Sometimes I write something so many times in my head, that I think I've really written it down where it is possible for other people to see it.
In looking back over my previously posts for the period that I could have done it I don't think I've mentioned the book I read about the great influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. I had read a few things about the epidemic before, but the book The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John Barry was the most in depth of anything I've ever read about it. It is kind of a strange history since he spends at least half the book giving the history of medicine in the world and then in the United States up to that point. It is a description of the development of medicine and its change into a truly scientific profession. Which hadn't occurred, at least in the United States until shortly before World War One. It is interesting in one way because the climax of the story, the epidemic, was not in the end really defeated so much by the heroic doctors or their new scientific discipline. Instead it just burned itself out like most plagues in the past.
One guy Barry really doesn't like was Woodrow Wilson and the system of crushing dissent that he put in place for running America during World War I. As he describes it and if truth be told as I've read about it in other places, it was a nearly totalitarian system of enforcing compliance and ensuring that there would be no dissension and no overt opposition to the war. The system that booked no bad news about the war helped ensure that the epidemic would spread more easily and quickly, since newspapers were forbidden to write about it for the most part and people who talked about it and its danger were often reported to the authorities as unAmerican defeatists.
Kind of interesting at several levels. First, is that Wilson was from Virginia originally and did believe in the Lost Cause I suspect. What makes that interesting to me, since I've just read them, is that Grant in his Memoirs mentioned several times how much more difficult it was for the North with a free press to prevent anti war sentiment from being spread, while the South, which Grant insisted, had a censored press was more able to limit such dissent (something Grant seemed to envy). I wonder if Wilson learned this at his father's knee?
Second, is how most people were willing to agree to this kind of suppression. When one grows up reading the books I have read, it is hard to remember that these books were written by the people who were being suppressed by the vast majority of this country and who were more than willing to go along with the government's crushing of dissent. One always, I suspect, imagines himself as standing up against the kind of oppression, In the situation as it is coming down how would one act, I wonder? Or to be honest, the question I am most concerned about is how I would act.
Third, I suspect that Obama is licking his lips in the hope that he will be able to use the Espionage Act that was passed at the behest of Wilson to crush dissent during the First World War to smash Wikileaks and imprison Assange and Manning for life. I am sure he would like to get around to screwing with us lesser types too.
I went over to one of my fake progressive blogs just to see how the comments were going there or perhaps to get my fair share of abuse. Although this time I did manage to avoid commenting, for which I am vary proud. However, they were ecstatic about the arrests involving the people protesting Manning's condition. And of course once again Manning's imprisonment really isn't that bad and the people protesting weren't really hassled that much. Oh yeah, Daniel Ellsberg isn't that great a guy and what he did wasn't all that brave. There was also a massive justification post for Libya, but I'll leave that for another time.
Wow, these are people who claim to be liberal or progressive. I would guess that they would be the ones who if they lived in Germany in the 1930s would insist that National Socialist did have socialist in its name. Or in the alternative, those who lived during the First World War and would report their neighbors for not being enthusiastic enough. Worker bees I guess.