WaPo: Measles, Like All Bad Things, Was Brought to Us By Christopher Columbus
In a story that should center around the importance of vaccinations and the dangers of allowing unrestrained visitation and immigration to our country, the Washington Post found a unique angle on which to report on the 2019 measles outbreak. You wouldn’t think you could mine the depths of this story to find a social justice narrative, but author Michael Rosenwald proves that where there’s a leftist will, there’s a leftist way. But for that, Rosenwald will have to travel back to the year 1492 and remind aggrieved modern liberals that Christopher Columbus brought diseases to the New World.
“The New World before Columbus: no typhoid, no flu, no smallpox, no measles,” laments Rosenwald. “The New World after Columbus: epidemics of death.
“For Native Americans, the problem was a lesson in basic virology,” he continues. “Because these microbes were as new to society as horses and coffee, nobody had built any immunity to them. Without immunity, wide swaths of people were quickly infected and killed. The effect — though on a smaller and far less lethal scale — has been seen in recent outbreaks of measles, one of the many diseases Columbus brought to shore. Religious and other anti-vaccine groups are suddenly seeing a highly infectious illness thought to be eradicated spread quickly through their communities.”
Rosenwald, eager to play on our sympathies for the native dwellers of America, reminds us that while modern medicine (which, by the way, would not exist in this country if we’d left it to the treasured and cherished Indians) can save those who are struck with measles today, the Natives were not so fortunate:
Modern medicine is helping most sufferers to recover. Centuries ago, most cases ended in death.
“European contact enabled the transmission of diseases to previously isolated communities, which caused devastation far exceeding that of even the Black Death in fourteenth-century Europe,” according to a 2010 paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives titled “The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas.”
The New World sent potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco to the Old World as part of the Columbian Exchange. The widespread immigration of microbes decimated indigenous communities — an overlooked aspect, historians and other experts say, of the European conquest of the New World.
Overlooked, is it? We can’t remember the last time we heard a liberal talk about American discovery without mentioning “blankets tainted with smallpox.”
And so continues the left’s ruthless effort to demonize not only the state of modern America, not only its founding, but indeed the land’s very discovery by Western European explorers. It would be tempting to call these efforts “pointless,” but it very much serves a point. By vilifying the (largely white, European) explorers and founders, they vilify four hundred years of North American history in a single fell swoop. It is “America was never that great” taken to its logical conclusion. And if there was never anything of value to the story of this country, then there is certainly no problem wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch. They want nothing more than to do just that.