Thursday, June 19, 2008
THEY KNOW BETTER THAN YOU DO
THIS IS TYPICAL.
THIS IS RACIST--TO ASSUME THAT WHITE DOCTORS SIMPLY WANTED TO KILL BLACK GIRLS!
SO MICHELLE OBAMA--WHO IS SMARTER THAN YOU ARE, AND EARNS WAY MORE THAN YOU DO, INTERFERED WITH A POSSIBLE LIFE SAVING MEASURE, JUST SO SHE COULD SAY: "I DIDN"T LET WHITEY DO THAT"!
Mrs. Obama and the Tuskegee Superstition
By JAMES TARANTO
June 19, 2008
In February 2007, we noted a rare instance of agreement between this column and the New York Times editorial page. The topic was whether 11- and 12-year-old girls should be vaccinated for the human papillomavirus. HPV is sexually transmitted and is believed to cause 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, this year 11,070 new cases of cervical cancer are expected to be diagnosed, and 3,870 women are expected to die of the disease. Do the arithmetic: Had the HPV vaccine been administered to these women when they were girls, some 7,749 would have been spared cancer and 2,709 would have died later of some other cause.
"Social conservatives object that the vaccine will encourage promiscuity," the Times wrote last year, "but it seems farfetched to believe that protection from cervical cancer will change any girl's behavior." That seems right to us--and even if the vaccine has some marginal bad effect on sexual behavior, several thousand cancer deaths a year seems a high price to pay to avoid it. Even the Times editors thought cancer prevention an important enough goal to abandon their usual liberal keep-your-laws-off-my-body orthodoxy when it comes to matters gynecological.
Now, as blogger Tom Maguire notes, the subject of HPV vaccination has come up in a different context: yesterday's New York Times story about Michelle Obama's "subtle makeover." Maguire cites an anecdote from Mrs. Obama's work at the University of Chicago Medical Center, a story that, in Maguire's words, is "ludicrously presented as a sympathetic and positive story of her professional efforts":
She also altered the hospital's research agenda. When the human papillomavirus vaccine, which can prevent cervical cancer, became available, researchers proposed approaching local school principals about enlisting black teenage girls as research subjects.
Mrs. Obama stopped that. The prospect of white doctors performing a trial with black teenage girls summoned the specter of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment of the mid-20th century, when white doctors let hundreds of black men go untreated to study the disease.
"She'll talk about the elephant in the room," said Susan Sher, her boss at the hospital, where Mrs. Obama is on leave from her more-than-$300,000-a-year job.
This isn't the first time the Tuskegee experiment has come up during the presidential campaign. In April the Obamas' then-pastor, Jeremiah Wright, explained his belief that the U.S. government had invented AIDS as a tool of genocide against black people: "Based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything."
The Tuskegee outrage was real. But the notion that the Tuskegee experiment--which began in the Jim Crow era (1932) and ended in 1972, eight years after the Civil Rights Act became law--reflects the attitudes of American governmental and medical institutions today is an urban legend, a superstition--and potentially a deadly one.
The Times's account suggests that girls in Chicago were denied potentially lifesaving vaccinations because Michelle Obama pandered to racial paranoia instead of standing up for the truth. Is that why they pay her the big bucks