Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beware Of Jewish Doctors, 1937 Edition

by Stephen J. Gertz

The American Medical Association and the editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association come under attack in this thinly-veiled anti-Semitic rant in the form of a allegorical farce in dialogue published in 1937.

The characters who converse include Dr. Gil T. Conscience ("A little too honest to be a successful doctor"), Dr. Buryem Atta Profit ("In partnership with Mr. Undertaker"), Dr. Cuttem Upp ("A versatile surgeon cutting for money"), Dr. Smarty ("Talks too much and tells secrets of the American Meddlers Association"),  Dr. Skinnem Alive ("His scruples never interfere with his money-making"), Dr. Pop Off (" A free-thinker - resigned from the American Meddlers Association"), Dr. Getsum Moore ("A very frugal person with his eye on the money"), the Milo Brothers ("Owners of a great money-making hospital," i.e. the Mayo Clinic), and the Hebrew harbinger of all ill-health and medical hooey, Dr. Morey Fishback Kike ("A notorious quack and leader of the American Meddlers Association").

Dr. Kike is the thinly-veiled Dr. Morris Fishbein (1889-1976), editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association 1924-1950, founding Editor of Medical World News (1961), fierce crusader against medical quackery, and strong proponent of regulating medical devices, too many of which were useless yet heavily promoted cures for cancer and all manner of medical woe. For this, he was excoriated by fringe medicos, snake-oil charlatans, and desperate citizens willing to believe anything that promised them relief, no matter how hocus-pocus, unproven, and medical-sounding the malarkey. Evidenced-based medicine was the enemy, and the AMA a corrupt, hook-nosed medical-political machine that needed to be crushed if the profession was to remain open to new, promising therapies no matter how broken the promise, how gimcrack the gizmo.

There is, of course, no anti-Semitism intended in this scurrilous little pamphlet. It's only a coincidence that Dr. Kike is circumcised, has a Jewish-sounding name, and invites low ethnic epithet. To make sure readers understand her pure intent, Ms. Rogers, a naturopath, offers the following disingenuous defense in the Preface:

"Because the villain in this story happens to be a Jew, I do not wish to leave the impression that there is anything wrong with the Jewish people - their honesty, their integrity, or their methods of doing business. I am only using the term American Meddlers Association, because I have heard this term used in an amusing and interesting manner. As far as I know, there is no such association. Because the villain on this story happens to be a Jew whom I have heard called Dr. Morey Fishback Kike, does not mean that there is such a person."

In sum, it's the rich, money-grubbing Jewish doctors of the AMA who are putting the nation at risk, not good guys like Royal Rife, the microscoptician and electrical engineer who dreamed up a high-frequency emission machine that safely zapped cancer to death. Only it didn't. So the AMA banned it, thus insuring that they would be associated by some with the destruction of an innocent genius who got in its way and the snuffing-out of a medical entrepreneur whose only crime was innovation, not peddling false hope to the desperate. Think Laetrile.

Despite its defamatory nature, American  Meddlers Association was so highly regarded that during the 41st Congress of the American Naturopath Association one of the featured speakers ceded to Esther Rogers his time to address the assembly.

Full disclosure: I was, as a child, one of Dr. Fishbein's star medical students. His Handy Home Medical Advisor (1957) was my bible when seeking an innocuous yet serious-enough childhood ailment whose symptoms I could reasonably fake and get out of school for a day, a week, a month, and, in one case, four months - a miracle of modern medical science:

Based upon careful study of his description I successfully feigned infectious mononucleosis as a ten year old fourth-grader, so successfully that when tested by my pediatrician I actually had infectious mononucleosis. Dr. Fishbein was a genius, and I suspect that I was not the only kid who got through childhood by earning a Ph.D in Pre-Pubescent, Pubescent, and Adolescent Medical Truancy and Malingering while under his tutelage. He was a medical meddler only in the eyes of my parents. To me, he was Doc Marvel, The Man Who Made School Stop.

ROGERS, Esther. American Meddlers Association... Ethical -- Ultra-ethical! Kansass City, MO: Esther Rogers, 1937. First edition. Octavo. 32 pp. Original yellow-orange wrappers.

Image courtesy of Garrett Scott, the Bibliophagist, currently offering this item, with our thanks.

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