Bryan Fischer: American Indians Should Have ‘Assimilated’
Evidently, no amount of scorn is going to prevent Bryan Fischer, chief mouthpiece for the American Family Association (AFA), from asserting that the white European settlers of the New World and their descendants had the moral, Christian authority to conquer the natives of North America and appropriate their historical homelands.
Fischer recently posted an essay on the AFA’s Rightly Concerned blog arguing that Pocahontas — the 17th century American Indian who, according to legend, prevailed upon her father not to execute English settler John Smith, and who later converted to Christianity, married a white European settler, bore him a son, and embraced English culture — is the model that all of North America’s indigenous people should have followed. In that way, Fischer wrote, they would have smoothly adapted to the “superior” culture of the new arrivals and avoided centuries of bloodshed and suffering.
“It’s arresting to think of how different the history of the American settlement and expansion could have been if the other indigenous peoples had followed Pocahontas’ example,” Fischer wrote in his Feb. 15 post. “She not only recognized the superiority of the God whom the colonists worshipped over the gods of her native people, she recognized the superiority (not the perfection) of their culture and adopted its patterns and language as her own. In other words, she both converted and assimilated. … Had the other indigenous people followed her example, their assimilation into what became America could have been seamless and bloodless. Sadly, it was not to be.”
The blog post was Fischer’s unrepentant follow-up to a Feb. 9 essay in which he asserted that American Indians deserved be conquered by European whites — he didn’t mention them being driven off their land, confined to reservations and subjected to a near-total genocide — because they failed to embrace Christianity. “Superstition, savagery and sexual immorality” morally disqualified Native Americans from “sovereign control of American soil,” Fischer said in the earlier post. That, plus the superior battle skills of Europeans gave the latter “rightful and legal sovereign control” of American land through “the right of conquest,” he wrote.
So incendiary was that post that the AFA, which has tolerated some truly remarkable commentary from Fischer (see here, here, here, here and here, for instance) since it hired him in 2009, pulled it down. In a subsequent post that attempted to explain what had happened, Fischer complained that “America is not mature enough” for a dialogue about the “moral and ethical basis for our displacement of native American tribes, and if our westward expansion and settlement are in fact consistent with the laws of nature, nature’s God, and the law of nations.” Readers who posted comments to this non-apology from Fischer were almost universally condemnatory. “If what you say is right,” said a self-described conservative evangelical Christian, “then I guess the extermination of millions of Jews was just laws of nature, or nature’s God. … Unbelievable!” Another wrote, “Wow. You are a deeply stupid man.” (Credit where it is due: AFA and Fischer have allowed posting of the critical comments.)
The mushrooming criticism didn’t chasten Fischer one bit. In his latest essay, he extolled Pocahontas’ conversion to Christianity and her newly formed devotion to the English. Her conversion occurred in 1613, ironically, while she was a prisoner of the English – making her perhaps the continent’s first victim of Stockholm syndrome.
Had Pocahontas known that four centuries later, a bigot like Bryan Fischer would state that her people deserved to be eradicated from the continent because they didn’t follow her example of deference and submission to the English, she might have let her father execute John Smith after all.
Native Americans should have assimilated?
No, Bryan Fischer, you stinking pile of two-day-old feces.
White Europeans should have assimilated to Native American’s reverence of the land.
White Europeans should have gotten down on their knees and thanked the Native Americans for saving them from starvation, for showing them kindness, time and time again.
White Europeans should have been thankful for the bounty of this land, instead of slaughtering the mighty bisons to near extinction, the wolf, the bear, and so many other animals the Native Americans used for sustenance, but the barbaric hordes of White Europeans have decimated.
White Europeans should have begged, pled, groveled for forgiveness for the hells and venomous mistreatment that has been inflicted on Native Americans.
“…….white European settlers of the New World and their descendants had the moral, Christian authority to conquer the natives of North America and appropriate their historical homelands.”
No, you piece of refuse, White Europeans had no right to “conquer” peoples of the New World. Europeans had no right to steal and kill to take what did not rightfully belong to them. Only a lowlife pile of garbage believes they have the right to do wrong just because they are technologically strong. Just because a person weighs more, can outgun, can quickly destroy, does not give them any moral or Christian right to do evil and genocide.
Those are the actions of a hellbound piece of filth.
“Superior culture”, eh?
No, savage, the superior culture was already here. It was nearly wiped out by the greedy heathens that you so lovingly worship.
As for assimilation—Native Americans tried to assimilate: Five Civilized Tribes, remember them? They assimilated big time—adopting American race-based slavery, adopting farming systems from Whites, wearing European clothes, learning English, and where did it get them?
