Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk radio host and bestselling author, has joined the Discovery Institute in the role of senior fellow. The position cements a longstanding friendship and recognizes a commonality of values and projects across a spectrum of issues.
“Michael Medved is an intellectual entrepreneur, a political and cultural polymath with great insights, judgment and wit. We are delighted to have this new relationship with him,” said Discovery Institute president Bruce Chapman. …
Chapman saluted Medved “as the national radio host–make that ‘media host’–who is best able to understand science issues, including the current conflict over Darwinism and intelligent design. He’s very smart, quick and resourceful. Yet he also is respectful of those he disagrees with.”
That was last November. Some time in the intervening months, Medved silently dropped off of the list of Disco. fellows. That doesn’t seem to have stopped him yammering incoherently on the Disco. Inst. party line.
In today’s ruthlessly competitive international economy, the United States may benefit from a potent but unheralded advantage: the aggressive edge sustained by the inherited power of American DNA.
The radical notion that our national character stems from genetics as well as culture has always inspired angry controversy; many observers scoff at the whole idea of a unifying hereditary component in our multi-racial, multi-cultural society.…
The idea of a distinctive, unifying, risk-taking American DNA might also help to explain our most persistent and painful racial divide – between the progeny of every immigrant nationality that chose to come here, and the one significant group that exercised no choice in making their journey to the U.S. Nothing in the horrific ordeal of African slaves, seized from their homes against their will, reflected a genetic predisposition to risk-taking, or any sort of self-selection based on personality traits. Among contemporary African-Americans, however, this very different historical background exerts a less decisive influence, because of vast waves of post-slavery black immigration.…
the insight carries crucial political implications. Senators Obama, Clinton and other leaders who seek to enlarge the scope of government face more formidable obstacles than they realize. Their desire to impose a European-style welfare state and a command-and-control economy not only contradicts our proudest political and economic traditions, but the new revelations about American DNA suggest that such ill-starred schemes may go against our very nature.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the modern eugenics. Following in the footsteps of Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray, Medved is making the foolish reductionist assumption that some entity called “national identity” can be ascribed to genes, and that government policy ought to be set in a way that promotes those favored genetic traits to the disadvantage of others. In other words, eugenics.
Conservative eugenics has taken many forms. Consider the nutbar natalist or “Quiverful” movement, in which fundamentalist families seek to bear as many children as possible. Why?
Population is a preoccupation for many Quiverfull believers, who trade statistics on the falling white birthrate in European countries like Germany and France. Every ethnic conflict becomes evidence for their worldview: Muslim riots in France, Latino immigration in California, Sharia law in Canada. The motivations aren’t always racist, but the subtext of “race suicide” is often there.
Disco.‘s Bruce Chapman has thrown his hat half-heartedly into that ring, writing last Christmas eve: “I am only partly joking when I say that our employment policy is ‘pro-natalist’. It seems that hardly a month goes by without the announcement of a new marriage or a new birth among our fellows, staff and members. That gives me hope because I know the fine quality of these people. Darwinists, Malthusians, materialists of all stripes and dimensions don’t get it.”
Since then, he has continued to adopt the label “pro-natalist” in his writings. Whether this constitutes eugenics is hard to tell, since he doesn’t seem to be distinguishing groups of people who should or should not have larger families. Arguing for higher birth rates across the board would not be eugenic (though it is a dubious policy position). Other Disco. fellows and staff are less careful.
This is of special relevance for Jews, of all denominations. I’ve written before in this space about Jewish fertility and how it is impacted by worldview. As the statisticians Antony Gordon and Richard Horowitz have shown, every 100 Reform Jews will be reduced within four generations to only 10 Jews. Every 100 Conservative Jews will be reduced to 29.
In the struggle between rival worldviews that characterizes modern times, the Hebraic view is on the ropes, under constant attack from secularism. As in war, the number of soldiers on the ground matters no less than the qualities of the combatants.
A Jew who believes in Judaism cannot have too many children.
The recent passing of Mildred Loving reminds us of yet another bit of conservative eugenic policy: anti-miscegenation laws. Many states (including Loving’s Virginia) passed those laws as part of a package with compulsory sterilization laws. Preventing marriage is a powerful way of encouraging the production of certain types of offspring and discouraging others, a fact not lost on the judge who convicted the Lovings and exiled them from Virginia for daring to marry. He wrote in his decision:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and He placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with His arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that He separated the races shows that He did not intend for the races to mix.
This is notable not only because of its racism and its eugenic overtones, but because of its clearly creationist language. However much Ben Stein might like to believe otherwise, there were lots of bogus race theories predating and independent of Darwin, and people like Judge Leon Bazile and Adolph Hitler were just a few of the creationists who happily appropriated eugenic language to justify their racist policy preferences.
Much of the conservative worry about immigration can be traced to similar eugenic roots. The concern with “anchor babies,” and the obsession with differential birth rates between Hispanics and non-Hispanics is a mainstay of right-wing fearmongering over immigration. I’ve written before that I don’t see a non-racist, non-xenophobic basis for using “national heritage” to justify restrictions on immigration, and I don’t see a non-racist, non-xenophobic basis for whining about “American DNA,” “national character,” or any of the other guff being tossed around by the modern eugenicists. Populations change over time, and the world doesn’t end.
As Pete says in The Muppets Take Manhattan, “Peoples is peoples. OK?”