The most egregious example of how dishonestly and malignantly Christian Fundamantalists in America lie and engage in hypocritical deceit is how they have demonized Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, and one of the people responsible for the creation of the birth control pill. There is a series of claims made about Sanger, on hundreds of websites, and in a couple of widely-promoted books, which makes Sanger out to be a monster on the level of Adolph Hitler, with possibly a dash of Dracula and a little Caligula thrown in for good measure. According to the usual littany of claims, Sanger allegedly believed the following:
* She wanted to exterminate blacks
* She believed in white supremacy
* She thought that we should exterminate the poor
* She believed we should forceably sterilize people with undesired genetic traits
* She believed that the poor were weeds that needed to be pulled from society.
* She wanted to use abortion and forced sterilization to eliminate undesired races.
This is quite a contrast to the idea of Sanger as a champion of women's rights, promoter of birth control, and medical pioneer. In fact, the Christian lies about Sanger are so pervaisive that many people who are not even involved with the Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist movement believe them. This is because of a very-well financed campaign by Evangelical Fundamentalist groups to spread these lies about Sanger, through the promotion of books, websites, and other media. All of these lies stem from a series of books written by anti-abortion activist George Grant. Grant wrote several books about Sanger and Planned parenthood that are full of invented facts, misquotes from books, articles, and letters by Sanger, and falseley-attributed quotes. The books are literally a colleection of clever lies that have numerous footnotes, to make them appear to be legitimate.
As with the creationist movement, footnotes are often put into their books with the two beliefs that (a) nobody will ever bother to follow up on them, and (b) people are impressed by lots of footnotes, and if you provide enough of them, nobody will question what you assert when you use them.
What I have here is a collection of a series of conversations I had with online Evangelicals about Margaret Sanger. They entered into the conversations excessively confident that they had all the answers, and not expecting me to actually check their facts. In the course of these dialogs, I ended up reading several books by Sanger, and came away with a much better impression of her than I previously had. I read one book by George Grant, and fortunately, his footnotes are very well done, and if you look up just one of them, and find the source of it, you can instantly uncover his deception -- which people almost never do themselves.
This all started with a message thread I was part of on the Brother Jed message board. Brother Jed is a traveling street-preacher, who goes around the country screaming fire and brimstone on College Campuses.
Just like the alleged "homosexual agenda" propaganda that extreme-hate organizations produce, which alleges that homosexuals are attempting to "invade schools" and "turn kids gay", and "rape our children", the allegations that Sanger was racist and was a eugenicist, are a fabrication designed solely for the purpose of slander. One telling fact is that this allegation (that Sanger was a racist Eugenicist) originated only after her death. He books and writings completely refute the notion that she was a racist who wanted to "use abortion to control non-whites and other minorities". There are collections of her writings on the web, and most interesting is that the people who accuse her of being racist almost never have quotes from her at all. All they do is look at brief associations with other people -- associations which she even wrote about, and which refute the ideas of collusion. I will attempt to cover all the allegations made by critics, and back it up with the actual text that can be found if you actually look it up.
(1) The Claim: "Margaret Sanger called the poor, blacks, Jews and Catholics "human weeds" and referred to blacks and hispanics as the "mud races". She set up her "clinics" in inner city neighborhoods for the express purpose of significantly reducing or even eliminating the black race in particular." -- Evangelist Bruce Evan Murch
The alleged proof: Sanger's book "The Pivot Of Civilization"
Very clearly the "human weeds" reference was an outgrowth (pun intended) of Sanger calling these people "human undergrowth" on page 265 of the ORIGINAL Brentano's (New York, NY) publication of Pivot of Civilization. It seems clear that some speaker, using the original language added to it something like, "meaning human weeds" and people took that to be in the original language.
