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

Created: August 12, 2009 12:17 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

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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