Author: Nazis Killed Disabled People First – Here's Why This History Still Matters

They say that history repeats itself. It’s up to us to remember terrible atrocities so they never happen again.

Memoirist and poet Kenny Fries talked about the history of how disabled people were the first to be murdered under the Nazi regime on Wednesday’s “The Glenn Beck Radio Program.” Born missing bones in both of his legs, Fries knows what it’s like to face life with a disability.

The disabled were sterilized, used for experiments and killed even before the Nazis were in power; the Germans began abusing people with disabilities as far back as the 1920s. “Permitting the Destruction of Unworthy Life” by psychiatrist Alfred Hoche and the jurist Karl Binding was later used as a template by the Third Reich to exterminate disabled people.

“These feelings about disability are prevalent in a lot of cultures; I would say probably all cultures,” Fries said. “They just manifest themselves differently.”

People in the U.S. often don’t realize their own country’s history of abusing disabled people. In 1927, the Supreme Court ruled that compulsory sterilization of “unfit” people was constitutional, and the decision still technically stands. “Ugly laws” beginning in the late 1860s made it illegal for “unsightly or unseemly” people to be out in public; the last one was repealed in 1974.

Glenn Beck talked about his own experience of being a dad with a child who has disabilities.

“I wouldn’t wish this for my child. It’s difficult; however, her life has real meaning and real purpose,” Glenn said. When it comes to our society deciding which people are valuable, “we’re crossing some spooky lines,” he said.

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: We're changing as a people. And I just want to drop a pin in the map. And I just want to say, we're going over a cliff. And as I learn from one of the Righteous Among the Nations in Poland a few years ago, and I've shared many times, the righteous didn't suddenly become righteous. They just refused to go over the cliff with everyone else. Don't go over the cliff. There's a -- there's a new survey out. We'll talk about it later, about how so many college students are now saying freedom of speech is not that important.

It is. Societies can go crazy quickly. In 1923, there was a survey of parents of disabled children. Would you agree, definitely, to a painless shortcut of your child's life after it's determined by experts that it is incurably stupid?

The results of this survey, this study were published in 1925. 73 percent of those -- of those adults who had children said they were willing to have their children killed if they weren't told about it.

Well, what do you think happened in Germany after these kinds of polls started to come out? And we're headed down the same road.

STU: Stat comes from an amazing op-ed in the New York Times called the Nazi's first victims were disabled. Comes from Kenny Fries. He's the author of not only that op-ed, but also the book In the Province of the Gods. And he joins us live from Germany.

GLENN: So, Kenny, first of all, you were born without bones in your legs?

KENNY: Yep. I was born in 1960, missing fibula in my legs, and spent the first four weeks of my life in an incubator. People didn't know whether I would be able to walk. Some thought I shouldn't be, you know, allowed to live. But luckily, my parents weren't amongst them. So, yeah. And then lived a pretty, you know, normal life. I was one of the first kids to be schooled in the mainstream school in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1960s. And, you know, went to college. And after college, I started to write about my disability experience. Which then, you know, much later in 2002, brought me to Japan. I wanted to look at what another country -- culture very different from our own looked at how they looked at disability. So I went to Japan. And the result was my new book In the Province of the Gods.

And I learned some interesting things there, Glenn. I was very surprised when I went to Japan that I was treated more as a foreigner, which I was, than I was as a disabled person. Whereas, in my own country, in the United States, I was always looked at as different because I was disabled. I kind of felt like a foreigner in my own country.

I also found out a lot about how central disability -- you know, central disability was to Japanese culture at the -- you know, historically at the same time where it was looked at as something shameful. And you talk about, you know, what happened with Germany. There was a story that happened in Yokohama, Japan, in the early 1970s, where a mother had a child with cerebral palsy. And she had numerous children. And in true Japanese fashion, you know, the husband was away a lot. And she was very overburdened by having the child. And she killed the child.

And though she was -- she was, you know, charged with murder and found guilty, the outcry was so great, that people felt so sorry for her, that she really got off without any -- any -- you know, any -- any punishment for killing her own child.

GLENN: Kenny, there was a story that came out in a couple of weeks ago, I think, about Reykjavik. How Reykjavik is becoming a country that will -- and it was celebrated. The -- this first city or country now that will be Down syndrome-free. Because they're doing early testing. And most people are aborting these children before they're born.

So Reykjavik now is Down syndrome-free birth. And I found that article really disturbing. As a dad of a child of special needs, my daughter has cerebral palsy, I wouldn't wish this for my child. It is -- it's difficult. However, her life has real meaning and real purpose. And I don't understand -- we're -- we're crossing some spooky lines.

KENNY: Yep. We are. And we can't forget that -- and, you know, as I pointed out in my New York Times article that the history of -- in our own country in the United States is not free of these things. Back in 1927 in the Buck v. Bell decision, you know, Oliver Wendell Holmes, that three generations of imbeciles was enough. And it was constitutional to sterilize, you know, disabled people. So that was one thing. In our own culture, we used to have what they called ugly laws. Where you were prohibited from being in public if you were disabled, if you looked different, if you looked, you know, deformed. And the last of those laws wasn't rescinded until 1974, Glenn.

