LETTER- ASAP's goals dangerous
The essay by Janis Jaquith ["Slow down! Asking questions to map our future," May 1], provides a revealing glimpse into the mind set of at least one member of Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population. The writer invokes the name of Margaret Sanger as the guardian saint of family planning and acknowledged liberal icon.
Anyone acquainted with the writings of Sanger recognizes her as a self-proclaimed progressive eugenicist who wrote in her 1922 book, The Pivot of Civilization, "More children from the fit, less from the unfit– that's the chief issue of birth control." In 1939 Sanger created the "Negro Project" which was said to get blacks to adopt birth control, presumably in keeping with her own definition of fit. Such statements today would be rightly branded as racist.
The author makes an awkward comparison between the choice to have or not have children and local population growth/control. Individual freedom of choice and responsibility have nothing in common with centralized bureaucratic planning and attempts by selected experts to define an optimum anything. Jaquith wishes to replace "Who are you to decide how many children God will give you?" with "How many citizens will ASAP decide to allow us?"
The Colcom Foundation funding ASAP was itself funded by a several-hundred-million dollar gift from a member of the Mellon family in 1996. According to an article in the February 20, 2006 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the name of the new foundation was a contraction of the title of the 1932 novel Cold Comfort Farm, one of the founder's favorite books. The press release notes that the aims of the foundation include "efforts to limit immigration." We here in Albemarle County must fit perfectly with the country bumpkins portrayed in Stella Gibbons' novel. Recently, country folk have been described as bitter and clinging to their guns and church. ASAP is ready to save us from ourselves.
In her essay, Jaquith quotes Thomas Jefferson. As one of our founding fathers, he would find it bizarre to find his name linked to ASAP. Personal freedom and individual responsibility are our heritage, although such concepts are now "so yesterday" in some circles.
The future is an ever-changing target. Attempts to set limits today, especially ones defined as optimum, are futile. They become dangerous when self appointed would-be social planners get to tell the rest of us what they have decided is best for us.