Eugenics rears its unsavory head: Vaccine schism saves the intelligent & sacrifices the backward

Right-wing vaccine resistance could remove thousands of Trump voters in critical red states.

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Past plagues fueled cruder, more class-driven fatalities than today’s suicidal cult defiance 

Many variables, many unintended, foster “selective breeding”—when a species grows “superior stock” while culling “less desirables.” But what we do when breeding dogs, cats and race horses is taboo for our “exceptional,” if discriminatory group. When done consciously, eugenics or selective breeding confronts the mighty force of natural evolution, adding racial and tribal tinctures to childbearing. After all, only enormous coercion dissuades parents from innate urges to procreate, let alone have sex. With great irony, racist anti-vaxxers are doing exactly opposite what the cruelest eugenicists sought: reducing the “gene pool” of certain white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants while letting darker-skinned (vaccinated) others survive. 

Today’s bizarre pandemic treatment schism speaks much more to “survival of the smartest” than true evolutionary “natural selection.” The least medically-aware, the fixated, expertise-haters, and the rigidly fundamentalist (“only God tells me what to do”) are consciously maxing out vulnerability. Bully for them. If enemy terrorists dreamed of wiping out bigoted, backward Yanks, could they do better than pressure them to refuse life-saving, miracle drugs? Yep, evidence of that most stable genius, but others carry on. 

Thus the absolutely predictable disease surges in states where know-it-all yahoos figure they alone can fix, even outsmart an invisible, super-contagious virus with unstoppable moves. How does this semi-suicidal tantrum differ from heavy drinking and fast driving, opiate overdosing, or non-stop smoking? For the record, my progressive home state, California, boasts among the nation’s lowest COVID rates. 

Anti-evolution on parade

Darwinian evolution makes clear: the better adaptive (thus superior) live longer and reproduce more, thus amplifying impact on species gene pools. Darwin never endorsed the distortion called “Social Darwinism,” concocted by an elite to justify their (white, Anglo-Saxon) wealth and power. Darwin’s “fittest” are measured not by prestige or rank (even mere survival) but voluminous offspring. Thus do medically-savvy survive this pandemic while right-wing, anti-vax refuseniks risk life and limb, family and neighbors. The non-vaccinated scoffer gets ventilated and dies at much higher rates. That schism defines survival of the smartest vs. non-survival of the sickest. The living reproduce; the dead, not so much. 

Despite planetary population explosion, no “eugenics movement” much impacts newborns by race, status or geography. Tragically, though, disease, violence and malnutrition eliminate the poorest, least fortunate earthlings. Historically, the bubonic plague qualifies as the worst recorded modern plague per capita, though 1918’s Influenza killed upwards of 50 million, HIV/AIDs totaled 35 million and Covid-19 approaches five million worldwide, painfully with many more to come. 

The difference between past and present is far superior science and therapies, especially rapid development of quality vaccines, plus instantaneous communications (however abused by craven propagandists). For pessimists convinced that mankind is ruining the world, COVID tells the opposite story, though with complications. Never have so many been saved by miracle drugs but also, never have so many needlessly died, not from natural disasters but partisan negligence, stupidity, and irrational resistance. Yet, reality can teach good lessons to the conscious. Viral pattern surges are no longer mysteries except to willful deniers (fatally) allergic to truth.

Thus, because Trumpian malfeasance still sabotages pandemic responses, mortality does not follow prior patterns, that is, more greatly taking the poor living cheek to jowl, lacking information or medical options. Early on in this plague, excellent medical knowledge was openly available. In no time, cheap masks appeared, then low-cost vaccines done with record breaking dispatch. Social distancing was as free as clean air—and not living in a crowded city was/is a good thing. 

Notably free of income, geography and class differences, however, self-declared independent minds defied available medical advice, endangering their health, their families and communities. In short, this COVID plague has sliced and diced populations reminiscent of discredited “selective breeding:” reduce the intellectually- or educationally-challenged, and boost the more intelligent survivors (simply measuring intelligence by successful adaptions to new threats).

Eugenics, a disgraced, multi-faceted movement, loaded with white supremacy and bad science, was presumed dead and buried. With a legacy from ancient Greek times though modern extremists incensed about “foreign” breeders taking over, no current movement pushes birth control and sterilization for “undesirables.” Pushing the deluded superiority of its Aryan “race,” Nazis justified genocide and concentration camps to remove “detriments” that polluted their tribal gene pool. Controls over breeding persist, however, where chemical castration punishes chronic child molesters or rapists, and those perceived today as severely “mentally-disabled” are discouraged from producing children.

What remains most curious (and contradictory) is that even backward red states, outraged against “tyrannical” mandates, require their school children be carefully, multiply vaccinated. State law in Texas, head primitive of late, mandates non-exempted students be vaccinated for a veritable plethora: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, Hepatitis A and B, Varicella, and Meningococcal. Despite such good science and good state law, a COVID vaccine whose high safety is unquestionably verified erupts into a partisan/medical civil war. Thus does resistance accomplish selective population control not otherwise available – or imagined, certainly not by WASP eugenicists. 

Debasing the base?

Finally, when before has a politician been so shortsighted to reckon that having fewer supporters, by sacrificing them to his partisanship, is a fine idea. Because Trump and enablers block anything that could “make Biden look good,” they make more people sick and die. Irony on irony, Trump so polluted his own base that anti-vaxxers booed after he recently talked vaccinations. Right-wing vaccine resistance could remove thousands of Trump voters in critical red states. That would make Biden Democrats “look very good,” a perfect boomerang for indefensible, contradictory blunders. 

Is there any “other side” to this non-debate, other than bad self-selection reflects only bad human decisions? Neither money, power nor social standing especially separate the winners from the losers (and needless dying is big-time losing). What we have on display isn’t “selective breeding” so much as “selective dying.” I have cynical friends who say: right on!

Thus does this pandemic redefine American history: never before were victims so self-chosen, victimized by propaganda and in defiance of accessible knowledge not open to dispute (disease numbers). Okay, understanding vaccines relies on high school biology, with a smidgen of germ theory. Anti-vaxxers think themselves principled for trusting their gut and going against the (elitist) grain. The rest of us watch in horror, observing from a social distance, nothing less than collective suicide driven by delusions about their own invulnerability or faith-alone default to God’s will. Frankly, as with voting, elections, and abortion, I trust reality, namely science, expertise and certified, tested evidence.


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.