Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

From Ghana to Nigeria: Little pieces of home

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020


Thirteen-year-old Koffi left Ghana for the first time when he came to Nigeria to work as a farm hand PHOTO/Femi Amogunla/Al Jazeera

Young Ghanaians who travelled to Nigeria to work as farm hands show the most precious possession they took with them.

The young Ghanaian men and boys who come to this farm in Osun state, Nigeria, each year to find work mostly say they do it in order to improve their lives once they return home.

They have been brought in to the country in groups by a “master” – usually an older Ghanaian who has lived for several years in Nigeria. At the end of nearly a year of hard work hoeing ridges, weeding and planting in often difficult conditions, they will return to their homes with a motorbike as the prize for their labour.

Some motorbikes will be sold to help support families, others will be put to use – often as motorbike taxis to provide an income. Aside from this, farm workers do not earn any money – they are only provided with food and basic accommodation.

During these months away from home, many find some comfort in the personal possessions they brought with them. Through these precious items – an old wristwatch, a bag, clothes, a chain and pendant – they carry a part of their country, their memories of home and family, and their dreams for the future.

Lewin: The thing around your neck

Every morning before Lewin, 15, heads out to work on the farm, he carefully removes and stores two interwoven necklaces inside his travelling bag.

“The work is always too much. I don’t want to make the thing spoil quick,” he says. He is worried the necklaces will be damaged if he works while wearing them. Once he takes his bath after returning from the farm, he puts them back on.

The words – “The Methodist Church, Ghana” – are imprinted on the pendant of one of the necklaces.

“That is my church in Ghana,” he says. “This was my grandmother’s gift to me while growing up.”

Lewin says he remembers his late grandmother whenever he looks at it.

Al Jazeera for more

73 Million Trump party apparatchiks guarantee turmoil over the coming years

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020


US Democracy?

It is happening here. 

The soul of America is like the character Two Face in the Batman movie series.

One defeat of the Party of Trump and its 73 million apparatchiks is not enough. In Trump, the United States has bred its own dictator in waiting and he’s got an army of servile apostles willing to fight and die for him. Vigilance by his opponents has never been more important. 

“This Fuhrer dictatorship could produce only lackeys and profiteers of the most reactionary and aggressive part of German imperialist reaction. Its Germanic democracy reared the repulsive type of a human breed that was boundlessly servile to men of higher rank and just as boundlessly cruelly tyrannical towards men below it.” The Destruction of Reason, Georg Lukacs

Incumbent President Donald Trump now owns the Republican Party, lock, stock and barrel. With 73 million restless apparatchiks clearly beholden to the cult of Trump, will it be long before the Republican Party gets rebranded as the Trump National Party; or, perhaps, the MAGA Party (Make America Great Again)? Maybe Trump sells-off his faltering real estate empire and creates a media conglomerate—consisting of television, radio,and the Internet/WWW—that spews out divisive, fascist, ultraconservative fare 24 hours a day, 7 days  week. Trump Media would absorb the National Review, New York Post and similar conservative publications/websites.

Sky’s the limit for Trump: His 73 million followers include an increasing number of Blacks and Latinos who appear to revere him for his apparent strength, tough talk and sense of honor.

According to Fortune Magazine, “As Trump once put it: ‘Real power is fear. It’s all about strength. Never show weakness. You’ve always got to be strong. Don’t be bullied. There is no choice.’”

Adolf Hitler Said That Too

“Brutality is respected. The ordinary man in the street only respects brute force and ruthlessness. The people need to be kept in a salutary state of fear. They want to fear something. Why make a fuss over brutality and wax indignant over tortures? The masses want ti. They want something that will give them shudders of terror. Moralistic platitudes are essential for the masses. There could be no greater mistake for a politician than to be seen posing as the immoral superman. Of course I shall not make it a matter of principle whether or not to act immorally in the conventional sense. I do not abide, you see, by any principles whatever.” (Adolf Hitler quoted in The Destruction of Reason by Georg Lukacs)

We are all familiar with these wicked sentiments expressed by Trump and Hitler and assorted cult leaders, or should be. The history books are replete with tales of dastardly kings, princes and dictators who said nearly the same things and lived and ruled by such dictates. Democracy has been the aberration in politics, not dictatorship or kingship.

The Path to an American Hitler

The Destruction of Reason by Lukacs traces the development of irrationalism and fascism in Germany; specifically, the intellectual fertilizer that led to Hitler’s rise to power and National Socialism. His analysis reaches back to 1789 and includes commentary on Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, Marx, Engels, and scores of other philosophical heavyweights. 

