The same day as us. COVID-19 deaths past the toll of the Spanish flu pandemic, a modern medicine program was presented to Lenexa.
As the entertainment of yesteryear, this medicine show boasted of panaceas, enthusiastic praise and shameless self-promotion. Unlike those storefronts, it didn’t sell patented high octane drugs to get you drunk or high. Speakers have proposed a new generation of remedies: ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, the Republican Party. Don’t forget the grift: The “Freedom Revival in the Heartland” billed concert tickets for $ 89 per person.
However, the September 20 conference was not just about the fictitious dangers of vaccines. Oh no. It would be too focused for a medicine show then or now. The day’s event also focused on government overreach, the redemptive power of religion and the Black Lives Matter protesters. Disarticulated, perhaps. Difficult to follow, absolutely. That was the point of the exercise – to keep the public terrified, ready to buy and believe. At least they had raffles and food trucks.
Let’s listen some high voices from the day’s entertainment, skillfully captured by Kansas Reflector’s Tim Carpenter. (You can look the event here, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it without a bottle of scotch nearby.)
- Lee Merritt, Orthopedic Surgeon from Iowa: “If you think we’re fighting a virus, you’re going to be a victim. If you understand that we are fighting a war, then you have a chance of survival.
- Kansas State Sen. Mike Thompson, Johnson County Republican: “They don’t want to hear the facts. It is purely a matter of control. It is purely a question of money. I’m sick of it and I’m sick of it.
- Del Bigtree, from CBS’s ‘The Doctors’: “They could still only push this virus to a death rate of less than a quarter of 1%. It was a Nothingburger.
- Karladine Graves, family doctor in Kansas City, Missouri: “We are on a quest to save humanity. Don’t let them take your reasoning. Don’t let the enemy intimidate you.
- Doug Billings, Host of The Right Side Podcast: “You have a generation of people who will burn down and overthrow cities and statues and try to crucify Jesus in the public square. “
I’m not sure how a rational person could respond to some of these statements, let alone their connection to the pandemic. I know that free, life-saving vaccines have a lot less to do with power and control than these speakers imagine. Besides, COVID death rate in the United States amounts to 1.6%. But the facts are not the point.
What unites these speakers is a nauseating combination of judgment and nihilism, big talk mixed with denial, chest pounding crossed with apocalyptic visions of a waking future. Meanwhile, they ignore the fact that modern medicine and healthcare laid the foundation for our society.
None of the speakers, regardless of the hyperbole, are rushing to give up on this.
When the original medicine shows were popular, say in 1890, the average lifespan in the United States was 44 years. Illnesses hit children and adults at their peak, with doctors powerless to intervene. Prayer and alcohol was all they had.
When the first medical shows were popular, say in 1890, the the average lifespan in the United States was 44 years. Illnesses hit children and adults at their peak, with doctors powerless to intervene. Prayer and alcohol was all they had.
Over the next 130 years, our life expectancy soared to almost 79 years old. Once fatal diseases have been all but wiped out – through vaccinations and other treatments – and we are enjoying a standard of living our ancestors could only dream of.
Which brings us a prominent guest on this medicine show. In 1890 he could have been called the “teacher”, the storyteller who knitted all evening together.
Today it is simply called Kris kobach, former Kansas secretary of state and current candidate for attorney general. Defeated in the races for Governor and the US Senate, Kobach knows all about failing to the top, about taking a losing situation and making it appear predestined. Like the teachers of old, he has the gift.
It includes a crowd eager to be exploited.
“There is also an inner freedom fighter in so many politicians, and in so many people, and the people in this room,” Kobach said, exuberating the crowd with a term suggesting insurgency against the oppressors. “Because a lot of people who would never have been to a rally, would never have done anything in politics from a distance, (want to) stand up and come forward and fight for themselves and their family and their friends and neighbors. “
Kobach said the U.S. Constitution defends itself against vaccination warrants (it doesn’t – U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the matter over a century ago) and implied that he was one of the unvaccinated righteous people who filled the church.
It’s worrying. Kobach is a type 1 diabetic and only alive and healthy today thanks to breakthroughs in medicine. Given his diagnosis, which puts him at higher risk of the serious results of COVID-19, I certainly hope his “us unvaccinated” talk was a soft liar. Her family deserves her husband and father to be present and in good health.
Kobach was the key, however, the man who united the flimflam of the past with the pretensions of the present. He is more than willing to take advantage of medical technology while exploiting partisan divisions and disinformation for personal gain. Like him, the people behind this modern medicine show walked into a room full of scared people while enjoying the life that science, medicine, and technology have made possible.
They may think that they are doing good, or at least that they are not promoting evil. But the grim total reached on Monday – more than 675,000 American lives lost to COVID-19 – proved otherwise.