Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Two books I plan to read sometime.

The first,
(Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized Society
By G.K. Chesterton
(With Additional Articles by his Eugenic and Birth Control Opponents
Edited by Michael W. Perry)

I have never read one of Chesterton's books. I've only seen various quotes. So I think I may read it soon.

From the foreword of that book,
"If you haven’t already, you’ll soon discover that Chesterton was a marvelous writer and that this book ranks among his masterpieces. When it first came out, his foes were forced to concede, through clenched teeth, that in him they faced an opponent who knew how to use pen and humor with great skill.
[. . . .]
Why have I chosen to devote a quarter of this book to the writings of his opponents? Because I want Chesterton to get proper credit for his great achievement. He wrote in the heat of battle, when the debate over eugenics was at its fiercest. And it is easy to suspect that he wrote much of this book in drafty rail stations rather in the warmth of a well-equipped study. Yet no scholar alive has done as much to expose that strange blend of silliness, scientific bigotry and politically correct arrogance which once went by the proud name of eugenics. It will also help you understand why, when Chesterton suggests to eugenists that they study mixtures of races, he is taunting their bigotry and pretensions of racial superiority.
Even more important, as a writer he stood virtually alone against a juggernaut that threatened to sweep all before it. In 1924, a eugenist could speak proudly of a scholarly bibliography listing thousands of articles on eugenic-related topics (see Appendix D). Today, eugenics has few open friends (though many secret admirers). But when Chesterton wrote its ranks were a virtually ‘who’s who’ of the respectable and powerful. Apart from him, almost no one of importance spoke out against it. If you doubt that, visit any university library and look for other book-length criticisms of eugenics from his era.
When two friends of yours marry or when they become proud parents, you should thank Chesterton that neither of those wonderful events required the approval of experts. Think I am exaggerating? Then read this book’s nine appendices. And if you feel that nothing they were advocating would have become law, look at the United States during the 1920s. In 1924, our immigration laws were revised to exclude from our shores the very groups that birth controllers and eugenists were blasting as biologically inferior—Eastern and Southern Europeans (particularly Jews and Italian Catholics). And in 1927, to deal with an alleged threat from those already here, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a vote of eight to one, ruled that forced sterilization was constitutional."

How surprising!

From the back cover,
"The thing that really is trying to tyrannise through government is Science. The thing that really does use the secular arm is Science. And the creed that really is levying tithes and capturing schools, the creed that really is enforced by fine and imprisonment, the creed that really is proclaimed not in sermons but in statutes, and spread not by pilgrims but by policemen--that creed is the great but disputed system of thought which began with Evolution and has ended in Eugenics."
Chesterton, 1922

His critics,
"His tendency is reactionary, and as he succeeds in making most people laugh, his influence in the wrong direction is considerable."
Birth Control News, Oct. 1922

"The only interest in this book is pathological. It is a revelation of the ineptitude to which ignorance and blind prejudice may reduce an intelligent man."
Eugenics Review, Apr. 1923

Another book I plan to read sometime.

(War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's
Campaign to Create a Master Race
By Edwin Black)

I just finished this book,
(The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth
By Gerald L. Schroeder)

It was a good book. I guess I can't recommend it unless you are already familiar with terms used in science and philosophy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You need to get on aim sometime.

~your sister