Sri Lanka Guardian for more

Noam Chomsky

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

Noam Chomsky Lecture, May 2018 Noam Chomsky talks about the major threats to the human race and other important issues of today. Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic and political activist. Sometimes described as “the father of modern linguistics”, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He holds a joint appointment as Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and laureate professor at the University of Arizona, and is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.

Youtube for more

Why Trump may still wage war with Iran

Monday, November 30th, 2020


Fears are rising US President Donald Trump could start a conflict with Iran to retain power as a ‘wartime’ president. PHOTO/Facebook

Outgoing US president could yet orchestrate a conflict with the aim of retaining power after losing at the polls

US President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to fire his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and replace him with hawkish yes-man Christopher Miller, who headed the National Counterterrorism Office and before that the Pentagon’s “special operations” program, has sparked fear in the US media as well as in Iran that Trump might be plotting to trigger a war with Iran before his scheduled departure from the White House on January 20.

Various US media outlets including the New York Times published headlines like “Trump fires Esper, the Defense Secretary Who Opposed the Use of Troops in the Streets.”

That’s true, but given the distinct possibility that Trump’s real motive was oriented more against foreign adversaries like Iran, such accent on Esper’s difference with the president on domestic matters may turn out to be journalistic myopia. Perhaps a more fitting headline would be: “Trump fires Esper, who opposed war with Iran.”

“The United States is not seeking a war with Iran…We are seeking a diplomatic solution,” Esper told the media in early January 2020. One step further, he even openly contradicted Trump’s claim that US-assassinated Iranian General Ghasem Soleimani was plotting attacks on four US embassies around the world. 

Esper also stood up to Trump, who threatened to wipe out Iran’s cultural centers, by flatly stating that the Pentagon had no such bombing plans.  

AsiaTimes for more

Top 20 John Oliver moments

Monday, November 30th, 2020

These John Oliver moments left us all wiser. For this list, we’ll be breaking down the funniest, most memorable and culturally relevant segments from the HBO news satire program. Our countdown includes the state of journalism, we got him, Donald Trump, and more! What’s YOUR favorite John Oliver moment? Let us know in the comments!

Youtube for more

Tanishq ad removed because it’s 2020 and secular India is passé

Monday, November 30th, 2020


On Monday, 12 October, Twitter attacked a #Tanishq ad that showed 45 seconds of pure love. But, hey! As we have been told time and again Secular India is a concept of the 70s so how can any brand dare to show peaceful coexistence of two religions?

#BoycottTanishq started trending on twitter and the brand succumbed to trolls and removed the ad from across platforms because according to some it was promoting ‘#lovejihad’. Oh well!

Youtube for more

Weekend Edition

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Current nightmare ends; previous one returns

Friday, November 27th, 2020


VIDEO/ABC News/Youtube
VIDEO/ABC News/You Tube

Relief without joy

It’s a great relief that President Donald Trump will be history soon, – that is if he leaves, which it seems he will – but not a single body-cell of mine feels joy at the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. Trump presidency seems like an interregnum period from the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange, where Alex, the lead character, returns to his previous self after the state conducted experiment had to be undone.

“I was cured all right”

In A Clockwork Orange, based on Anthony Burgess novel, Alex (played by Malcolm McDowell) is a gang leader who indulged in criminal activities. One day, Alex ends up in jail. The state promises his freedom on the condition that he allow himself to be experimented on.

Alex agrees to a treatment called The Ludovico Technique, a kind of Aversion Therapy. Alex’s recovery is such that his survival becomes impossible and he ends up in a mental institute, after a failed suicide attempt.

The government had to intervene because Alex’s condition had garnered bad publicity, advantageous to the opposition. After several tests conducted on Alex, it became clear that the effect of the experiment had vanished; and that Alex was back to his original condition: a state of being abnormally violent. Alex recalled the violence he had inflicted on people and observed:

“I was cured all right.”

Prevalent nightmare ends

The neo-liberal nightmare began in the 1970s. It got uninhibited enhancement in the 1980s, during US President Ronald Reagan and Britain’s Margaret Thatcher rules. The idea was basically to give free hand to private businesses with as few regulations as possible. The government’s role, on the other hand, was to facilitate enrichment of the few on top while taxing and controlling the barely surviving majority. Neo-liberalism has gained strength with each successive administration.