Why don't we just look at the paragraph in question:
"At the present time, civilized nations are penalizing talent and genius, the bearers of the torch of civilization, to coddle and perpetuate the choking human undergrowth, which, as all authorities tell us, is escaping control and threatens to overrun the whole garden of humanity. Yet men continue to drug themselves with the opiate of optimism, or sink back upon the cushions of Christian resignation, their intellectual powers anaesthetized by cheerful platitudes. Or else, even those, who are fully cognizant of the chaos and conflict, seek an escape in those pretentious but fundamentally fallacious social philosophies which place the blame for contemporary world misery upon anybody or anything except the indomitable but uncontrolled instincts of living organisms. These men fight with shadows and forget the realities of existence. Too many centuries have we sought to hide from the inevitable, which confronts us at every step throughout life.
Let us conceive for the moment at least, a world not burdened by the weight of dependent and delinquent classes, a total population of mature, intelligent, critical and expressive men and women. Instead of the inert, exploitable, mentally passive class which now forms the barren substratum of our civilization, try to imagine a population active, resistant, passing individual and social lives of the most contented and healthy sort. Would such men and women, liberated from our endless, unceasing struggle against mass prejudice and inertia, be deprived in any way of the stimulating zest of life? Would they sink into a slough of complacency and fatuity?" -- CHAPTER 12
So as we see here, from the original book, She was using a metaphor. Essentially, if you can read English, you should see that Sanger was saying that governments and charities ignore the real problems of overpopulation. She was concerned that in overpopulated regions, the poorest people are the ones who suffer the most from overpopulation problems, they are the least educated, and most crime-prone.
Governments focus on hand-outs and creating dependant social programs, instead of educating the masses, and actively trying to help them help themselves. Governments encourage huge families, which hurts the poor even more. When you read this whole chapter, you see what Sanger is really concerned about -- that children suffer from high mortality rates in overpopulated, poverty ridden places. Her solution was not abortion or sterilization -- but birth control and education.
Sanger clearly states that she wanted to educate people on the use of birth control, to keep families from getting too large for poor parents to feed, and to make sure that overpopulation didn't outgrow the avalable resources. She was trying to PRESERVE LIFE by controlling growth, and not once did she mention anything about racial inferiority.
If you read the entire book as I have, it is impossible to reconcile what it says with the outrageous assertions of tose who lie for Christ.
The phrase "human weed" does not appear anywhere in the book at all -- in fact, the word "weed" only appears in the following parts:
"Reports on child labor published by the National Child Labor Committee only incidentally reveal the correlation of this evil with that of large families. Yet this is evident throughout. The investigators are more bent upon regarding child labor as a cause of illiteracy.
But it is no less a consequence of irresponsibility in breeding. A sinister aspect of this is revealed by Theresa Wolfson's study of child-labor in the beet-fields of Michigan. As one weeder put it: ``Poor man make no money, make plenty children--plenty children good for sugar-beet business.'' Further illuminating details are given by Miss Wolfson" -- CHAPTER III: ``Children Troop Down From Heaven....''
"But so long as Bishops and well meaning philanthropists in England and America continue to praise and encourage `the glorious fertility of the East' there can be but little hope of minimizing the penalties of the ruthless struggle for existence in China, and Nature's law will therefore continue to work out its own pitiless solution, weeding out every year millions of predestined weaklings.'' (quoting J. O. P. Bland on the plight of Chinese)" -- CHAPTER V: The Cruelty of Charity
As you can see, from these two, and only appearances of the word "weed" in her book, Sanger speaks out AGAINST CHILD LABOR, CHILD MARRIAGE, and missionaries encouraging people to have more children without increasing their food supply to make up for the new mouths to feed.
Bottom line: Nowhere in any of Sanger's writings does she use the phrase "Human weeds", and the original context of the cited passage clearly shows that "the choking human undergrowth" is not referring to any racial group, or group of racial groups, but rather "overpopulation" in general.
