This week President Obama invoked the term “social Darwinism” to disparage a trimmed budget plan proposed by Republican Congressman Paul Ryan….


Obama intended to slam fiscal conservatism but instead left nervous pundits scrambling to explain what he meant. The term has historically been connected to eugenics and Naziism and would more describe Obama’s agenda than ours – his support for abortion of the unfit, for example, and healthcare rationing. So we got this from the Associated Press:

But what exactly does the President mean?…

For language expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson, social Darwinism seems like a risky term to use for political ammunition.

She says most people are familiar with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection – survival of the fittest….

Instead, what he is probably trying to convey is that he thinks Republicans subscribe to a theory that each person is on his own – no help from others, no government help.

The term is loaded with all sorts of negative historical associations. It has ties in the past to the rationalization of inequality, says Jamieson, as well as to the eugenics movement and the idea that those who are unfit should not be allowed to propagate.

And that’s probably not what the president intends to suggest.

Of course not, but his policies do.

The Washington Post also jumped in to help…

What does this mean?

Simply put, it means applying the ideas of Charles Darwin – that species adapt over time – to human society, arguing that competition over resources helps humanity evolve for the better as the weak are weeded out and the strong survive and thrive.

But social Darwinism is seen as more as an epithet than a useful description, because the idea is so malleable.

Social Darwinism is also seen in eugenics, the idea that certain races and physical traits should be weeded out of the general population. It played a role in the American progressive movement and in Nazi Germany – both movements that went against laissez-faire capitalism, in very different ways. In this interpretation, the weak must be culled so that the society as a whole can evolve more quickly.

“Social” Darwinism moves the idea of natural selection of the fittest on to artificial selection of the fittest. Natural selection can be helped along by eugenics. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was a full frontal social Darwinist. From the 2004 book, War Against The Weak:  Eugenics and America’s Campaign To Create A Master Race:

But Sanger was an ardent, self-confessed eugenicist, and she would turn her otherwise noble birth control organizations into a tool for eugenics…. More than a Malthusian [humans would run out of food], Sanger became an outspoken social Darwinist….  In her 1922 book, Pivot of Civilization, Sanger thoroughly condemned charitable action.  She devoted a full chapter to a denigration of charity and a deprecation of the lower classes.

Barack Obama is a semi-closeted social Darwinist. He openly supports aborting babies with physical deformities. He openly supports making contraceptives and abortion easily assessable to the poor, both in the U.S. and internationally, working closely with Planned Parenthood.  He would just not be as open about his ulterior motives. He may not even realize his ulterior motives, telling himself he supports equality, not eugenics.

But the result is the same. Were Obama to support alleviating the root need for contraceptives and abortion, which is by and large promiscuity, he would be truly helping minorities and the poor. But he can’t and won’t. Doing so would undercut his political support and funding.

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