Eugenics is the belief that some people, due to their race or disability, are subhuman. We see it in the response to the Zika virus and in the largely imaginary “crack baby” moral panic. We have witnessed a resurgence of child killing diseases like measles as parents have decided in droves it is better to risk a dead child then an autistic one. We’ll do anything to prevent the birth of disabled children, to keep “those people” from “breeding”.
Eugenics is the opposite of disability acceptance, the opposite of anti-kyriarchy work. While the social model of disability recognizes the disability is not the worst thing, and that treatment and accommodation go along way, eugenics says that the problem is in our very nature. Not in staircases or standardized test or disdain for adult diapers, not in unlivable incomes or legal limitations on our right to marry. Not in constructed conditions which facilitate our early deaths.
Speaking of our early deaths, people all across the country celebrated a disabled teenager’s death wish and her mom not doing a damn thing to save her life. They were thrilled. They looked at this young girls death and thought, “How noble! How brave. Surely death is better than disability.” No one need to worry that she might someday grow up, go to college, find love, get married, have children, discover a career she loves, be passionate about art or music or poetry. She is no longer any threat.
Eugenicist activists who do not realize they are such are working at the state level to bring about legal disability death. Because of their contemptuous and pitying beliefs about disabled people, they can imagine they are benevolent angels of mercy as they call for our deaths. When disabled activists dare to suggest that perhaps life would be better for our peers than death, we are accused of being a heartless ones with no compassion.
People with intellectual disabilities are staggeringly over represented on death row. Perhaps this will provide some comfort to those insisting “stupid people shouldn’t breed”. They are also more likely to be unemployed, homeless, and sexually abused. Next time you rewatch Idiocracy be sure to think of these things, please. May it puncture your smug enjoyment.
Eugenics, at its core, is the idea “people like you shouldn’t breed”, with or without the accompanying idea “people like you should be put down”. But the one has a tendency to lead to the other, reliably. Prenatal testing that results in a 90% abortion rate, the segregation of disabled students in public schools, disability benefits to paltry to live on, the cutting of those benefits in case of marriage, the cutting of those benefits in case of employment , and of course the Orwellian named “right to die” laws are just some examples of modern American eugenics against disabled people.