“Hitler’s Holocaust” – made in Britain?
David Ashton reviews a TV agitflop
On 3 and 10 October, BBC4 showcased Science’s Greatest Scandal, a two-parter, which claimed that Englishmen initiated the “shocking” beliefs that “drove” the mass-murder of the Jews (Radio Times). This gruesome slander was illustrated by ipso facto irrelevant and therefore purposely prejudicial Soviet footage from Auschwitz.
The presenters were Adam Pearson and Angela Saini. Both have acutely personal perspectives. Pearson is an actor facially disfigured by neurofibromatosis and surgery. Ms Saini, from a high-caste Punjabi background, has written a book about Indian brains “taking over the world”, and another recommending that female scientists should transform society towards “equality” . Her subsequent shallow polemic against “race science”, Superior: the Return of Race Science, was refuted by Mankind Quarterly’s editor, and also in Quillette, provoking a torrent of online vituperation.
The causal connection that she alleges between our fellow-countrymen and the “horrific practice [0f] …the Nazis” was “eugenics”, the applied science elaborated by the Victorian polymath Sir Francis Galton. Eugenics is about human birth and conception, not death and extermination. Galton proposed incentives to encourage parenthood and fecundity among healthier and more creative people, and to discourage reproduction of offspring with hereditary illnesses and social handicaps. The objective was to prevent, not inflict, personal suffering, and to improve community capabilities. How is that “evil”?
During a century of theory and practice, like other medical and social policies, notably in psychiatry and criminology, eugenics made its share of mistakes. Some eugenicists also supported painless mercy killing – just as eugenics’ opponents support women’s “right” to destroy “innocent individual lives” by legalised abortions (9 million in Britain). In Germany, coercive sterilization and euthanasia occurred together for Nazi ideological purposes , but are not the same.
Saini’s pot-shots were wild. War-hero Carlos Blacker  was attacked for compassionate concern over Indian overpopulation. Tony Blair was condemned for ascribing delinquency to troubled families. The eminent scientist Ruggles Gates was accused of skin-colour obsession, and Mankind Quarterly was described as “notorious”. This reviewer has a complete run of the Scottish and American issues of this journal, endorsed internationally then and now by leading anthropologists, and he corresponded with Gates, whose intermarriage “field work” was extensive. His cautions focussed mainly on “disharmonic” crossing between Africans and Europeans because of their genetic distance .
Saini has a roster of “bad guys” aligned with the “monster” Galton, determined to “remove” from society those considered “inferior”, including Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot . Yet numerous other prominent figures supported eugenics, including Balfour, Keynes, Beveridge, Bertrand Russell, Havelock Ellis, H. G. Wells and C. O. Carter. They ranged from Communist scientists like J. B. S. Haldane, H. J. Muller and N. K. Koltsov, to Christian thinkers like Bishop Barnes, Dean Inge and Father Teilhard. Activists spread around the globe . Jewish proponents long preceded and continued after Hitler . Today, Tay-Sachs is screened in Israel.
Sterilization or segregation of sexually capable but parentally “unfit” adults was advocated – unethical perhaps, but not murder. Triage, quarantine, death-bed care, confinement of psychopaths, mass-inoculation and brain-cell experiments also raise moral questions.
During the three decades after WW2, English publications defended mainstream eugenics, from Gerald Leach’s Biocrats and Anthony Smith’s Human Pedigree to Raymond Cattell’s New Morality from Science and Cyril Darlington’s Little Universe of Man. However, as a result of the leftward march through academic and other institutions, this was soon quashed, the Eugenics Society itself politically corrected, accompanied by repetitive attacks on IQ tests, “scientific racism” and migration control.
The usual stratagem is to confuse the proactive elimination of disabilities from people (humanitarian) with the physical elimination of disabled people themselves (homicidal). Yet in this film, when NF1 sufferer Adam Pearson interviewed a couple whose son had the same affliction, he did not demur when the parents expressed reluctance to pass it to another child.
Pseudo-egalitarians misrepresent the biological reversal of civilizational decline as class-war “against the weak” or as “chilling” form of snobbery. Yet the Afro-American leader W. E. B. DuBois co-operated with eugenicist family-planners to raise Black achievements and relieve overburdened mothers.
Today, independent research into genetics and epigenetics is enriching our knowledge not only of disease and intelligence transmission, but also of “race”. It has enabled gene-therapy and carefully targeted ethnic medication.
The notion of a gradually “perfectible” species, as imagined by Leon Trotsky  and by Nick Bostrom , may well be utopian . But is it really “shameful” to want more “beautiful, intelligent, productive” children? Voluntary eugenics, especially direct DNA intervention, should first be openly discussed and then carefully monitored, legally regulated if not government organised, whether on a piecemeal family basis, or as grander attempts at controlled evolution .
Who would prefer, instead, a world of reduced genius and perpetuated disabilities? Yet after reports of improved CRISPR prospects for genome editing, one “bioethicist” promptly opposed any enhancements which “entrench the dominant view of the privileged”, and suggested that some humans should be born deaf .
 Geek Nation (2012), p.262; Inferior (2017)
 E.g. Richard Weikart, Hitler’s Ethic (2009)
 C. P. Blacker, Eugenics: Galton & After (1952)  Heredity & Eugenics (1923); Human Genetics (1946); “Race Crossing,” De Genetica Medica (1962)
 Donald J. Childs, Modernism & Eugenics: Woolf, Eliot, Yeats & the Culture of Degeneration (2007)
 Alison Bashford & Philippa Levine (eds), Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics (2012)
 John Glad, Jewish Eugenics (2011); Tony Greenstein’s Blog, 17 May 2009 online
 Literature & Revolution (1924); Bernice Glazer Rosenthal, New Myth, New World (2004)
 Julian Savulescu & Nick Bostrom (eds), Human Enhancement (2011); Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, “Nietzsche, the Overhuman & Transhumanism,”Journal of Evolution & Technology, March 2009 online
 Cf. John Passmore, The Perfectibility of Man (2000); Gregory Claeys, Dystopia (2018); Lee M. Silver, Remaking Eden (2007)
 Cf. Nathaniel Comfort, Scientific American, 23 August 2013; also varied comments online from Joshua Lederberg, Jonathan Glover, Jon Entine, Matt Ridley, Richard Lynn, Jonny Anomaly, Allen Buchanan, Natasha Vita-More, &c.
 Natalie Kofler, Guardian, 22 October 2019
David Ashton is a retired teacher. He writes from Norfolk