Wednesday, December 18, 2002

George Neumayr points out the historical logic of Stanford's decision to clone embryos for research purposes

David Starr Jordan, the first president of Stanford University, was a "biological elitist," writes historian Kevin Starr in Americans and the California Dream. Jordan promoted a cult of the Strong. He did not want the "eugenically inferior" to populate America.

He thought that the "survival of the unfittest is the primal cause of the downfall of nations." He worried about "those whose descendants are likely through incompetence and vice to be a permanent burden on our social or political order." "Sons and daughters of the Western pioneers, yours is the best blood in the realm," he told Stanford students. "It is blood which tells."

Now for Stanford it is stem cells from cloned embryos which tell. Jordan's pursuit of a superior race of humans unblemished by bad blood continues at the school. Stanford announced last week that "it will establish a new Institute for Cancer/Stem Cell Biology and Medicine," an effort to "develop a new series of embryonic stem cell lines that will serve as models for a wide range of genetically related diseases."

Weakness is so intolerable to the Stanford ethos that the school is willing to clone humans embryos for experimentation in order to eradicate it. But Stanford officials, lacking the rhetorical chutzpah of their founding president, conceal their intentions in medical cant.

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