The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Town Hall Protester: Will the Government Inject Us With Syphilis?

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 08/12/2009 08:17
Elisa Mueller

Conservatives who attended a town hall meeting with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) have uploaded video of her being peppered with questions, including this one from a man named Ed Dickey. (It’s at the seven-minute mark.)

During the 1950s it’s admitted that the federal government engaged in what is called the Tuskegee Experiments, where they injected black men with syphilis, in the 1950s? And you as a black woman are telling me to trust the federal government with our health care?

A heckler asks if Dickey had a question. “Yes!” he yells. “How can she expect us to trust a federal government that injects black men with syphilis during the 1950s, which is called the Tuskegee Experiments?”

Two things. First, the Tuskegee Experiment didn’t inject men with syphilis; it brought together nearly 400 black men who already had the disease, and left them untreated, telling them they just had “bad blood.” But the idea of the government creating diseases to kill people has remained popular among conspiracy theorists of the right and left alike. Second, while the activists who grilled Jackson Lee portray this video of proof of her not listening to her constituents, it’s worth pointing out that her Houston-based 18th congressional district is a Voting Rights Act creation where white voters make up only 19.7 percent of the population; black voters are 40.1 percent, and Hispanic voters are 35.6 percent. In November 2008, Barack Obama carried the district by 55 points over John McCain, up from the 44-point margin John Kerry won in 2004. So if Jackson Lee is skeptical of the angry white voters suddenly showing up at her town halls, she has her reasons.

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Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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