As is usually the case with the EXTREME RIGHT, a few myths and rumors form an urban legend. The Legend becomes Gospel, and the Gospel against Margaret Sanger, just like the Gospel against "the homosexual agenda", gains it's strength not from actual facts, but by being repeated by so many activists (who never bother to question the validity of the claims), that it becomes accepted as truth, merely because it is shouted loud and frequently. When you actually look to the sources cited by the extremist antiabortion crowd, you see, as usual and predictable, that they are not above lying to promote their cause. In the minds of many Christian Fundamentalist Evangelicals, what is important is WHAT YOU BELIEVE, not what the facts are.
I uncovered a similar series of lies about "the homosexual agenda" years ago. A certain article called "gay revolutionary" is always cited as being "The gay agenda", and it was "read before Congress", as though the text was an official announcement by gays for the government to hear. this was the famous text where gays allegedly declare "we will rape your children..." and other horrifying stuff. When I looked up the original text, I found that in EVERY CASE, the homophobes failed to include the first paragraph of the article, where it's author claimed that it was an Outre' -- it was fiction, designed to be outrageous, designed to be perceived as the ranting of a madman. It was read before congress -- a conservative senator read it before congress because he wanted to "prove" that gay people were dangerous. He, of course, also left out the introduction.
(2) The Claim: Margaret Sanger was out to exterminate the negro race.
The alleged proof:
"We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population," she said, "if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, by Linda Gordon, quoting Sanger's book, "The pivot Of Civilization"
This is another lie that the extremist anti-abortion commuity tells about Margaret Sanger.
This quote is repeated in HUNDREDS of anti-Sanger websites, all of which use the exact same quote. The goal is to make it seem as though Sanger was a Nazi of some kind secretly using abortion and birth control to stop black people from reproducing.
Well, I found the WHOLE paragraph, and in the original context. it is a simple case of someone (Presumably George Grant) CLEVERLY EDITING THE TEXT to change it's meaning.
The original quote is:
"It seems to me from my experience . . . in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas, that while the colored Negroes have great respect for white doctors, they can get closer to their own members and more or less lay their cards on the table. . . . They do not do this with the white people, and if we can train the Negro doctor at the clinic, he can go among them with enthusiasm and with knowledge, which, I believe, will have far-reaching results. . . . His work, in my opinion, should be entirely with the Negro profession and the nurses, hospital, social workers, as well as the County's white doctors. His success will depend upon his personality and his training by us. The minister's work is also important, and also he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation, as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs (1939)."
As we can see, Sanger is actually saying the OPPOSITE of what Anti-abortion LIARS are trying to claim she said. She was concerned that black people would think that birth control was a white plot to exterminate them, when in fact, it was a means of enhancing their lives by lessening the effects that larger families have on poverty and food supplies. She advocated schooling and training black doctors to give black people more confidence and comfort in their own communities.
In the game of extremist hatemongering, lies are not sins; they are holy sacraments.
(3) The Claim: Sanger was a Nazi, and corresponded with Nazi Eugenicists
The alleged proof: April 1933 Birth Control Review (BCR) magazine, Published the Birth Control League, which Sanger was a founder of.
Even more than her links with American eugenicists, Sanger's so-called association with Ernst Rudin, the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, who helped align prevalent eugenic theories with Nazi race policy, has been featured in nearly every right-wing assault on Sanger’s legacy. The grounds for charges that she knew, corresponded with, or influenced Rudin stem from the April 1933 Birth Control Review (BCR), a special "sterilization number." Rudin did contribute an article to this issue, as did Harry Laughlin and Leon Whitney and other eugenicists. The issue also included excerpts from the works of Havelock Ellis and influential gynecologist Robert Dickinson. Taken as a whole, the issue presents a clear, if not always comfortable, debate on compulsory sterilization, with forceful arguments for and against, and calls for further research on sterilization as a eugenic measure. The magazine presented many opposing views on the subject, because it was a formal debate!
Worst of all for this lie is the fact that Sanger had resigned as editor of the BCR in 1929 and no longer had any affiliation with the publication. Nevertheless the Birth Control Review issue has been held out like a smoking gun in the campaign to brand Sanger a sterilization missionary and Nazi sympathizer. What is never noted is that the one voice absent in the issue is Margaret Sanger’s.
