Friday, January 31, 2014


Leaders of the American eugenic establishment also debated lethal chambers and other means of euthanasia. But in America, while the debate began as an argument about death with dignity for the terminally ill or those in excruciating pain, it soon became a palatable eugenic solution. In 1900, the physician W. Duncan McKim published Heredity and Human Progress, asserting, "Heredity is the fundamental cause of human wretchedness....The surest, the simplest, the kindest, and most humane means for preventing reproduction among those whom we deem unworthy of this high privilege [reproduction], is a gentle, painless death." He added, "In carbonic acid gas, we have an agent which would instantaneously fulfill the need."

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 249

Thursday, January 30, 2014


April 30, 1924

Mrs. Robert H. Cheatham

Lynchburg, Virginia

We have a report of the birth of your child,July 30th, 1923, signed by Mary Gildon, midwife. She says that you are white and that the father of the child is white. We have a correction to this certificate sent to us from the City Health Department at Lynchburg, in which they say that the father of this child is a negro. This is to give you warning that this is a mulatto child and you cannot pass it off as white. A new law passed by the last legislature says that if a child has one drop of negro blood in it, it cannot be counted as white. You will have to do something about this matter and see that this child is not allowed to mix with white children. It cannot go to white schools and can never marry a white person in Virginia.

It is an awful thing.

Yours very truly,

WA. Plecker

Plecker followed this with a short note to the midwife, Mary Gildon.

This is to notify you that it is a penitentiary offense to willfully state that a child is white when it is colored. You have made yourself liable to very serious trouble by doing this thing. What have you got to say about it?

Yours very truly,

WA. Plecker

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 169

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


The article ["The Purpose of Eugenics"] added thoughts about eradicating such a problem. "It is interesting to note that there is no hesitation to interfere with the course of nature when we desire to eliminate or prevent a superfluity of rodents, insects or other pests; but when it comes to the elimination of the immeasurably more dangerous human pest, we blindly adhere to the inconsistent dogmatic doctrine that man has a perfect right to control all nature with the exception of himself." It was the second time that year that Sanger's magazine had published virtually the same phrases declaring lower classes to be more dangerous than rats and bugs. Such denunciations were commonplace in Birth Control Review.

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 138

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


In the December 1924 Birth Control Review, another typical article, this one by eugenicist John C. Duvall, was simply titled "The Purpose of Eugenics." In a section subtitled "Dangerous Human Pests," Duvall explained, "We therefore actually subsidize the propagation of the Jukes and thousands of others of their kind through the promiscuous dispensation of charitable relief, thereby allowing these classes of degenerates to poison society with their unbridled prolific scum, so that at the present time there are about one-half million of this type receiving attention in publicly maintained institutions, while thousands of others are at large to the detriment of our finer elements."

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 138

Monday, January 27, 2014


[A] February 1924 birth control conference in Syracuse featured a paper entitled "Birth Control as Viewed by a Sociologist." The speech argued, "We need a eugenic program and by that I mean a program that seeks to improve the quality of our population, to make a stronger, brainier, and better race of men and women. This will require an effort to increase the number of superior and diminish that of the inferior and the weakling....It is quite important that we cut down on the now large numbers of the unfit-the physical, mental and moral sub-normals." This speech was quickly reprinted in the May 1924 issue of Birth Control Review [the publication of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood], with the eugenic remarks highlighted in a special subsection headlined "Eugenics and Birth Control."

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 138

Sunday, January 26, 2014


The literary merit of your composition is undoubted, but you are wrong in your facts.  The most beautiful thing in the world is Beethoven's symphony in F major, No. 7.  The ugliest is a crayon portrait.  Art is always superior to nature. It would be a poor artist who could not beat the Creator, assuming the conditions of the bout to be anything approaching even.  The human body is a fearful botch, not only aesthetically, but even mechanically.  An optician who would make an optical instrument as imperfect as the eye would be handed over to the common hangman.  The best nature can do is to follow art at a distance of ten paces.  On second thoughts, change the Beethoven No. 7 to Schubert's trio for piano, violin and cello, opus 100, or, at all events, the slow movement.  On third thoughts change it to the andante of Schubert's C major symphony. On fourth thoughts, change it to the last three minutes of Richard Strauss' "Tod and Verklärung".  On fifth thoughts, change it to the minuet in Mozart's Jupiter.  On sixth thoughts--but you can see by now what a lead art has got.

