Today’s Quora post:
What are your thoughts on Dr. Fauci telling reporters that America might still be battling smallpox and polio if today’s kind of misinformation existed back then?
Right on! But possibly he doesn’t go quite far enough. Not only were we not subjected to misinformation at the time the polio vaccine came available, neither did we have a President who deliberately and maliciously spread error and lies to advance his personal cause.
I grew up in the Middle East during the 1950s, in a Saudi-American oil camp. Polio was a terrifying scourge there, as it was in Europe and the Americas. If you didn’t die from it, you were likely to be crippled for the rest of your life. But polio was only one of the threats. We also had smallpox, typhus, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, cholera, typhoid…on and on. Where I lived, Americans had to take shots for each of these horrors once a year. Some of the shots were pretty darned painful — cholera and typhoid in particular.
Have you ever seen a person who has, by the grace of God, managed to survive smallpox? I have. He was a young man, possibly even still in his late teens. His face was so horrible it turned your stomach to look at him. Ravaged, like the skin had been burned off in a fire, but the scars were even worse than burn scars. He might have been better off to have died from the disease.
How about a person who has survived polio? Some of those folks were in the iron lung for the rest of their permanently limited lives, never able to breathe on their own again. Some escaped paralysis of the muscles that operate the lungs but never could walk normally again, or use their hands and arms normally. And polio, you know, comes back on you, even if you do recover from the initial onset. One of the best doctors I ever knew had to quit his practice and retire when a case of childhood polio flared up in middle age, after years of remission. The rest of his life was ruined.
A thousand curses upon a “president” and party who would deliberately spread the kind of lies, stupidity, and error that Mr. Trump and his worshipers have done. Their behavior has been nothing short of treasonous and murderous, exploiting the suffering, fear, and death of their fellow citizens in order to keep themselves in power.
And may we lay a thousand curses, too, upon those who have brought us an educational system that has failed to teach our citizens the most basic science. How can a grown man or woman have graduated from high school without any grasp of the simplest concepts of elementary biology? The uproar we’ve seen in this country is as much the result of pi$$-poor public education as it is of fear, of fundamentalist nuttiness, and political malfeasance. We have had a good fifty years of educational theory that puts social goals ahead of learning. Result: a citizenry that will believe any da*n-fool lie a demagogue tells them and who haven’t the simplest clue to the facts of history, science, or common sense.
Frankly, folks…as the leader of the Free World, we have dropped the ball.