Government Lied About Pandemic Which Killed 50 Million People … Attempt to “Prevent Panic” Backfired | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Government Lied About Pandemic Which Killed 50 Million People … Attempt to “Prevent Panic” Backfired

In the United States, national and local government and public health authorities badly mishandled the [1918 "Spanish Flu"] epidemic [which killed up to 50 million people worldwide], offering a useful case study.

The context is important. Every country engaged in World War I tried to control public perception. To avoid hurting morale, even in the nonlethal first wave the press in countries fighting in the war did not mention the outbreak. (But Spain was not at war and its press wrote about it, so the pandemic became known as the Spanish flu).

The United States was no different. In 1917 California Senator Hiram Johnson made the since-famous observation that “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” The U.S. government passed a law that made it punishable by 20 years in jail to “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the government of the United States.”

One could go to jail for cursing or criticizing the government, even if what one said was true. A Congressman was jailed. Simultaneously, the government mounted a massive propaganda effort. An architect of that effort said, “Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms…. There is nothing in experience to tell us that one is always preferable to the other…. The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false” (Vaughn, 1980).

Webmaster's Commentary: 

"It is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion." -- Joseph Paul Goebbels. (1897-1945) Nazi Propaganda Minister.

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