Perhaps the most notable and frightening aspect of the current flu outbreak(s?) is not the danger of the flu itself, but the virulence of decidedly ethereal commentary. With such a cacophonous, ear-splitting and eye glazing meta-symphony of information (and disinformation, certainly) it is, in a bit less than a month, still impossible to tell truth from fiction. Every new sensationalist headline, whether from the MSM or the seemingly thousands of other sources on the web, seems to spawn a new manifestation of confusing and conflicting conjectures, the threads mutating further into shady alleys resembling the uncharted streets of ancient European city neighborhoods.
Your author is admittedly, but cautiously, susceptible to conspiracy theory, although I like to think myself a “conspiracy factist”. In a world gone near fatally mad, a certain amount of paranoia becomes normal, even comforting, and perhaps life-preserving. Growing skepticism of the “official” findings about 9/11/2001 and Iraq’s nuclear threat are a case in point. But I have learned the hard way that not every theory holds up when tested against time, coincidence, and actual outcome.
At my own humble blog, I have written often and loud about the necessity of connecting dots. I maintain that individual occurrences such as a major and mortal flu outbreak must be analyzed as part of the bigger tapestry of the western movement of governments, finance, and business toward a “new world order” and the certain possibility of popular and violent backlash. Where such a movement has in the past been consigned to the conspiracy theory dustbin, it is lately a clearly stated goal of those currently in power. At the same time, there is a visible and outspoken opposition to the movement, one which vows open resistance with the threat of violence.
One theme of the internet chatter is the conjecture that this flu (or several flues) is an artificially constructed virus (or viruses) intentionally deployed in a “black op” to either test the capability of security response systems, or, in the extreme, to actually serve as an excuse to implement martial law, constitutional restrictions, and/or detentions. Although I personally would not rule out that eventuality as improbable, it would be irresponsible of me to declare it a certainty.
The evidence is noteworthy. On Thursday, April 30, Declan McCullagh, author of the CBS online on-line political blog Hotsheet, posted “DHS Sets Guidelines For Possible Swine Flu Quarantines“. Some clips:
DHS Assistant Secretary Bridger McGaw circulated the swine flu memo, which was obtained by CBSNews.com, on Monday night. It says: “The Department of Justice has established legal federal authorities pertaining to the implementation of a quarantine and enforcement. Under approval from HHS, the Surgeon General has the authority to issue quarantines.”
McGaw appears to have been referring to the section of federal law that allows the Surgeon General to detain and quarantine Americans “reasonably believed to be infected” with a communicable disease. A Centers for Disease Control official said on Tuesday that swine flu deaths in the U.S. are likely.
Federal quarantine authority is limited to diseases listed in presidential executive orders; President Bush added “novel” forms of influenza with the potential to create pandemics in Executive Order 13375. Anyone violating a quarantine order can be punished by a $250,000 fine and a one-year prison term.
A Homeland Security spokesman on Tuesday did not have an immediate response to followup questions about the memo, which said “DHS is consulting closely with the CDC to determine appropriate public health measures.” . . .
McGaw’s memo on Monday also said that the federal plan to respond to pandemic influenza was “in effect.”
The Bush administration released the National Strategy For Pandemic Influenza in November 2005; it envisioned closer coordination among federal agencies, the stockpiling and distribution of vaccines and anti-viral drugs, and, if necessary, government-imposed “quarantines” and “limitations on gatherings.”
A Defense Department planning document summarizing the military’s contingency plan says the Pentagon is prepared to assist in “quarantining groups of people in order to minimize the spread of disease during an influenza pandemic” and aiding in “efforts to restore and maintain order.”
There are, indeed some disturbing aspects in the report, not the least of which is that of the CDC official predicting deaths in the US in spite of evidence that cases here are currently not generally severe and, the latest I’ve seen indicates we’ve had no deaths here at all.
I submit that if there is blame for hysteria to be ascribed, there are as many guilty among the MSM as there are within the blogoswamp. Frankly, I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going. My sense is that, as individuals and local communities, we must be cautious and prepare for a pandemic, but it’s not time yet to air out the old bomb shelter or dress for a vacation in a REX84 camp.
ddjango is a political and cultural writer who lives and works in the southeastern US. In addition to authoring his blog P!: Post-Politics in Depth, he also posts at several other blogs and news sites, as well as at Twitter.