eu·gen·ics yo͞oˈjeniks/ noun: Science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.
Last week, as President Trump and many congressional Republicans prevaricated on the events in Charlottesville and sought to justify the actions of white supremacists, Congressman Darrell Issa wrote a letter urging the House Judiciary Committee to investigate white supremacist organizations. This action on its own would be commendable.
There’s only one problem – in late June, Darrell Issa attended the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) annual conference in Washington D.C. – an organization that’s been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its ties to white supremacism, anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric, and promotion of eugenics.
When he was called out for his participation in the event by a reporter, his office “first impl[ied] that Issa was never at the conference,” but after being presented with photo evidence and audio recordings proving otherwise, his office went off the rails on the press: “Only the most shrill players of the radical fringe would think an absurd smear like that is going to stop Darrell Issa from leading the investigation into hateful groups and the threat they pose to America.”
“They usually say that the cover-up is worse than the crime, but in this case Darrell Issa is lying about attending a conference for a hate group. How can we trust that he really wants an investigation into white supremacist groups when he lied about attending this event that promotes such hatred?”
— Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spokesperson Drew Godinich
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Think Progress: Darrell Issa called for hearings on white supremacists after appearing at conference for hate group
Addy Baird | August 21, 2017
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) called on the House Judiciary Committee last week to hold hearings on white supremacists and other hate groups, but in June, Issa gave an interview at a conference put on by a group the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group and white supremacist organization.
In a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Issa called for the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings in order to “more fully understand” what led to the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia two weekends ago.
One woman, Heather Heyer, was killed in Charlottesville when a man drove a car into a group of counter-protesters who were there to protest white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and KKK members who had gathered for a rally.
In his letter, Issa called the KKK, neo-nazis, and white nationalists “repulsive hate groups” with “hateful, extremist ideologies.”
“While Congress cannot legislate respect, decency, or acceptance of others, we have an obligation to use our platform to lead our country forward on these matters,” Issa said in his letter.
But in June, Issa gave an interview at a conference put on by Federation for American Immigration Reform. In 1993, FAIR’s founder said, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”
FAIR is one of three groups founded John Tanton, an advocate of eugenics, which is a race science that aims to “improve” the human population by breeding for more “desirable” characteristics and the forced sterilization of those deemed “undesirable.”
The group also often pits itself against low-wage black and Latino workers, and the group’s current president, Dan Stein, said Americans would be “perfectly fine” if there were not another immigrant for 50 years.
Issa spoke with Brett Winterble, a conservative radio host in San Diego, on June 28 at a radio row set up as part of the conference. When ThinkProgress contacted Issa’s office last week, a spokesperson gave the impression that Issa was never at the conference.
“Congressman Issa never spoke at FAIR,” Calvin Moore, Issa’s communications director said in an email. “The Congressman took an interview with a San Diego talk radio show who was in town, but never attended or spoke at the conference.”
But releases from FAIR and the event agenda make it clear that the radio row Issa participated in was officially part of FAIR’s Hold Their Feet To The Fire conference, and a tweet from Issa himself shows the congressman in person with Winterble for the interview.
“Always happy to have him on the show when we get him on the phone, but it’s even better in person. Congressman Darrell Issa, California 49 joins us here,” Winterble says in a recording of the interview obtained by ThinkProgress. “We’re here at Hold Their Feet To The Fire, I know it’s a cause that’s near and dear to your heart.”
In the interview, Issa talks about revisiting investigations into Hillary Clinton, as well as an upcoming parade in his district and immigration laws in the Trump era.
“I think the voters need to understand, the most important change occurred on January 20th, because beginning January 20th when Secretary Kelly, former General John Kelly, when he took over, what he did is he started enforcing the law,” Issa said of now chief of staff Kelly, who was heading the Department of Homeland Security at the time. “The enforcement that’s going on, what this administration is doing, is grabbing and deporting criminal aliens in order to make our streets safer.”
Winterble, in the interview, says there is “clearly a deep state that exists” after eight years of Obama that has resulted in administrative bureaucratic resistance to enforcing immigration laws, to which Issa says there was an “eight year hiatus of just common sense enforcement” during the Obama years.
Despite first implying that Issa was never at the conference, when ThinkProgress presented the recording and the photographs to Issa’s office, a spokesperson said the story was “absurd smear,” and that Issa only attended the FAIR conference because Winterble invited him.
“This type of partisan smear isn’t only untrue, it just adds more poison to the political environment. The interview request came directly from AM 760’s Brett Winterble, a well-known talk radio personality in San Diego and Congressman Issa appeared at the location provided by the show to do the interview,” a spokesperson for Issa said. “Only the most shrill players of the radical fringe would think an absurd smear like that is going to stop Darrell Issa from leading the investigation into hateful groups and the threat they pose to America.”
Asked to specify what part of the story was untrue, the spokesman said it was “egregiously misleading.”
To be clear, there is no such thing as a “race science.” For one thing, “desirable characteristics” are in the eye of the beholder. Secondly, for an organism that takes as long as humans to reach sexual maturity, selective breeding for a even a small few of these characteristics would take hundreds if not thousands of years, and would most likely come with undesirable consequences that typically accompany inbreeding.
Eugenics and science occupy two separate and unequal universes. Science is a reliable, testable, and reproducible approach to answering questions, eugenics is racism put into misguided action.