The history behind the Tuskegee clinical trials could have influenced Jeremiah Wright’s belief in the HIV-conspiracy theory. It is not only from the history of these horrendous scientific trials, but in the present posture of our scientific community that may indeed point to Wright's fears and accusations as a timely subject.
For instance, look at Dr. James Watson, a renowned scientist noted for his Nobel Prize in discovering the DNA chemical structure. He went on a tour in the US speaking on the determination of intelligence through genetics. Unbelievably, he referred to specific races as having lower intelligence and advocated eugenics through genetic analysis of human DNA. His words and ideas reeked of racism and elitism, but colored with the sparkling lust and lure of scientific genetic advancements. When I saw Watson speak on these subjects in Connecticut in 2007, I was appalled and frightened not only at what Watson said, but by the reaction of the crowd. An estimated 500 people literally stood up and gave Watson a standing ovation. A few months later, I was relieved to hear of the public outcry from European community who had immediately cancelled Watson’s speaking tour upon hearing him. But it still disturbs me today at how the American people were fooled by Watson’s words, by his title, credentials and Nobel Prize.
And if some blacks believe (rightly or wrongly) that HIV was used or created purposely to reduce the black population, they would be even more frightened to know what racially targeted genetic technologies can now be created in a test tube these days. The scientific community, biomedical community and the US government, however, have intentionally downplayed the dangers associated with genetic technologies. A smoke screen of secrecy surrounding any form of scientific accident or abuse is protected by the institution of a self-policing policy without any laws to protect the public. Consequently, there are no legal remedies toward any unintentional or intentional atrocities that may have or will occur. Biotech workers rights for safety and health are also surprisingly non-existent. In fact, the United States government (OSHA) has even declared that “trade secrets” supersedes a worker’s right to biological exposure records which are necessary to obtain appropriate healthcare. This unprincipled scientific movement is consistent with keeping up the façade that current genetic technologies are safe and can do no harm. It provides assurance that the American public’s sight is limited only to the lust and attraction of scientific advancements and not to the serious dangers that they pose.
Our academic community, who has deeply embedded themselves in profit making industries all in the name of scientific advancement, has lost the equilibrium point with human rights, human dignity and public safety and no longer represent the public’s interest. Jeremiah Wright’s words may seem a bit controversial; but in fact, they are timely. The difference is, however, that today the inappropriate use of science affects us all, and not just the black population as seen in the shameful Tuskegee experiments.