Have you ever wondered at the colorful display of a magnificent rainbow? Its vibrant hues, in spectral splendor, never cease to amaze!
Sadly, colors are a grave blunder on nature's greatest creation, man. James Watson, the iconic co-discoverer of the double helix, was in the news recently for a remark that was loaded with racial overtones. He stated that there was scientific evidence to prove that 'the Africans were an intelligently inferior lot'-a remark which earned him the ire of several erudite folks the world over.
AdvertisementCaught in a wordy trap Watson backtracked and, somewhat sheepishly, said that the belief lacked scientific proof. What, then, was Watson trying to convey? Was it atavism that Watson suffered from - a throw back to the melano-phobia that is interred in his 'White' genes?
His statements transport us to the 19th century, to the times of Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, who carried out elaborate work on the humble pea plant, Pisum sativum. Mendel stumbled upon certain fundamental truths that were to drastically change the way the world thought, forever.
When he crossbred the pea plants, Mendel observed a regular inheritance pattern for traits such as color and height. He noted down his observances very meticulously and pioneered the concept of the blueprint of biology, genetics.
For a very long time, the principles of genetics were used to produce better animal and plant stocks. Trouble began, during the early years of the 20th century, when genetics branched into a tumultuous offshoot, called 'Eugenics' (Greek for 'good origin'). This branch of genetics was showcased as a mathematical science with the ability to influence human breeding.
Eugenics had all the trappings of 'the absurd' and was identified for what it was, even during its formative years. Nevertheless it had the support of respected scientists, like Charles Davenport. Its agenda reaffirmed prejudiced convictions and reassured the paranoid. It claimed that 'certain racial stocks were superior to others' in traits such as intelligence, cleanliness, good looks, hard work and so on.
In the United States, eugenic societies, such as Race Betterment Foundation, sprang forth after World War I and laws were ordained to achieve dubious ends. Not only did eugeneticists advocate better procreation, they desired to do away with breeding among individuals with 'undesireable' traits such as the mentally and the physically challenged, people with certain diseases, the poor and the colored. The latter included Jews and other men and women of color who were gypsies, Asians, Hispanics and Blacks. Anyone left? The Whites, of course!
Although Hitler's massacre of the Jews has left a bad taste in many a mouth, the essence of eugenics continues to linger on. It has once again raised its ugly head on a social platform in several European countries and in some parts of the USA. Therefore, scientists, especially those who are held in high esteem, should air their views in a more responsible manner.
Although our planet should be saved from liabilities, enforced sterilization and mass murders do not hold the key. What, then, is the solution? Most individuals harbor undesirable traits, yet are the products of evolution. These 'deformed' genes exist along side the Nordic and the 'o-so-perfect' genes because they have withstood the ravages of natural selection. They have a right to exist - nature says so! Any tampering with the existing gene pool will be disastrous and, may prove to be the biological equivalent to the climate change catastrophe plaguing our planet.
Humans are more than apes writ large; they have a talent for learning from the past to plan their future. Deeper springs of human nature should transcend the barriers of the mind, ensuring universal oneness in a 'rainbow' world.
| Shameful Facts
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