Euthanasia is a nightmare in a nation which sees us as an unfair burden

Recent headlines in a major metropolitan newspaper inviting comparisons between people with disability and the nation's war wounded should give pause to disability rights advocates that still support euthanasia. To invoke Hitler is said to be last desperate act on the losing side of an argument yet it becomes impossible to ignore the historical resonance between slackers and useless eaters when deliberately placed aside veterans and war.They make it impossible for responsible disability activists to eschew links between the debate about euthanasia and its true historical pedigree as a State utilitarian program designed to cleanse a softened modern era of its slackers.

According to a Daily Telegraph editorial on 22 May 2014 "The number of disability claimants in NSW alone is already greater than the number of Australian servicemen and women who have been injured fighting in wars for their nation since the late 1880s.


Right there we see a remarkable divide between the values Australia once swore by and the increasingly dependent and reliant values of the present era."

The editorial also calculates that within fewer than 20 weeks there would be enough new DSP applicants to fill the Sydney Cricket Ground to capacity and in less than a year, new applicants would be so numerous that they'd beat the AFL crowd record at Australia's biggest sports venue, the MCG.

In 1930's Germany they were counting the divide in Reichmarks not numbers in a football stadium, but the takeout messages are simple, striking and similar. These people are a burgeoning cost and a nuisance borne of modern indulgence, do something now or our nation will be overrun carrying them.

EuthanasiePropaganda-1This poster (from around 1938) reads: "60,000 Reichsmark is what this person suffering from a hereditary defect costs the People's community during his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money too".

Not convinced? Contrasting the value of disability and diggers in the years following World War One was a potent formative argument in Germany along the road to Action T4. T4 was the German "euthanasia programme" during which physicians killed around 70,000 people who were "judged incurably sick and eligible for a 'mercy death", by critical medical examination.

The German program was forged in the shadow of fallen veterans and war. The American author and psychiatrist Robert Lifton noted that: "The argument went that the best young men died in war, causing a loss to the Volk of the best available genes. The genes of those who did not fight (the worst genes) then proliferated freely, accelerating biological and cultural degeneration". The government, the eugenicists argued, must intervene to prevent this.

By contrast, nothing could be cast further from the actual values of the young diggers who fell for Australia. Aussie diggers fought and died determined to forge a kinder, gentler era. They battled for nascent Australian values in two world wars against a foreign world view that owes more to Sparta via Prussia; where "defectives" were exposed on a hill by modern methods. To them we owe the continuing duty of safeguarding a fair, egalitarian land fit for heroes to live in.

While it would be a nonsensical stretch to suggest that this is a conscious intention of the Sydney Daily Telegraph or those advocating euthanasia, comparing the values of our diggers to the idea of a softer and more dependent post war generation filled with a burgeoning army of disabled wasters does represent a dark and perverse turn in our public conversation about disability.
The current debates about slackers, slouch hats, lifters and leaners are an alarm bell sounded at clarion volume about the dangers of State sanctioned euthanasia sown into a toxic environment.

They should startle euthanasia campaigners who cling to the idea that we have entered a new era where the old conversations don't matter. Sadly they matter more than ever.