The National Portrait Gallery is a publicly funded Smithsonian Museum. Recently, they erected a bust of Margaret Sanger as part of their “struggle for justice” exhibit. I am not sure what justice Margaret Sanger is alleged to have struggled for, but I do know that she was a virulent racist who believed that black people should be prevented from breeding at pretty much all costs. This is an actual quote from Margaret Sanger in which she discusses the best way to encourage black people to get sterilized:
It seems to me from my experience…that while the colored Negroes have great respect for white doctors they can get closer to their own members and more or less lay their cards on the table which means their ignorance, superstitions and doubts.
We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal.
We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.
This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sanger’s odious beliefs, which earned her regular speaking invitations (which she accepted) from the KKK and other white supremacist groups. It is especially ironic that Sanger’s bust will be placed alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, who would never have been born if Sanger had her way.
The other delicious irony here is that we are in the midst of a push by liberals to essentially scrub Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from the history books because of their racism. Personally, I have always been of the opinion that it’s important to evaluate historical figures relative to the prevailing attitudes of their time. If Abraham Lincoln were transported forward in time to today, his statements with respect to black people would render him unelectable in all 50 states. Ditto even someone like Alexander Hamilton, who was well ahead of his time in opposing slavery.
Likewise, if you took someone from today and transported them back to the time of Jefferson and Jackson and encouraged them to preach the prevailing attitudes of today regarding racial equality, they would probably get shot (or worse) inside of a week.
But this sort of analysis is apparently not what we’re doing now, and instead we are burning at the stake historical figures for failing to meet the racial enlightenment standards of today.
Except, of course, if the historical figure in question founded an organization that is the largest provider of abortions in America. Then, somehow, that figure is magically transformed into someone who “struggle[d] for justice.”
I’m happy to join the Media Research Center in encouraging people to tweet @NPG and @smithsonian directly asking them to #BustRacism and remove the bust of Margaret Sanger. Don’t forget to also call the Smithsonian at 888-317-2837 and demand that they remove the bust of a known racist from the “struggle for justice” exhibit.