The Scourge of Public Health
“[T]he USPHS [US Public Health Services] argued that their participants wouldn’t seek penicillin or stick to the prescribed treatment plans. They claimed that their participants, all black men, were too ‘stoic’ to visit a doctor. In truth these men thought they were already being treated, so why would they seek out further treatment?... There was mass public outrage, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People launched a class action lawsuit against the USPHS. It settled the suit two years later for 10 million dollars and agreed to pay the medical treatments of all surviving participants and infected family members, the last of whom died in 2009.”
-McGill Office for Science and Society about the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.
With the (? temporary) end of a mask mandate that was as scientific as witch burnings, we must look through open eyes at the people and institutions responsible for sending us down a road of myth, fear-mongering, and ultimately self-destruction. The CDC and Dr. Fauci spit out ritualistic gobbly-gook draped in the faux cloth of science, doctors and scientists (without a shred of critical thinking or scientific acumen) promised that these measures were necessary and lifesaving, a compliant media spit out these proclamations as scientific fact and condemned everyone who questioned them as spreaders of “dangerous misinformation,” and much of the liberal community (with a few exceptions like me) swallowed the whole stew of nonsense and then proselytized it, adhering to the rituals with a religious devotion and shaming those who did not. In the media and in the public imagination, public health officials and doctors are the real heroes of COVID. Through their vigilant measures, we as a nation did the best we could, and were it not for the anti-science foes in our country, we would have done much better.
And yet, when observed rationally, such praise and compliant obedience is a dangerous dance that led to horrific consequences. In fact, public health officials tossed science aside and adapted ritualistic behaviors that they forced upon doctors and human beings despite their being antithetical to the rational common-sense policies for which many of us advocated. Those of us who spoke up often had our medical licenses threatened, were told to shut up, were told to just follow orders. And as we did what they said, our vulnerable patients died and suffered, and all of society fell into the pit of hell. In the course of their carnage, USPHS officials and doctors likely slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed the lives of tens of millions more during the two years of COIVD. Nothing they preached and enforced carried any medical or scientific legitimacy; it was all snake oil draped in a veil of humanistic language. Those of us who tried to understand the delicate balance between harm and benefit derived from quarantines, universal masking, school closures, vaccinations of the young, and societal shutdowns were suppressed by the power of public health leaders, who claimed that their one and only truth must be followed without question lest everyone die.
As a doctor on the front line, as a historian and a citizen of this nation, I must ask: who gave these people such authoritative control over our lives, over our nation, over a disease that they were utterly incapable of understanding? We on the front lines were at their mercy. We were told over and over that masks work, even as our patients and most of our staff were infected through masks. We were told that deaths from isolation and lockdowns, especially in frail elders, were not of concern, only COVID cases counted, that all else—the joy and interaction that makes life worth living—must be turned off if even a single COVID case was detected. We were told that quarantines were necessary, even though they were clearly ineffective and were causing our patients to suffer and decline. We were told that everyone must be vaccinated, even the young whose risk of the vaccine far exceeded any benefit derived. We were told to stay six feet apart, to wash our hands for twenty seconds, to mask-up everywhere and anywhere, even though science clearly shows those measures to be utterly futile against a virus that passes through masks and doesn’t live on surfaces like hands.
And yet, because public health “experts” stated that these bits of nonsense were “science,” because the nation’s vocal medical community implored everyone to be compliant with their gospel, because the media spit out these lies and called them facts, and because our leaders forced us to follow these absurd commandments and suppressed anyone who did not, we became not a land of science, of humanism, of liberty, but rather we dropped into the pit of religious fanaticism, a pit of public health destruction.
For over two years public health doctors and officials—who controlled our lives, who controlled the narrative, who were treated like seers and saints in the media—refused to look reality in the eye, refused to change course, refused to listen to those of us who offered better solutions, refused to care one bit about the suffering they caused, refused to accept fault for leading our nation to the highest rate of COVID death in the world and the highest rate of excess non-COVID deaths. Under their watch our average life span dropped by almost five years, not because of COVID (which, as I have described before, killed mostly the elderly and thus didn’t reduce life expectancy) but from deaths in the young who died not from COVID but from public health policies that killed and maimed innocent victims as they fecklessly attempted to stop COVID in people not vulnerable to the virus.
And so I ask again, why do public health officials still exert influence over us, why are they not called out for the horror they instigated upon our land, why do people still listen to them, still wear masks, still insist that young people should be vaccinated, still consent to closing schools and businesses and life?
For some reason, public health resonates as a benign and scientific instrument of government intervention, but as COVID has shown, and as their sordid history demonstrates, public health in this country has almost always been on the wrong side of science and the wrong side of humanism.