--H.L. Mencken, April 18, 1917 (est)
Letter to Virginia Dashiell

Virginia Dashiell was one of Mencken's favorites on the Sun staff. The year before he mailed this rallying note about a piece of hers, he had given her a copy of The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzche with, on the title page, his caricature of himself kneeling humbly before her.

Source: "The New Mencken Letters" edited by Carl Bode, p. 72

Saturday, January 25, 2014


"Government, in its very essence, is opposed to all increase in knowledge. Its tendency is always towards permanence and against change...[T]he progress of humanity, far from being the result of government, has been made entirely without its aid and in the face if its constant and bitter opposition."
--H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)
American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic

Friday, January 24, 2014


"When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you may not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything -- you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him."
--Robert A. Heinlein
(1907-1988) American writer

Thursday, January 23, 2014


There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.,
"Letter From A Birmingham Jail"
April 16, 1963

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.,
"Letter From A Birmingham Jail"
April 16, 1963

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.,
"Letter From A Birmingham Jail"
April 16, 1963

Monday, January 20, 2014


In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.,
"Letter From A Birmingham Jail"
April 16, 1963

Sunday, January 19, 2014


You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.,
"Letter From A Birmingham Jail"
April 16, 1963

Saturday, January 18, 2014


We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.,
"Letter From A Birmingham Jail"
April 16, 1963

Friday, January 17, 2014


Carrie Buck is a feeble minded white woman who was committed to the State Colony above mentioned in due form. She is the daughter of a feeble minded mother in the same institution, and the mother of an illegitimate feeble minded child. She was eighteen years old at the time of the trial of her case...

An Act of Virginia, approved March 20, 1924, recites that the health of the patient and the welfare of society may be promoted in certain cases by the sterilization of mental defectives...

It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes...Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

--Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Flies II

In 1926, [Oliver Wendell] Holmes again confided to Laski, "In cases of difference between oneself and another there is nothing to do except in unimportant matters to think ill of him and in important ones to kill him."  Shortly thereafter, Holmes wrote Laski, "We look at our fellow men with sympathy but nature looks at them as she looks at flies..."

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 120

Flies II

In 1926, [Oliver Wendell] Holmes again confided to Laski, "In cases of difference between oneself and another there is nothing to do except in unimportant matters to think ill of him and in important ones to kill him."  Shortly thereafter, Holmes wrote Laski, "We look at our fellow men with sympathy but nature looks at them as she looks at flies..."

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 120

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


He [Oliver Wendell Holmes] was fond of a certain slogan, and in June of 1922 he repeated it to British scholar and future Labor Party Chairman Harold J. Laski. "As I have said, no doubt, often, it seems to me that all society rests on the death of men. If you don't kill ‘em one way you kill ‘em another-or prevent their being born." He added, "Is not the present time an illustration of Malthus?"

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 120

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


While [Oliver Wendell] Holmes' influential Supreme Court opinions and dissents exemplified and eloquently immortalized the highest virtues of American jurisprudence, his private exchanges reveal a different man. Holmes reviled "do-gooders" and in 1909 he quipped to a friend, "I doubt if a shudder would go through the spheres if the whole ant-heap were kerosened." In 1915, writing to John Wigmore, dean of Harvard Law School, Holmes sneered at "the squashy sentimentalism of a big minority" of people, who made him "puke." He was similarly nauseated by those "who believe in the upward and onward-who talk of uplift, who think… that the universe is no longer predatory. Oh, bring me a basin."

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 120

Monday, January 13, 2014


Virginia's legislators had been reluctant to pass a eugenic sterilization law. "[We] were laughed at by the lawmakers who suggested they might fall victim to their own legislation," recalled Joseph Dejarnette, superintendent of the Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. He added, "I really thought they ought to have been sterilized as unfit."

--Edwin Black, "War Against The Weak: Eugenics And America's Campaign To Create A Master Race", p. 112

Sunday, January 12, 2014


The indifference to the plight of others and the cult of the self is what the corporate state seeks to instill in us. That state appeals to pleasure, as well as fear, to crush compassion. We will have to continue to fight the mechanisms of that dominant culture, if for no other reason than to preserve, through small, even tiny acts, our common humanity. We will have to resist the temptation to fold in on ourselves and to ignore the injustice visited on others, especially those we do not know. As distinct and moral beings, we will endure only through these small, sometimes imperceptible acts of defiance. This defiance, this capacity to say no, is what mass culture and mass propaganda seeks to eradicate. As long as we are willing to defy these forces, we have a chance, if not for ourselves, then at least for those who follow. As long as we defy these forces, we remain alive. And, for now, this is the only victory possible.