In 2017 it took a new turn, when Trump assumed power. He was in a hurry to loot as much as possible, without fear, and decreased corporate tax from 35% to 21%. He wanted to deregulate everything.

A racist himself, Trump openly sided with racist whites, and was able to establish a solid base. His lies, his cruel nature, his disinterest in arresting the spread of Coronavirus, his absolute indifference to the problems of common people, and his support for the racist/murderer police etc., made him a person to be loathed and feared.

Now the top Democratic Party leaders are not that openly cruel. They prefer to do these things slowly by taking the wretched ones in their confidence, while maintaining the facade of opposing the 1% rich – many of whom contribute money to their campaigns. Democratic leaders shouted from rooftops that Trump was undemocratic and a danger to our “democracy.” So Trump was viewed to be the nightmare.

The Undemocratic Democratic Party

Mind you, the Democratic leaders themselves are not democratic at all. Twice, in 2016 and 2020, they sidelined Bernie Sanders. In 2016, they decided Hillary Clinton must be the Democratic Party presidential candidate as was revealed in emails of top party officials released by WikiLeaks.

In 2020, the former president Barack Obama led the charge to successfully undermine Sander’s candidacy and lent support to Biden, his vice president (2009-2017).

Biden got more than 80 million votes, approximately 10.5 million more votes than Obama in 2008, which was the record then. However, Trump is not much behind – he has around 73.9 million votes.

(The post COVID-19 Trump, if he really had the virus, displays more energy and stamina than the non-COVID-19 Biden.)

Can anybody imagine Biden getting these many popular votes on his own? He wouldn’t have even thought in his wildest dreams that this was possible. People were not at all enthusiastic about Biden. So many factors have helped Biden:

  • The daylight murder of black man George Floyd in May 2020 galvanized black people along with other colored and white people.
  • The progressives, inside and outside the Congress, worked really hard to see that more people turn out to vote.
  • Trump’s policies and racism brought out many Democratic voters.
  • Black Lives Matter’s role can’t be ignored in protesting against injustices and thus encouraging people to vote.

Progressives fight back

It seems, this time too, the Democrats won’t be able to gain a majority in the US Senate. In the US House, they’ll manage to have an upper hand but with less seats than the last time. For this debacle, the “moderates”, in order to save their asses, wrongly attacked the progressive wing of the party rather than appraising where they and the party brass went wrong.

Sanders, in an article in USA Today (November 11) made it quite clear that “corporate Democrats” were not correct in blaming the progressives for the debacle:

“112 co-sponsors of Medicare for All were on the ballot in November. All 112 of them won their races.

“98 co-sponsors of the Green New Deal were on the ballot in November. Only one of them have lost an election.”

Sanders also noted the importance of universal healthcare, which Biden opposes in a country ravaged by COVID-19 with deaths almost 268,000. For a long time, Sanders has been advocating healthcare for all:

“It turns out that supporting universal health care during a pandemic and enacting major investments in renewable energy as we face the existential threat to our planet from climate change is not just good public policy. It also is good politics. According to an exit poll from Fox News, no bastion of socialism, 72% of voters favored the change ‘to a government-run health care plan’ and 70% of voters supported ‘increasing government spending on green and renewable energy.’”

House Representative AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) also reminded the moderates in the Democratic Party:

“It’s really hard for us to turn out nonvoters when they feel like nothing changes for them. When they feel like people don’t see them, or even acknowledge their turnout.”

“If the party believes after 94% of Detroit went to Biden, after Black organisers just doubled and tripled turnout down in Georgia, after so many people organised Philadelphia, the signal from the Democratic party is the [former Republican governor of Ohio] John Kasich [who campaigned for Biden] won us this election? I mean, I can’t even describe how dangerous that is.”

Another House member Rashida Tlaib defended her right to speak for the people who voted for her.

“We’re not going to be successful if we’re silencing districts like mine. Me not being able to speak on behalf of many of my neighbors right now, many of which are Black neighbors, means me being silenced. I can’t be silent.”

“We are not interested in unity that asks people to sacrifice their freedom and their rights any longer. And if we truly want to unify our country, we have to really respect every single voice. We say that so willingly when we talk about Trump supporters, but we don’t say that willingly for my Black and brown neighbors and from LGBTQ neighbors or marginalized people.”

