Who’s sorry now? 

Sometimes it seems politicians would rather suffer a root canal than utter the words, “We’re sorry.”

Take, for example, fearless leader George Bush, who on a recent trip to Africa made the bold move of condemning slavery but stopped short of actually apologizing for this nation’s slave-holding history.

Now it’s Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s turn to choke on the “A” word.

In the past year, governors from Virginia, California, South Carolina, North Carolina and Oregon have publicly apologized for their states’ past practice of sterilizing so-called “feeble-minded” people, sexual deviants and others deemed unfit to procreate.

Michigan, which ranks fourth among the 30 or so states that performed forced sterilizations, subjected more than 3,700 people to this practice from about 1910 through the 1960s, according to Alexandra Minna Stern, associate director of the Center for the History of Medicine and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan.

Stern says that the forced sterilization or “eugenics” movement grew in the first half of the 20th century in Michigan. The state Legislature passed a sterilization law in 1913, only to see it declared unconstitutional five years later. A more carefully crafted statute enacted in 1923 resulted in sterilizations being performed at state institutions and prisons, including the University of Michigan Hospital.

Stern believes that Granholm should offer atonement. Acknowledging past medical abuses, she contends, helps prevent future ones.

“It also can provide a space of healing and reconciliation for those who were victimized by sterilization,” says Stern, who hopes that a public apology will encourage victims to come forward. Most eugenics research relies on historical documents, “but we don’t have much of a human face,” she says.

According to Granholm’s press secretary Liz Boyd, “This is not something that the governor has contemplated at this time.”

Give it some thought, Gov. We’ll call you back — soon.

Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Most Popular

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 22, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation