Letter: Judge Fisher by standards of her time

To the Editor:

How ironic that, today, in highly progressive Vermont, Dorothy Canfield Fisher is under attack for her embrace of eugenics in the 1920s. Eugenics was, after all, an offshoot of the Progressive movement of the early 20th century. Progressives' answer to laisez faire capitalism and the concentration of wealth and capital during the Gilded Age was the conviction that science and central, top-down planning could improve the lives of the masses. Eugenics was widely embraced by progressives who had faith in the ability of experts to improve the human condition. It remained a respectable tenet of the progressive movement until the 1930s when it was used to justify the racial policies of the Nazi regime. Shouldn't Ms. Fisher be judged by the progressive mores of her own era, and not by the progressive (i.e. politically correct) mores that prevail today?

John A. Maher



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