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 human 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.
Stanford's Office of Communication and Public Affairs has produced a "Q&A" press release to obscure the school's clone-and-kill-for-research plans. The press release emphasizes that "Stanford is opposed to human cloning for reproductive purposes" in the hopes that the public will assume Stanford is opposed to human cloning for any purposes. But it is not. Stanford supports human cloning for research purposes, which only differs from reproductive cloning in that the clone is killed. And come on, how long before Stanford officials endorse reproductive cloning? If a disease-free existence justifies immoral means -- which is the argument underlying research cloning -- it is only a matter of time before the modern mind consents to reproductive cloning for the production of disease-free children.
But for now the public must be snookered. Stanford officials can't say, "We need more effective guinea pigs for our research. We therefore intend to clone human embryos and then kill them for their useful parts." It sounds better to say, as they do in their press release, that Stanford scientists are considering a method which "involves inserting the nucleus isolated from an adult cell into an unfertilized egg that has had its nucleus removed." Stanford officials lament that "confusion, especially among the lay public, arises when this is referred to as 'human embryonic cloning.'"
No, let it be known to the lay public that this is merely "nuclear transplantation (or transferal) to produce human pluripotent stem cell lines." And if the lay public should persist in seeing it as cloning, let it also be known to them that "several different national science and medical institutions (including the National Academy of Sciences) as well as President Bush's own bioethics review panel, have determined that 'human embryonic cloning' is an inaccurate and misleading term for this research…This research is endorsed by these organizations as a necessary step in the development of novel new therapies for cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and others."
How could the lay public have ever concluded that embryonic stem cell lines come from embryos? If only they took their definitions of reality from scientific panels, they would put away such childish notions. The San Francisco Chronicle has been misled, too, apparently. In an editorial endorsing Stanford's plans, the Chronicle refers to the "growing embryo" as the subject of research, and calls the process a "form of cloning." Someone at Stanford's PR shop must call the Chronicle posthaste and tell its editors to speak of the research only as "nuclear transplantation."
But why does Stanford feel the need to hide behind "bioethicists" who aren't ethical when it could stand proudly with its first visionary, David Starr Jordan? Stanford's cloning project is just the most advanced stage in his brutal evolutionary thought.