Senator Rand Paul warns: Technology threatening to make America into a eugenic dystopia
LYNCHBURG, VA, October 31, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While recent scientific advances have the power to eliminate much suffering in the world, in the wrong hands they threaten to create a dystopian eugenic future not unlike that depicted in the novel 1984 or the film Gattaca, Senator Rand Paul warned students at Liberty University on Monday.
He made his remarks while stumping for pro-life Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, an underdog facing a tough election next Tuesday.
Sen. Paul asked the students to imagine a world in which diseases like meningitis and Down syndrome are eliminated through eugenic selection, and in which “each individual’s biological future can be predicted by looking at their DNA.”
But while it might seem strange to oppose such a world, Paul said he hoped “someone will stand and say, ‘Wait a minute, not so fast! Didn’t we try that? Didn’t we learn what can happen when you let the state select for perfection?”
While eugenics became associated with the brutal practices of the Nazi concentration camps and euthanasia programs at the end of World War II, eugenics was also widely practiced in the United States and other Western countries. Tens of thousands of Americans, including the mentally disabled, criminals, American Indians, and others deemed “unfit” were forcibly sterilized with the approval of the law in dozens of American states in the early 20th century.
In his speech, Paul remarked on his horror when he first saw the science fiction film Gattaca, in which every human being is pre-selected for their level of genetic perfection, and their lives are mapped out in advance by the state based on their genetic makeup.
“I remember thinking that, well, at least that technology doesn’t exist for the state to abuse,” he told Liberty’s students. “But that’s no longer true. In your lifetime, much of your potential…will be known simply by swabbing the inside of your cheek.”
“Are we prepared to select out the imperfect among us? What will be the limits? Will we stop at disability?” he asked. “Will we go on to select hair color, eye color, IQ, height?”
Paul recounted the story of Christy Brown, a man who was born with severe cerebral palsy who only had control of his left foot, but who went on to become a renowned writer and poet. He worried a sterile scientific search for genetic perfection may “perhaps eliminate something, some part of our humanness.”
The senator spoke for most of his 17 minutes about the risks of an oversized government, warning that the dystopian vision of the future painted by George Orwell is now possible, thanks to advances in technology. He argued that America is going in the direction of 1984 with the Patriot Act and NSA spying, saying the Patriot Act “allows the most unpatriotic of acts,” giving the government the ability to search and seize property “without a judicial warrant.”
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America, he said, “is in a full-blown spiritual crisis.” Quoting social critic Os Guiness, Paul added that the problem “is not wolves at the door, but termites in the floor.’”
He suggested that the solution is for “those of us who love freedom” to realize that “freedom is not license to do as you please.” Instead, “Freedom can only be realized when citizens know self-restraint, or put another way, virtue.”
“What America needs is not another politician,” he said. “What America needs is a revival.”
His warning may come too late. Many pro-life activists argue that eugenics has already returned to the West in the form of the genetic testing of embryos for in vitro fertilization, as well as of fetuses in utero. According to some estimates, more than 90 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth in Western countries are aborted. News that even more accurate tests for Down syndrome have been developed has raised fears in the Down syndrome community that people with the condition will soon be wiped from the face of the earth.
At the same time, euthanasia has again been resurrected in countries like Belgium and The Netherlands, with increasing reports of abuses of the law, including euthanizing those who are merely disabled without any terminal condition, or euthanasizing people without their consent. Assisted suicide is already legal in some American states, and efforts are also underway to legalize euthanasia.
“I’m not against science,” Paul emphasized in his speech. “I’m a physician. I’m for it. My hope though, is that we don’t lose the appreciation of the miracle that springs forth from tiny strands of DNA.”
“Einstein said there are two ways to look at life, to look at the world. You can you look at life as if there are no miracles, or you can look at life and see miracles everywhere. I choose the latter,” he said.
Paul’s speech has caused a small controversy among some in the media – over Gattaca and Wikipedia. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said that some of the senator’s comments about Gattaca sounded nearly identical to those of Wikipedia, yet Senator Paul did not give proper citation to the open-source website.
During brief remarks to the students, Cuccinelli re-emphasized his pro-life credientials. Life “is the first thing mentioned in the Declaration of Independence,” he said. “It comes even before liberty, because you don’t get any other rights to defend if you aren’t born.”