“If [voters] can walk past blighted homes and school closures and pollution to vote for Biden-Harris, when they feel like they don’t have anything else, they deserve to be heard.” “I can’t believe that people are asking them to be quiet.”

Previous nightmare returns

Democrats and the dominant media, excepting Fox TV, went gaga over Biden’s victory and kind of proclaimed:

The United States is cured all right. Our messiah Biden is in power and he’ll rid us of all bad things Trump had introduced. Our guy is full of “empathy” and is a believer in “science” unlike the outgoing cruel one, who ridiculed science.

The claim of having empathy and following science leads people to expect their sensitive and science-tempered leaders to tackle problems associated with poor living conditions and financial desperation of people.

Scientific studies show that poor people bear the brunt of “obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases,” like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension due to “health inequities.”

But is having talks of empathy and scientific mindset enough to extinguish the hunger of the people lining up in cars for food?

Some food lines are as long as 3 miles! For many children, the only access to meals is to attend schools; and millions of others rely on various charities to feed themselves.

The news media and the late night shows are still busy finding faults and making fun of Trump, rather than concentrating on the records of Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and other cabinet picks, and questioning how the Biden government is going to better people’s lives who voted for him in record numbers and have high hopes to see some improvement in their lives. The media does not raise these pertinent questions because Biden is their man, unlike Trump who was a Fox TV man.

While introducing some of his cabinet members on November 24, 2020, Biden said:

“It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it, once again sit at the head of the table, ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies, ready to stand up for our values.”

“It’s a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure.”

(Watch the video here)

The US didn’t retreat, it was just that Trump’s agenda was different. He also wanted the US to remain the world’s rogue power. Biden too wants the same when he declares the US is “ready to lead the world.” Why not be a part of the world instead of a leader?

Because then how would the US wage wars (overt/covert), support military coups, overthrow governments through creating chaos, and other such terror activities which only the “leader of the free world” can do?

Then Biden introduced his nominee for secretary of state Anthony Blinken, the co-founder (with Michele Flournoy) of WestExec Advisors, a lobbying group which is not registered as such, so the people operating the firm could reenter government without delays. Most WestExec work is done out of public sight and it doesn’t reveal the names of its clients.

Blinken made clear his foreign policy objective:

“We have to proceed with equal measures of humility [the facade of humanitarianism] and confidence [that is, overwhelming force].”

“As the president-elect said, we can’t solve all of the world’s problems alone. We need to be working with other countries, we need their cooperation. We need their partnership.”

One wishes every country had the power and confidence the US possesses – to inflict harm on enemies.

After all, it was Obama’s confidence that while sitting in the White House, he would prepare the list of people to be murdered in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Operatives sitting somewhere in the US would then direct the unmanned drones in countries where those people were targeted.

Back in May, Blinken made clear his views on arming the already heavily armed Israel, who is already equipped with a couple of hundred nuclear weapons. Blinken said:

“He would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions that it makes. Period. Full stop. He said it; he’s committed to it. And that would be the policy of the Biden administration.”

He’s right. At the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum in Washington DC in December 2014, Biden’s hegemonic self was there for all to see:

If there weren’t an Israel, we would have to invent one“.

One may wonder, why? The answer is simple: Israel could manage and create troubles in Arab countries and Iran on behalf of the US.

A little less than three years ago, Biden’s hawkish side (Biden supported US wars against Serbia, Afghanistan, and the second US war against Iraq) was on full display in an article he co-authored with Michael Carpenter of the Atlantic Council (the Washington-based think tank sponsored by domestic and foreign individuals and corporations, and the US government).

The title and the sub-heading of the article (in the January/February 2018 issue of Foreign Affairs:” How to Stand Up to the Kremlin: Defending Democracy Against Its Enemies.” It’s mind boggling that the authors chose such a title, because as the US is heavily democracy-deficient – one wonders – what is there to defend?

The names of the writers are followed by a picture of a protesting male lying on his stomach with head held up while being handcuffed by the officials. The caption to the photo reads: “This is what autocracy looks like: detaining a protester in St. Petersburg, February 2014.”

If arresting a protestor thus is “autocracy,” then what would Biden/Carpenter call the killing of a black teenager Laquan McDon­ald by a white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke who pumped 16 bullets in McDonald’s body on October 20, 2014? The video was suppressed by then Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Police released a dash cam video only after a court order, 13 months later.

By that time, Emanuel was reelected for a second term. Biden was then the Vice President under Obama, where Emanuel had served as White House chief of staff (January 20, 2009-October 1, 2010).

