(An acquaintance informed me that MY facts were also partially incorrect regarding the nature of the Tuskegee Experiments, namely, that I said black men were injected with syphilis... they were not -- instead, men with syphilis were purposefully not treated over a period up to forty years. I have revised this post to reflect that reality, and appreciate the correction.)
Glenn Beck cites Jeremiah Wright talking about one of America's tragic crimes against African Americans... and he cites it as though it is fiction!
Beck's bizarre mix of nonsense phraseology with ulta-emotive imagery and conspiracy-theorist buzz words isn't enough, in itself, to brand him a racist. But the following comes darn close.
This passage comes from the FOX web site transcript of Beck's show (entire transcript):
GLENN: .... Now, this is from an interview he [Van Jones] did as the head of the Ella Baker Center.
VAN JONES: The white polluters and the white environmentals [sic] are essentially steering poison into the people of colored communities.
GLENN: Have you heard this any has the president ever been around anyone who has ever said anything like that before Van Jones?
REVEREND WRIGHT: The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African American men with syphilis.
GLENN: The president of the United States has tried to pass himself off as a guy who just sat in Jeremiah Wright's Black Liberation Theology church for 20 years. A friend. He's like an old uncle. He didn't even notice. He baptized Barack Obama's children. He baptized Barack Obama, but he never heard these things before. And even if he did hear them, he didn't really even notice. Okay, so that's the explanation for the crazy uncle. What is the explanation this time? What is the excuse this time for appointing the same type of radical, saying almost damn exact same words as Jeremiah Wright to an influential position in our government? Is it that you didn't vet these people? Because gee, that sounds like a problem, that our president of the United States didn't vet him enough to know. Is it that the FBI didn't do its job? I mean, we found all of this stuff. Sure, I only have a staff of seven producing books, TV, radio shows, I only have a staff of seven. And all of a sudden we can come up with these things. Gee, you'd think the FBI or the president of the United States would surely be able to find these things.
Let's review here.
First, the Tuskegee experiments, where black men with syphilis were sought out by doctors who pretended to treat them but then left them untreated for up to forty years, is HISTORIC FACT. The part Jeremiah Wright apparently got wrong was the claim that our government injected these men with syphilis. However, just how different is it to purposely not treat someone -- and without their knowledge! -- while you, as a representative of their government, tell them you are treating their disease? The nuance is not a large one.
Our government did, however, misrepresent itself as there to cure men some of whom it effectively murdered by intentionally withholding penicillin when that drug became known as curative of syphilis. Need it be said that the wives and any children of these infected men were, by intentional negligence, infected by the men who'd been left untreated? Just how wrong is Wright? Yes, the line is very, very thin.
Second, Mr. Beck, you fail to explain the difference above, leaving in the hearer's mind the impression that the entire story is false. No, most of it is not false. Only the active introduction of syphilis into healthy black men is, apparently, untrue. (I use the word "apparently" because in light of what else went on, I remain open to further revelations in this matter.)
Third, your argument actually ends by shoring up Mr. Van Jones' position -- as you cite historic racial crimes with which to compare his claims of such crimes. (I don't suggest it actually works -- but for those aware of history your argument is at best just more Beckian gobbledygook.)
Tuskegee University's web site summarizes the horror of that Beck-denied history:
For forty years between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for “bad blood,” their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all.
The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis—which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. “As I see it,” one of the doctors involved explained, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.”
Now. What part of that was NOT our government? In short, though Jeremiah Wright has certainly not been correct on everything he's said, this instance is one where he is far closer to historic truth than Glenn Beck, who is exposed as a rabble-rousing racist. There is no excuse. FOX News has no excuse.
You wonder why liberals such as myself view the Right with such grave suspicion and active dislike?
Glenn Beck should be removed from FOX News. But as long as his non-factual jingoism remains popular with a large enough minority of Americans, FOX will keep him on TV. They don't care if he rants for five minutes about how the old artwork on Rockefeller Center is really part of a commie / fascist (never sure which) plot, and how it all somehow ties into Obama being President... and they don't care about him misrepresenting the Tuskegee Experiments as fiction rather than fact. So he'll keep it up.
Meanwhile, I will make it a personal mission to boycott FOX -- not only their news channels but also their entertainment channels. Racism is still alive in America. And I'm not gonna take it.
If other readers agree, please link to this on your blog or face book pages!
[This post has been revised a number of times since earlier today.]