“Skepticism is the first step towards truth,” Denis Diderot, 1746.
Has our government ever been wrong? Has it ever been deceptive? The answer of course, to anyone who knows our history, is yes! Here are a few examples:
Forced sterilization and eugenics
History is fraught with the horrors that eugenics inflicted on the world. The most prominent example is, of course, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, but what isn’t well known is that Hitler was actually influenced by eugenics-inspired policies implemented in the United States during the early part of the 1900’s. Eugenics is the belief that in order to “improve” the human species, only people with “desirable” traits should be allowed to reproduce. This philosophy was responsible for the forced sterilization, perpetuated by the U.S. government, of thousands of “unfit” or “socially inadequate” Americans.
Toxic chemicals in Vietnam
From 1962 to 1975, tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel were exposed to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange, while serving in Vietnam. Agent Orange was part of the U.S. military’s warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, and was used to eliminate forest cover and crops of the North Vietnamese army. Contamination by this toxic mix of chemicals has been linked to dozens of serious health problems in Vietnam veterans and continues to pollute portions of Vietnam where the chemicals were sprayed.
It took the U.S. government decades to finally admit that exposure to the chemical poisoned thousands of U.S. military personnel, after initially vilifying those who claimed they had been harmed by the substance.
An “ethically unjustified” study
Beginning in 1932 and ending in 1972, the U.S. government, in conjunction with the Tuskegee Institute, conducted a study called The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. The study involved 600 African American men, 399 of which had syphilis and 201 did not. The purpose of the study was not to treat these men, but to observe the natural course of untreated syphilis. The participants were not told the purpose of the study. “In fact, the men had been misled,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “and had not been given all the facts required to provide informed consent.”
The study ended only when an Associated Press article, some 40 years after the study began, blew the whistle on what was going on. In 1973, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the study participants and their families against the U.S. government, and in 1974, a $10 million out-of-court settlement was reached. READ MORE at Catholic Citizens of Illinois here.