March 10, 2009

On his Fox News show yesterday, Glenn Beck fretted about President Obama's executive order ending the federal ban on funding for certain kinds of stem-cell research:

Beck: This is what bothers me. When we are -- when we put science in front of ethics, we start having a bunch of people walking around -- especially progressive scientists -- walking around in little white coats and talking about, 'Hey, we could make the master race. Why don't we go ahead and use eugenics?' That happened in America with progressives and science, when they decided that we can make people better, and they took out all of the ethics. I mean, what's to say, when we don't attach principles and ethics to things, that this just doesn't go off the road?

Speaking of going off the road ...

Beck was using this line earlier in the day on his radio program. Think Progress has the audio:

BECK: So here you have Barack Obama going in and spending the money on embryonic stem cell research, and then some, fundamentally changing – remember, those great progressive doctors are the ones who brought us Eugenics. It was the progressive movement and it science. Let’s put science truly in her place. If evolution is right, why don’t we just help out evolution? That was the idea. And sane people agreed with it!

And it was from America. Progressive movement in America. Eugenics. In case you don’t know what Eugenics led us to: the Final Solution. A master race! A perfect person. …. The stuff that we are facing is absolutely frightening. So I guess I have to put my name on yes, I hope Barack Obama fails. But I just want his policies to fail; I want America to wake up.

As Ryan Powers at TP observes:

In reality, of course, stem-cell research has nothing to do with the search for a “master race.” Rather, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) explained this morning, “Obama’s executive order is a huge win for the millions of people who suffer from spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and many other illnesses.”

You can read more about eugenics here. Of course, it's worth remembering that in recent years, eugenics has been primarily a right wing obsession (remember The Bell Curve? Or how about the recent eugenics revival at NRO?). It's also worth remembering that even in its original incarnation -- in which progressives were indeed involved -- it was also ardently adopted by such conservatives as the Ku Klux Klan, not to mention the fact that it had a religious component as well.

Beck also appears to be confusing eugenics with genetics. The latter is a "hard" science built out of biochemistry, and ethics are indeed a constant concern for geneticists -- having learned the lessons of eugenics.

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