A New Eugenics?

Kevin Drum, scoffing at the suggestion that contemporary progressives might be enabling eugenics:

Now, here's the thing: Glenn Beck, Yuval Levin, and Ross Douthat didn't come up with this stuff themselves. But it didn't just pop up out of nowhere either. It's way too abstruse for that. Rather, some bright boy or girl in the conservative movement dreamed this up and now it's being run up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes. If it gets some attention, it'll be rolled out to a wider audience.

So whose bright idea was this? Is there a proud parent out there who wants to take credit?

Leaving aside the hilarious idea that I, Yuval Levin, and Glenn Beck (!!) are all getting fed the same talking points from some Central Command deep in the Republican Noise Machine, has Kevin Drum ever, you know, read any right-of-center magazines in the last ten years or so? Or any magazines at all? Has he read any Leon Kass, or Francis Fukuyama? (Or Will Saletan, for that matter?) Conservatives - and not only conservatives - have been fretting about eugenic-ish tendencies in the contemporary West (and elsewhere) for as long as I've been following politics. And the trends that the Right dislikes find their defenders, or at least their enablers, in two camps: bio-libertarians who welcome our transhuman future, and progressives who, whether they welcome transhumanism or not, are committed to an unfettered right to abortion, with all the consequences that entails.

Now, look - I assume that Drum is untroubled by the scale of pre-natal eugenics around the globe. I assume that he thinks that the elimination of the genetically unfit in the womb isn't something we should be worried about, because the state isn't involved and anyway fetuses aren't human beings. I assume that he's on roughly the same page as Johann Hari, who makes the case for "liberal eugenics" here on the grounds that it is "entered into by parents and it is motivated by love." That's fine: Just say so, and spare me the "eugenics? what eugenics?" hand-waving, and the pretense that conservatives are just making up crazy fantasies to smear liberals. A difference of opinion about bioethics isn't a smear.

(Though yes, Glenn Beck is certainly crazy.)

Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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