The recently retired president’s administration and its lackeys have made lots of errors regarding their handling of the Ebola crisis, of course. But at the National Interest, James Jay Carafano spots what he considers to be the big one:
The White House has declared Ebola to be a top national-security concern. That ought to worry Americans. The last time a president tried to make a disease a national-security issue, he helped trigger a global pandemic that killed 50 million people.
Progressives like to expropriate the label of national security to help drive their agendas. Statist, centrally managed, with top-down direction, the national-security model is the perfect vehicle for any policy “crusade,” be it fighting global warming or raising taxes. Thus, for example, when the administration got the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to label the “debt the biggest threat to national security,” it had all the cover needed to press for cutting defense and raising taxes—two cornerstones of President Obama’s progressive political agenda.
But playing “national security” progressive politics with public health can bring outright disaster. When the United States entered World War I, Woodrow Wilson played the national-security card early and often. The war effort became an excuse for everything from jailing political opponents to spying on everyday Americans. But, when the president used a global war as an excuse to preempt sound public-health policy, he reaped a global catastrophe.
In a post titled “Ebola and the great forgetting: the best of times, the worst of times,” Neo-Neocon quotes from a PBS documentary on how the Spanish flu ravaged America during this period:
Narrator: In 31 shocking days, the flu would kill over 195,000 Americans. It was the deadliest month in this nation’s history. Coffins were in such demand that they were often stolen. Undertakers had to place armed guards around their prized boxes. The orderly life of America began to break down. All over the country, farms and factories shut down — schools and churches closed. Homeless children wandered the streets, their parents vanished…
Dr. Alfred Crosby, author, America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The epidemic killed, at a very, very conservative estimate, 550,000 Americans in 10 months, that’s more Americans than died in combat in all the wars of this century, and the epidemic killed at least 30 million in the world and infected the majority of the human species.
Narrator: As soon as the dying stopped, the forgetting began.
Dr. Alfred Crosby, author, America’s Forgotten Pandemic: It is in the individual memory of a great many of us, but it’s not in our collective memory. That for me is the greatest mystery: how we could have forgotten anything so horrendous, so massively horrendous, as this, this epidemic which killed so many of us, killed us so fast and our reaction was to forget it.
It’s no surprise that someone being quoted on an NPR show can’t understand why this period of American history is so little known today. The left have been writing American history since the days of FDR, and have managed to airbrush virtually all of Woodrow Wilson’s sins out of American history, as they would reflect rather badly on the notion of “Progressive” or “liberal” government. Indeed, historian Fred Siegel writes that the American left stole the word “liberal” from traditional laissez-faire classical liberals in the early 1920s in order to cast off the taint of being associated with the disastrously “Progressive” Wilson administration.
After quoting from Carafano’s article, Moe Lane writes:
As the article notes, the eventual death toll for that was 50 million. How many dead can actually be directly laid at Wilson’s feet is arguable – goodness knows that era did not lack for fools and knaves – but you can certainly tie his actions to the American soldiers and workers and patriots who died because they were at an event that was deliberately put on despite a quarantine. Not that there’s any rush to do that; the whitewashing that they’ve done for Barack Obama pales in comparison to the cleanup that academia and the media have done on Woodrow Wilson’s reputation…
Prefacing an excerpt from his-then new book Liberal Fascism in the February 2008 issue of the Christian Science Monitor, Jonah Goldberg wrote, “You want a more ‘progressive’ America? Be careful what you wish for…”
And with the Ebola crisis risking expansion, future historians may well need to do Wilson-level airbrush work erasing Obama’s actual presidential record out of the history books.
I’m sure the New York Times will be ever-eager to do their part, of course.