--Chris Hedges, "Death Of The Liberal Class", page 217

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Acts of rebellion permit us to be free and independent human beings. Rebellion chips away, however imperceptibly, at the edifice of the oppressor. Rebellion sustains the capacity for human solidarity. Rebellion, in moments of profound human despair and misery, keeps alive the capacity to be human. Rebellion is not the same as revolution. Revolution works towards the establishment of a new power structure. Rebellion is about perpetual revolt and permanent alienation from power. And it is only in a state of rebellion that we can hold fast to moral imperatives that prevent a descent into tyranny. Empathy must be our primary attribute. Those who retreat into cynicism and despair, like Dostoyevsky's Underground Man, die spiritually and morally. If we are to be extinguished, let it be on our own terms.

--Chris Hedges, "Death Of The Liberal Class", page 216-217

Friday, January 10, 2014


"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop," Mario Savio said in 1964 during the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. "And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

--Chris Hedges, "Death Of The Liberal Class", page 216

Thursday, January 09, 2014


The corporate elite does not argue that the current system is just or good, because it cannot, but it has convinced the majority of citizens that there is no alternative. But we are not slaves. We have a choice. We can refuse to be either a victim or an executioner. We have the moral capacity to say no, to refuse to cooperate. Any boycott or demonstration, any occupation or sit-in, any strike, any act of obstruction or sabotage, any refusal to pay taxes, any fast, any popular movement, and any act of civil disobedience ignites the soul of the rebel and exposes the dead hand of authority.

--Chris Hedges, "Death Of The Liberal Class", page 216

Wednesday, January 08, 2014


The elites and their courtiers in the liberal class always condemn the rebel as impractical. They dismiss the stance of the rebel as counterproductive. They chastise the rebel for being angry. The elites and their apologists call for calm, reason, and patience. They use the hypocritical language of compromise, generosity, and understanding to argue that we must accept and work with the systems of power. The rebel, however, is beholden to a moral commitment that makes it impossible to compromise. The rebel refuses to be bought off with foundation grants, invitations to the White House, television appearances, book contracts, academic appointments, or empty rhetoric. The rebel is not concerned with self-promotion or public opinion. The rebel knows that, as Augustine wrote, hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage—anger at the way things are and the courage to change them. The rebel knows that virtue is not rewarded. The act of rebellion justifies itself.

--Chris Hedges, "Death Of The Liberal Class", page 215

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


"A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object, But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object."
--Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)

Monday, January 06, 2014


Significant structural change will not occur in our lifetime. This makes resistance harder. It shifts resistance from the tangible, the immediate, and the practical, to the amorphous and the indeterminate. But to stop resisting is spiritual and intellectual death. It is to surrender to the dehumanizing ideology of totalitarian capitalism. Acts of resistance keep alive another way of being. They sustain our integrity and empower others, whom we may never meet, to stand up and carry the flame we pass to them. No act of resistance is useless, whether it is refusing to pay taxes, fighting for a Tobin tax, working to shift the neoclassical economics paradigm, revoking a corporate charter, holding global Internet votes, or using Twitter to catalyze a chain reaction of refusal against the neoliberal order. We must resist and trust that resistance is worthwhile. Our communities will sustain us, emotionally and materially. They will be the key to a life of defiance.
--Chris Hedges, "Death Of The Liberal Class", page 206

Sunday, January 05, 2014


"I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home."
--Thomas Merton

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Next II

"In the highest antiquity,
the people did not know that there were rulers.
In the next age they loved them and praised them.
In the next they feared them;
in the next they despised them."
-- Lao-Tzu
[Li Erh] (570-490 BC) 'Old Sage', Father of Taoism

Friday, January 03, 2014


"The cause of liberty becomes a mockery if the price to be paid is the wholesale destruction of those who are to enjoy liberty."
--Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, January 02, 2014


"When society is made up of men who know no interior solitude it can no longer be held together by love: and consequently it is held together by a violent and abusive authority. But when men are violently deprived of the solitude and freedom which are their due, then society in which they live becomes putrid, it festers with servility, resentment and hate."
--Thomas Merton (Thoughts in Solitude)

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."
--Thomas Merton