Opinion

PolitiFact Defends Eugenist Margaret Sanger

PolitiFact took Republican Missouri state Sen. Andrew Koenig‏’s claim that Margaret Sanger was a white supremacist to task in a fact check Thursday.

The fact-checking organization has a history of defending Sanger, writing article after article insisting that she was not a racist.

Many who argue she was racist – or a white supremacist – cite The Negro Project. In her own words, Sanger headed up this project focused on black communities to “reduce the birthrate among the diseased, the sickly, the poverty stricken and anti-social classes, elements unable to provide for themselves, and the burden of which we are all forced to carry.”

PolitiFact’s article attempts to soften the fact that Sanger spoke at a KKK branch because it “was less about race and more about reaching as many people as possible.” The piece points out that Sanger found the events leading up to the speech a bit odd and secretive, but ignores that when Sanger actually spoke to the crowd she regarded it as a positive experience which lasted late into the evening.

In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered. The conversation went on and on, and when we were finally through it was too late to return to New York.

The women’s branch of the KKK loved the ideas Sanger presented so much so they gave her a dozen invites to speak with “similar groups.”

In addition to its dishonest portrayal of that event with the KKK branch, it seems rather odd that PolitiFact would dedicate multiple articles to Sanger who believed that “delinquents” should never have been born in the first place.

I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world — that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they’re born. That to me is the greatest sin — that people can — can commit.

Sanger also disdained poor people and the “feeble-minded,” believing that they shouldn’t be allowed to have kids.

Modern studies indicate that insanity, epilepsy, criminality, prostitution, pauperism, and mental defect, are all organically bound up together and that the least intelligent and the thoroughly degenerate classes in every community are the most prolific. Feeble-mindedness in one generation becomes pauperism or insanity in the next.

To meet this emergency is the immediate and peremptory duty of every State and of all communities.

Anyone who had a physical disability was also on Sanger’s no-no list.

The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.

She thought poor people should never have been born.

Everywhere we see poverty and large families going hand in hand. Those least fit to carry on the race are increasing most rapidly. People who cannot support their own offspring are encouraged by Church and State to produce large families. Many of the children thus begotten are diseased or feeble-minded; many become criminals. The burden of supporting these unwanted types has to be bourne by the healthy elements of the nation. Funds that should be used to raise the standard of our civilization are diverted to the maintenance of those who should never have been born.

Sanger also believed that such people “found biologically unfit by authorities qualified judge should be sterilized or, in cases of doubt, should be so isolated as to prevent the perpetuation of their afflictions by breeding.” In short, she believed in the government forcing isolation or forced sterilization for those they deemed “unfit.” But at least she wasn’t a proven white supremacist.

Quotes like these (and worse) continue on and on; Sanger was no shy bird and wrote prolifically on her ideology. The question remains, why is PolitiFact — through rhetorical leaps and logical discrepancies — so interested in defending Sanger through fact-checks?

The article comes across as a plea to regard Sanger as a not-so-racist eugenicist. And what a weak plea it is.

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