Texas Mayor Resigns after Eugenic-Tainted Post?
When Colorado City, Texas mayor Tim Boyd took to Facebook earlier this week to vent about the impact of an unprecedented volatile snowstorm’s toll on the townspeople, it would raise the ire and infuriate the nation, leading to his quick resignation. Some noted the mean-spiritedness of the post; others, its lack of compassion or even basic understanding of how people unfamiliar with below zero temperatures could be – literally and figuratively – rendered helpless by icy roads, and a lack of power, water, and heat. To those familiar with eugenics Boyd’s rant fell in line with the pseudo-scientific belief that weak Americans, who were lazy, lacked genetic fortitude and an inability to ‘pull themselves up by their bootstraps’ crippled the nation. Boyd’s rant also conjured the 100-year-old tracts of Harry Laughlin and Theodore Roosevelt.
“No one owes you are [sic] your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim it’s your choice!” Boyd wrote in his post, adding. “If you are sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your [sic] lazy is direct result of your raising! Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish [sic].”
The assumption that those crippled by power outages, broken pipes, and flooded homes, numbing cold, and cut off from necessary services sought socialist-like “handouts” resurrects the language of early eugenicists. Laughlin, who headed the Eugenic Records Office described those in need back in 1918 as having tendencies to weak-mindedness, inborn laziness, lack of vitality, and unfitness for organized activity.” Boyd’s use of assertions that part of his Texas constituency was lazy and their suffering a direct result of their upbringing, reads like an attack on breeding or family vitality. And finally, Boyd’s assertions that the strong will survive, and the weak will perish… and sink or swim, harkens back to the promotion of Social Darwinism and survival of the fittest.
The few (fit) caring for or forced to be responsible for the man (weak/unfit) is driven home by Boyd vehemently announcing he would be damned if he would take care of those capable of taking care of themselves. That he polished off his tirade with "Get off your ass and take care of your own family," further suggests Boyd believed those facing peril did so through their own weaknesses.
Politicians often embrace eugenic language – sometimes to rally the convictions of their supporters, and other times to chastise them. Roosevelt, for instance, had as early as 1899, lamented the weaknesses of American men, who he believed had become effeminate and “over-civilized.” Roosevelt blamed their weakness on idleness, laziness, and contentment, all of which were ushering in a lackadaisical approach to work, family, and reproduction. Without efforts to force the weak to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, the nation faced being populated with people [in Boyd’s words], who could not 'help themselves.’
“I wish very much that the wrong people could be prevented entirely from breeding; and when the evil nature of these people is sufficiently flagrant, this should be done. Criminals should be sterilized, and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them,” Roosevelt charged.
Roosevelt would go on to create a Heredity Commission to investigate America’s genetic heritage and to encourage “the increase of families of good blood and (discourage) the vicious elements in the cross-bred American civilization.” The ultimate goal was to weed out those who could not muster enough vitality to save themselves and their families in times of crisis.
Though Boyd has not been officially labeled a supporter of eugenics, much of his rant exposed some potential acceptance of its social theories. Boyd deleted the original rant and resigned as mayor hours after the post. He claimed his wife had been fired from her job due to his statement and he and his family had faced harassment and death threats in the backlash.
.At least 20 Texans have died from hypothermia, accidents, or falls since the storm began, with an estimated four million, in the Lone Star state, sheltered without electricity for 48 hours or more in some cases. Heavy snow coupled with icy roads closed highways, forcing the extended closure of grocery stores and other essential businesses.