“The American dream”: how the United States has executed eugenic legislation to model the ideal American : one hundred years ago and today
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The scientific movement of intervening on human reproduction to manipulate breeding and produce genetically superior offspring, called eugenics, became nationwide public policy in early twentieth century United States. The government and social elite sought to cleanse the country of ‘defective’ heredity and preserve the American race by promoting breeding for families who fulfilled the Anglo-Saxon ideal and suppressing procreation for those who did not. A model of genetic advancement intensified by Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich, eugenics in America provided a scientific foundation for government intervention on populations antithetical to the American identity. One hundred years later, eugenic ideals for race preservation have resurfaced with the presidential election of Donald Trump. His call to “make America great again” has facilitated the enactment of policy initiatives that target immigrants, minorities, and the poor to eliminate populations outside the model of a ‘true’ American. Despite being a nation founded on human rights principles, which are embedded in the Constitution, the endowment of these rights is conditional for the advancement and posterity of a select minority of Americans.