Mothers slam Amazon for "Let's Make Down Syndrome Extinct" t-shirt

Angry mothers accuse Amazon of promoting ‘modern Eugenics’ and ‘hate crime’ for selling ‘Let’s Make Down’s Syndrome Extinct’ t-shirt

  • Rachel Mewes from New Hartley, Northumberland, shocked to discover t-shirt
  • Her friend Caroline Wylde, 36,  from Chester, Cheshire, was equally outraged  
  • The items, sold by Amazon themselves read ‘let’s make Down Syndrome extinct’ 
  • Devastated parents have slammed the online giant for the ‘horrific’ clothing  

Two devastated mothers have accused of Amazon of ‘promoting hate crime’ by selling t-shirts with the slogan ‘Let’s Make Down Syndrome Extinct’ – comparing it to ‘modern eugenics’.

Full-time carer Rachel Mewes, 37, from Cheshire, and her friend Caroline Wylde, 36, from Northumberland both have two-year-olds with the congenital disorder and claim Amazon’s t-shirts ‘dehumanise’ their children. 

Public sector worker Caroline was alerted to the product by a concerned friend on Wednesday and was left in tears after seeing it live on Amazon’s website – fearing how it would leave those with the condition feeling. 

After several parents including Rachel and Caroline slammed Amazon t-shirts claiming their ‘dehumanised’ their children, the online retailer removed the shirts from their website on Wednesday 4 March. 

Mailonline has contacted Amazon, but the retailer has declined to comment. 

UK Parents have slammed Amazon for selling t-shirt with slogans reading ‘Let’s Make Down Symdrome Exticnt’

Full time carer Rachel Mewes, 37, from Northumberland, with her two-year-old daughter Betsy

Caroline, from Chester, Cheshire, said: ‘There’s some really horrible people out there – there really is – but to see Amazon do that, especially with Down’s Syndrome Day coming up, it’s like it was put there on purpose.

‘It has brought so much hurt. Is this not classed as a hate crime?

‘If we had put that up about an entire race, it would be classed as racism and hate speech. It’s really awful. It’s just really sad.

‘Someone sent [the link] to me because they knew I’d go mad.

On Twitter, outraged parents demanded Amazon remove the advert for the offensive pieces of clothing 

‘I thought “Could somebody have just put it out there and it’s not for sale?”. I couldn’t believe it at first.

‘But I typed in the slogan on the t-shirt into Amazon and it came up. It was there straight away in every single size.

‘It’s sick. I feel so bad with these people out there. It’s really hard to see stuff like that.’

Furious at what she had found, Caroline then contacted Amazon to flag the ‘upsetting’ product.

Rachel, pictured with her partner Marc Curtis and their daughter Betsy. Rachel said she was in ‘disbelief’ after seeing the ‘dehumanising’ clothing 

Caroline claims when she checked it again the next day it had been taken down – without the company even acknowledging they had it online in the first place.

After alerting Rachel, a campaigner, the pair shared it with other parents to warn them.

Caroline said: ‘This was actually sold by Amazon themselves. I looked thinking it must be a third-party seller who hadn’t been checked properly, but no, it was Amazon.

‘It’s just as bad as saying “Let’s make all of one race extinct”, or “Let’s make all gay people extinct”. It’s so upsetting.

Rachel said she believed the t-shirts were discriminatory and ‘verged on promoting a hate crime’

Betsy’s mother added the t-shirt could have been particularly devastating to a parent of a newborn child with Down Syndrome 

Rachel and Caroline alerted other parents online by sharing the Amazon link featuring the t-shirt 

‘My little boy has Down’s Syndrome so obviously that’s going to make me more upset, but if I saw it and didn’t have him, I’d still think it was disgusting.

‘It’s quite worrying. It’s like modern eugenics.

‘I was so angry and wondered what I could do about it. I sent it to one of my friends, Rachel, who’s an active campaigner and she posted about it.’

Rachel, whose two-year-old daughter Betsy also has Down’s syndrome, was ‘in disbelief’ when her friend show her the ‘dehumanising’ product.

As Down’s Syndrome Day approaches later this month, both mothers feared people looking for clothing to mark the day would be faced with hatred instead.

Betsy, aged two. Rachel said Amazon had shown a ‘lack of tolerance, inclusion and acceptance’

Rachel said: ‘I was in disbelief when Caroline showed me this.

‘It was quite a shock. With Down’s Syndrome Day coming up, there’ll be a lot of people searching for products to wear on the day.

‘I’m two years down the line so I’m angry, but I can’t imagine how horrific that would be if you’d just come home with your little baby.

‘Amazon UK selling and promoting this product is dehumanising for anyone with Down’s syndrome. It’s discrimination and it’s verging on promoting hate crime.

 Betsy Curtis, two, whose mother Rachel tweeted Amazon in disgust over the ‘dehumanising’ t-shirt, which has now been removed from the site 

Amazon confirmed that the product is no longer available however did not comment further 

‘It’s very, very ignorant and shows a lack of tolerance, inclusion and acceptance.