Oh, yeah, the infamous brutal Trail of Tears, theft of their land, their people flung across America away from their ancestral homeland as they like all the other tribes were herded onto reservations.
“Had Pocahontas known that four centuries later, a bigot like Bryan Fischer would state that her people deserved to be eradicated from the continent because they didn’t follow her example of deference and submission to the English, she might have let her father execute John Smith after all.”
Had I access to a time machine, I would have gone back in time and given her, and the tribes some AK-47s, most especially some AA-12 Automatic Assault 12-gauge shotguns, and all the ammo she would have needed to obliterate the soon-to-be destroyers that came from Europe and invaded this land.
I recently viewed the movie Teeth (premeire date January 19, 2007, with a limited opening release on January 19, 2008).
It is a horror-comedy, that not only has bite, but, has a very decidedly feminist twist to it as well.
The film centers aound a young woman, Dawn, who with her family lives in the shadow of a nuclear power plant. Dawn is struggling with her sexual awakening. She joins an abstinence group for teenagers at her school, and puts on the red ring of purity. When she was a child, her brother found out that sticking one’s fingers where they don’t belong can invite painful consequences, but, as a child, Dawn did not yet realize the profound difference her body held. But, when she became a teenager, awakenings in her would soon reveal how very different she was from other girls.
While taking biology classes, Dawn realizes that she has an “adaptation” that makes her body different from other women’s. As a teenager, Dawn decided to maintain her purity until marriage, until two young men, Tobey and Ryan, wanted to have sex with revealed to her that her body harbors a form of protection when she is faced with male violence.
Near the end of the movie, after removing four fingers from a gynecologist’s hand during a Pap exam, and after performing total surgical penectomy on her brother Brad, Dawn has finally come to grips with her unique condition, and at the film’s end is very aware of what she can do to men who make sexual advances against her.
Teeth is great a movie, and it does bring up issues of sex, rape, sexual violence, sexual coercion, as well as the fear of sex itself, but most especially, the fear and vilification of woman’s sexuality.
The film is based on an ancient myth of the vagina that harbors teeth: the vagina dentata (Latin for “toothed vagina.”)
The myth is found in various ancient and contemporary cultures around the world:
“The myth of the vagina dentata, or vagina with teeth, derives from primitive masculine dreads of the “mysteries” of women and sexual union. It evokes castration anxiety, whereby the man fears loss of the penis during intercourse, and more generally it relates to fears of weakness, impotence, or annihilation by incorporation (connected to unconscious notions of “returning to the womb”).
— Stories of the vagina dentata persist in aboriginal myths and legends (Egyptian, Indo-European, Greek, Native American, African), as well as in contemporary narratives, such as vulgar sexist jokes.
— Sublimated expressions of this dread underlie stories of post-coital loss of strength, such as the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, or the deep social resonance of the recent (1993) Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt incident in America.
— Many narratives of “hero vs. monster” also rely on the myth: for instance, Oedipus and the Sphinx, whose mythic structure underlies Benchley’s novel, Jaws.
— Some cultural surgical practices, such as clitoridectomies and other female genital mutilations (including modern episiotomies), also relate to the myth. These practices physically inscribe an assertion of masculine domination that implies a dread of feminine powers.
From a contemporary, feminist, psychoanalytic perspective, Elizabeth Grosz writes:
“The fantasy of the vagina dentata, of the non-human status of woman as android, vampire or animal, the identification of female sexuality as voracious, insatiable, enigmatic, invisible and unknowable, cold, calculating, instrumental, castrator/decapitator of the male, dissimulatress or fake, predatory, engulfing mother, preying on male weakness, are all consequences of the ways in which male orgasm has functioned as the measure and representative of all sexualities and all modes of erotic encounter.”
The history of rape in the world has created destruction against women’s bodies and minds. In the last several years in parts of Africa alone, rape has increased horrifically. So brutal have been the numerous rapes against defenseles women that Sonnet Ehlers, a South African woman, invented a condom protective device to protect women against rapists. After a rape victim came to her clinic and stated “If only I had teeth down there,” Ms. Ehler created the condom, Rape-Axe, which is inserted into a woman’s vagina, and aims to protect her against rape. Per Ms. Ehler’s website:
“I have been accused of all sorts, my all-time favourite though is that I am the inventor of a most medieval device… my response, quite frankly is that a medieval deed deserves a medieval consequence. It’s the twenty first century, man has supposedly evolved into a more civilised being… yet rape statistics are on the rise! Child and infant rape has increased 400% over the last decade!