GLENN: Was that -- because I had never heard -- I've never heard of the ugly law. I mean, I know about the human betterment society. And I know all about the nastiness of what we've done with eugenics. I think we were -- in some ways, we taught the Germans an awful lot.

But when it comes to -- when it comes to the ugly laws, was that one of those laws that just happened to still be on the looks like, you know, you can't tie your horse up at the supermarket. And it just wasn't removed?

KENNY: No. They started being passed in the 1860s, 1870s, in various cities across the country. Some states tried to pass them. And they weren't as successful as cities. So there were basic local odor ordinances that just basically said that you can't --

GLENN: That's crazy.

KENNY: Yeah, yeah. There's also a case in Germany that happened a couple of decades ago called the Frankfurt judgment, where people went on a holiday -- you know, they booked a holiday, and they encountered disabled people on their holiday. And they asked to be reimbursed for -- by their travel agents, you know, because they happened upon these disabled people. And they got -- they got -- they won in court.

GLENN: Wow.

KENNY: So these feelings about disability are prevalent in a lot of cultures. I would say probably all cultures. They just manifest themselves differently.

GLENN: So can we have an adult conversation here, Kenny? And it's not popular to do. And it will be taken and chopped up. But we have to have real conversations. Because we're dealing with really scary stuff.

I -- I -- as we're looking at health care, the argument is about, we just can't let people die. Et cetera, et cetera. But when a state is in control, it -- there has not been -- there's too many examples of, it just comes down to the money. And if you can't opt out of that, you know, and the state says, hey, you're not producing enough potatoes, I got to give this to somebody else who has a better quality of life and who are actually going to put into the system. And it becomes this horror show, versus, well, these people can't afford any health care. And so they're just going to die. Which is also awful.

I mean, how do you balance those two? In my mind, I would rather have the chance to opt out or opt in, than being stuck in a system where whatever they call and say, I'm sorry, you're done. You're done.

KENNY: Well, I mean, you know, to go back to Japan. You know, in Japan, I don't know if you know the movie Ballad of Narayama, where they basically take these small villages in Japan -- a while back, they would take their elderly, when they were go to just go to the mountain and to basically die alone in the mountain. Which I don't think is a good thing to do either.

GLENN: No. That's like Logan's Run, low-tech.

KENNY: Yeah. But the problem, Glenn is you -- in a society that disvalues disability, that misunderstands disability, that fears disability, you can't make a true voluntary choice. If, you know, people say that if -- if somebody -- when I get dementia, Alzheimer's, I don't want to live like that. It's not a dignified life. But what are they reacting to? They're reacting to a fear about the body changing. And if the disability experience teaches anything, it's about the fact that that's what our life is. Our life is change.

You know, I talk about this in, In the Province of the Gods. Because Japan deals with the idea of change -- which, ultimate change is mortality. That we're all, you know, not going to be here for a while.

So it's this fear that I think gets in the way of making a decision of what one would want to do if one was severely disabled, you know, Alzheimer's or whatever it is. And I don't think you can make a rational choice in a society that disvalues disability and disabled lives.

So what is dignity? The only dignity you could have is to die? I mean, is that dignified? I don't think that's dignified.

GLENN: What you're saying, Kenny, is going counter culture. I mean, I agree with you. But it's really going counter culture now. And I, as a Libertarian, I don't want to tell you what you have to do. But we are going into a culture that is wanting to make the decisions for people. And -- and based on quality of -- of life.

I -- I don't know where to -- how do we change this? How do we restart this human spark?

KENNY: We look at why we're afraid of difference. And why in this particular -- why are we afraid of disability? Why are we afraid of morality?

GLENN: So why are we? Do you have a thought on it? Why are we?

(laughter)

KENNY: Well, yeah, I have lots of thoughts on it. I think we're afraid because we're all afraid of death. For example, I was once -- I was once on book tour with an anthology called Staring Back, that I edited. And a very, very wonderful writer named Susan (inaudible), who lives in Chicago, was sitting at breakfast, minding her own business, and a woman just came over to her and said, "I'm so glad you're here." And Susan looked at her and said, "What? I'm eating breakfast. What do you mean I'm so glad you're here?"

And the woman said to her, "I'm so glad I'm not you," because she had a disability.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

KENNY: Yeah, and this woman had the need to go over and actually say that to Susan. It wasn't like, you know, she was in conversation with her. Susan was just minding her own business. And it's -- what's the -- I'm Jewish, I'm not Christian. So if I mess up the phrase, as for the grace of God, go I, yeah, if you look, throughout history, disability has been looked at through the religious moral model. Where the disabled person is looked at as either totally good, a saint, or evil, a devil.

And then we move to the medical model, where the only way to deal with disability is to basically kill it or cure it. When if you really look at it as the only way -- disability is really defined by the society that you're in, by the barriers that are put in your way. It's really the society that disables people, not the impairment itself in most cases.

I mean, if you ask anybody, you know, what's more difficult, being disabled or dealing with the barriers put in your way, they're going to say it's the barriers. So that's -- that's the dilemma we're in.

GLENN: Kenny, I hope that we get a chance to speak again. I thank you so much for your time. But I'd love to have you in and -- and to have this continuing conversation with you. It's one I think we desperately need as a society. Thanks.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.