Holocaust Museum Exhibit Confuses Private and Coercive Eugenics


Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race at the Holocaust Museum sounds like a fascinatng and disturbing exhibition on Nazi eugenics. Oddly, the Museum's introductory material declares, "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race provokes reflection on the continuing attraction of biological utopias that promote the possibility of human perfection. From the early twentieth-century international eugenics movements to present-day dreams of eliminating inherited disabilities through genetic manipulation, the issues remain timely."

Setting aside the notion of "biological utopias," whatever they may be, surely today "eliminating inherited disabilities" means curing people of those disabilities, not eliminating the disabled. Ultimately, the Museum seems to conflating future private reproductive and medical choices with state-imposed eugenics. As Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom has correctly pointed out in his essay, In Defense of Posthuman Dignity:

Transhumanists argue that the best way to avoid a Brave New World is by vigorously defending morphological and reproductive freedoms against any would-be world controllers. History has shown the dangers in letting governments curtail these freedoms. The last century's government-sponsored coercive eugenics programs, once favored by both the left and the right, have been thoroughly discredited. Because people are likely to differ profoundly in their attitudes towards human enhancement technologies, it is crucial that no one solution be imposed on everyone from above but that individuals get to consult their own consciences as to what is right for themselves and their families. Information, public debate, and education are the appropriate means by which to encourage others to make wise choices, not a global ban on a broad range of potentially beneficial medical and other enhancement options.