The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments and Modern Implications for Blacks and “Free” Government Healthcare
By Vanessa Jean-Louis
As the “official” story goes, between the year 1932 and the year 1972, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) conducted a series of secret longitudinal studies on Black sharecroppers who had already procured syphilis. While the official story says one thing, if you ask people about the study, most will tell you that the Tuskegee experiments resulted in Blacks secretly being injected with syphilis by the government.
I’ve read countless articles on the internet from both left-wing and right-wing sources who believe that what most people think about the study is more conspiratorial than factual. They purport that since the sharecroppers already had syphilis, that the government officials only erred in not telling them that they were sickly. My argument to that is, how could anyone trust the “official” story from bureaucrats who were purposely deceptive for several decades? Moreover, as asinine as it may seem, it’s more palatable for the populace to accept that the poor Black men were already sick, prior to the commencement of the study, instead of telling the American people, “Oh yeah, by the way, we lured them and lied to them about injecting them with syphilis after offering them free stuff– because we wanted to see the effects of syphilis in Black men versus its effects in White men.” I’ve yet to find any information about any type of longitudinal studies conducted on White men with syphilis in the United States. Go figure.
The next argument is that there wasn’t even a cure for the disease during the beginning stages of the experiment. If that is indeed true, why didn’t the government officials tell the Black men that they had syphilis, and while they hadn’t found a cure, they would like to monitor the progression of the disease in the body? If these government officials didn’t have anything to hide, what was the reason behind the decades of secrecy?
Official story apologists also say that propagators of the unofficial “version” are doing people a disservice. I happen to believe that the government is capable of anything (hence the whole limited government thingy); therefore, it’s not far-fetched to believe that those poor Black men were indeed treated as guinea pigs. I know it’s a little difficult for people to believe that human beings can be so cruel to one another, however, for centuries, and even at the time of the experiment, Blacks weren’t even considered fully human or worthy of life by phrenologists (physicians who study skull structure) and eugenicists (like the ones who started and currently run Planned Parenthood).
After a whistle blower came forward about this experiment, the United States government settled with the victims’ and their families outside of court. As a result of the unconscionable actions of the PHS, we now have “informed consent” laws. By the way, post these new laws, as many as 42 percent of Native American women continued to be secretly sterilized by the Indian Health Service.
As nice as the present health care “reform” law sounds, when ideologues get on national television and comment about how “the poor” will now have more access to health care, what gets lost in the brouhaha is the fact that government does not respect the individual, especially not the poor who are most vulnerable to bureaucratic abuse. Given the history, I find it a little difficult to believe that out-of-touch bureaucrats are really in this thing to, -you know- “help and stuff”. Keep in mind, elitists like Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi will always have superior care—it’s the poor people, like the poor Black sharecroppers, who are most vulnerable to unprecedented government control of our health care system. In addition to the poor, small businesses will be taxed, and will share the costs of the excise taxes with consumers. Yeah, the private sector isn’t perfect, but they don’t deny nearly as many claims as Medicaid and Medicare. Oops.
In 1947, fifteen years after a cure was allegedly found, the PHS continued to withhold treatment for the remaining twenty five years of the study. Blacks continued to die of the disease, pass it on to their wives, and many of their children were born with congenital syphilis. Many sociologists believe that the reason many Black men are distrustful of doctors, even today, is because of these clandestine experiments conducted by free health care-free meal-free transportation touting government criminals.
In February, when I went to the Frederick Douglass Leadership Summit in Washington DC, I met a woman by the name of Elaine Riddick who was sterilized by the government at the age of 14. After Elaine became pregnant, government officials told her grandmother that unless she gave them permission to sterilize her grand-daughter (after the birth of her son), she would lose her welfare benefits. Elaine’s son, Tony Riddick, well in his 40s, eventually became a successful entrepreneur with several degrees. She cried when she was telling me her story.
Forgive me if the, “Government didn’t give the Black men syphilis because they already had it,” argument is a hard pill for me to swallow (pun intended).
So can I unequivocally prove that the Black men were given syphilis by the government? No. But neither can the propagators of the “official” version prove that they weren’t. Believing the “official” version would mean that I give credence to the same people who purposely withheld information and thus allowed innocent babies to come into the world with congenital syphilis.
Regardless of which version one chooses to believe, we cannot leave the health of our parents and our posterity in the hands of elitist bureaucrats. We have to vote them out. We often hear about the evils of unfettered capitalism and the free markets, and are encouraged to believe that the benevolent government (that sanctioned slavery for 256 years, legalized institutionalized racism under Jim-Crow, sterilized poor minorities, and performed clandestine experiments on poor Black men), is somehow better capable and more trustworthy to provide superior health care services. Yeah, I bet.