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Listening to well known public figures can be interesting and even entertaining. It also provides opportunities for cultural apologetics if one pays attention. For example, MSNBC carried the headline Obama accuses Bush of ‘Social Darwinism’ as did a number of other news organizations. Obama indicated that it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that all citizen’s are successful or as he put it “prosperous.” Since Bush wasn’t making insuring individual prosperity he was therefore according to Obama a “Social Darwinist.” The first thing that should be noted is there is nothing in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution or Bill of Rights which guarantees individual prosperity. We are guaranteed the “unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But, there is no guarantee that we will be happy, prosperous, successful, healthy, pain free or even smart. What is guaranteed as American citizens is that we have the right to pursue all of these things. My purpose is not to get involved in the political fray on this but rather to wonder if it is Bush or Obama that is the Social Darwinist? In addition, even if it is true that Bush is a Social Darwinist the current official religious and philosophical position of the government of the United States holds that Darwinian Evolution is true. If Bush is a Social Darwinist why would Obama living out the teaching in a consistent way?

For those who are unaware, Social Darwinists beginning in the 1870s were trying to be consistent in applying Darwin’s theories to society. This movement grew in the late 1920s and 1930s. They believed that the human race could be perfected through genetics and selective breeding. The most famous of the Social Darwinists was Adolph Hitler but there were some fairly notable folks in the U.S. at that time that held the same views but lacked the political clout at that time to pull them off. One of the early proponents, American Feminist leader, Victoria Woodhull, who in 1872 became the first woman to be nominated for president by a political party, stated:

Thus society, while expending millions in the care of incurables and imbeciles, takes little heed of or utterly ignores those laws by the study and obedience of which such human abortions might have been prevented from cumbering society with their useless and unwelcome presence. Grecian and Roman civilizations were, it is true, deficient in the gentler virtues, the excess of which in our day is hindering the progress of the race rather than helping or ennobling it. They, by crushing out the diseased and imperfect plants in the garden of humanity, attained to a vigor and physical development, which has never been equated since. And in so doing they were entirely in accord with nature, whose mandate is inexorable, that the “fittest” only shall be permitted to live and propagate. She is a very prodigal in her waste of individual life, in order that the species be without spot of blemish.
Not so our modern civilization, which rather pets its abortions and weaklings, and complacently permits them to procreate another race of fools and pigmies as inane and useless as themselves

Margaret Sanger, greatly honored today as the founder of Planned Parenthood, pushed the Eugenics idea even further than past adherents had. As a devout humanist and evolutionist, she like Woodhull before her, advocated the elimination of “inferior” human beings, such as the poor and minorities. Their problems, in her view, weighed down society and held back the superior human stock – the wealthier and supposedly more highly evolved white race:

She bluntly defined “birth control,” a term she coined, as “the process of weeding out the unfit” aimed at “the creation of superman.” She often opined that “the most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,” and that “all our problems are the result of overbreeding among the working class.”

Sanger frequently featured racists and eugenicists in her magazine, the Birth Control Review. Contributor Lothrop Stoddard, who also served on Sanger’s board of directors, wrote in “The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy” that “[w]e, must resolutely oppose both Asiatic permeation of white race-areas and Asiatic inundation of those non-white, but equally Asiatic regions inhabited by really inferior races.

In their view blacks were the least evolved, white Europeans were the most highly evolved and other races fell in between those two on the spectrum of Darwinian Evolution. Abortion, infanticide and euthanasia were, in their opinion, desirable methods to accomplish the Social Darwinian agenda.

Between Bush and Obama only one advocates abortion and infanticide (euphemistically called partial birth abortion). It would seem to me that whoever holds these two views is the philosophical descendant of Victoria Woodhull and Margaret Sanger and would rightly be viewed as advocating Social Darwinism. Hmmm. Which one could it be?

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