Close Readings: Ross Douthat’s “liberal eugenics”

New York magazine's graphic on Ross Douthat's positions circa 2008

Fellow Ross Douthat hater Miracle Mike Sebba sent me this link to a Sunday Times column in which the spoon-faced conservative explains eugenics. He devotes the first five paragraphs to the dim science of Spencer and Sanger,* but his real purpose is to get us to modern fetal genome mapping. We can do that now—the whole famn detal genome with saliva and blood samples from parents. Douthat compares the practice to amniocentesis screening for Down Syndrome, where 90% of positive results end in termination of the pregnancy. Then he hits us with his thesis:

Is this sort of “liberal eugenics,” in which the agents of reproductive selection are parents rather than the state, entirely different from the eugenics of Fisher’s era, which forced sterilization on unwilling men and women?

That’s some dirty rhetoric from Douthat. He’s got god on his side, but luckily for us we have close reading.

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