The names that history remembers all have a skeleton or two in their closet without exception. The giants have many literal skeletons strewn across the nations be they buried in an open pit, stashed in caves, dropped from heights into the oceans or marched en masse into camps. Ideological purists like to hold up their personal favourite as the shining light of reason while constructing savage attacks on all challengers that are sometimes based on solid fact but oftentimes not. Social media has amped this up to eleven and the meme has killed any nuance. We like everything to be bite sized and readily digestible now in the post printed word universe. Like and share if you agree, if you haven’t nodded off.
Facebook’s greatest crime beyond the mining of personal data is the siloing off everyone into their own personal echo chamber channels in their quest for purity and likes. Our attention spans are continuously being thumped into concussion so if any video is longer than a minute or a text is more than three sentences, you’re guaranteed to tune out. I bet you’ve already checked something else at this point and it’s only paragraph two. I couldn’t wait to be all grown up and have a blog of my own but these pages are starting to have a decidedly retro feel. I likely would have been a ranting lefty street pamphleteer in another life. Here is a link to the pamphleteer wiki if you are wondering what the hell that actually is:
I had a post on my wall the other day that said the Don Draper like man pictured above was President Franklin D Roosevelt. It’s actually his much more handsome blue eyed boy FDR Junior, who was a decorated WW2 veteran but not in any way his own father. Another post on the same day misquoted suffragette Susan B. Anthony, lopping off part of a sentence to make it seem she was against the vote for “the negro”. Im fairly sure she wasn’t but the quote was inaccurate regardless. Most of the easily digestible memes in English feature Americans and considering the times, do they actually originate from the USA or from a Nigerian billionaire who needs my bank information to make a sizeable deposit?
Canada has lots of well known notables with dirt in their files, such as suffragette Emily Murphy, who was almost singlehandedly responsible for Canada’s stringent drug laws and an all out racist. Trailblazing Liberal MLA Nellie McClung was a proponent of sterilizing “feeble minded young girls” and her advocacy gave rise to the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act, which remained in effect until 1972! And those on the Canadian soft left wince when some Conservative wag digs up Greatest Canadian Tommy Douglas’ master’s thesis from 1933 titled “The problems of the sub-normal family”. While not a classic of the eugenics cannon, without curation it’s a pretty nasty piece in retrospect. Douglas visited Nazi Germany in 1936 and had an “oh shit” moment, which is likely why Saskatchewan did not actively sterilize those that did not fit the 1930s genetically pure ideal, unlike their neighbours to the west and in Nazi Europe. The prairies are littered with skeletons of the settlers big plans.
None of this should be jammed into a nice tidy meme to be liked and shared. Hopefully at this point you have already said “WTF” to yourself several times over. Thankfully, there is loads of tangible smoking gun proof that this type of warped thought was commonplace and hopefully the surviving evidence would only be used to actively refute it, not to promote it. Years ago I was given a lovely collection of old photos that was destined for the bin at the Ontario Agricultural College. They were taken in the days well before it became the University of Guelph. Somehow time had passed them by and they collected dust on a forgotten shelf for decades until somebody needed the space. Photography as a teaching tool was a new thing back then, the internet of a century ago. Deep among the farming slides and prints, I found this:
“Genetics and Eugenics Negatives”
Some of the contents of this packet cannot be visually reproduced here, as this stuff is nasty enough that a random bonehead might turn any of these images into a readily sharable meme as if it was fact. I will however share a relatively benign image though, a row of boneheads with no notes or indication attached in the file as to what they represent:
In among this seemingly hard science based material is a chart titled “Chart IV – Proportion of Intermarriage among Men and Women of Various Nationalities in New York City (1908-1912)” “Jewish” and “Coloured” are given their own categories at the top of the undesirable list and any country considered to have supplied too many Jews to old New York got a Star of David in the middle of their flag. This packet was sent to to the OAC by the American Museum of Natural History. The author of this sketchy study was a professor of economics and sociology named Julius Drachsler. Many students in the graduating classes of the 20s and 30s would have gone over to Europe to kick Hitler’s ass. At least one of their profs was teaching them very Hitlerian concepts just a few years prior. The theses a hundred years ago from a renowned farm school in Ontario might contain some pretty explosive material, if they haven’t already been tossed into the dumpster to erase the record. Lest we forget.
Sadly, hard science is still getting spun into alternative facts by social scientists, presidents or anyone with an internet connection. Should the professors of the last century known better or did they readily accept the conclusions of an economist/sociologist? And why is it that today it’s mostly economists who are the “scientists” that don’t accept climate change? Factually incorrect pseudoscientific garbage has to be challenged at every turn because if it’s passed on enough times, the uninformed and inattentive will start to believe it and share when they agree. It’s how we end up with modern students wanting to attend a lecture down the road called “Ethnocide: Multiculturalism and European Canadian Identity” by a woman with a ton of higher education backed by a gang of electronic pamphleteers armed with warped facts and dubiously sourced misinformation from history’s scrapheap. There is no monopoly on the truth but patent falsehoods can’t be morphed into fact under the auspices of free speech or any other spin techniques. Bullshit needs to be continuously called. Caveat emptor.
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