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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 9, 2012


JAMA. 2012;307(18):1896. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.2970b

We print this week4 an extract from the Congressional Record, showing the desperate efforts being made by the opponents of health legislation to confuse the real issue and to create an impression, in the senatorial mind, of intense popular opposition to the Owen bill. All the usual political devices have been used. The appeal to religious and sectarian prejudices, the hint of awful conspiracies against the people, the garbled quotation, the playing on the ignorance of the public, the twisting of definitions, the resort to popular catchwords, the use of the present feeling against “trusts,” the parrot-like repetition of disproved and discredited charges—all these tricks of the political manipulator have been used. A considerable number of well-meaning but uninformed persons have been deceived by all this clamor, and have yielded to the common American instinct to sign any petition which may be presented to them. As Senator Owen says, the inspired character of such “appeals” is well known to all who have followed the fight for health legislation in the past two years. Yet to the average congressman such communications are not without effect; especially when not counteracted by expressions of contrary opinion. These carefully prepared and planned “petitions,” instigated by the organization which has led the opposition, should be nullified. Quality and not quantity, however, should be the aim. If every reader of THE JOURNAL will write his senator, setting forth his views on the Owen bill, and will secure similar action on the part of the ministers, lawyers, school teachers, club women and business men of his city, the effect on the senatorial mind cannot fail to be illuminating. Copies of the report of the senate committee containing the text of the bill can be obtained by writing to the American Medical Association. The present battle is one between intelligence and ignorance. Will you see that the influence of the educated, intelligent people of your town is exerted on the side of progress and health?