The Corner

Culture

How Long Will Margaret Sanger Last?

A man holds a sign during an anti-Planned Parenthood vigil outside the Margaret Sanger Health Center in New York, February 11, 2017. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Much of the radical Left is at present consumed by a feverish desire to erase from U.S. history anyone whom they’ve deemed in some way insufficiently loyal to the progressive creed of 2020. The statue-toppling brigades have exercised little discretion in determining which of our leaders are no longer fit for public display, targeting everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Ulysses S. Grant to Thomas Jefferson to Frederick Douglass to this elk.

In many cases — and in none so clearly as that of the elk — the attacks on statues appear to have been motivated primarily by a riotous desire to destroy anything that can easily be overturned. But in others, one can see a puritanical pseudo-morality at work, a mob mentality demanding that we capitulate to their view of history and permit them to remove offenders and refashion the public square according to their values.

There is plenty to criticize about this rather frightening campaign to obliterate men and their monuments for having been imperfect, not least of which is the willful ignorance required to attempt to “cancel” the Founding Fathers, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation, and leading abolitionists in the name of racial justice.

But I wonder, too, whether these crusaders will train their gaze on one of our nation’s far more serious offenders of racial equality: Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. She was, after all, a foremost proponent of the eugenics movement — motivated by her particular animus toward poor non-whites — and her campaign to legalize birth control was motivated in large part by her desire to prevent the “unfit” and “feeble-minded” from reproducing.

After several decades of brushing aside pro-life critiques of its tainted history, Planned Parenthood is now fielding similar complaints from some of its own employees. Just last month, more than 350 current and former staffers of Planned Parenthood’s Greater New York affiliate — along with several hundred donors and volunteers — published an open letter condemning Sanger as “a racist, white woman” and arguing that the organization is guilty of “institutional racism.”

“We know that Planned Parenthood has a history and a present steeped in white supremacy and we, the staff, are motivated to do the difficult work needed to improve,” the letter added.

If removing offensive statues is the new norm, perhaps the bust of Sanger in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery should be the next to go.

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