“I’m a racist anthropologist, a bonafide smart scientist, I measure skulls and then calculate, to prove white men are really great. It’s proven fact the stuff I say, in fact there is no other way. My science keeps white men in power, which they’ve enjoyed since the Mayflower.”
-From the song Epidemiologist, Geriatrics Vengeance Club
With COVID, we are fighting a holy war against an intractable foe. My Governor says it all the time: how can we let up our guard, how can we relax, when COVID never will? This was the justification used by so many governors and health department officials to strip us of our rights, to imprison the elderly and to deprive our youth of their education and of their experiences, to force us to wear masks and engage in other absurd rituals of compliance, to deprive people of human contact and of joy. Anything short of total adherence to stomping out this ever-present danger would be akin to committing national suicide.
Here’s a quote from another American leader who uttered similar sentiments almost two hundred years ago when he too faced a grave danger that demanded absolute adherence: “If we do not defend ourselves none will defend us; if we yield we will be more and more pressed as we recede; and if we submit we will be trampled underfoot. I hold concession or compromise to be fatal.” This man, whose biography I just read, employed the same logic, and the same scientific arguments, that the COVID-fanatics are tossing at us every day to justify his total war against an intractable foe. And yet this man is vilified as an extremist, while our modern day versions of him are perceived as heroic and wise figures hell-bent to save us from catastrophe. His name was removed from a hall at Yale University, his statues have been knocked down, his legacy has been linked to hate and intolerance, while our version of him is the darling of the media and the most honored scientific celebrity since Einstein.
And yet, this man sounds and acts just like Fauci! Just like the anchors of CNN. Just like my governor and so many others. Why is he a villain and Fauci is a hero?
Why is anyone a hero or a villain in America? Why is one person’s science more valid than another’s, one person’s reaction to a threat more rational, one person’s behavior more acceptable?
In 40 of the first 48 years of our country’s history, our Presidents owned slaves. Only one of them, George Washington, released his slaves, and he only did that after he died. Others, like Thomas Jefferson, wrote scientific papers attesting to their inferiority, contesting that they do not feel pain when they are split from their children since they are not really human (something he frequently did to his slaves), and treating them like fodder. The two non-slaveholder Presidents in this long stretch—John Adams and his son John Quincy—were fiercely anti-slavery; John Quincy spent much of his post-Presidential life brilliantly fighting against the immorality of our nation’s slavocracy, dying on the floor of Congress where he pitched one of the most courageous battles against oppression our nation ever witnessed. And yet, while every single slave-holding President has a monument in Washington or a plantation that is a major tourist site, the Adams have faded into obscurity. How do we decide which of our Presidents are heroic and which are tossed into the basement of obscurity?
And then there was John Calhoun, the villain to whom I have been referring. We crucify Calhoun not because he did anything worse than these “heroic” slave-holding Presidents, but rather because he defended slavery while they—despite their horrific actions—fecklessly called it a “necessary evil.” John Calhoun believed that any attack on slavery was an attack on America, claiming that the specter of abolitionism was the nation’s most pernicious threat. He was a scholar, a scientist, and a Constitutional expert. Even John Quincy Adams respected him. And if you listen to him speak, you hear echoes of Fauci. That is what is so terrifying!
When Ben’s son in the Geriatrics Vengeance Club explains to his dad that Fauci’s reaction to COVID was necessary and expedient since the threat of COVID is so extreme, Ben doesn’t buy it. “When you knock down the tree of liberty,” he tells his son, “It may well fall on you.” Like Fauci, John Calhoun believed that the extirpation of some liberty was necessary in the face of a life-threatening menace, that Southerners had to do anything and everything to stop the threat, and that science had to be their guide in protecting themselves from the threat. Sound familiar to what our COVID-liberals are saying?
How can that be? Liberals only want to help people. COVID is dangerous, and so our liberals want to protect fellow humans from it, while the slavocracy and its leader, John Calhoun, sought to perpetuate the evil institution of slavery. Masks and quarantines have science behind them, while the slavocracy had only greed and inhumanity to feed it.
And yet, when you listen to Fauci’s logic, and juxtapose it with that of Calhoun’s, there are far more similarities than differences. Let’s look at three prongs of John Calhoun’s plank, and you will see what I am talking about.
The Primacy of Science: In Three Brothers from Virginia, the town’s respected and “brilliant” doctor often brandishes his skull collection. He uses it to prove that the white race is superior to all others; the skulls of whites are far larger than those of blacks, thus proving their superiority. Thomas Jefferson had a similar collection and came to the same conclusion. When Izzy shows the doctor that in fact the book’s two main African-American characters, Paul and Luke, have very large heads, the doctor pushes off that meaningless observation. “Sure, some of them have big heads, but those are the ones most prone to kill us all; their heads are filled with evil and violence.”
To those who cling to science dogmatically as a way to “prove” their biases, facts can’t trump their scientific orthodoxy. They will only believe that which coincides with what they espouse.
John Calhoun advanced similar arguments in justifying slavery, and he was not a crazed anti-science lunatic who turned his back on the learned men of his day. Just the contrary in fact! Calhoun was in concert with his day’s scientific mainstream, and all his arguments flowed from what the most notable scientists declared to be factual.
