From American Genes by Kirby Nielsen Chapter 1, pages 7 and 8
This is the readers’ first peek into eugenic thinking and sets the stage for how the storyline develops.
Sunday, November 25, 1911:
Anywhere between fifteen and thirty minutes after supper, old Mr. Bridenbaugh required everyone in the house to listen to him hold forth on some topic. Recently, one of these post-meal lectures dealt with a popular subject in the United States— eugenics.
“Johanna, did you read in today’s paper that they are allowing more of those colored people from the Middle East and Africa into our fine country?”
“Yes, sir, I did. I know it’s a terrible thing.”
“And why is it so bad?” She knew he was testing her.
“It dilutes the bloodline making the white less pure. It’s a fact; these races aren’t as intelligent or hardworking as the rest of us.”
“Exactly, and our country is being over-run by them. It’s bad enough we are forced to tolerate those poor Irish bastards. These immigrants are crowding our cities, creating poverty and filth wherever they live. Then, they take jobs away from good people. It’s terrible, a damn outrage.”
Johanna didn’t know much about “colored” races, immigrants, or the cities. She had never been to a big city. Other problems, such as deformed and defective people, had caught her attention, and Johanna had her own negative opinions of them. She and her father would talk for hours about what it meant to be an imbecile, idiot, moron, or crazy. And how feebleminded people were multiplying faster than “good” people could care for them. More of their kind meant increasingly more charity that would stretch the limits of what society could provide.
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