Did Biden or Obama ask for Emanuel’s resignation from being the Mayor, for not releasing the video? No.

(In the US, between 2013-2019, 1,944 blacks were killed by police. Rarely are the police held accountable.)

Biden/Carpenter article is basically the same crap US has been dishing out to the world since the end of 2nd European Global War* [Second World War] in 1945. A couple of paragraphs from the article:

“After the Cold War, Western democracy became the model of choice for postcommunist countries in central and eastern Europe. Guided by the enlightened hands of NATO and the EU, many of those countries boldly embarked on the transition from dictatorship to democracy. Remarkably, most succeeded. Post-Soviet Russia also had an opportunity to reinvent itself. Many in Europe and the United States hoped that by integrating Russia into international organizations (such as the Council of Europe, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund), they could help Russia become a responsible member of the rules-based international order and develop a domestic constituency for democratic reforms. Many Russians also dreamed of creating a democratic, stable, and prosperous Russia. But that dream is now more distant than at any time since the Cold War’s end.”

“However, since the Trump administration has shown that it does not take the Russian threat seriously, the responsibility for protecting Western democracy will rest more than ever on Congress, the private sector, civil society, and ordinary Americans.”

There are obvious lies in the above article, but the central grievance of the authors is that Putin is resistant to “becoming a responsible member,” i.e., not accepting the US global hegemony and his country’s failure to create a “constituency for democratic reforms,” means not allowing the US to turn Russia into a US style capitalist state in the name of democracy.

Author Andrew Levine has aptly described Biden as a “rightwing Democrat” but he clarifies that the liberal pandits prefer the euphemism “moderate” or a “centrist” when describing him.

On China, too, Biden is taking a rough stance. He called Xi Jinping a “thug.”

Historian Vijay Prashad forewarns us of the impending cold war between the US and China because Biden is not going to halt the US trade war against China initiated by Trump.

If Biden were any different from Trump and was genuinely concerned for the struggling folks, he would have asked Trump to join China and other nations in producing a vaccine against COVID-19. The results would have been a cheaper and faster vaccine, as economist Dean Baker has noted many times.

Trump ran and won his first presidency on his own terms. Biden ran and won with the help of US House Representative Jim Clyburn from South Carolina and former US president Barack Obama – but loyal to his moneyed class whom Biden promised:

“I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who has made money.” “The truth of the matter is … nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”

Biden was addressing his wealthy donors on June 18, 2019, at a fundraiser at Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, New York.

He has remained faithful to that class without giving in to the demands of Sanders and other progressives for universal healthcare, free education, and other issues important to the common people.

It’s not Biden’s strength that let’s him get away without caving in; it’s Sander’s weakness and his habit of betraying his supporters, rather than fighting for what he believes, to the end. In 2016, Sanders could have maintained the momentum created by his supporters by taking them and forming a new party.

This abnormal nightmare is to end on January 20, 2021 at 12 noon. Precisely then, once again, the normal nightmare with slogans of “democracy,” “freedom,” “human rights,” … will be unleashed upon the world.


The US doesn’t value lives of blacks and browns in foreign countries, as it indulges in wars with them without regard for the number of casualties as in Vietnam, Guetamala, and so many other countries. But then, it does not particularly care for the lives of black, brown, and poor white people in the US, either.

The Biden government will make some cosmetic changes but seems to be in no mood to introduce drastic reforms.

This will be a big mistake, because if things don’t change drastically, 2024 may see someone more racist, crude, and openly violent than Trump who would pull Trump supporters on his/her side. Trump has always lived a lavish lifestyle drowned in luxuries, and not necessarily geared to come out on the streets to create chaos to maintain power; but, the new candidate may tear the fabric of our existence and disrupt the election process in a whole new way.

Trump may be thinking of running for president again in 2024 but the genie of white supremacy, which has now been unleashed and accepted in mainstream, may take its own course and leave Trump behind.

B. R. Gowani can be reached at

* It was basically a European war which engulfed the world because most of the countries were under colonial rule and had no option or were forced to join. Same is true of the First World War.