Craniology, the “science” behind the doctor’s and President Jefferson’s skull collections, was an established and well accepted scientific validation of the superiority of the white race. Its prime spokesman was Dr. Samuel Morton, who was no slouch. He was the president of the Academy of Natural Science, and the founder of the Pennsylvania Medical College, now the University of Pennsylvania. As Calhoun and many from the North would tell you, Morton’s science was as clear as day; black people were inferior, as science demonstrated. How could anyone dispute the conclusions uttered by a genius as exalted as Morton and his many disciples? There was also Louis Agassiz, from Harvard, and also a scientist of such repute that few dared to question him. He, and many others of his Ivy League troupe, believed (and “proved” ) that God had created several different races, and that some were superior to others. From his scientific orthodoxy flowed the truism advanced by Calhoun and many other science-loving Southerners that African-Americans were an inferior race incapable of living independently and in fact were better off as slaves than as free-people, a conclusion also reached by the 1840 census, the first census declared to be scientifically accurate and validated. Sure, people like John Quincy Adams dug holes in that census and in the conclusions of Morton and Agassiz, but he was fighting an uphill battle. Calhoun adhered to science, while Adams and the abolitionists were as anti-scientific as those who dare dispute Fauci today. You simply can’t argue with science, as we hear on CNN every day! Calhoun was in agreement!
Nothing more fuels the necessity of mask mandates and forced quarantines, school and business closings, and the requisite desecration of individual liberty than the need to employ the power of science—science as uttered by Dr. Fauci and many other respected intellectuals from some of the best institutions in the nation—against a vicious foe. To most COVID-liberals these days, science in fact demands such draconian measures. As I discuss in my two books on COVID, facts do not support any of the measures that Fauci and other TV scientists declare to be scientifically validated, but like the doctor in Three Brothers, like Calhoun, and like Morton, science is what the scientists say it is. I mean, who are we to question prominent scientists? In Curing Medicare, I show how our health care system is quite nimble in manipulating the veneer of science to sanctify anything they damn well want us to believe to be true. COVID is merely an extension of what the health care system has tossed at us for decades, a deception draped in a scientific cloak, but one that is credible because of the status of those who trumpet it. Calhoun had Morton, the dictatorial governors and COVID-liberals have Fauci. Truth and humanism can always be crucified on a cross of scientific dogma when we allow science to be warped in this way.
Science is a fickle discipline. Einstein saw through those who pretended to be scientists but who were in reality adherent to simplistic solutions rather than to true scientific integrity. That’s why he left Germany. Many scientists, including those in Calhoun’s day, offered theories of race that were hardly fringe; they were the accepted dogma of the day. Even many who fought slavery accepted the validity of racial science. The lyrics of my song Epidemiologist at the top of this blog give us a glimpse of what the racial scientists preached as established fact; in the song, I show that many “scientists” throughout history, much like the COVID scientists today, twist reality to buttress their world view, unwilling to allow facts to get in the way of their scientific gospel. That was science in the Calhoun era, as it is too in the era of Fauci. What they say is declarative and unassailable, even it if it dangerous and false.
Remember, mainstream American science justified sterilization of the handicapped; immigration restrictions placed upon "inferior" races like Chinese, Jews, and Italians; laws to prevent blacks and whites from marrying; and even Hitler’s racial theories. When today’s COVID liberals insist that everything that Fauci and his gang say must be true because these prominent experts adhere to indisputable science, they are playing the same game that Calhoun did; they are relying on fictitious science, not on anything proven or validated. Calhoun justified slavery and planted the seeds of the Civil War by adhering to the science of his day and declaring it to be irrefutable; the Fauci liberals use similar scientific jargon to justify slaughtering and maiming millions of people, locking up the world, and creating swarms of masked zombies who are told that they must comply or everyone will die. This is not science. This is dogma. And it’s a lethal dagger if we so compliantly accept it.
The need for Censorship when we are hit by a dire threat: In Three Brothers, the Doctor and his southern compatriots demand that no abolitionist ideas or writings be allowed to penetrate the South. If anyone dares to utter a word that demeans slavery or advances the cause of abolition, they are censored or even worse. John Calhoun even wanted petitions by abolitionists banned from being read in Congress; John Quincy fought for the right of free speech, but he lost; the gag law ruled the roost, and free speech fell prey to Calhoun’s insistence that any words spoken against slavery posed a grave menace to all Southerners, since the threat of a slave rebellion, and the threat of the South’s economic engine and Constitutional right to its “property” being stripped from slave holders, periled its very existence. Thus, Calhoun latched his demand for censorship on the need to stop a threat.
COVID liberals have had no qualms about suppressing free speech, demanding strict compliance to the rituals of qmasks and quarantines, truncating the right of assembly and of travel, closing down businesses and schools, and punishing those who dare question the science of Fauci. Much as Calhoun preached, the rights of those who doubt the gravity of what we face must be truncated in the wake of so perilous a threat! Many liberals, including those on cable TV news, sought to suppress the speech of President Trump because he dared offer another path that verged from the gospel of Fauci; the very idea of shutting him up was more crucial than preserving his right of free speech. I’m no fan of Donald Trump, but isn’t he allowed to speak his mind? Calhoun would be giving the CNN and MSNBC crew a big high five!