I narrowed down the sources of 99% of all anti-Sanger claims to two books:
(1) George Grant’s 1995 book, Killer Angel
(2) Elasah Drogin's 1979 book, Margaret Sanger: Father of Modern Society
These two books are the source of most of the current anti-Sanger urban legends, including all of the arguments you used thus far. All go right back to these two books, which are footnoted on nearly every anti-choice/Anti-Sanger site. The more I look into the claims of these books, the more I see how clever manipulation of quotes (as I showed earlier) distorts the facts. Grant and Drogin are great at propaganda, and lousy at research. They both had the full texts of Sanger's books available to them, as well as Lexis-Nexis databases with all the articles from Family Planing Magazine, yet still managed to get their facts wrong. I believe that they really did use the appropriate sources to get the quotes, and even may have read the books and articles that they quote, but that they chose to deliberately ignore them, because they had an agenda that took precidence over facts.
Grant and Drogin knew what Margaret Sanger wrote, and knew that she wasn't a Nazi, and that she didn't want to exterminate people. They knew it, but had a more important mission -- to crusade againt abortion, and to do so by attacking it's leaders. Since Sanger is the heroic figure who founded Planned parenthood, which, after her death, championed for the availability of abortions, what better way to attack them than to attack it's dead founder, and tie her to nazis and cruel exterminationists? You can't hurt the dead, so it must okay with Jesus if you malign dead people, especially dead people associated with the enemies of Christ.
(4) The Claim: Margaret Sanger promoted the elimination of people born with defects.
The alleged proof: Sanger's book "The pivot Of civilization", Page 115
"On the other hand, we should not minimize the importance of the Socialist movement in so valiantly and so courageously battling against the stagnating complacency of our conservatives and reactionaries, under whose benign imbecility the defective and diseased elements of humanity are encouraged ``full speed ahead'' in their reckless and irresponsible swarming and spawning." (Sanger in The pivot Of Civilization, chapter entitles "The Cruelty of Charity")
"Those vast, complex, interrelated organizations aiming to control and to diminish the spread of misery and destitution and all the menacing evils that spring out of this sinisterly fertile soil, are the surest sign that our civilization has bred, is breeding and is perpetuating constantly increasing numbers of defectives, delinquents and dependents. My criticism, therefore, is not directed at the ``failure'' of philanthropy, but rather at its success."(Sanger in The pivot Of Civilization, chapter entitles "The Cruelty of Charity")
"But there is a special type of philanthropy or benevolence, now widely advertised and advocated, both as a federal program and as worthy of private endowment, which strikes me as being more insidiously injurious than any other. This concerns itself directly with the function of maternity, and aims to supply GRATIS medical and nursing facilities to slum mothers...The new government program would facilitate the function of maternity among the very classes in which the absolute necessity is to discourage it." (Sanger in The pivot Of Civilization, chapter entitles "The Cruelty of Charity")
The quotes are Most often taken from George Grant's books, which are improperly edited and unreliable. Grant often quotes the above passages from Sanger's book as evidence of her racism and cruelty:
Of course, like most of the quotes that George Grant provides, the above quotes have been cleverly doctored by Grant to say exactly the opposite of what Sanger actually meant. This is the purest form of propaganda -- the improperly cut quote.
