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Excerpt from Firewall, exposing social Darwinist eugenics in Canada

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Recently, I advised readers here of Jane Harris Szovan’s new book on the shameful secrets of social Darwinist eugenics in Canada. The Alberta-based author tells me,

People have been asking me what Eugenics and the Firewall is about. Basically, it is about the history of eugenics in the Western countries. But it looks specifically at what happened in Alberta, how our province’s somewhat bizarre political culture allowed it to happen (and why the vulnerable are still at risk for disaster, not just here but worldwide.) Then it compares Alberta to British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Then, we look at how Alberta’s experience compared to the rest of the Commonwealth, specifically the U.K. where forced sterilization was judged contrary to our shared constitution.(How a province in a dominion was allowed to get away with violating the constitution just shows how far the federal gov. will go in not challenging ‘provincial rights.’

Hmmm, yes, it shows that for sure.* But it shows something else too. Here is the gist of the book:

It’s a dirty little secret the heirs to Alberta’s populist legacy don’t want Canadians to talk about. In 1928 the non-partisan United Farmers of Alberta passed the first Sexual Sterilization Act. The UFA’s successor, the Social Credit party, led by a radio-evangelist William Aberhart, and later by his protégé Ernest Manning, removed the need to obtain consent to sterilize “mental defectives” or Huntington’s Chorea patients with dementia.

Between 1928 and 1972 nearly three thousand citizens were sterilized, lied to, experimented on, and subjected to daily abuse at the hands of provincial staff in Alberta. Most Albertans have forgotten the victims whose names made headlines in the 1990s, and politicians and pundits have shown little empathy for the victims.

The Eugenics Board horror story has largely been buried in Canada’s mainstream national media. Conservative bloggers and columnists in Canada continue to blame the Liberals and CCF for Canada’s barbaric eugenics program. The tar sands, oil royalties, health care budgets, environmental policies, and making sure the province’s interests remain high on the federal agenda top the provincial headlines.

But the questions must be answered: How did a province that claims “strong and free” as its motto deny basic freedoms to so many of its own citizens? Why does the extent of Alberta’s eugenics past and its link to the UFA/Social Credit legacy remain the unacknowledged moral blind spots in Canadian politics? It’s time to set the record straight.

It is past time. And from the fact that Harris Szovan’s Google search stats spiked rapidly over the past 48 hours, I would guess that many know that.  Jane has quite reasonably been thinking/hoping that people won’t go after her, but …

A straight record can mean crooked bunch. If you care about setting the record straight, spare a thought for her, and buy the book for a library and/or for yourself.

* They say this about us: If a Canadian species were in danger of extinction, the British would come up with matchless essays on the crisis, the French would fly Brigitte Bardot to scream up a storm on the ice pack, the Germans would write an encyclopedia about it, the Americans would set up a plan to save the species that cost three trillion dollars and employed one hundred thousand people … And the Canadians? Oh, we’d spend ten years arguing about whether the species’ woes are a federal or a provincial responsibility. That’s part of how big problems get started here, when they do.