When we cut down the tree of liberty, when we dare advocate censorship and the abrogation of people’s rights because we deem it to be necessary, then we are no different than Calhoun and the slaveholders, and of so many other autocratic leaders throughout history who used the specter of fear to strip away humanity and democracy. Men like Fauci, and Governor Newsome, and so many vicious cable news anchors, do not even buckle at the ramifications of their actions. That people’s lives are being destroyed and lost as a consequence of their all-out war, that the very vestiges of our democracy and happiness are being desecrated in the wake of what they deem to be necessary for our very survival, that anyone who dares to dispute the necessity or even the effectiveness of what they do is marginalized and silenced; none of this is of any concern to them. Like Calhoun, there is never too high a price to pay for the neutralization of a threat.
In Geriatrics Vengeance Club, Julie tells Ben that history is like a symphony, with discordant cords and beautiful melodies flowing through time over and over again. The atonal discordance that we are extolling today is no different than what he have abhorred in the past. Only now, we think it’s necessary and justified; we are telling ourselves that it is melodic.
We can always magnify anything into humanity’s greatest menace, and then use that to expunge all that we as humans hold dear. Fauci and Calhoun are no different in that way. Life and liberty means nothing to either of them; it’s all about the threat.
State’s Rights: Let’s face it. COVID liberals are perfectly fine with governors confronting COVID with the most draconian measures possible because our prior President was not up to the task. God knows, California became more repressive this past year than many nations we consider tyrannical, and the liberals are fine with that. You have to do what you have to do when you’re faced with a threat of this magnitude, even if everything you do flies in the face of what we thought the Constitution guaranteed!
Calhoun couldn’t have agreed more! He believed that the nation was a compact of states, and that states had a right to do what was necessary to protect those who lived within them, especially when the central government did not protect those who were being persecuted. You see, that logic can take us down a very dangerous road. To Calhoun, slaves weren’t persecuted; slavery was protected by the Constitution and was necessary for the good of the nation. Rather, slave holders were being persecuted, being threatened by abolitionists and by Northern politicians, and thus it was up to each state to protect its people against this threat, since the central government was too soft. Much as Trump refused to protect people from, or even to acknowledge the extent of, the threat, so too did Governors like mine, and Newsome, and Cuomo, and so many others feel it necessary to take matters into their own hands. When the national government does not act appropriately to quell a threat, then states have a right to do it on their own. Calhoun would be so pleased! Finally, his Constitutional arguments have taken root! And by liberals no less!
Yes, John Calhoun and Anthony Fauci would agree on a great deal. Dogmatic science, censorship, states’ rights; it’s all being used by today’s Fauci-adoring COVID liberals to enable the dismantling of our liberties just as it was used by John Calhoun to justify the perpetration of slavery and the planting of the seeds of what would become the Civil War. When I still see signs up everywhere insisting that masks save lives (they don’t) and that six-feet is the distance at which you are safe (please!), when I hear liberal commentators disparage (and even call them mass murderers) anyone who dares suggest that people have the right to make their own decisions about whether to assemble or travel or wear a mask, when I see how quickly liberals advocate censorship and the silencing of anyone who disagrees with the narrative they have created, when I see several states turned into Faucist dictatorships in which the central executive has more power than a warlord, and when I see science fall prey to dogmatic gospel that is not allowed to be challenged, I can hear Julie’s discordant cords of history slamming back to us. But somehow, despite the horrid consequences of the quarantine, the suppression of rights, and the emaskulization of science, Liberals just don't care.
Today’s liberals tore down Calhoun’s statues even as they borrowed his playbook. In doing so, they put the world in peril, put democracy and the lives of our citizens in peril, all to snuff out something that they likely don’t even understand. In fact, like Calhoun, they have metastasized the threat of COVID to such an extent that it has taken on a life of its own; there may be no way to stop the fear that they unleashed. There are variants you know. Someone may be dying somewhere of COVID, even maybe someone immunized, God Forbid, and that proves that the treat has not receded. To Calhoun, keeping human beings in bondage was necessary and even beneficial, and threatening disunion was just as crucial, because the threat was so immense as to demand a severe reaction. And to Fauci, the millions of deaths and destroyed lives from his myopic fight against COVID, the sea of masked zombies who blindly follow his words and are pleased to uproot our democracy and desecrate the sanctity of science for the sake of the battle, this will be his legacy that future generations will have to grapple with.
I only hope that if we do put up statues to Fauci and his band of sycophantic enablers, that one day we’ll look back and see just how dangerous they were, and that instead of merely pulling them down, we’ll use the statues to teach us that nothing can ever justify the greatest threat of all: that of our assailing our democracy, our liberty, our lives. Calhoun’s legacy has been paved by the very people who vault up Fauci. Hopefully, soon, their statues can crumble together on the floor of our nation’s democratic perseverance.