‘I dread to think how many people have actually looked at it and bought it. It shouldn’t even exist.

‘If you’ve got Down’s syndrome and see a product like that saying they want to make your condition extinct – that’s very frightening.’

Amazon confirmed that the product is no longer available, but did not comment further.

What is eugenics?

Eugenics is the belief that society can be improved by encouraging selective breeding.

Before the atrocities of Nazi Germany, eugenics – the system of measuring human traits, seeking out the desirable ones and cutting out the undesirable ones – was once practiced the world over. 

In the decades following the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’, the interest in eugenics spread through Britain, the United States and Europe.

Darwin’s theory of evolution created a new interest in genetics and heredity, which fuelled the eugenics movement, with many proponents using his work as scientific justification for eugenics. 

In the late 19th century, advocates claimed that wealthier and more sucessful members of society were being ‘outbred’ by the lower classes and the ‘unfit’, and that the human race was at risk of deterioration. 

Improvements in medicine as well as charity and centralised governments were blamed for ‘interfering’ with the process of natural selection, as theorised by Darwin, and promoting the survival of the supposed unfit.  

Advocates of eugenics during the early twentieth century claimed ‘undesirable’ genetic traits such as dwarfism, deafness and even minor defects like a cleft palate needed to be wiped out of the gene pool. 

Scientists would measure the human skulls of felons in an effort to eradicate criminality – whilst other eugenic proponents suggested simply cutting out entire groups of people because of the colour of their skin. 

In 1907, the eugenics Education Society was founded in Britain to campaign for sterilisation and marriage restrictions for the weak to prevent the degeneration of Britain’s population.

Meanwhile from 1907 in the United States, men, women and children who were deemed ‘insane, idiotic, imbecile, feebleminded or epileptic’ were forcibly sterilised, often without being informed of what was being done to them. 

Hitler believed the nation had become weak, corrupted by dysgenics, the infusion of degenerate elements into its bloodstream.

In 1931, Labour MP Archibald Church proposed a bill for the compulsory sterilisation of certain categories of ‘mental patient’ in Parliament.

By 1938, 33 American states permitted the forced sterilisation of women with learning disabilities and 29 American states had passed compulsory sterilisation laws covering people who were thought to have genetic conditions. 

Adolf Hitler was said to have first studied the ‘racial hygiene’ movement during his imprisonment in Landsberg Prison in 1924.  

But when it came to enacting Nazi eugenics policy, he was inspired by the United States’ programs of forced sterilisation, especially California’s compulsary sterilisation of citizens suffering from genetic disorders.

After the Nuremberg Laws were passed in 1935, both marriage partners had to be tested for hereditary diseases to preserve the supposed racial purity of the Aryan race. 

The Nazis also established a euthanasia programme for those deemed disabled, run from Hartheim Euthanasia Centre. 

Victims were initially gassed in buses used to transport them from their homes, but gas chambers were later developed. 

A Genetic Health Court was also set up to decide if men and women should be sterilised, on the grounds of diseases including ‘feeble-mindedness’, schizophrenia, manic depression, epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, genetic blindness, and ‘severe alcoholism’.

It’s estimated that 350,000 to 400,000 people were sterilised in Nazi Germany. 

After the horrors of World War II, the idea of ‘racial hygiene’ fell out of favour, although prominent figures continued to support the theories of eugenics, including Marie Stopes. 

As medical technology advanced, a new form of eugenics has grown in popularity. 

Modern eugenics, known as human genetic engineering, sees the alteration of genes to prevent disease, cure disease or improve your body in some significant way.   

The benefits of the principle are staggering, as devastating illnesses could potentially be cured.

However, there is a potential cost in modern genetic engineering, because people could potentially eliminate what they consider ‘undesirable’ traits in their children before they’re even born.

Many consider this idea controversial, because what these ‘undesirable’ traits is left open to interpretation. 

Prenatal screening could be considered by some as a form of eugenics, as it may lead to abortions of children with certain traits. 

And earlier this year, a Chinese scientist called He Jiankui caused global controversy by altering the embryos of twins to make them immune to HIV. 

He used the powerful gene-editing procedure CRISPR to modify the DNA of unborn twin girls, nicknamed ‘Lulu’ and ‘Nana’. 

In March of this year, a group of international scientists called for a worldwide ban on editing genes to make ‘designer babies’. 

Researchers asked for a ban on editing the DNA of living humans because they say there’s a need to slow down the ‘most adventurous plans to re-engineer the human species’.  

Gene-editing is a process in which scientists can add, remove or change sections of DNA which ultimately affect how an organism is formed.

In humans, editing them could one day mean manipulating DNA to instruct the body to produce a certain hair or eye colour, or changing those which cause incurable conditions like cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy.  

Scientists have argued the technology would ‘open the door’ for affluent parents to choose the best qualities and create a new form of genetically modified human.  

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