Monday, November 23, 2009

Response to For Her Own Good

Having just re-read For Her Own Good written by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deierdre English in 1978 I was prompted to write the following:

Dear Barbara,

I've just finished re-reading For Her Own Good and find it as significant, if not more so due to the Ambiguous Liberation section of the Afterward which shows that we are still, over thirty-years later, still at the starting line.

Especially relevant are:

...[E]very advance in women's legal status seems to represent a further erosion of male responsibility. p. 320

...[T]oday's neo-romanticism is at best a degenerate descendant of the sexual romanticism of the nineteenth century. It makes no claims to intellectual rigor....and appeals to the ghosts of patriarchal religion. p.320

But there is a deeper level of corruption to today's has been too thoroughly colonized, for too long. Its ideals do not come from the Bible...but from Madison Avenue. Etc. p. 320

The “neo-rationalist” program for women, then, is to break out into the marketplace, but without making any social provision for the children... p. 322

These then are the ideological poles which dominate sexual politics in the late twentieth century—the “romanticism” of the sun-belt suburbs or the “rationalism” of the paperback self-help shelf.” p.322

And where is feminism in all this—the force which reopened the Woman Question in the first place. Is it prepared to project a new ideal, a moral outlook, a way for women—and--and men (emphasis added) to live?...Feminism hesitates, unable to intervene in the dominant polarization between neo-romanticist and neo-rationalist ideologies. pp. 322-3

The reason we hang back is because there are no answers left but the most radical ones. We cannot assimilate into a masculinist society without doing violence to our own nature, which is, of course, human nature. But neither can we retreat into domestic isolation, clinging to an archaic feminine ideal. p. 323

The Woman Question in the end is not the question of women....[T]he Woman Question becomes the question of how shall we all—women and children and men—organize our lives together...And this is the only question. p.323

[I]t is not we who must change but the social order which marginalized women in the first place and with us all “human values.”...A synthesis which transcends both the rationalist and romanticist poles must necessarily change the masculinist social order itself. p.324

As a foremother of the current women's movement, I and others involved were about changing the masculinist social order itself. Not only to free women but men as well from their rigidly proscribed roles. And in this regard I feel, at least looking at the younger generation of men, i.e. my grandsons, I feel they have become freer from the constraints on their emotional and domestic side than many younger women have been freed from the sexual object ideal—aided and abetted by Madison Avenue and Hollywood & TV.

The role model for today's young women to emulate is either the predatory/seductive type or, as evidenced in so many contemporary films and video games, depicted as being tougher and better fighters and killers than are men.

The sixties-seventies Women's Movement left me when instead of working with other outcast groups to change the nature of this society, women were first enticed into and then co-opted by the system we sought to change and then adding insult to injury they sought to prove they were better at the male game than the men.

And, at the end of the day where are our children in this debauchle? And, Women's Studies have metamorphised into Gender Studies. And, women's right to choose is again under threat. And, women are now dying in battle alongside their male colleagues, and for men-at-war the rape of their female colleagues and those of the their combatants' women is still justified as a warranted response to battle fatigue. And, the list goes on.....

Thanks for once again getting my dander and hackles up! And my very best wishes to you where, in your latest book, I see you are still calling to task the “feel-good, don't worry, be happy” movement in face of any adversity!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Swine Flu Deja Vu

Margie Bernard

“There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza. The producers of these vaccines know that they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway.” Dr. J. Anthony Morris (formerly Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the Federal Drug Agency at the Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC, 1976)

I met Dr. Anthony (Tony) Morris during the autumn of 1977, when he made an appointment for a consult at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Washington, DC. GAP was a project initiated by Ralph Stavins, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Stavins had hired me as GAP’s first Director in October 1977, and I was charged with setting up the first conference on Whistleblowing in National Security Agencies to be held May 19-20, 1978.

Morris had come to GAP seeking assurance of our continued support in his attempt to overturn his dismissal as Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the United States Food and Drug Administration of the then Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services). GAP agreed to champion his legal battle against FDA by publicizing his case and making available the film made about this matter, The Swine Flu Caper, directed by Saul Landau, another IPS Fellow.

Nearly two-years before, the US public had been warned that a likely Swine Flu (New Jersey H1N1), pandemic was on the 1976-77 horizons. At that time, the major pharmaceutical companies raced to develop a vaccine to counter its presumed devastation. Once a vaccine was approved for use by the FDA, President Gerald Ford had his inoculation witnessed via major-time television news as encouragement for others to do the same. Based on his research Morris disagreed with the rush to vaccinate the masses.