We must remember that it was the US Public Health Service—similar well-meaning scientists as those who are directing our COVID nightmare—who deceived African Americans in Tuskegee Alabama into joining a study whereby doctors could observe the long-term consequences of untreated syphilis. Yes, they studied people with syphilis, all of whom were black and at the mercy of these doctors and offered them no treatment so they could learn how syphilis progresses. This study, whose perfidy was finally revealed decades after it was initiated and which was considered necessary and scientific by countless doctors and scientific agencies, led to large numbers of deaths all in the name of science, deaths that were preventable, deaths that occurred in people who trusted public health. No wonder the African American community today has so little trust in getting vaccinated. And yet, so many blacks wear masks and follow the other rules of public health, thinking that somehow it will help them. Why?
Let it be known that the adverse consequences of two years of shutdowns and school closures have taken their tool largely on minority communities and on the poor. Rich people worked from home; some said to me that they were living the dream. The income gap widened more than ever, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Education in minority communities imploded, and more people in those communities lost their jobs, lapsed into depression, reverted to drugs, killed themselves than in any other community. Despite that, all the public health measures to protect minorities from COVID failed just as miserably; all the masks and closures and distancing didn’t work, and poor Americans died faster than any other group aside from the elderly, who too were told to mask up and shut up as they suffered and died both from COVID and from the suffocating quarantine that tore their lives to shreds.
And yet, minorities still listen to public health officials, they still wear masks, some say that school closures and society shutdowns are necessary. How can that be? How does public health hold such sway over this group that its misleading and deleterious dictates continue to be considered valid even by the very people most injured by their actions?
Tuskegee is merely the most flagrant offense committed by public health in this nation; it’s hardly the first or the last, and likely not even the worst. Throughout our history, public health almost universally stood on the side of racism, of eugenic ethnic cleansing, of myth and hate and rarely on the side of science and humanism. The public health department in this nation was among the last group to accept the germ theory of disease progression, one of the last to propose vaccinations, one of the last to seek better housing conditions and sanitary conditions for minorities and the poor.
Just the opposite, in fact. Throughout its history, public health officials helped to justify actions by the most racist and reactionary members of society and ascribe disease transmission not to poor sanitation, poor housing, inadequate medical care, but rather to the “inferior” people in our land who spread disease to the “superior” people. They blamed disease on immigrants. On Mexicans, Chinese, Jews, Filipinos. On blacks. Their “scientific expertise” enabled racists and eugenicists and nativists to claim that measures to restrict immigration, to ghettoize minority communities, to subject minorities to disinfection campaigns and experimental treatments, all of that was necessary and scientific because public health officials claimed it to be necessary and scientific. Their actions led to brutal treatment of the minority poor, to stigmatization and bigoted ideas that live with us even today, to countless preventable deaths, to a viable excuse used by politicians who isolated and suppressed the poor instead of actually helping them. “Isolating Mexicans is scientifically necessary and sound, which is what our public health experts tell us,” racists were able to proclaim in the 1930’s and beyond.
The history of public health is a dark one. Its willingness to translate vile acts into scientific truths should alone condemn it to the dungeon of history. Its anti-science practices, its reliance on myth and superstition and ritual, its unwillingness to entertain other views that might contradict its unassailable edicts, should alone convince any thinking person to disregard everything it claims to be true.
But what they have done in COVID is even worse than that. By pushing a narrative clearly ineffective, by deceiving the nation into believing that these “experts” rely on science and care about human beings, our public health agencies and leaders prevented us from adapting measures that would have saved lives. We could have protected the elderly without condemning them to two years of lethal imprisonment, we could have realized that masks don’t work and that we need a more sensible approach (like rapid daily testing of high risk populations), we could have accepted that vaccines have not been fully studied and at best they only work for at-risk people and that it’s medically negligent and even criminal to give them to our youth, we should have learned through copious studies that school and society shut downs don’t help curb COVID but inflict unmeasurable damage to the poor and young, we could have tried other approaches out and opened our eyes to the reality of our failed policies.
But we didn’t. We continue to listen to public health officials. We continue to believe that they care about people, even as they willingly turn their eyes away from suffering and focus only on cases of COVID. We keep wearing masks, marking us as victims of one of the greatest and deadliest scams in scientific history. Why? Are we so blind, so gullible, so imbued with the aura of public health as a benign institution? Why is no one talking about what they have done and continue to do to us? They are the scourge of science, the scourge of humanity, the instrument of harm not of succor.
The mask mandate might be temporarily shelved, but masks still live on as a symbol of all that is wrong with public health, and as long as public health continues to be seen through glassy eyes, we as a nation and as a world will remain in this preventable hell for a very long time. It's time we call them out and shut them down. Shut down the CDC, Anthony Fauci, the TV doctors who fart out lies and accusations that feed their egos and wallets but harm humans. It’s time we replace all these scoundrels with front line doctors and nurses, with those of us who have seen the horror firsthand, who understand the consequences of a pandemic of deception and ritual that has robbed our nation of its very life.
It’s time we take back control of this nation and start to live again in a scientific and humanistic way, a way that is the very antithesis of the plate of deceptive harm that public health has served us for far too long.