May 02, 2007

shelley on damn interesting on Tuskegee

When people say there should be no Black History Month, I say ok, but can we have Black American Holocaust Month? No? What about never forget? Americans CRAVE to forget. We are the most forgettenist bunch of plow-ahead-without-a-tear-Protestant-work-ethic people to inhabit this magnificent orb.

To wit, Shelley looks at Damn Interesting, where Alan "Hot Pastrami" Bellows has an enlightening account of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Just one of many reasons why Black Americans sometimes find it a wee bit difficult to 'get over it.' Hey, have you ever thought or said that yourself--about slavery, about Tuskegee, about lynchings? Ever thought it while listening to a co-worker of color on a rant about politics?

If so, have you said 'get over it' that to a Jewish co-worker with relatives killed in the Holocaust? No? Why not? If you live in America, the comparison is worth thinking about.

Shelley Quotes:

In the mid-1940s, however, the recently discovered antibiotic penicillin was determined to be a safe and effective cure for syphilis, and the US government sponsored a nationwide public health program in an effort to eradicate the disease.

The researchers at Tuskegee, in a bid to preserve the fruits of their labors, kept the cure a secret from their subjects. They also supplied local doctors with lists of the participants' names, and instructed the physicians not to provide penicillin lest they interfere with a government health study. The administrators of the experiment were not interested in saving the lives of the black farmers, they were interested only in dissecting them on an autopsy table. As one of the doctors unceremoniously stated, "We have no further interest in these patients until they die.


Few of the researchers who participated in the study ever admitted to any lapse in ethics, most of them insisting that they were merely following the directions of their superiors.