Sunday, December 30, 2012

'The Great Influenza', Woodrow Wilson, and other evils which we hope will not return.


I bought a copy of “The Great Influenza”, by John M. Barry, published by Penguin Books in 2004 by John M. Barry, to get the inside story of “The Deadliest Plague in History”. I got that. Frightening. Overwhelming. Singular. Sobering. A dance of deadly microbes, rampant strangulation, courageous researchers, helpless victims by the millions. 

There was an unexpected bonus. The lavishly descriptive historic document, describing the scientific and social upheaval which surrounded the global 1917-18 influenza mega-event, also exposed the political scandal of the Democrats’ challenge to U.S. Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy (R-WI) – one Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States.
What a joy it was to read the insane (read “insane”) demagoguery of this strange, callous Wilson, whose misadventures into censorship, fanaticism, domestic spying, scandal-mongering, and intimidation of American citizens, are enough to absolve the patriotic Joseph McCarthy of his so-called “excesses” (so-called by Democrats of the liberal persuasion) in flushing out communists and pseudo-communists during the 1940s to 1950s.
All of those accused of selling out America during the McCarthyite “witch hunts” were, needless to say, not Communists. But, for me, just lighting a fire on the tail feathers of U.S. intellectuals, Hollywood cynics, left-wing radicals, and Communist sympathizers of the time, was cathartic, rewarding, satisfying. 
I don’t hate Joseph McCarthy. I never did. While he might have thrown a few wild pitches, he also threw a hell of a lot of strikes, and for that I give him a whole chorus of atta-boys.
What I did hate, and do yet, is treacherous, lying, deceitful, America-hating God-awful communism – scourge of freedom everywhere, and murderer of the masses in the millions. The only things that stopped its excesses at our shores were the so-called “excesses” of patriots like Joe McCarthy. And there were none like him. He did noble work, despite his vociferous detractors.
Senator McCarthy had a lot going against him before he even launched his bid to thwart communist leanings in the United States. For one thing, the man looked evil. That was not his own failing. Everyone is answerable to one’s own DNA, which apportions appearance, temperament, talent, intelligence (or lack thereof), longevity, vulnerability to one disease or another, and preference of a political party. (No, strike that last. It is suspected but not proven.)
Want to spread out the wings of this little flight of fantasy? Many look evil. Maybe I do as well. Dark eyes, black hair (okay, that was 30 years ago), scowling, but with a certain beguiling devil-may-care expression one might even call handsome. Hey, where did all this go off the rails?
But Joe McCarthy? He was easy to dislike. Especially if you were a little sensitive about someone flaring off about communists to begin with. So the intellectuals, “las artistas favoritas”, the union shills, the darlings of Hollywood, the scruffy denizens of the Golden Coast, they really got their butts in a snit over anyone who in the press even suggested that communists weren’t good for Amerika. Me? I was lonely back then, and am even more lonely today. From an idealogical perspective, anyway.
But let’s turn back the clock to the days of Woodrow Wilson’s smothering attack on freedom in the United States, when no excuse could make up for his insufferable assaults on the rights of the average citizens of this country.
You must ask yourself – have you ever read about these despotic campaigns put in motion by President Woodrow Wilson? Not me. I was ignorant of this whole revolting period of executive excesses until I undertook to learn about influenza. Thank God I did. Because I intend to use this chance encounter with truth to hold the heads of the great Democratic liberals of the World War I era underwater until Nancy Pelosi cries, “Will you dammit quit waterboarding already?”
I don’t know all there is to know about this strange interlude of U.S. history, which is buried beneath the shame and treachery of liberal America when the media (as they do now) give a pass to leftist causes.
But I will learn. In the meantime, I will share with you information exposed by John M. Barry of the rampant, rabid despotism of Mr. Woody Wilson, president of the United States 1913-21, who held his own nation captive in his steely, top-hatted, dour, frosty grip for years, then ducked into the history books with not a whimper about his disgraceful antics for which to apologize.
I was born in 1937. Not a year eliciting universal excitement and ardor for its historic importance, would you say? But I can hardly be blamed for that. I couldn’t talk intelligibly at the time, have made some tenuous improvement in that department since, didn’t have a clue about how to write, and political parties were as strange to me as pasteurized milk. But the war to end all wars, while it was kaput, was only a precursor to the wars to end all worlds. So in some sense this was a pivotal time – if not for mankind, at least for me.
Here are some of the thunderclap revelations that John M. Barry, brilliant author of “The Great Influenza”, gives us based on his research into the life and times of Woodrow, who went in a chameleonic transformation from isolationist to liberal internationalist to global interventionalist, forging swords from ploughshares and inserting the United States into the bloody, ravenous, unforgiving trenches of Europe.
In his zeal, Wilson portrayed his fellow Americans as traitors, protestors as enemies, and bewildered citizens as onerous miscreants. In his transformation from spineless caterpillar to flitting butterfly, he left no doubt that he wanted war, and proclaimed that those who disagreed would be ground under his heel.
“The hard line was designed to intimidate those reluctant to support the war into doing so, and to crush or eliminate those would not. Even before entering the war, Wilson had warned Congress, ‘There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit . . . who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life . . . Such creatures of passion, disloyalty and anarchy must be crushed out.’”
Mr. Barry’s stunning revelations continue:
“The government compelled conformity, controlled speech in ways, frightening ways, not known in America before or since. Soon after the declaration of war, Wilson pushed the Espionage Act through a cooperative Congress, which balked only at legalizing outright press censorship – despite Wilson’s calling it “an imperative necessity.”
And this – an outrageous, in-your-face capitulation to federal government thuggery “justified” by presidential fiat:
“Thousands of government posters and advertisements urged people to report to the Justice Department anyone ‘who spreads pessimistic stories, divulges – or seeks – confidential military information, cries for peace, or belittles our effort to win the war.’ Wilson himself began speaking of the ‘sinister intrigue’ in America carried on ‘high and low’ by agents and dupes.”
Not Hitler, not Stalin, not Mussolini exceeded the iron grip of our own homegrown despot, President Woodrow Wilson, in wresting the will of the nation from its own citizens. But this shameful chapter is purged from the history books, hid from prying eyes, and left to fester in the archives of the Democratic Party of yesteryear.
McCarthyism? An instant, iconic catchphrase, capable of evoking visions of sinister clandestine warfare against – what? Innocent, decent Americans? Or scurrilous cells of Communist conspirators?
And Wilsonism? Why what is that? Sounds vaguely familiar, yet benign, and totally innocuous. The difference is that the president, the press and the denizens of the left conspired to demonize the one and market the other.
The story presented here, from the pages of author John M. Barry’s “The Great Influenza”: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History – A New York Times Bestseller—reveals itself to be not only a fearsome tale of pandemic ferocity, but an expose as well of the untold story of the Democratic Party’s scandalous precursor to McCarthyism, which would not emerge on the American scene until almost 20 years later. Truth is stranger than fiction. And sometimes late in arriving. But thank God – here it is.