Thursday, May 24, 2012

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

One of the things that really bothers me as I get older is how much stuff people believe that I'm fairly sure is not true.  This is especially true in politics - if my side says something bad about the other side, it must be true, right?  Not really.  However, the number of things that are not true that many, many people believe range far beyond politics.  Some things become "common knowledge."  People say, "Everybody knows that!" 

Since I have two adult children in my life that are cognitively disabled (used to be called mental retardation but it was changed because "retard" became such a bad word that was used to hurt people), I've heard a bunch of stuff that's supposedly "common knowledge."  For example, there are a lot of people in the medical profession and even people who work in the field who believe that people who are cognitively disabled don't feel physical pain like the rest of us.  I don't know about other people, but my adult children feel pain just like anyone else and have suffered a lot at the hands of people who believed they didn't need pain medication.  I've heard a lot of other very bad stuff too that I'm not going to repeat.  Most of it is designed to make people afraid of people with disabilities.

I think the root of these beliefs came from a belief system that was common in the first half of the 20th century.  When I was in college, some class I was in had a book that mentioned "eugenics."  When I read about it, I thought, "Boy those people sure were stupid to believe that stuff.  Glad no one believes that now."  Basically, eugenics was a belief and a movement that people could be bred like animals - and by doing so "defective people" could be eliminated.   The list of defective people went on and on - people (children) with disabilties especially those with cognitive disabilities, people with mental illness, Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants from Ireland, Italy, etc.; people who were convicted of a crime, alcoholics and addicts, poor people.  How the movement functioned to eliminate these people from the population was to sterilize both men and women.  The media worked to educate the public to report and/or capture children and adults and turn them in to be locked up and sterilized. 

Good grief!  How could this have happened in the 20th Century?  I have no idea.  In fact, Oklahoma still had a sterilization program for Native American women in the 1960s.  These practices are not so far away in time.  I would have thought that this stuff would have to be carried out on the fringes of society but the Rockefeller Foundation funded a lot of it, Winston Churchill was a proponent.  Also, Margaret Sanger and Theodore Roosevelt were proponents in the United States.  Oklahoma was the 30th state to pass a law mandating compulsory sterilization and institutionalization for "undesirables."  Sterilizations were carried out at the "Institution for the Feebleminded" in Enid, Oklahoma (a facility that still exists) and at the McAlester State Prison (also still in existence).  According to statistics kept by the federal Indian Health Care system, in the 1970s there were more sterilizations of Native American women than there were births at the Claremore Indian Hospital.

It's not a surprise that Hitler in Nazi Germany took up the crusade - he loved eugenics.  Of course, that led to the rounding up of Jews AND people with disabilities, gypsies, people in prisons, etc. and getting rid of them in gas chambers.  He was "purifying the Aryan race."  A lot of people in the rest of the world talk about this as a horrible, evil thing that Hitler did and how he must have been both evil and crazy and how awful it was that the people of Germany went along with it.  The thing is, right here in the United States of America we did something similar for half a century.  Odd how since World War II no one even mentions the eugenics movement.   However, I can see every day by how people talk about people with disabilities and minorities that there are still a lot of people who regard these groups as "defective."  It isn't that far a jump to start allowing people to die without medical treatment,etc.

The conclusion I reach is that I'm not believing the latest "scientific" research or philosophy, no matter how famous and credible it's proponents.  I'm taking everything with a grain of salt. 

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