Some things never change: hysterical scaremongering vs. healthcare

Keep America Committee flyer, 1955

I found this flyer on a post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. I wanted to know more about the “Keeping America Committee,” so I did a little lazy, wiki-based research. It appears that the third evil plot listed in the flyer refers to a past attempt at federal provision of mental healthcare, the Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act of 1956 (Alaska was still a territory).  The Act was opposed as a Communist/internationalist/UN plot by a familiar-sounding coalition:

…a nationwide network of activists began a vociferous campaign to torpedo the Alaska Mental Health Bill. The campaigners included, among other groups and individuals, the white supremacist Rev. Gerald L. K. Smith; Women for God and Country; the For America League; the Minute Women of the U.S.A.; the right-wing agitator Dan Smoot; the anti-Catholic former US Army Brigadier General Herbert C. Holdridge; and L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology, which had been founded only two years earlier.   (see link for full wiki)

If you have time, the wiki is a chilling read, particularly section 3. The cast of characters reminds me of the Tea-Partiers in their increasingly bigoted, violent hysteria (note the reflexive mention of anti-Semitism in the flyer), and the rhetoric could have been written by today’s Republican Party. And what were they protesting? The establishment of an Alaskan mental health care system, by land-grant of the federal government, to stop the outsourcing of care to a cost-padding hospital contractor in Portland. More specifically, they were protesting the establishment of a panel that could commit mental patients. Never mind that such panels already existed elsewhere–this would be on federal territorial land, funded with federal territorial resources. The land grant was therefore obviously the first step toward a Siberian gulag in the USA, intended to purge UNESCO critics. What else could it be?

10 years ago, I would have laughed at this loose coalition’s willingness to out-McCarthy Joe McCarthy and make themselves a particularly sorry, fringy footnote in the history books. But now, after a year of healthcare reform debate, it just sounds tiresome and far too familiar.

So have today’s conservatives just temporarily reverted to 1955?  I’m afraid not. As you no doubt know, in one of the less believable sorties against healthcare reform the Republican National Committee Chairperson, Michael Steele, claimed that fighting the Democratic healthcare bill was really about defending Medicare. This is an interesting 180° turn for the Republicans, given the amount of scaremongering against Medicare when it was established in the 1960’s. You might recognize the narrator of this screed, as he was our President for 8 years and is the patron saint of the Republican Party. Here is the Gipper, trying to scare the shit out of our parents and grandparents.

(On a side note, just for the sake of exposing hypocrisy, there is an excellent summary here of attempts by conservative Republicans to eviscerate Medicare over the past 30 years. With defenders like this…)

But let’s get back to another one of those 3 scary devices of the Red Menace in the flyer at the top of the post. The polio vaccine as Communist infiltration tool is too ridiculous to even address, but what about the scourge of fluoridated water? Now, as exceptionally backward and ludicrous as the flyer appears, there is a fringe community in the US that still believes fluoridated water is a mind-control device. Alex Jones was pursuing the fluoride hysteria just two years ago in the name of Ron Paul, and apparently he thought the flyer was pretty good evidence that people have known about this all along. Whether or not fluoride in our water helps our teeth, it obviously hasn’t worked so well at mind-control, or we wouldn’t have such a polarized political climate, would we?

I have friends who object to the healthcare plan for honest, conservative reasons. Too bad they can’t make their voices heard above the lunatic fringe.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Some things never change: hysterical scaremongering vs. healthcare

  1. Pingback: Republican Wayne Gilchrest From Maryland Endorses Obama | RepublicanDaily.info

    • Well, it looks like my blog was linked to by some sort of auto-aggregation Republican news blog. I’m guessing this was automated, because it surely wouldn’t have been intentional. It doesn’t look like any readers have followed the link to my blog, though. Too bad.

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