Conservative political and social commentary
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First they came for the communists,
but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists
and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they
came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they
came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
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|Herb Tea Cures Cancer - Thursday, October 19, 2006
Herb Tea Cures Cancer
And Other Dangerous Myths
No, of course herb tea doesn’t cure cancer. I used the title to draw attention to a self-destructive, irrational way of thinking – which belittles and insults those who save our lives, but at the same time praises those who put our lives at risk.
· I’ve seen patients, and heard about others, who give no credit to the doctors and treatments that saved them, but instead credit people and things that did no good at all. Take the man who got regular PSA blood tests for prostate cancer. One year the PSA was up, and the biopsy showed early cancer. The man chose radiation therapy rather than surgery. Therapy took eight weeks, and side effects were tolerable. He remains well years later.
But did he credit the scientists who developed the PSA test, the urologist who insisted on doing the test yearly, or the radiation oncologist for saving his life? No, he complained about the inconvenience and discomfort, as if they were caused by the doctors and not by the cancer. He complained about the side effects, not realizing that without the advances of the last few years, the side effects would have been worse, while the likelihood of cure would have been less. He complained that the doctors were interested only in making money.
Instead, he credited the herb tea that he saw advertised on a "natural therapy" website. To anyone who would listen, he proclaimed the belief that doctors were concealing a cancer cure so they could make more money – as if people would allow their loved ones and themselves to die for the sake of money. He put his faith in "alternative" therapy, though he could not define the term.
Of course, if a treatment is proved to work, it’s no longer "alternative" therapy, it’s just therapy.
The man’s fear and anger were displaced from the disease onto those who treated the disease. And his gratitude was displaced from those who helped him onto those who deceived him. Regrettably, this illogical behavior is all too common.
· In the 1970s and 1980s, New York City had a high and rising crime rate, plus a host of other problems. People said the city was ungovernable. Times Square looked like a cesspool. When citizens had had enough, they elected Rudy Giuliani mayor, and he appointed William Bratton police commissioner.
They instituted the "broken windows" approach, attacking small problems before they became large ones. Graffiti were cleaned up, dilapidated buildings were repaired, and Times Square was made safe for decent people. Police concentrated on high-crime areas, and statistics revealed where they were needed most. All this worked. The crime rate fell dramatically, especially the homicide rate. And the improvement persists today, with another mayor and another police commissioner. The methods, not the personalities, were crucial to success.
This point was driven home when Bratton was appointed police chief in Los Angeles. Every year since then, violent crime has fallen. One would think that people would be grateful for the improvement. One would be wrong.
The Los Angeles Times, as always seeing things through a liberal lens, published an opinion piece asserting that the drop in crime would have occurred in any case, and the "broken windows" approach was useless. The claim was that crime just happened to fall when Giuliani and Bratton took over in New York City, and it also just happened to fall when Bratton moved to Los Angeles.
Not explained was why violent crime fell in these cities, while it rose to outrageous levels in other cities like Washington, D.C. Apparently New Yorkers and Angelinos had access to herb tea, while Washingtonians did not.
· On 9/11, nearly 3000 people died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. On 9/12, how much would you have bet that in the next five years, there would not be another major terrorist attack in the United States? I wouldn’t have bet a penny. But that’s exactly what happened. Why?
Did Bin Laden see the error of his ways, and devote his life to playing the electric guitar with a country-western group called Osama’s Mamas? Did his lieutenants go to work selling doughnuts in Damascus and bagels in Beirut? Did members of Al Queda convert to Catholicism and enter the priesthood? Did members of Hezbollah become Evangelicals and lead Bible-study groups? Did members of Hamas join the Salvation Army and collect donations while ringing bells at Christmas?
In short, have Americans spent the last five years drinking gigantic quantities of herb tea?
Why were there train and bus bombings in London, Madrid and Bombay, and nightclub bombings in Bali, but no similar attacks in America? Could it be for the same reason that the British recently foiled a plot to bring blow up airliners, and the Germans foiled a plot to blow up trains? Could it be due to good intelligence and patient police work? Yes, luck might be involved as well. But as Pasteur said, chance favors the prepared mind.
Could our freedom from attacks be due to our government’s efforts to protect us? Could it be due to President Bush’s resolute war on terrorists? Could it be due to the war in Iraq attracting terrorists from many countries, so we can fight and kill them in Baghdad and Fallujah, rather than having to deal with them in Chicago and Houston? Could it be due to the well-known fact that attack is the best defense?
No, it couldn’t be due to these factors. It couldn’t be due to laborious though sometimes clumsy efforts to keep terrorists off airliners. It couldn’t be due to surveillance of international phone calls, e-mails and bank transfers – the very tools that allowed the British foil a plot to bring down up to 10 airliners and perhaps top the death toll of 9/11. Of course not.
It wasn’t early detection and vigorous therapy that cured the cancer. It wasn’t the "broken windows" and statistical approach that cut crime rates in New York and Los Angeles. It wasn’t 24/7 vigilance that prevented another 9/11. No, all these intrusive measures are merely self-serving devices by cancer doctors, police chiefs and homeland-security officials, who just want to enrich themselves and increase their own power.
It was really the herb tea. There, now don’t you feel better? Don’t you feel "empowered," while others are so foolish as to trust our own government more than they trust those sworn to destroy us? Don’t you feel "in the know," while others remain deceived? Don’t you feel like one of the "intellectual elite," while others remain ignorant? Don’t you feel "progressive," while others remain backward?
Here, have another cup. It’s so good you could die.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.