Fake News At WND, Margaret Sanger Division
For years, WorldNetDaily has repeated lies about the founder of Planned Parenthood, with nary a correction in sight. You can't libel the dead, right?
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily -- long notorious as a peddler of fake news -- loves to peddle falsehoods about Sanger as well. Since the dead can't be libeled, it can't be held accountable in that form, though all the lies do nothing to improve its fake-news reputation.
A favorite WND lie is the old right-wing trope to take out of context statements regarding the "Negro Project" Sanger headed to introduce birth control in black communities. For instance, Bob Unruh wrote in an April 2015 WND article that "Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, built on that concept of eugenics, at one point saying she did not want word to get out that a goal was to reduce the black population."
Unruh is alluding to a statement Sanger made regarding the "Negro Project," in which she is quoted as saying that "We do not want 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."
But as FactCheck.org documented, the Margaret Sanger Papers Project reports that Sanger's statement refers to the fact that "Sanger recognized elements within the black community might mistakenly associate the Negro Project with racist sterilization campaigns in the Jim Crow south, unless clergy and other community leaders spread the word that the Project had a humanitarian aim."
But WND has never been one to let facts get in the way of a good screed. WND columnist Gina Loudon huffed in an August 2013 rant directed at then-President Obama: "You blew out the lights on all babies. Around 5.6 million American babies have been aborted since you took office and will never blow out the candles on their own birthday cakes. Mr. Obama, you know around half of those aborted are female, yet you keynoted the Planned Parenthood gala this year. You gladly accepted an award in the name of the known eugenicist, Margaret Sanger, whose entire goal in founding Planned Parenthood was to 'eradicate the black race.'"
We could find no quote directly attributable to Sanger in which she declared she wanted to "eradicate the black race." While Sanger embraced eugenicist ideas that were popular during her lifetime, there is no evidence she was driven by racism.
Fringe-right doctor and WND fave Elizabeth Lee Vliet -- who's infamous for pedding fear and mendacity -- took that mendacity to new heights in a July 2015 WND column:
Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood in 1916 and idolized by feminists today, was a leader in the Eugenics movement, speaking and writing extensively on the urgency of “exterminating inferior races.”
Those purported quotes from Sanger are lies. As Wikiquote noted, there is no record of Sanger saying either of the quotes Vliet attributes to her. While Sanger did once refer to "human weeds," it was not a racial reference, and the "menace" quote is simply made up out of whole cloth.
Vliet's claim that "Over 80 percent of Planned Parenthood abortions are either black or Hispanic babies" also appears to be false, and she offers no evidence to back it up. In fact, whites represent about half of abortions nationwide, and blacks and other races constitute the rest. We found no evidence that Planned Parenthood's numbers are any different than those nationally.
The closest claim we were able to find to something approximating Vliet's assertion was by one group of anti-abortion activists that "79% of its surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods." But even that's misleading; the group's definition of "within walking distance" is a two-mile radius -- a rather lengthy distance to walk to anything, let alone a Planned Parenthood clinic -- and those "African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods" tend to be on the fringe of that radius.
Sanger vs. Paul Kengor
An August 2015 WND article approvingly quoted WND author Paul Kengor, a professor at the conservative Grove City College, pushing another racial smear of Sanger:
It may be uncomfortable for fans of Planned Parenthood, but it’s true Margaret Sanger, the legendary birth control activist, was a racial eugenicist who once spoke before the Ku Klux Klan.
Actually, Sanger's autobiography says something much different about that KKK speech than Kengor does. She called it "one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing" and -- contrary to Kengor's claim that her audience was "enthusiastic," Sanger wrote that she feared if she "uttered one word, such as abortion, outside the usual vocabulary of these women they would go off into hysteria." Sanger suggested it was conversations after the speech, not the speech itself, that kept her from making the last train to New York, and that was because a local curfew "everything" in the town "shut at nine o'clock."
Further, as PolitiFact pointed out, the women's division of the KKK was not the KKK itself, and biographers note that Sanger was never a supporter of the KKK or even a racist. PolitiFact added that a writer critical of the eugenics movement Sanger was involved in in the 1920s admits that Sanger was not racist or anti-Semitic.
In addition to their false framing of Sanger as a Klan sympathizer, Kengor's and WND's obsession with smearing Sanger by linking her to the KKK ignores a major bit of historical context: the KKK was a pretty mainstream organization in the 1920s, if still clandestine. One might even call it a conservative group, to hear one description of the Klan at that time:
The Klan promoted fundamentalism and devout patriotism along with advocating white supremacy. They blasted bootleggers, motion pictures and espoused a return to "clean" living. Appealing to folks uncomfortable with the shifting nature of America from a rural agricultural society to an urban industrial nation, the Klan attacked the elite, urbanites and intellectuals.
