The Road to the Concentration Camp
The Road to the Concentration Camp

enator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) has expressed his concern that the U.S. detention facility for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is not very different than the concentration camps, gulags, and “re-education” centers of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. Said Durbin, “If I read this [a report of alleged mistreatment of prisoners] to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings.”

What does Sen. Durbin know about fascism or communism, and what is the level of his concern for human beings? Is he some kind of expert in these ideologies? If he were, he would surely know that the road to slavery and death in the gas chambers doesn’t start with torture. He would know that the origin of these ideologies is much more humble and “humanitarian,” in their rallying concerns for the “well-being” of the common people—whether it be the “volk,” the “proletariat,” or the Cambodian peasantry. He would know that, between the origins of these totalitarian states and the current directions of our own, there are ominous parallels. In his half-hearted apology concerning his ludicrous but revealing comparison, Durbin stated, “I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood.” Can they ever!

In fact, Sen. Durbin is known for his stance for greater health education and reform, which presumably grows out of his “concern” for human beings. As the introducer of S. 722, the so-called Dietary Supplement Safety Act, Durbin is promoting a bill that carries a number of substantial initiatives aimed at counteracting certain freedom-of-choice safeguards contained in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), while opening the door to future FDA regulations and bans (can we say verboten?). Durbin has said, “It is impossible for anyone to calculate exactly how many people have had their lives ended or their health ruined by dangerous supplements since I first began working on this issue three years ago, but whether it was 500 or five, it was too many.” Seriously … is five too many? Is Durbin willing to push nutritional supplements into the pharmaceutical abyss of regulation and “protection” where, during the same three years, an estimated 390,000 people may have died as a direct result of regulated and protected drugs, and as many as 2,310,000 may have suffered injury?1 One thing is clear: Durbin is willing to jettison the right of the American public to choose among nutritional products—and to determine what they should and should not ingest—because as few as five people may have been injured.

The fascists were “concerned” for the health and welfare of human beings too. In the 25 “Guiding Principles” of the budding Nazi Party in 1920, the exuberant Adolf Hitler delared (Mein Kampf, Volume II, Chapter V) that: “We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle class …” (Principle #16); “The State must ensure that the nation’s health standards are raised by protecting mothers and infants …” (Principle #21); and “… our nation can achieve permanent health only from within on the basis of the principle, The common interest before self-interest.” (Principle #24). [emphases added]

While the Nazis called for the nationalization of healthcare, the Communists called for the institutionalization of health. They too were “concerned” for the welfare of human beings. Said Stalin, “The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic.” Yet this was the man who provided all Soviet citizens with “free” health care. No health system then or now has set goals as “high” as those of the USSR, and these goals were heartily endorsed. Said Stalin in 1936 in his Constitution speech, “Now we have a large, prosperous, internationalist state—it is so strong that many capitalist states can only dream of offering … guaranteed new rights: jobs, recreation, free education, and healthcare.” [emphasis added] Can anyone really believe for one minute that either Hitler or Stalin wanted his followers to be able to choose for themselves? Neither, apparently, does Durbin. He believes that if only five people were harmed in three years, a Nazi-like crackdown is justified. The Reichstag fire redux!

Durbin is also concerned about a high “quality” of healthcare and is convinced that only the state can provide these benefits. He voted “yes” on $40 billion per year for limited Medicare prescription drug benefits, “yes” on allowing patients to sue HMOs and collect punitive damages, and “yes” on including prescription drugs under Medicare. Moreover, Durbin is rated 100% by the APHA (American Public Health Association), the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, indicating a fanatical pro-public health record, something that both Hitler and Stalin would have cheerfully claimed for themselves.

Oh, yes: Durbin is a proponent of the World Health Organization, the food and drug regulatory body controlled by big drug companies. This is the group that has worked hard, with its Codex initiative, to classify all but the smallest amounts of vitamins or other nutritional supplements as drugs (presumably so that we can reduce the risks to zero). Fortunately, its effort to make nutrients verboten has been temporarily derailed by a decision that Codex, as it is now drawn, infringes the principle of proportionality, because basic principles of E.U. law—such as the requirements of legal protection, of legal certainty, and of sound administration—were not taken into account. Yet, sadly, there appears to be no principle for the right to choose.

The historical parallels are clear. Durbin is leery of provisions of healthcare that fall outside the state monopoly on health wisdom. So were Hitler and Stalin. The strange truth is that we do not yet have concentration camps in this country, but with dedicated politicians such as Durbin, we have the makings of the “guiding principles” that will make them inevitable if this goes on.


  1. Classen DC, Pestotnik SL, Evans RS, Lloyd JF, Burke JP. Adverse drug events in hospitalized patients. Excess length of stay, extra costs, and attributable mortality. JAMA 1997 Jan 22-29;277(4):301-6.

Take Action!

Oppose S. 722 now, by contacting your Congresscritters and expressing your opinion (politely). And while you’re at it, take the time to oppose The Dietary Supplement Access and Awareness Act (H.R. 3377), a much less visible but more diabolical bill introduced by Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-CA). Her bill calls for drug-like regulation of any and all products not classified as either a vitamin or a mineral. All herbs or other botanicals, as well as amino acids and any other dietary substances except vitamins and minerals, would be verboten. And don’t forget The DSHEA Full Implementation & Enforcement Act of 2003 (S. 1538), introduced by Sens. Tom Harken (D-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Even though Sen. Hatch was instrumental in the passage of DSHEA, he is not opposed to making DSHEA enforcement more “efficient” by giving the FDA $100 million, spread out over several years. The $100 million will not reform the FDA—we’ve all been around too long to be taken in by this—but it will in all likelihood serve to encourage them in their pursuit of creating a drug monarchy that embraces supplements as if they were drugs.

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