#2. Stealing Babies for Profit Continued in Spain Until the 1990s
Michael Langhoff/iStock/Getty Images
When Spain exploded into a civil war in 1936, doctors and nuns who supported the Nationalist cause were inspired by its anti-Communist philosophy to save children from the blight of godless "red parents." This meant ripping babies from the arms of mothers deemed unfit due to their political beliefs, and handing them to more deserving individuals, like the kind of people who would gladly accept stolen babies.
"History will bear us out as indisputable protectors of children." -the Catholic Church, 1936
And the government was on their side -- after the fascists under General Francisco Franco came into power in the aftermath of the war, they aided the horrific child thievery with a 1941 law that allowed for changing the babies' last names so they could never be found by their biological parents. The practice continued for decades, until Franco's death in 1975, finally giving Spain a chance to end its sordid history of breaking up families due to misguided political fanaticism ... and instead start doing it for money.
After the fall of Franco's totalitarian regime, a number of nuns, priests, and doctors realized they really liked playing God by deciding which parents get which baby (if any), and so they decided to just keep doing it. Only now, they started asking up to $25,000 for someone else's kid. And why not? They'd been doing it for decades, and the government was doing precisely jack shit to stop them.
Denis Doyle/Getty Images News/Getty Images
They were too busy with the "Campaign to Make Latin America Use Vosotros."
The baby trafficking had continued under the Daughters of Charity, a religious order which seriously needs to invest in a dictionary to look up the word "charity." Armed with their moral conviction that young and unwed mothers shouldn't be allowed to keep their babies, the nuns lurked in maternity wards and systematically kidnapped the new arrivals for the next 20 years, telling the mothers the infants had died. And they kept doing this right up until the 1990s, taking advantage of loopholes in the law that a cynical person might think were written to allow them to do just that.
And in case you thought that baby thievery was the kind of bizarre, outlandish crime that is common only in the world of Lifetime original movies, keep this in mind: Before it was uncovered, the Spanish baby-snatching program had reportedly taken as many as 300,000 kids away from their mothers. And it took more than half a century for anybody to give a shit.
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
To be fair, they had a lot of TV shows to catch up on.
#1. Eugenics Simply Will Not Die
When you think about eugenics, you probably imagine a stereotypical mad scientist struggling to channel his potent racism into a marketable social policy, which is actually pretty damn awesome. No, not the racism part -- the part where we now think of selective human breeding as cliched, movie villain behavior, and not something that was still being performed in 1977 by a government organization actually called the Eugenics Board. And if you would like to continue thinking that, you'd better stop reading this right now.
David De Lossy/Stockbyte/Getty
Please enjoy this picture of a kitten in lieu of rational, clear-minded discourse.
The sad truth is that right up until the height of the disco era, America was lifeguarding their gene pool by forcefully sterilizing those people who were apparently holding back society from the second Renaissance. People like poor teenagers, epileptics, and young girls deemed to be having a little too much sex than was considered appropriate by the standards of old white men.
Before the 1970s, a total of 32 states had their own eugenics programs, with the Eugenics Board of North Carolina being the most aggressive of the bunch. When N.C. wasn't neutering sexed-up teenagers, their program was also using IQ tests to target those who were considered too slow to raise children. By some bizarre coincidence, the tests tended to put a lot of minorities on the testicle/ovary chopping block. And they were really just a formality -- all that was actually required to designate your genetic material for culling was a social worker's recommendation. From there, the Eugenics Board would work to gently coerce a signature from you or a family member, often not bothering to explain just what you were agreeing to.
"So, I get the first 12 CDs for a penny each ..."
The situation was much the same over in Oregon, which was the last American eugenics program to shut down ... in 1983, also known as the year Michael Jackson taught the world to moonwalk.
But surely it's just a case of crazy, conservative America being the odd man out, right? There's no way somewhere progressive like Europe would keep on using eugenics right up until the modern age! Well, yes, unless of course you're talking about Germany, where until 2011 transgendered people had to be sterilized in order to have their new gender status legally recognized, which was finally overturned in the case of: Human rights vs. We couldn't actually find anyone willing to defend a eugenics program in Germany.
Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Probably some verdreckt Frenchman, amirite? Eh? Zis guy knows vhat I'm talking about. Heh." *cough*
Special thanks to Evan V. Symon for helping set up this article.
For more ways politicians completely misunderstand society, check out Everyday Life as Misunderstood by Politicians.
Related Reading: It's incredible the rights people still have to fight for, even the right to sell your own stuff. We're betting you don't know the mind-blowing origin story for the Miranda Rights. And if you find yourself defending gay people's right to marry this article might help.