Zeroseven. Tempted to say evolution thumpers. I don't agree with eugenics at all and see it as evil. I just explain what people tend to think in regards to people who shouldn't have kids. They don't see it as evil. Anglo-American civilization is founded on the Puritan/Evangelical and Anglican moral and intellectual conclusions of the last few centuries. Everyone else just copies and rushes to catch up. Yet the left hates these origins out of envy and opposition to things they have no place in. Yes they are at war with this. Robert Byers
Robert Byers: "It is the agenda of the left to attack the Anglo-American civilization because of its moral, political etc foundations." What are the moral and political foundations of "Anglo-american civilisation" that the left has an agenda to attack? For that matter, what is "Anglo-american civilisation". I take it you support eugenics when it comes to "retarded" people. Are there other groups in society you think should be dealt with in this way? zeroseven
In my own time I heard people say retarded people should be sterilized to prevent them having kids and so hurting the kids. Plus ideas that retardation would be the kids inheritance and so on kicks in. its not immoral to see a desire in this way. Good people would think its right. its wrong to do it but retardation changes things morally. If it was done very aggressively then its wrong more but still people would sincerely think its a kindness to everyone. I haven't read the book or review but patriotism must lead in all criticisms of ones nation. It is the agenda of the left to attack the Anglo-American civilization because of its moral, political etc foundations. fine if eugenics puts evolutionism in a evil light. Yet let truth and ernest motives lead the way. Fair trial before accusers conclusions are accepted. Robert Byers
Phaedros, you have got it exactly right. The reality is there are terrible and cruel people in the world and generally speaking their religious and scientific beliefs are irrelevant to the acts they commit. If you live in a state of fear and hate and want to inflict that on the world, you can do so by hanging it on to any religious or social movement or scientific theory. But the motivation comes from within that person or people, not outside (although the causes could be outside - eg extreme shame, humiliation and loss of power amongst the German people following WW1 leading to the rise of Nazism). zeroseven
Ecocene1 "why did Christendom take the lead in carrying all this out???" It is because Christiandom as a whole has lost its way. Christians themselves may be saved, but the movement has lost much of its soul. This is why Gandhi said, "I like your Christ, but I don't like your Christians." http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/1905 Collin
OT: Dr. Behe has responded to BioLogos critique of 'The Edge Of Evolution': BioLogos Voices Sing the Same Old Tune http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/11/biologos_voices_sing_the_same_040611.html bornagain77
Norm Olsen: "So the eugenics movement in Alberta was spearheaded by two evangelical Christians and yet somehow Darwin was to blame?" ====== That actually has always been the real question Norm. If indeed such programs of genocide and eugenics which brought us Nazism's "Final Solution", Aparteid and Australian Aboriginal Genocide because they were justified by using Darwin's standards, principles and teachings (and I believe that is true), then why did Christendom take the lead in carrying all this out ??? The historical facts show that both sides (Christendom & Athesim) will never admit anything. Hence let the usual spin game and excuse making form both continue. Sorry for interupting. Eocene1
It seems that folks interested in creating a "New Jerusalem" were the main drivers of establishing, operating, and maintaining the sexual sterilization program. One especially chilling episode
In early 1952, a poignant ten-page letter landed on the desk of Premier Ernest Manning. Penned by a middle-aged Calgarian, it described in detail wheat had befallen the correspondent’s sixteen-year-old son, who was a resident of the Provincial Training School. It seemed that, a few weeks earlier, staff members had caught the boy talking alone with a female student behind one of the buildings. This was forbidden. The boy was according bundled off to one of the school’s quiet rooms, and there, a day later, an attendant had found him, lying dazed in a great pool of blood amid a litter of shards from an earthenware chamber pot. The teenager was rushed to a Red Deer hospital, where he was treated for a five-centimeter deep wound to the groin. A week later he was still pale and weak from loss of blood. School authorities, however, brushed off the incident, intimating that the boy, “a confirmed masturbator,” was himself to blame. The father had a different theory. His son was a severe epileptic. With its chronic staff shortage, he suggested, the school had failed to detail someone to keep an eye on the boy. Locked in a hot, stuffy room alone, he had suffered a major seizure. The writer took the opportunity to unburden himself to the premier about other disturbing school practices, clearly confident that the Christian preacher whose “National Bible Hour” broadcasts echoed over the airwaves each Sunday would be sympathetic. “It is easy to love children that are clever,” he concluded sadly, “but I think it takes grace to love these unfortunate ones.”
Source: http://statismwatch.ca/1997/06/01/alberta-barren-the-mannings-and-forced-sterilization-in-canada/ LarTanner
NormO, there is no question that the heartbeat of the eugenics movement was Darwin's circle. It spread very widely, which is precisely what Jane is writing about. I am sure you would enjoy the book. O'Leary
NormO- I know this is difficult to comprehend, but people who label themselves as something, or are labeled as something, do not necessarily behave exactly as that thing. In other words, someone who is called an evangelical Christian can do things and advocate for things that are not Christian just as a scientist can say things that are not scientific. Phaedros
led by a radio-evangelist William Aberhart, and later by his protégé Ernest Manning, ... So the eugenics movement in Alberta was spearheaded by two evangelical Christians and yet somehow Darwin was to blame? NormO

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