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I’ve just received one of those angry, ill-informed chain e-mails that shouts down (ignoring all facts) the evidence that the AIDS vector (not the source, mind you, but the e-mail fails to make that important distinction) entered the US in the body of a Haitian man.

Every disease needs a vector, and the vector has to come from somewhere. If you read the medical forensic study you would also find that the disease originated in Africa, appearing first among people who ate bush meat (chimpanzees) who were infected. Somehow the virus mutated and gained ability to spread human-to-human. (This is like eating cows that have eaten feed contaminated with cattle parts and coming down with mad cow disease. A similar disease exists among the few remaining cannibals in very remote sections of the South Pacific, who consume the brains of their victims. This “honor” goes to the victorious warrior and the chief, who then become paralyzed and die.)

Look, all influenzas begin in birds and then may mutate into forms that can infect humans (or other species) and perhaps become “airborne” (able to spread even without direct contact). In the late 1970s US President had the population who were willing be inoculated against swine flu (again, it arose in birds but mutated into a form that sickened pigs) with the result that a few hundred people died or were paralyzed for life by the effect of the shots, and no human case of swine flu was ever found. But also, the influenza pandemic that in 1918-19 killed perhaps 50 million people, mostly young adults (who actually died from hemorrhagic illnesses such as pneumonia after becoming weakened by the flu) has had its origin traced to a poultry farm in Missouri, where a young man in the farm family was drafted into the Army (it was WWI) and he gave it to his barracks at Ft. Devins not far, by the way from our home in Massachusetts.

On the other hand, European peoples brought (unwitting) syphilis back from the new world to the old, where kings and nobles died from it, and also brought their diseases such as measles and chicken-pox to the Americas and Hawaii with devastating deadly effect upon peoples who had not themselves mutated to develop resistance. European-origin whites don’t argue about that. In fact, they decry having knowingly given the Cherokee Indians disease-infested blankets on purpose – early germ warfare. And the Japanese released bubonic-plague fleas over China in 1937, prior to invading. So nobody is blaming the Haitian man, who surely was unknowing and may have in fact been heterosexual. Women in Africa are the chief victims of heterosexually-transmitted AIDS.

It all shows the basic truth about evolution, and that shouting truth down at best gains nothing and at worst can be harmful.
I am also very upset by the strain of anti-Semitism in the e-mail. Study the US civil rights area and history and you will find that blacks had no better friends than the Jews. That is true in every sphere, from courts of law, to baseball, to entertainment. Meanwhile, those principally engaged in the slave trade were Muslims, Christians, and even powerful African chieftains (and in the Middle East and Africa Muslims still are). Interestingly, the Jewish Kosher diet proscribes eating any carnivore (not just pigs and shellfish, or mixing meat and milk in the same unglazed vessel. The ancient Jews did not know the reasons, but they could observe the effects.

Did you know that all African lions have, and are resistant to, the feline leukemia that kills domestic cats? And that there are primates in Africa now with hemorrhagic fevers that occasionally mutate and kill people locally?

Only racist whites and missionaries (sometimes they’re one and the same, especially in the religious right in the USA) deny that all humans on the earth today evolved from ancestors in Africa. Wondrous things happen, and science, not shouting, can reveal how and when.

Face the truth and it will set you free.

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2 Comments »

Comment by jen at livingdominica Subscribed to comments via email
2007-11-05 17:55:40

Great post, Dan!

 
Comment by Dan
2007-11-06 20:31:24

Thank you!

 
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