Baltimore Evening Sun (27 August 1913): 6.
Meanwhile, no one has seen or heard of a boomer for three months. Even the Hon. Charles H. Dickey has deserted the stage, and is in his dressing room washing up.
A DAILY THOUGHT. In Geldsachen hört die Gemüthlichkeit auf.–Booker T. Washington.
The hour of 2 P. M. having arrived, I rise in my place and respectfully renew my suggestion that a commission of first-rate medical men be appointed to look into the matter of Baltimore’s death rate. Far be it from me to cast any aspersion, even with the best of intentions, upon the Health Department. As a matter of fact, no other city department is better conducted, or has more competent men serving it. But like all of the others, it is the creature of the Mayor and City Council–and we all know what that blight means. On the one hand, we see the Job Hounds cutting off the mosquito appropriation and so paving the way for a recrudescence of malaria, our old foe. And on the other hand, we see the Hon. Dashing Harry, aided by the Hon. Sunday-school Field, LL. D., bawling donkeyishly that our drinking water is “above the average” and that we have little typhoid, and emptying the vials of his grotesque wrath upon all persons who protest against such fictioneering.
What we need is a thorough investigation of the whole problem by men skilled in sanitary science and uninfluenced by considerations of barroom politics and puerile boomery. Such a commission might be very well appointed by Dr. Goldsborough: the question of Baltimore’s health, indeed, is also the question of Maryland’s health. Perhaps the State Board of Health might serve as it stands. But it would be better, no doubt, to add the chief medical officers of the city Health Department, and representatives of the principal hospitals. The job is not one for politicians, nor even for statesmen. All of the problems before such a commission will be purely medical problems, and the one way to get them solved properly is to hand over the business to men properly equipped for it.
The present perunaism will get us nowhere. In one breath the Hon. Dashing Harry denies that we have an excess of typhoid and in the next breath he argues that the new filtration plant will cut it down. The first proposition is imbecile, and the second is more than dubious. Washington has an excellent filtration plant, and yet Washington still has a lot of typhoid. Nor is there much justification for putting all the blame on our milk supply. The Hgealth Deaprtment has devoted its best efforts to improving that supply, and yet typhoid continues. The truth is that much of our typhoid is probably brought into the city from the counties, where the disease has been endemic for years, and that it is then spread by direct contact.
The part played by our negroes in disseminating this and other infections deserves very careful consideration. The latest returns, true enough, show that the typhoid death rate among them is slightly less than that among the whites, but in the absence of accurate case rates this may merely indicate that the percentage of recoveries among them is higher, i. e., that they possess a certain degree of natural immunity, perhaps inherited. But they may still serve as very dangerous carriers, and there is good reason for believing that they do. Most of the foood eaten by Baltimoreans is prepared by negroes. The damage that may be done by one ambulant case, fresh from the country, is thus obvious.
The danger in tuberculosis is even plainer. The death rate from that disease is between three and four times as high among the negroes as among the whites. What is worse, it is a disease that kills slowly and is actively infectious throughout its course. This means that many consumptive negroes are constantly in our kitchens, not to mention our street cars and public buildings, and that we are thus exposed to infection at all times, no matter how carefully white consumptives are segregated. It has been the custom hitherto to regard the high negro death rate somewhat complacently, as a benign manifestation of natural selection. But the uncomfortable fact remains that a high death rate among negroes is bound to raise the death rate among whites. Our white death rate, in point of fact, is now considerably higher than the white death rate in any other American city of the first class.
What we need, no doubt, is a more vigorous war upon infectious diseases at their source–that is, in the negro quarter. At present we neglect that source. On the one hand, we have no effective machinery for the quarantining of infected negroes, and on the other hand we put penalties upon the negro who makes a spontaneous effort to improve his housing condition. I do not presume to discuss the merits of the segregation plans now being illuminated by eminent juriconsults on both sides, but it must be manifest that such plans, whatever their soothing effect upon the wounded pride of the interested whites, certainly do not help to make Baltimore more healthful.
Almost every other large city in Christendom is giving the problem of housing serious consideration, but in Baltimore we are content to leave our negroes in their squalid alleys. The worst of it is that these alleys are not grouped into a definite slum region, but are spread all over the city. The average Baltimorean has one of them at his very doors. With their filthy, tumble-down houses, many without even water connections, they constitute permanent foci of disease. Until they are wholly obliterated, it will be sheer folly to talk of stamping out tuberculosis and typhoid.
A chromo of the Muenchener Hofbräuhaus, autographed by Col. Jacobus Hook, to any prehensile pastor who will stand up in open meeting and admit that he was one of those who accepted the Hon. William H. Anderson’s secret offer.
The Hon. William H. Anderson in the American Issue:
If the majority party is not intelligent enough or its management is not honest enough to heed the demands of the moral sentiment * * *
This is the same “moral sentiment,” by the way, which approved the Hon. Mr. Anderson’s lamentable temptation of the friars minor. A very convenient and genial thing it is. For example, it enables the Hon. Eugene Levering to devote his life to denouncing his fellow-men, but forbids any criticism of the Hon. Mr. Levering himself. It is a moral sentiment especially designed to protect the inhabitants of glass houses. It is a moral sentiment made up of two parts hypocrisy and five parts plain buncombe.