Writer’s Note: This post was prompt by a tweet sharing an idea that people making 10 dollars a hour shouldn’t have children. To be fair, I doubt anyone who feels this way believes in eugenics. At best, they’re coming from a place of experience and giving caution to the toll of bearing children. At the same time, to connect one’s occupation to reproduction and ending with the same conclusion is eugenics in practice. This documentary is free to stream on Tubi.

A Dangerous Idea: Eugenics, Genetics and the American Dream (2016)

A hard look at the political misuse of gene science illuminates how it has been used to subjugate women and minorities and to sanction state crimes.

A Dangerous Idea is a progressive documentary that counters beliefs about genetics and the eugenics movement in America. How I became aware of this was at The National Constitution Center’s preview of it. Before then, I had a general interest in the concept of overpopulation. With things like climate change it’s becomes another justification to restrict one’s ability to reproduce. To me the idea is right around the corner from eugenics. So for instance, the documentary explains how a person’s social status has a biological component. If I’m poor or someone is living in poverty, then the rationality for it boils down to genetics.

Being poor is one of several justifications used to sterilize people, give them birth control and kill off any progeny with unfavorable traits. If you ever saw The Giver, then you’ll see it’s a perfect idea of a society governed by this way of thinking. They say, why let someone of this ill stature reproduce and bring more of them into society, or taint the gene pool? It would be society’s burden if we did. Therefore we must prevent these people from doing what is most natural. This documentary however linked other aspects of society to eugenics that left me realizing it’s not some dead idea from a distant time. It’s not an island by itself neither, so I’ll include other perspectives on it below.

American Experience | The Eugenics Crusade | Season 30 | Episode 11

The Eugenics Crusade tells the story of the campaign to breed a “better” American race,

One other thing to add is this documentary presents a thorough but slanted view on eugenics. It takes no more than a second to see progressives during the progressive era gave the idea attention. The documentary paints over those details in favor of treating it as if nationalists and right-wing thinkers hold a monopoly on it. Nonetheless, I feel it’s important and worth highlighting. Anytime someone discusses reproduction and argues why a class of people should be restricted reminds me of Margaret Sanger, and those who believe in ideas about genetic superiority. Because any deterrent to having children based on those things, or derivatives of them, should make anyone one question it.

Ultimately the endgame of eugenics is a better human and proactively decrease those we determine unfit. That begs the question, who has the authority to determine that? The state? This crazy society? Or the individual? Whose in charge of whose autonomy here, really?

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