Here are the complete paragraphs that the doctored quotes are taken from before Grant mutilates them:
"Parallel with the awakening of woman's interest in her own fundamental nature, in her realization that her greatest duty to society lies in self-realization, will come a greater and deeper love for all of humanity. For in attaining a true individuality of her own she will understand that we are all individuals, that each human being is essentially implicated in every question or problem which involves the well-being of the humblest of us. So to-day we are not to meet the great problems of defect and delinquency in any merely sentimental or superficial manner, but with the firmest and most unflinching attitude toward the true interest of our fellow beings. It is from no mere feeling of brotherly love or sentimental philanthropy that we women must insist upon enhancing the value of child life. It is because we know that, if our children are to develop to their full capabilities, all children must be assured a similar opportunity. Every single case of inherited defect, every malformed child, every congenitally tainted human being brought into this world is of infinite importance to that poor individual; but it is of scarcely less importance to the rest of us and to all of our children who must pay in one way or another for these biological and racial mistakes. We look forward in our vision of the future to children brought into the world because they are desired, called from the unknown by a fearless and conscious passion, because women and men need children to complete the symmetry of their own development, no less than to perpetuate the race. They shall be called into a world enhanced and made beautiful by the spirit of freedom and romance--into a world wherein the creatures of our new day, unhampered and unbound by the sinister forces of prejudice and immovable habit, may work out their own destinies. Perhaps we may catch fragmentary glimpses of this new life in certain societies of the past, in Greece perhaps; but in all of these past civilizations these happy groups formed but a small exclusive section of the population. To-day our task is greater; for we realize that no section of humanity can be reclaimed without the regeneration of the whole.
I look, therefore, into a Future when men and women will not dissipate their energy in the vain and fruitless search for content outside of themselves, in far-away places or people. Perfect masters of their own inherent powers, controlled with a fine understanding of the art of life and of love, adapting themselves with pliancy and intelligence to the milieu in which they find themselves, they will unafraid enjoy life to the utmost. Women will for the first time in the unhappy history of this globe establish a true equilibrium and ``balance of power'' in the relation of the sexes. The old antagonism will have disappeared, the old ill-concealed warfare between men and women. For the men themselves will comprehend that in this cultivation of the human garden they will be rewarded a thousand times. Interest in the vague sentimental fantasies of extra-mundane existence, in pathological or hysterical flights from the realities of our earthliness, will have through atrophy disappeared, for in that dawn men and women will have come to the realization, already suggested, that here close at hand is our paradise, our everlasting abode, our Heaven and our eternity. Not by leaving it and our essential humanity behind us, nor by sighing to be anything but what we are, shall we ever become ennobled or immortal. Not for woman only, but for all of humanity is this the field where we must seek the secret of eternal life."
So as you can see, what critics claim she said is simply not what she meant.
(5) The Claim: Sanger Endorsed forced sterilization and abortion.
The alleged evidence: More quotes edited by George Grant, from The Pivot Of Civilization.
"This, I say, is an emergency measure. But how are we to prevent the
repetition in the future of a new harvest of imbecility, the
recurrence of new generations of morons and defectives, as the logical
and inevitable consequence of the universal application of the
traditional and widely approved command to increase and multiply?"
"At the present moment, we are offered three distinct and more or less
mutually exclusive policies by which civilization may hope to protect
itself and the generations of the future from the allied dangers of
imbecility, defect and delinquency. No one can understand the
necessity for Birth control education without a complete comprehension
of the dangers, the inadequacies, or the limitations of the present
attempts at control, or the proposed programs for social
reconstruction and racial regeneration."
Abortion and forced Sterilization were actually things that Sanger wrote AGAINST! She did not endorse abortion. She only advocated birth control and education. If she endorsed abortion at any time, she would have been arrested, because abortion, was illegal until 1972, and advocacy of it was illegal until the 1950s.
The above quote sounds like Sanger is advocating the cleansing of "the race" of "defectives" and "mentally ill", and advocating a nazi-version of racial supremacy. When you put the paragraph in context, with it's surrounding paragraphs, Sanger is actually saying the opposite -- the paragraph is part of an intro where she CRITICIZES various remedies offered by government.
When The Pivot Of Civilization was written, in 1922, the USA, indeed the world, was getting over the ravages of the worst Influenza epidemic in history! Millions of Americans died -- we lost a whole generation of people between 1918 and 1920. The idea of "racial regenration" was not used in the context of "white racial regenration". It literally meant "human" regenration.
But that's just a sidenote. Let's see what the whole page says, and what the liars for Christ always leave out.
