I visited D.C. as an undergraduate student and spent a majority of my time wandering around various Smithsonian museums. I got to see Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Kermit the frog, and Apollo 11 artifacts. There was one exhibit that left a lasting impression on me which was the Deadly Medicine: Creating The Master Race exhibit at the Holocaust museum.
“DEADLY MEDICINE: CREATING THE MASTER RACE
From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to “cleanse” German society of individuals viewed as biological threats to the nation’s “health.” Enlisting the help of physicians and medically trained geneticists, psychiatrists, and anthropologists, the Nazis developed racial health policies that began with the mass sterilization of
“genetically diseased” persons and ended with the near annihilation of European Jewry.
To relate this history, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has assembled objects, photographs, documents, and historic film footage from European and American collections and presents them in settings evoking medical and scientific environments. Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race provokes reflection on the continuing attraction of biological utopias that promote the possibility of human perfection. From the early twentieth-century international eugenics movements to present-day dreams of eliminating inherited disabilities
through genetic manipulation, the issues remain timely.” (http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/traveling/details/index.php?type=current&content=deadly_medicine)
The Genetics Revolution seems to focus so much on the future that we forget about the past. Who are we to say the past does not affect us on some level?
Eugenics is, unfortunately, real. Is this why so many people are concerned about The Genetics Revolution?
I know eugenics is a very sensitive subject but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. I think it is important for us to explore the history of genetics and the impact it has had on society. I don’t know about you, but I have met several people who immediately assume genetic counselors encourage some form of eugenics.
Do you ever feel like in a sense the past is holding us back in terms of the public fully accepting The Genetics Revolution?
The reason why I’m bringing this up is because this exhibit will be visiting my town for a few months. I hope to do a follow-up post about it from the perspective of a genetic counselor. I hadn’t even started to apply to genetic counseling programs when I first saw this exhibit.
I also see this as an opportunity to educate the public about misconceptions that might be out there about genetic counseling. There has been a lot of buzz about this exhibit. I’m open to any suggestions as to how I can use this exhibit as a platform to educate the public and to increase awareness in genetics.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Comments?