After we criticized Kengor's dubious attack on Sanger at the Huffington Post, Kengor responded in a column at the far-right American Spectator, which was reprinted at CNSNews.com. In it, Kengor blithely dismissed the fact that the KKK had broadened its appeal in the 1920s. Kengor then defended a sinister interpretation of Sanger’s “Negro Project,” claiming that we can’t possibly know the meaning of a statement in a Sanger letter about the project that “We do not want word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” but that it’s “it’s easy to understand their sensitivity” of those black right-wingers who portray it as an attempt at black genocide.
In fact, it’s pretty easy to discern the intent. The letter makes it clear that she wants to recruit black doctors and ministers to the Negro Project not for sinister purposes but to help dispel “ignorance, superstitions and doubts” about birth control. The only way it can be misinterpreted is if it’s ripped out of context, as Kengor does (along with many anti-abortion activists).
At the end of his column, however, Kengor started backpedaling and conceded Sanger really wasn’t the rabid racist he has been suggesting the KKK speech made her, yet still tried to parse words anyway: "She was a racial eugenicist. Was she a racist-eugenicist? Be careful."
The lies continue
In an August 2016 WND column urging Donald Trump to attack Hillary Clinton in the presidential election by promoting lies about Sanger, Devvy Kidd not only repeats the discredited falsehoods about the "Negro Project," she invented more stuff to falsely brand Sanger as a wild-eyed racist:
“Birth control is not contraception indiscriminately and thoughtlessly practiced. It means the release and cultivation of the better racial elements in our society, and the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extirpation of defective stocks those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”
Kidd is maliciously lying when she claims that Sanger called blacks "human weeds" -- a claim that, again, appears nowhere in Sanger's writings. And it should have raised a red flag to Kidd that the these "quotes" of Sanger filled with parenthetical insertions and ellipses are made up. Either she was too lazy to fact-check or she decided they served her agenda to the point that she deemed fact-checking to not be necessary.
And here's the article Sanger wrote for the October 1926 issue of Birth Control Review. None -- absolutely none -- of what Kidd claims Sanger said in this article appears there.
In other words, it seems Kidd just lazily copied something she found on the internet from some right-wing anti-Sanger website and never bothered to fact-check it.
If Kidd had any integrity, she would retract her column and apologize for spewing such easily debunked lies. At this writing, her column is still live and uncorrected at WND.
Inveterate liar and WND editor Joseph Farah spent his Sept. 8 column repeated the usual that Sanger "had ties to the KKK and the Nazis and was a white supremacist," as well as the usual misinterpretations of the "Negro Project." Farah also found a new smear to use: "Her eugenics plans inspired the Nazi sterilization law of 1933 and the subsequent Nazi euthanasia laws."
While the 1933 law did reportedly take its inspiration from American models, Sanger was far from the only eugenicist in the U.S. -- it was a popular belief in the 1920s.
Farah also claimed:
Sanger was closely tied to Ernst Rudin, who served as Hitler’s director of genetic sterilization. An April 1933 article by Rudin entitled “Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need” for Sanger’s monthly magazine, The Birth Control Review, detailed the establishment of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene and advocated its replication in the United States. A subsequent article by Leon Whitney published the following June by Sanger, entitled “Selective Sterilization,” praises and defends the Third Reich’s pre-holocaust “race purification” program.
In fact, Sanger was never "closely tied" to Rudin. She had left the Birth Control Review a full four years earlier and no longer had any affiliation with the publication when Rudin's article was published.
Farah's desperate efforts to tar Sanger as a "Nazi fan" -- a term he actually uses later in his column -- are ludicrous, given that the Nazis opposed contraception and burned her family-planning books.
In short, Farah is lying again. As usual.
And the lies just don't stop. In a Nov. 5 WND article, Alicia Powe gave right-wing columnist Star Parker a platform to make comments like this:
Black Americans are enticed by abortion giants to undergo abortions to reduce the black population, Parker contended. That was one of the goals admitted by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, she said.
Again, there's no evidence Sanger ever targeted blacks out of a racist motive.
Powe herself -- in a fit of lazy reporting -- contributes to the lies, claiming that "In her book 'Pivot of Civilization,' Sanger implied many impoverished blacks “should never have been born.” In fact, Sanger said no such thing in that book; the word "negro" (the accepted term for blacks at the time Sanger's book was published) appears only twice, neither referencing a claim that any black person "should never have been born."
Powe also asserted that "Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion clinics are located within walking distance of black or Hispanic neighborhoods" -- as noted above, a highly misleading claim.
Then, in a Nov. 12 WND column, William Hamnet Wall cited what he claimed were "15 deadly lies of abortion pushers." In response to the statement that "Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was not a eugenics-loving racist," he huffed in response:
Even the squirming apologists from liberal Time magazine reported: “She did (say so), and very publicly. In a 1921 article, she wrote that, ‘the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.'”
Thus, the zombie lies continue. But Sanger's dead, and you can't libel the dead. That's what WND is counting on in publishing demonstrable lies.