both already made bullseye comments, so not all that much more is needed. That said however, I will get back when there’s more time.

Excellent piece by the way. I’m adding the book to my list, but who knows when I’ll get to it.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 20, 2008 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

Nrobi,

Educated not indoctrinated, ignorance should be dissuaded by a balanced education, in-order to provide enlightenment and reason.  Who is deciding on balanced becomes the issue.  We are surrounded by profound ignorance and indoctrinated thoughts created by the establishment powers. 

What happened to Japain and Germany in the 1930’s seems similuar to what is happened here. 

Your last paragraph is on the money, are their only two of us?

Report this

By colbert2422, June 20, 2008 at 7:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

California’s sickening skid into third world status shows what happens when you let the little head do the thinking for the big head. The key problem in California is the ineducability of our new third world population, and their disinterest in and inability to benefit from even high school education, much less from education at what was once the world’s greatest university system.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hpWq7lNj_3AoEUwircDB85-5T5vwD91D8Q984

Report this

By nrobi, June 20, 2008 at 6:10 am Link to this comment

In the comments made by Tony Platt, he calls pithy the analysis of the movement that placed Adolf Hitler in power. The rise of Hitler, “as the last bastion of order,”  was and is an accurate account of the mindset of the normal German at that time.  One should read, Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm to learn of the historical context of the rise of the Socialist-Fascist movement. Without doubt, the German people gave up the right to free expression and free thinking, so that there would be social order and security. 
No one doubts that the rise of Hitler and his cohorts, distorted and made a mockery of the democratic system, for the Nazi Party was freely elected by the people of Germany, much the same as the Hamas movement was and will continue to be elected to the government of Palestine. 
To protect freedom, each and every individual must be educated, should participate in the electoral system and take notice of the events that are shaping the world around them.  This to be better informed, so that we as a society, can make better choices, to protect the freedoms we hold dear and work for a better world through peace and good will rather than at the end of a weapon that is pointing straight at us.

Report this
 
Monsters of Our Own Creation? Get tickets for this Truthdig discussion of America's role in the Middle East.
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Zuade Kaufman, Publisher   Robert Scheer, Editor-in-Chief
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.