By Sharon M. Leon
Within the first 1/2 the 20 th century, supporters of the eugenics circulation provided a picture of a racially remodeled the United States by means of curbing the replica of "unfit" individuals of society. via institutionalization, obligatory sterilization, the restrict of immigration and marriages, and different tools, eugenicists promised to enhance the inhabitants - a coverage schedule that used to be embraced by means of many prime intellectuals and public figures. yet Catholic activists and thinkers around the usa adverse a lot of those measures, announcing that "every guy, even a lunatic, is a picture of God, now not an insignificant animal." In "An picture of God", Sharon M. Leon examines the efforts of yank Catholics to thwart eugenic guidelines, illuminating the ways that Catholic inspiration remodeled the general public dialog approximately person rights, the position of the nation, and the intersections of race, neighborhood, and family members. via an exam of the wider questions raised during this debate, Leon casts new mild on significant concerns that stay critical in American political lifestyles this present day: the establishment of marriage, the function of presidency, and the separation of church and kingdom. this can be crucial interpreting within the background of faith, technology, politics, and human rights.
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Extra resources for An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics
The gap between these two positions revealed not just a difference of opinion but a different understanding of the meaning and uses of scientiﬁc data. Eugenicists generally viewed positivist scientiﬁc data and theories as value-free and objective. As a consequence, Catholic moral and theological arguments about reproductive politics were often unconvincing to non-Catholics because they appeared to be subjective and arbitrary, attacking conclusions that eugenicists took for granted as supported by empirical data.
Working in a period of great upheaval in the American racial landscape, these Catholic writers left themselves open to being interpreted as sharing the racial assumptions of eugenicists, who valued Anglo-Saxon and Nordic racial heritage above all others. However, Gerrard uses the terms “human,” “man,” and “race” almost interchangeably. Also, the makeup of the contemporary Catholic community suggests that Catholic writers would be unlikely to support claims for an Anglo- and Nordic-dominated racial hierarchy.
12 Perhaps more so than Davenport, Laughlin would prove to be the major ﬁgure in public policy initiatives associated with eugenics. During the 1920s, he played a key role in the passage of immigration restrictions, in the legal battle to afﬁrm the constitutionality of involuntary sterilization for institutionalized persons, and in the general effort to place eugenic sterilization statutes on the books of each state and commonwealth in the country. The Science of Civic Worth After the initial AER exchange on vasectomy, eugenics received periodic attention in more-popular Catholic press venues.