Dr. Morris had long been a critic of all flu vaccine. Based on test results obtained in his laboratory research, he had cautioned his colleagues at the Agency that in his expert opinion these inoculations were a major factor in triggering various neurologic illnesses ranging from GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) (1) to encephalitis to paralysis and in some instances death. In the case of the new Swine Flu serum, Morris felt that aside from his usual misgivings about flu vaccines in general, he felt there had not been adequate testing undertaken to justify its use in this instance. Interestingly Morris had one unlikely ally—the Federal Insurance Company. This principal underwriter for pharmaceutical companies refused coverage to the four manufacturers of the swine flu serum stating: ‘it was not convinced that there has been time enough to test the vaccine for side effects’. (2)

Furthermore, there was general speculation as to whether there was such a disease as Swine Flu. And, if there were, did the proposed deterrent present a greater danger to the public than the illness itself? When Dr. Morris reported his professional concerns about this particular serum to FDA hierarchy they were ignored. Then in the interest of public safety he went public with the information in a July 1976 article in the Washington Post. He was then summarily fired for ‘insubordination and inefficiency’ by FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt and government agents entered his lab, killed all the animals used in his vaccine research and confiscated all his and his lab assistants’ research papers.

At the end of the day there was no Swine Flu epidemic in 1976 and the vaccination program was ended ten-weeks after it was initiated due to increased concern as to its safety.

The current observation is that we face another potential Swine Flu (2009 H1N1 virus), pandemic and although such observation may be political/social fact, ‘whether it becomes a scientific fact and a policy fact is yet to be seen’. (3) As to the speculation of a new pandemic, MSNBC has reported:

The Center for Disease Control has found that rapid tests to diagnose the “swine flu” can be wrong as much as nine times out of ten. The “best” test was wrong half the time, the CDC found. The government study indicating that rapid tests to diagnose the “swine flu” could hardly distinguish between the “swine flu” and normal seasonal flu gives support to those medical experts who say the “swine flu” is a harmless, ordinary flu that is being hyped by the WHO and the vaccine companies to justify a pandemic level 6 declaration and mass forced vaccinations. (4)

In the past, health care workers had a choice whether or not to get inoculated against flu—whether the annual seasonal virus or a unique variation. This year, however, many medical centers, hospitals and clinics are mandating their personnel to be inoculated or face disciplinary action. This has raised concerns among health care professionals themselves as well as their unions and professional associations. During the annual flu season, only about one-half of health-care workers get the shot. As one clerical worker in Washington Hospital Center stated, “I don’t think I should be forced to take something I don’t want to take”. And, in Great Britain, a survey of 1,500 nurses disclosed that one-third would not get the vaccine due to safety concerns. (5)

During the 1976 Swine Flu scare, numerous law suits were filed by people alleging they had suffered various side effects as a direct result of being inoculated. Several of these litigations were successful and large payouts were made by the pharmaceutical companies and the US government as settlement. This month, September 2009, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius signed a document that grants legal immunity to federal officials and the vaccine producers from similar claims.

As for myself, I plan to follow Tony’s 1976 advice and forgo the Swine Flu shot this year but will get the seasonal flu jab just as I have in years past as this serum has been through more rigorous testing prior to its release.

And what happened to Morris’s efforts to overturn his 1976 FDA dismissal? After a seven-year legal battle, James S. Turner’s tireless defense of Morris successfully proved that all FDA charges against Morris were false.

NOTE: These are my citations, however, the referant numbers have been somehow eliminated in this cut-n-paste version so I've added them thus (n).

(1) There were reports of GBS affecting some people who had received swine flu immunizations in the 1976 U.S. outbreak of swine flu. Overall, there were about 500 cases of GBS—25 of which resulted in death from severe pulmonary complications— which, according to Dr. P. Haber, were probably caused by an immunopathological reaction to the 1976 swine flu vaccine. Haber P, Sejvar J, Mikaeloff Y, Destefano F (2009). Vaccines and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
(2) Business Insurance, May 1976
(3) Spencer, D., Millar J.D., Reflections on the 1976 Swine Flu Vaccination Program. Emerging Infectious Diseases, Center for Disease Control, Vol. 12, No. 1, January 2006
(4) An Interesting Article on the Swine Flu. The Flu Review, January 29, 2009.
(5) Mandatory Flu Shots Hit Resistance, Rob Stein, The Washington Post, September 25, 2009