February 26, 2001
While catching up on my reading, I came across a book review of "The Nazi War on Cancer" appearing in The Seattle Times last week. By Robert N. Proctor, this tome has been has been in print since 1999 and caused quite a stir at FORCES because it documents extensively the parallel between the Nazi anti-tobacco campaigns and the anti-smoking campaigns endemic throughout North America.
Catching my eye and compelling my attention to a review of a book that has been hitting the chat circuits for two years were comments by the reviewer, Bruce Ramsey as well as a quote by Mr. Proctor. How far we have traveled these past few years and how indifferent we have become to philosophies that should make us shudder with revulsion.
Mr. Ramsey introduces the book by noting that the Nazis killed millions and corrupted science yet, "in cancer research and public health it [the Third Reich] was progressive." These days when I hear a policy or a school of thought described as "progressive", visions of swastikas dance before my eyes. Further reading revealed the progressivism of the Nazis as described concisely by a quote from Mr. Proctor.
"What was new in the Nazi period were augmented police and legislative powers to implement broad preventative measures, and the much-touted `political will' to deploy those powers to strengthen the health of the nation."
And just what were these broad preventative measures? In addition to a back-to-nature kick advocating whole grain bread, well balanced diets and adherence to physical fitness regimes, the German state cracked down on tobacco use. The Nazis indeed did pioneer smoking bans, anti-tobacco propaganda campaigns and restrictions on who could smoke, all to maintain the good health of the German people who Hitler and his minions regarded as property of the state.
The Third Reich was quite clear that upon the health of its citizens rested the nation's ability to fight its enemies, provide the production to keep the engines turning and the ability to reproduce the workers and warriors needed to maintain the regime for a thousand years. In America none of these goals are ever stated but current health policies, especially as they pertain to tobacco, reveal that Big Health is spiritually and intellectually linked to the Nazi regime.
In FORCES today is a chilling story of a working class Joe who is enmeshed in the gears of the legal system because he sold cigarettes to an underage agent supplied with a phony ID, provided by the State of Hawaii. Under that state's law, it appears he doesn't have the right to present a defense or receive representation from the Public Defender Office that routinely provides legal aid to murderers and rapists. In California, the city of Santa Barbara is augmenting its "smoke patrol" to stamp out illegal smoking in bars while San Diego County cracks down on a rebellious city whose independent residents believe that smoking in a bar is a right that Americans should enjoy.
The old chestnut about placing a frog into a pan of water then gradually increasing the heat until the animal expires by boiling is no longer an interesting experiment in death by lethargy but is an accurate assessment of the danger this country faces from anti-tobacco and its partner, Big Health. We're now so progressive that anti-smoker Adolph Hitler would be far more welcome in the best of salons than would smokers Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Citizens as property of the state is implicitly a legitimate concept through employment and housing discrimination as well as the massive effort to marginalize people who refuse to worship at the alter of good health.
The reviewer of Proctor's book notes that the author of "The Nazi War on Cancer" has little patience with those who call today's anti-tobacco crusaders "health nazis". His business is history, not judgment but when judgment is suspended and "progressive" policies are lauded uncritically, the seeds of tyranny, always ready to sprout, are sure to flourish.
Enoch A. Ludlow