Other posts explain my conviction that Sanger, while a bigoted eugenicist of the crudest sort, was not a racist. But does this mean that she was some kind of pioneer in promoting racial progress, as Planned Parenthood sometimes seems to say? The short answer: no. The long answer: no, not even close. While Sanger did not seem to be a racist, she attracted the worst of the racist eugenicists, as Edwin Black perceptively notes in his book War Against the Weak.
Take Harry Laughlin, who was the “Expert Eugenic Agent” for the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization in the 1920s.
Laughlin worked to ensure that racial quotas would keep out what he called the “dross in American’s modern melting pot.” He worked to prevent Jews seeking asylum in the United States from receiving visas. In so doing, he was indirectly responsible for the deaths of at least tens of thousands of Jews. (See Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race [New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003], 392-93.)
Laughlin said: “The logical conclusion is that the differences in institutional rations, by races and nativity groups…represents real differences in social values, which represent, in turn, real differences in the inborn values of the family stocks from which the particular inmates have sprung. These degeneracies and hereditary handicaps are inherent in the blood.” (House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Statement of Dr. Harry H. Laughlin, 67th Congress, 3rd Session, November 21, 1922, 756, 725, quoted in Black, ibid., 191)
In articles appearing in the Eugenical News, he promoted Nazism during the 1930s, approving of its racist laws.