Stranger Fruit

West meets his match (followup)

A couple of weeks back I noted I noted historian Mark Borrello’s engagement with John West regarding West’s particular spin on the history of eugenics. Now Mark has commented publicly.

Though I repeatedly e-mailed the coordinator of the event and he assured me that he was working hard to get a response from West, the material did not arrive until three days before the talk. Had this been the result of working down to the wire I would’ve understood. Instead, the file I received was a two-year old pdf entitled “Darwin’s Public Policy: Eugenics, Democracy, and the Dangers of Scientific Utopianism”that had been previously posted on the Discovery Institute website.Why, I wondered, if he had the talk available the whole time would he have withheld it until almost the last minute? I leave it to you the reader to figure that one out. …

Dr. West essentially presents a tripartite structure for his presentation: First, he aims to “provide a clearer understanding of the ideology that inspired the American eugenics crusade.” At this, in my analysis, he fails. Second, he hopes to ‘supply an overview of the heart-rending practical impact eugenics had on American welfare policy.” Here he achieves partial success in that the account is heart-rending, but beyond that, his analysis again comes up short.Third, and finally, he “explores the lessons we learn from eugenics for democratic governance.” Given that the lessons learned are based on preceding flawed accounts, their value is dubious at best.

Read more here.

[Hat tip to Greg]