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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Eugenics and the Firewall: History is about the future, not the past ...

Jane Harris Zsovan, the author of a recent book on the surprising history of Social Darwinist eugenics (= forced sterilization) in Canada, talks about a recent interview (not available on line in total):
Paula Kirman interviewed me recently for her article: "A not so proud history." The interview appears in the Fall Winter 2010 issue of Prairie Books Now! As I told Paula, "History isn't about the past at all. It's about charting a future in which our children are not unwitting victims of our mistakes.``

The Province of Alberta’s Eugenics Board existed in the context of a populist political culture that viewed political dissent as something nearing treachery (eg: William Aberhart`s Accurate News and Information Act and the Manning government`s lawsuit against the IODE over its publication of criticisms of Alberta Social Services). That culture helped political `leaders` to create a dual sense of self-righteousness and victimization among the electorate.

As I tell Prairie Books Now!: ...
Well, hear it from her.

I’ve now read her book, and alert readers generally to it for this reason, among others: The key figures in making eugenics law in the Canadian province of Alberta were evangelical Christians. That’s not what people would expect based on recent history, but it demonstrates an important principle: People can be carried away by the idea of doing good, and find themselves locked out of their own culture without a key. Anyone interested in the history of dangerous do-goodism should get and read this book.


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