Darwinism has never been scientifically proved, yet it has become an unquestioned world vision by many. Man was quick to extend its implications into Social Darwinism (survival of the fittest among human beings) and from that came that other pseudo-science of Eugenics (racial cleansing of “undesirables”). At the 1903 Worlds Fair in Saint Louis there was an exhibition called “Anthropology Day”. Since Eugenics assumed that some races and ethnic groups were more “highly evolved” (thus, superior to others), races were pitted against one another for fitness.
IQ tests were made part of immigration law and were given to immigrants on the assumption that intellectually “less desirables” must be kept out of this country as more of a liabilty than an asset. It was assumed that people of color were less desirable as were those from southern Europe such as Italians (as opposed to northern Europeans such as Germans or British). Quotas were set higher for the more desirable groups.
In 1907 Indiana introduced sterilization laws for rapists and embeciles that were not repealed until 1921. In 1912 the International Eugenics Conference in London called for greater government involvement in restricting the breeding of “undesirables”. In 1912, Charles Richet’s book, “Selection Humaine” called for all infants born with hereditary defects to be killed. Those allowed to live, he said, must be sterilized. Many were horrified. Now Richet adjusted his position, encouraging the government to forbid marriage to anyone who had tuberculosis, rickets, epilepsy, or syphilis, and to anyone who was a criminal, or was weak or short or could not read, write, or count. Major Leonard Darwin (son of Charles Darwin) was president of the British Eugenics Education Society (existed to the 1920’s). He proposed that “superior” persons should have more children.
Then in 1910, mutations were discovered to occur spontaneously. Now man realized he could not control mutations (whether to genius or retardation) yet the Eugenics movement continued with only some geneticists dropping out of the movement. This is one of many instances in which facts of science were overlooked in the desire of many to remain biggoted and controling.
Frank Boas showed that though the frontal and orbital lobes of the brains of whites were generally larger than those of blacks, size of lobes did not make whites superior to black intellectually. This was so because the lobes of persons from northern France were generally larger than those of central France (though all were white). Boas also demonstrated that supposedly primitive races were capable of non-impulsive behavior and their languages were as highly developed as those of whites. – Again the bigots remained.
As many other countries in the western hemisphere began to drop Eugenics, Germany capitalized on it. The Nazi Holaucaust of the 1930’s and 1940’s is the most glaring example of the horrors perpetuated by Social Darwinisn and its child, Eugenics. Aside from some 8 million Jews slaughtered as a supposedly dangerous, wicked and inferior race, there were multitudes of others killed such as those with physical infirmities and retardation.