Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Problem with Overkill

I was just reading about how scientists have uncovered why the 1918 Spanish Flu was so deadly, having killed up to 50 million people. The short answer is that people’s immune systems were overreacting to the illness and actually caused much more damage than the flu itself. That’s why young, healthy people were more likely to die from the illness than older, unhealthier people. Because the healthy person’s immune system was stronger, and thus could do more damage to the body in its efforts to fight the disease.

And to prevent such an occurrence today would involve suppressing the body’s natural response to the illness, as well as the illness itself. It seems nature has built-in boobytraps for us, and that it’s not necessarily best to go with what seems natural.

And it suddenly hit me that we see this same thing with the neo-con’s plan for fighting terror. Rather than targeting terrorism, they go into complete overkill mode. They’re all about invading countries, imprisoning enemies, destroying civil liberties, etc. And they honestly don’t care if they sweep-up innocent people, just as long as they catch a few baddies. For them, everyone not helping them fight is the enemy.

And it’s having similar results as the Spanish Flu, except with even more dire consequences. Sometimes, it’s not best to go with your gut instinct. Sometimes, nature can fool you into doing more harm than if you did nothing at all. And it’s certainly wrong to go into a full-on attack mode when a targeted response could work much better. The Republicans think that a big gun always works better than a small gun, and they need to understand that more damage is not necessarily better. I don’t think that viruses purposefully want to cause damage, but our human virus is most certainly benefiting from the neo-con response to it.


Kári Tulinius said...

The consequences of the Spanish Flu were a heckuvalot more dire than of either. 675,000 Americans died of it, 43.000 of which were soldiers. At least 20 million people died worldwide, I've seen figures up to a 100 million.

Kári Tulinius said...

First sentence should read: The consequences of the Spanish Flu were a heckuvalot more dire than of either Al Qaeda's actions or the neo-cons' plans.