Moral Courage

Kathy - Royal Oak, Michigan
Entered on March 4, 2009

The Preamble of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us: “… recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.” I believe it takes courage to speak truth to protect that right.

US Attorney General Eric Holder surprised his audience with a statement regarding our discussions about race; we have become “a nation of cowards.” I believe we live in polite denial that prejudices affect daily living for people of color. Yet, I believe that Americans possess the moral courage to face an issue of racial prejudice when informed of egregious violations of human rights.

How do we explain genocide masquerading as US Foreign Aid? How do we explain the choice of former Pres. Bush to fund DDT for 15 African countries to control malaria? His $1.6 billion program for Uganda, utilizing Indoor Residual Spraying applies DDT to indoor surfaces of dwellings for the poorest African communities. That’s daily exposure to a banned toxin.

Firstly, the media has neglected to inform us that increasing malaria deaths in Africa has been due to ineffective outdated pharmaceuticals being administered to patients seeking free treatment. Dispensing prescription drugs to patients when the malaria parasite has documented proven resistance to a product begs the question, “why?” Doctors Without Borders inform us that even now, the effective artemisinin-combination therapies are not available to the people in the areas they serve? They quote a price of 50 cents for each of 3 days for a child under 5 years of age. The adult dose costs $1.50 for each of 3 days to cure malaria. Why hasn’t all the aid money been funded for effective, cheap pharmaceuticals? Big Pharma has R&D paid for by the US government and NGO’s.

Use of DDT had been banned in the US because of concern for wildlife extinction. Presently, US Medical Schools fund departments for Human Reproductive Health and Environment. Pesticides/herbicides cause childhood cancers, birth defects, miscarriages, premature births despite high-risk care, developmental disorders in infants, breast cancer, early testicular cancers. DDT is an endocrine disruptor; it mimics the hormone estradiol, and stimulates cancer cells.

Agent Orange, the herbicide used in Viet Nam caused severe birth deformities and genetic damage to the offspring of those veterans. Gulf War Syndrome exposure to herbicides/pesticides has caused alarming rates of Multiple Sclerosis, and ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, as well as severe reproductive disease. Experts and veterans have testified before the U.S. Senate to provide such evidence.

Now, why are we willing to use a banned agent that exterminates life as American aid in Africa? Why aren’t we funding effective, cheap medicines to Africans? Tell me it isn’t because one race is considered expendable to decision makers in our government?

I am an optimist; and I believe Americans possess the courage to examine Pandora’s Box of Presidential Decisions.