"At the present moment, we are offered three distinct and more or less mutually exclusive policies by which civilization may hope to protect itself and the generations of the future from the allied dangers of imbecility, defect and delinquency. No one can understand the necessity for Birth control education without a complete comprehension of the dangers, the inadequacies, or the limitations of the present attempts at control, or the proposed programs for social reconstruction and racial regeneration. It is, therefore, necessary to interpret and criticize the three programs offered to meet our emergency. These may be briefly summarized as follows:
* Philanthropy and Charity: This is the present and traditional method of meeting the problems of human defect and dependence, of poverty and delinquency. It is emotional, altruistic, at best ameliorative, aiming to meet the individual situation as it arises and presents itself. Its effect in practise is seldom, if ever, truly preventive. Concerned with symptoms, with the allaying of acute and catastrophic miseries, it cannot, if it would, strike at the radical causes of social misery. At its worst, it is sentimental and paternalistic.
* Marxian Socialism: This may be considered typical of many widely varying schemes of more or less revolutionary social reconstruction, emphasizing the primary importance of environment, education, equal opportunity, and health, in the elimination of the conditions (i. e. capitalistic control of industry) which have resulted in biological chaos and human waste. I shall attempt to show that the Marxian doctrine is both too limited, too superficial and too fragmentary in its basic analysis of human nature and in its program of revolutionary reconstruction.
* Eugenics: Eugenics seems to me to be valuable in its critical and diagnostic aspects, in emphasizing the danger of irresponsible and uncontrolled fertility of the ``unfit'' and the feeble-minded establishing a progressive unbalance in human society and lowering the birth-rate among the ``fit.'' But in its so-called ``constructive'' aspect, in seeking to reestablish the dominance of healthy strain over the unhealthy, by urging an increased birth-rate among the fit, the Eugenists really offer nothing more farsighted than a ``cradle competition'' between the fit and the unfit. They suggest in very truth, that all intelligent and respectable parents should take as their example in this grave matter of child-bearing the most irresponsible elements in the community.
1. United States Public Health Service: Psychiatric Studies of Delinquents. Reprint No. 598: pp. 64-65.
2. The Problem of the Feeble-Minded: An Abstract of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Cure and Control of the Feeble-Minded, London: P. S. King & Son.
3. Cf. Feeble-Minded in Ontario: Fourteenth Report for the year ending October 31st, 1919.
4. Eugenics Review, Vol. XIII, p. 339 et seq.
5. Dwellers in the Vale of Siddem: A True Story of the Social Aspect of Feeble-mindedness. By A. C. Rogers and Maud A. Merrill; Boston (1919). "
If Sanger was in favor of the kind of Eugenics that Christian liars claim she was, why on earth would she explain "The flaws of the Eugenics movement" (along with "the flaws of Marxist Socialism") are "the Eugenists really offer nothing more farsighted than a ``cradle competition'' between the fit and the unfit."
She is here, quite obviously, only EXPLAINING what the 3 mutually exclusive social programs (for dealing with poverty, birth defects, and insanity) governments were proposing at the time, and CRITISIZING THEM! If she was in favor of Marxist Socialism and Eugenics (which she says are mutually exclusive in many ways), why would she criticize them? Again, the Christian tactic is to cut Sanger off in mid-sentence and make her writing appear to say the opposite of what she actually wrote.
For those who wish to see this for themselves, there are an Online sources of Sanger's complete Texts:
You can read her works for yourselves. I have heard from many Evangelicals that I have argued with over the years that "The original books", no longer exist because Planned Parenthood allegedly destroyed the original copies where George Grant got his quotes from, and replaced them all with the new, doctored versions. This conspiracy theory is never substantiated, and Evangelical liars will always tell you that friends of their friends have copies of the originals, which of course you will never get a chance to see.
Conspiracy theories are very important to radical religious ideologies, especially ones that are under attack from things like FACTS. Yes, apparently, FACTS are dangerous notions that interfere with more important things like Beliefs and faith.