Nationalize Walmart

Friday, November 27th, 2020


Nationalizing Walmart would be a dramatic improvement on the status quo. PHOTO/Mike Mozart/Flickr

Walmart is the largest private-sector employer in the United States, and it’s an important source of low-cost groceries for consumers around the country. It also pays poverty wages, busts unions, and drives economic inequality. Luckily, there is an economically viable route to solving those ills: bring the megacorporation under public ownership.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon made headlines earlier this month for urging Congress to “get a stimulus deal done.” In his comments on CNBC’s Squawk Box, he said that a new round of stimulus was important for the sake of “small and medium-sized businesses.” Larger firms, he said, had been better able to “weather the storm” of the pandemic.

He didn’t mention that Walmart itself has done a whole lot better than just “weathering the storm.” The company’s second-quarter results, published in August, showed that its e-commerce sales had gone up by a whopping 97 percent since the beginning of the pandemic. Already the largest private-sector employer in the United States, Walmart has hired half a million new “associates” this year.

All of this has added $43.2 billion to the already-massive fortune of the Walton family, which owns just under half of the company stock. To put that in perspective, the family was already making more than a combined 43 percent of all Americans before the pandemic. ‘Associates’ who have worked at Walmart for twenty years are still making less than $15 an hour.

Nor is this wealth being shared throughout the company. “Associates” who have worked there for twenty years are still making less than $15 an hour. The company has long been a notorious union-buster, surveilling employees, forcing them to sit through anti-union “training” videos, setting up a hotline for managers to report union activity, and even preemptively closing stores to foil unionization efforts. It also drives economic inequality in society as a whole through the “Walmart Effect,” whereby both suppliers and competitors are incentivized to slash their own employees’ wages.

So what’s the solution?

Jacobin for more

Buck v. Bell: Inside the SCOTUS case that led to forced sterilization of 70,000 & inspired the Nazis

Friday, November 27th, 2020


PHOTO/Duck Duck Go

As President Obama nominates centrist Judge Merrick Garland to replace late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, we take a look at what’s been described as one of the worst Supreme Court rulings in history. In the 1927 case Buck v. Bell, the court upheld a statute that enabled the state of Virginia to sterilize so-called mental defectives or imbeciles. The person in question was Carrie Buck, a poor, young woman then confined in the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded, though she was neither epileptic nor mentally disabled. In the landmark decision, eight judges ruled that the state of Virginia had the right to sterilize her. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote the majority opinion concluding, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” The decision resulted in 60,000 to 70,000 sterilizations of Americans considered “unfit” to reproduce. At the Nuremberg trials, lawyers for Nazi scientists cited the opinion in defense of their actions. We speak to Adam Cohen, author of “Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck.”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to look at what’s been described as one of the worst Supreme Court rulings in history. In the 1927 case Buck v. Bell, the court upheld a statute that enabled the state of Virginia to sterilize so-called mental defectives or imbeciles. The person in question was Carrie Buck, a poor, young woman then confined in the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded, though she was neither epileptic nor mentally disabled. In the landmark decision, eight judges ruled that the state of Virginia had the right to sterilize her. Her mother, Emma, as well as Carrie’s daughter, Vivian, then only eight months old, were deemed similarly deficient. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote the majority opinion concluding, quote, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

AMY GOODMAN: The decision resulted in 60,000 to 70,000 sterilizations of Americans considered “unfit” to reproduce. The Supreme Court decision had its origins in the eugenics movement then thriving in the United States. The 1924 Immigration Act was passed with similar intent—to prevent immigration by genetically inferior groups, which included Italians, Jews, Eastern Europeans and countless others, in an attempt to improve the genetic quality of the American population.

Author Adam Cohen writes about the case in his new book, Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck. Adam was previously a member of The New York Times editorial board and a senior writer for Time magazine. He is the co-editor of

Adam Cohen, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us.

ADAM COHEN: Great to be here, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us the story of Carrie Buck. In a moment, we’ll hear all about how it ties into immigration, eugenics, parallels to what we’re seeing today. But start back in the 1920s with Carrie Buck.

ADAM COHEN: So she’s a young woman who is growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, being raised by a single mother. Back then, there was a belief that it was better often to take poor children away from their parents and put them in middle-class homes. So she was put in a foster family that treated her very badly. She wasn’t allowed to call the parents “mother” and “father.” She did a lot of housekeeping for them and was rented out to the neighbors. And then, one summer, she was raped by the nephew of her foster mother. She becomes pregnant out of wedlock. And rather than help her with this pregnancy, they decide to get her declared epileptic and feebleminded, though she was neither, and she’s shipped off to the Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded outside of Lynchburg, Virginia.

AMY GOODMAN: And what happened to her there?

Democracy Now for more