“California is a huge story in the history of eugenics”


Hello and welcome to Essential California bulletin. This is Tuesday July 20. I am Justin Ray.

From 1909 to 1979, California sterilized people in public hospitals and other state institutions by force or deception. The state apologized for his actions in 2003, but only banned the practice in 2014. This month, as part of a budget passed by the Legislature and awaiting the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom, the state agreed to pay for reparations up to $ 25,000 each to victims. Women imprisoned and forced to be sterilized – a story first exposed by the Center for Investigative Reporting in 2013 – would also be compensated.

The payments would make California at least the third state after Virginia and North Carolina to pay victims of the eugenics movement. Followers of the movement believed that people they deemed genetically unfit should not be allowed to reproduce.

Now this next part might come as a shock: it has been well documented that “California civic leaders helped popularize eugenics around the world, including Nazi Germany. “Indeed, the major role of the state in the movement has its own Wikipedia page.

The Times published articles in support of this claim. They point to the major role that a private Pasadena-based think tank played in promoting sterilization from 1926 to 1942.

“California is a huge story in the history of eugenics,” Paul Lombardo, professor at the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia, told The Times in 2003. “What makes California special is is the work of the Human Betterment Foundation, how it has shaped public policy and the links between key private sector actors and the government officials who carried out the work.

Then-Gov. Gray Davis issued the state’s apology in 2003, just hours after Lombardo gave a lecture to California lawmakers at a hearing. They were stunned, most never having heard of this story.

In 1909, California became the third state to pass a forced sterilization law (Indiana was the first). More than 30 states would pass such laws, leading to around 60,000 procedures – a third of them in the Golden State, which repealed its law in 1979. Most of those operated on were poor young women. Longtime state attorney general Ulysses S. Webb advocated sterilization of “the usual drunk, prostitutes, tramps and poor found in our county’s poorhouses.”

During this time, the Human Betterment Foundation worked with state officials and served as the spokesperson and primary marker for the eugenics movement, maintaining data on proceedings across America. California Institute of Technology Archives shed light on the organization.

“Any common man will tell you that a herd of common longhorn cattle from Texas or Mexico can be converted to a high quality Hereford or white-faced herd in three or four generations,” states a memo that read Ezra’s initials. S. Gosney, the Pasadena financier who started the foundation. “Man falls under the same laws of heredity. The only difference is that we mixed the races and didn’t teach our children to… select their mates.

“You were kind enough to send … new information on the details of sterilization in California,” wrote Dr. Fritz Lenz, one of Nazi Germany’s leading eugenics, to Gosney in 1937. ” These practical experiences are also very valuable to us in Germany, and for that I thank you.

Here are some of the members of the Human Betterment Foundation: David Starr Jordan, first president of Stanford University; Robert A. Millikan, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and director of Caltech; USC President Rufus B. von KleinSmid; and Lewis M. Terman, a Stanford psychologist who developed the IQ test.

Oh, and I should mention one more: Harry Chandler, who was editor of the Los Angeles Times from 1917 until his death in 1944. As we have reported, Chandler and The Times played a role by “popularizing eugenics and defending sterilization as a solution to perceived social problems such as crime and poverty”.

And now, here’s what’s happening in California:

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Inside an $ 18 million COVID-19 fraud from an LA family. A couple from the San Fernando Valley were returning from a Caribbean beach vacation in October when they had problems. The FBI arrested the couple during a layover in Miami after investigating them for months – tracking down suspects, rummaging through garbage and reviewing bank records. So began the unraveling of one of the scariest scams in the United States last year as the government rushed to send emergency funds to businesses shattered by coronavirus lockdowns. Los Angeles Times

Cultural changes at Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise: The new Jungle Cruise shows that Disney wants to be in the cultural conversation rather than an artifact or, worse, a portrayal of the “good old days,” writes game critic Todd Martens. “As much as Disney Imagineers speak of the importance of respecting and honoring people’s memories, spaces will only survive if future generations can see themselves and their beliefs reflected.” Los Angeles Times

Man suspected of stabbing student in Compton was apprehended with help from TikTok and Instagram. Daisy De La O, 19, was stabbed to death outside her family’s apartment in February. The victim’s ex-boyfriend, Victor Sosa, has been located following a campaign launched by De La O’s friends on social media, authorities said. Sosa has pleaded not guilty to first degree murder. Information from his lawyer was not immediately available. ABC Los Angeles

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San Jose launched a new community mental health platform intended to help young people find services. The OneSJ website contains mental health services in the city and throughout the Bay Area. It allows users to filter services by categories such as domestic violence, homelessness, LGBTQIA and students. It is offered in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. “This is a ‘for us, by us’ approach to create better digital services in the public sector,” said Clay Garner, the city’s deputy director of innovation. KRON4


“Blatant” poaching case. Christopher Glenn Parks, 41, of Marysville, has been charged with seven counts of illegal poaching of wildlife for “personal gain”. Authorities say he illegally killed seven female deer and dumped their carcasses to avoid detection. A public defender representing Parks did not return requests for comment. Under a plea deal, he will be fined $ 10,000 and has been placed on one year probation. During this year, Parks must give up his rifle and will not be allowed to hunt. Los Angeles Times

California wildlife officials used DNA analysis of deer meat samples to prove that a man in Yuba County illegally killed more deer than he initially admitted.

(California Department of Fish and Wildlife)


The cliffs of California are collapsing. Researchers are stepping up their efforts to understand why the bluffs are crumbling. “The collapse of coastal cliffs is a threat wherever waves, earthquakes and intense rainstorms can destabilize rugged coastal terrain, and with sea level rise this risk increases,” writes Ramin. Skibba. These falling cliffs threaten homes, vital infrastructure and lives. In August 2019, three people were killed while walking along Encinitas Beach, north of San Diego. Atlantic

The California utility says its equipment could be hooked up to a wildfire. Pacific Gas & Electric equipment could be linked to the Great Dixie Fire in the Sierra Nevada, the country’s largest utility reported to California regulators. In a Sunday report, PG&E said a repairman spotted blown fuses in a conductor atop a pole, a tree leaning toward the conductor and a fire at the base of the tree on July 13. The blaze reached nearly 47 square miles. Los Angeles Times


Joshua Tree no longer affordable? Longtime Joshua Tree residents say the neighborhood has become overpriced. The housing market has grown, which has led many properties to see several potential buyers. This has pushed hard-working families and eroded the region’s desert way of life for those who remain. “Traditionally, in the spring we have about 80 homes for sale in Joshua Tree. Earlier this spring we only had 19, ”said a real estate agent. Daily there

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Los Angeles: You guessed it, a sunny day, 88. San Diego: A perfect day for barbecuing, 81. San Francisco: Sunny, 69 years old. San José: Sunny, 78 years old. Fresno: Are you kidding me? Wow, sunny, 105. Sacramento: Turn up the air conditioning, 96.


today Californian memory is of Jack Reynolds:

When I was about 5 years old, we lived in Kettleman City. It was during World War II. The city was very small; two blocks in any direction and you were in short grass and weeds. A neighbor made rod fishing rods for me and my sister. We drove to Tulare Swamp a short distance. I had a cork float on my line and was impatiently waiting for it to float, which it did very quickly. I picked him up and grabbed a bluegill. I became a fisherman at that time.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please limit your story to 100 words.)

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