[Eugenics, the set of beliefs and practices which aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population, played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States during the Progressive Era, from the late 19th century until US involvement in World War II.
Eugenics was practiced in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany, which were largely inspired by the previous American work. Stefan Kühl has documented the consensus between Nazi race policies and those of eugenicists in other countries, including the United States, and points out that eugenicists understood Nazi policies and measures as the realization of their goals and demands.
While ostensibly about improving genetic quality, it has been argued that eugenics was more about preserving the position of the dominant groups in the population. Progressive-era US eugenics is now generally associated with racist and nativist elements, as the movement was to some extent a reaction to a change in emigration from Europe, rather than scientific genetics.
Edwin Black wrote that one of the methods that was suggested to get rid of “defective germ-plasm in the human population” was euthanasia. A 1911 Carnegie Institute report explored eighteen methods for removing defective genetic attributes, and method number eight was euthanasia. The most commonly suggested method of euthanasia was to set up local gas chambers. However, many in the eugenics movement did not believe that Americans were ready to implement a large-scale euthanasia program, so many doctors had to find clever ways of subtly implementing eugenic euthanasia in various medical institutions. For example, a mental institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk infected with tuberculosis (reasoning that genetically fit individuals would be resistant), resulting in 30–40% annual death rates. Other doctors practiced euthanasia through various forms of lethal neglect.]
Many consider them heroes, I see them as assholes.