Talking Eugenics on the Right and the Left

This story from last week about New Hampshire Republican lawmaker Martin Harty is despicable:

Barrington Republican Martin Harty told Sharon Omand, a Strafford resident who manages a community mental health program, that “the world is too populated” and there are “too many defective people,” according to an e-mail account of the conversation by Omand. Asked what he meant, she said Harty clarified, “You know the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions – the defective people society would be better off without.”

Harty confirmed to the Monitor that he made the comments to Omand. Harty told the Monitor the world population has increased dramatically, and “it’s a very dangerous situation if it doubles again.” Asked about people who are mentally ill, he asked, apparently referring to a lack of financial resources, “Can we afford to bring them through?”

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Harty said nature has a way of “getting rid of stupid people,” and “now we’re saving everyone who gets born.”

What can you say about something so vile? That Catholics and pro-lifers have fought this kind of insidious disregard for human life for decades is a point hardly worth belaboring — which is probably why very few people have commented on it: It’s so clearly egregious and beyond the pale, there’s nothing else to add. (Some of his colleagues have mentioned that Harty, 91, has appeared “confused” in session; I’d suggest that, if Harty’s age is responsible for comments like this, surely it should be a clear sign that he’s not fit for office.)

Which is why I find it painfully ironic that this story is filed under “Radical Right-Wing Agenda” over at ThinkProgress. The “Radical Right,” of course, is most often pilloried for lamenting the shockingly high abortion rate for infants diagnosed in the womb with Down Syndrome and other developmental disorders. Meanwhile, the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, is responsible for little gems like this (in A Plan for Peace):

Keep the doors of immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race, such as feebleminded, idiots, morons, insane, syphilitic, epileptic, criminal, professional prostitutes, and others in this class barred by the immigration laws of 1924. . . .

Apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

Hard to distinguish from Harty’s outlook — with one important difference: Harty has resigned, and fifty years from now, no one on the Right will be making movies about his “heroism.”


  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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