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Congressman: Remove bust of 'racist' Margaret Sanger

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Congressman: Remove bust of 'racist' Margaret Sanger

Planned Parenthood's eugenicist founder honored in National Portrait Gallery

There long has been opposition to the bust honoring Margaret Sanger in Washington's National Portrait Gallery.

The eugenicist who founded Planned Parenthood, among other things, addressed the Ku Klux Klan and inspired the Nazi sterilization law of 1933 and Nazi euthanasia laws.

The Stanton Public Policy Center has run for some time a national campaign to have her image removed. Now, Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, has written a letter urging the secretary of the Smithsonian, Lonnie G. Bunch, to remove Sanger's portrait.

The lawmaker quoted from Bunch's recent statement: "Although it will be a monumental task, the past is replete with examples of ordinary people working together to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. History is a guide to a better future and demonstrates that we can become a better society – but only if we collectively demand it from each other and from the institutions responsible for administering justice."

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"I could not agree more," Fulcher wrote.

That's why it is "so troubling," he said, that the National Portrait Gallery features a bust and portraits of Sanger.

"As our nation struggles to address racial injustice, it is unconscionable that an avowed racist and eugenicist is featured so prominently," he said, referring to the toppling of memorials to historic figures.

Stanton Public Policy describes itself as a "woman's advocacy and educational group that works on issues of human rights and justice that empower and inspire women."

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Fulcher provided quotes from Sanger.

"By all means, there should be no children when either mother or father suffers from such diseases as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, syphilis, cancer, epilepsy, insanity, drunkenness and mental disorders. ... No more children should be born when the parents, though healthy themselves, find that their children are physically or mentally defective," Sanger said.

She went further.

"The second step would be to take an inventory of the second group, such as illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, dope-fiends; classify them in special departments under government medical protection and segregate them on farms and open spaces."

Sanger also boasted of addressing a Ku Klux Klan event, which produced "a dozen invitations to speak to similar groups."

The Idaho congressman wrote: "I hope you will fulfill the lofty goals set forth on the gallery's website as it proclaims 'these Americans – artists, politicians, scientists, inventors, activists, and performers – form our national identity.'"

He said a "racist and eugenicist like Margaret Sanger should not help form our national identity."

Stanton Public Policy Center CEO Brandi Swindell said that as "the founder of an organization which centers on human rights and equality for all, the horrific killing of George Floyd draws attention to the great divide America still has concerning racial injustice."

"During these challenging times, it is critical the National Portrait Gallery provide us with examples of heroes who offer hope and courage which inspire each of us to work for a nation where all are treated with dignity and equality," he said. "Sadly, Margaret Sanger's racist views and actions stand in stark contrast to these lofty ideals."

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, chief strategy officer for the center, said "the national campaign to remove the bust of a racist like Margaret Sanger from the National Portrait Gallery is not an attempt to rewrite or change history."

"Rather, it is a way to ensure we celebrate individuals whose lives reflect and embody the very best of who we are as a nation and honor the values we cherish," he said. "As America confronts racial injustice, it is critical our national institutions honor those who have inspired us to be our 'better selves' instead of honoring those who malign and diminish entire communities."

The center is a woman's advocacy and educational group that works on issues of human rights and justice that empower and inspire women.

WND editor Joseph Farah raised the issue in a column several years ago when he said the "political left, including the Democratic Party, seem hell-bent on toppling any statue that hints of past racism, white supremacism and neo-Nazism, as I'm sure you have noticed."

At the time, he cited Sanger's accomplishments:

  • She addressed the Ku Klux Klan, fans of Sanger because of her own racism and plans for reducing the population of blacks in America;
  • Her eugenics plans inspired the Nazi sterilization law of 1933 and the subsequent Nazi euthanasia laws;
  • Her close associates Clarence Gamble, who funded Sanger and spoke at her conferences, and Lothrop Stoddard, who published in Sanger's magazine and served on the board of her American Birth Control League, both knew about the Nazi sterilization and euthanasia programs and praised them, while Stoddard traveled to Germany where he met with top Nazi officials and even secured an audience with Hitler;
  • In 1939, as Hitler was devising his "final solution," Sanger proposed her infamous "Negro Project," in which she wrote "the most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the Minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members";
  • Sanger was closely tied to Ernst Rudin, who served as Hitler's director of genetic sterilization. An April 1933 article by Rudin – entitled "Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need" – for Sanger's monthly magazine, The Birth Control Review, detailed the establishment of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene and advocated its replication in the United States. A subsequent article by Leon Whitney published the following June by Sanger, entitled "Selective Sterilization," praises and defends the Third Reich's pre-holocaust "race purification" program.

Farah noted that in recent years a group of African-American pastors had asked the Smithsonian to move the bust to a more appropriate part of the museum "such as a section devoted to historical figures who promoted genocide, such as such as Stalin, Mao, Mengele and Hitler."

But he said the Smithsonian refused, pointing out "there is no 'moral test' for people to be accepted into the National Portrait Gallery."