Fear moves us faster than anything else. Mothers lift 4,000 pound cars off their babies as if they were made of paper. We jump out of the way of an oncoming car as if we were grasshoppers. We run for the last cab as if we were Olympians. Now, also in record time--and in the true spirit of viral fear--the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill that would for the first time in American history effectively end our right to choose our health care.
Bill 2028 will endow two individuals, the governor and the health commissioner, with absolute authority in the event of a health "crisis" or "emergency." According to the video report on youtube.com (click here
What has been happening in Mexico besides panic? People die of acute disease every year. In fact, there was less fatality last year than others. Why the hysteria now? If nothing has changed in Mexico, then something has changed in America, starting in Massachusetts.
A History of Hysteria
Hysteria has a long history in America. This isn't the first time we've seen internments, detentions or "quarantines" in the form of blacklists. First it was the Germans, then it was the Japanese, then it was the Russians and communists, then the hippies, after that the terrorists--whoever and wherever they were.
This time, though, the enemy is us. Or rather, it's germs that may be IN us. We've declared a war on the common cold and its cousin the flu. It is the first time America has turned the gun around and locked in on itself for no reason other than the possibility that some of us may get sick. This is Viral Fear
in its truest form.
Our point, here today, is not whether the vaccine is necessary or even effective (1).The question is who gets to say whether we take it.
The most famous example of American hysteria was our internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the rumors of Japanese-American saboteurs pressured the Roosevelt administration to sign Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, which forced all Japanese-Americans to evacuate the West Coast. No comparable order applied to German-Americans or Italian-Americans on the East Coast despite the fact that we were engaged in a brutal war with both Germany and Italy.
The 1950's saw a similar, but less physical assault on civil liberties in the person of Joe McCarthy, who called on writers, actors, politicians, and academics to conform and give up their colleagues, their convictions, and their constitutional rights in exchange for a good meal and the avoidance of a prison sentence. Some did. Some didn't. I don't judge either. It was a hard time and they were forced with incredibly hard decisions. Do you starve or speak up?
Alas, the time is coming again when we are being forced to choose again.
Do We Vaccinate or Hibernate? H1N1 and Viral Fear.
This is one of those rare times in which people from a broad spectrum of politics agree. Although--as usual--the left accuses the right and the right accuses the left for situation we are in, both sides are in agreement. If we lose the Bill of Rights, we lose everything. Including our right to go on blaming each other.
Starting with the Act of August 29, 1916, continuing with the National Security Act of 1947 and the 1950 Defense Production Act, the grasp of the government has grown like a tumor. The more technologically sophisticated, the more insidious it's gotten as the Patriot Act attests.
Viral Fear is a powerful weapon. It has been used from the first tribal turf war. Make the threat as despicable, as terrifying, as evil as possible. Then make the fear as all-consuming as possible. Whip the population into a frenzy until they give the tribal leaders absolute authority.
Our Constitution protects us only so much. It seems solid, it is supposed to guarantee our rights, but the truth is that we have to fight for those rights over and over and over again. They are not absolute. They are only as protective as we insist they be. And they were not "given" to us. We took them. We insisted on them. And we treasured them. The right to free speech, to free choice (of health care, of political opinion), to dissension does not come cheap.
Choice is the core of the American system. Because in order to continue speaking freely, in order to continue voting for our own candidates, in order to decide whether or not we will take a medicine or a submit to a vaccination or not, we have to choose. Constantly. Like breathing, it is something we must do every day.
We are always being offered a sweet deal in exchange for our freedom. In the 50's, McCarthy held the blacklisted writers' high-paying jobs in one hand and in the other held prison and poverty. Today, the offer stands: We can keep our jobs, be safe from disease, earn the good will of our neighbors, be like everyone else, continue shopping at Wal-Mart, if we just take this teeny weensy little injection.
We are being told: "Yield up your principles and you will be safe."
Our freedom of choice sold for a coupon"Is that what we have come to? Will we continue to sacrifice our ability to communicate without surveillance for empty sacks they assure us will make us feel safe forever? Sadly, very few are willing to test either their own characters to find out. Even fewer are will to stand up to the snake-oil salesmen to see if anything they are saying is true. As it turns out, if you give people enough comfort or the illusion of security, the purveyors of false promises don't have to take our freedom away. We give it to them.
1)(For more information on this topic, please go to click here