My second favourite criticism comes from Victoria Kaija, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Uganda. She refers to my invention as a form of ‘enslavement’. Apparently wearing the device, according to Victoria, is a constant reminder, to women, of their vulnerability. My aim with the device is to empower women and promote gender equality. If men can use their bodies – their manhood, as a weapon of attack – well then it’s time for women to do the same! The fear and vulnerability that I saw in the tear-filled eyes of a rape victim is what drove me to begin my action against rape. “If only I had teeth down there,” were the words of this victim, and that was the prompt towards the development of Rape-aXe.”
The device has its detractors, claiming Ms. Ehlers’ invention is “vengeful, horrible, and disgusting” and oppose its sale to the public.
It is like we are going back to the days where women were forced to wear chastity belts. It is a terrifying thought that women are being made to adapt to rape by wearing these devices … Women would have to wear this every minute of their lives on the off-chance that they would be raped.—Lisa Vetten (Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa)
This is a medieval instrument, based on male-hating notions and fundamentally misunderstands the nature of rape and violence against women in this society.—Charlene Smith
Ms. Ehler responded to the criticisms: “As with everything in life there will be negative attitudes and I can’t be responsible for people who refuse to educate men and feel the device is medieval,” and responds by calling the Rape-aXe “a medieval device for a medieval deed.”
The device has been compared to the ancient chastity belts of the 15TH Century, but, would not rape itself, as well as other forms of sexual abuse, be considered a nail in the coffin of women’s rights to navigate this world?
Should not the act of rape be continuously challenged and eradicated from women and girl’s lives?
Should not men’s attitude towards rape, domestic violence, and sexual coercion be addressed?
The fact that such a device as Rape-Axe was created is testament to the reality that rape can be a factor in women’s lives no matter where they live, no matter how they dress, walk, or talk; no matter whether they are a virgin, sexually active, a married woman, a little girl of eight, a seventy-year-old woman, or a nun.
As the following article attests, the hells that so many Black women suffered during the reign of Jane Crow segregation are swept under the rug, forgotten, as if Black American women had it so easy during the nadir of pigmentocracy.
Mrs. Recy Taylor tells her story of the brutal gang rape she suffered at the hands of things that looked like men, but were in no way men; they were less than the spit from a dog’s mouth.
There are countless Black women like Recy Taylor who still live. Black women who suffered through the racial-sexual pogroms of Jane Crow segregation.
Black women who walk amongst us, shouldering the heavy burden of atrocities committed against them.
Atrocities which will never be given justice in their lives.
Recy Taylor: A Symbol of Jim Crow’s Forgotten Horror
After her brutal gang rape, Recy Taylor became a global symbol of American injustice and helped inspire the civil rights movement. So why has nobody heard of her today?
Sept. 3, 1944: It’s a damp evening in the Alabama black belt, nearly midnight, but services at Rock Hill Holiness Church in the small town of Abbeville have just let out. Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old sharecropper, sets out along the town’s fertile peanut plantations, accompanied for the walk home by two other worshippers from the African-American congregation. Moments later, a green Chevrolet rolls by — and their routine journey takes a horrifying turn.
Wielding knives and guns, seven white men get out of the car, according to Taylor and witnesses from a state investigation of the case. One shoves Taylor in the backseat; the rest squeeze in after her and ride off. Her panicked friends run to tell the sheriff.
After parking in a deserted grove of pecan trees, the men order the young wife and mother out at gunpoint, shouting at her to undress. Six of them rape Taylor that night. Once finished, they drive her back to the road, ordering her out again before roaring off into the darkness.
Days after the brutal attack, Taylor’s story traveled through word of mouth, catching the attention of a Montgomery NAACP activist named Rosa Parks. A seasoned anti-rape crusader, who focused on the sexual assaults of black women that were commonplace in the segregated South, Parks would eventually help bring the case international notice. Despite her efforts, however, in Jim Crow-era Alabama, Taylor’s assailants were never punished.
It’s curious, to say the least, that Taylor’s name is not mentioned in history books. While most analyses of circumstances that inspired the civil rights movement focus on black men — being lynched or railroaded into jail, or facing down segregationists — the stories of countless black women like Recy Taylor, who were raped by white men during the same era, have gone understated, if not overlooked entirely.
Nearly 70 years later, having such a brutal attack swept under the rug is still a source of pain for a surviving victim.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
“Wasn’t nothing done about it,” Taylor, now 91, told The Root in a phone interview from her Florida home. “The sheriff never even said he was sorry it happened. I think more people should know about it … but ain’t nobody [in Abbeville] saying nothing.”
Organizing a National Movement
At the time, others — more than she ever knew — did speak out in defense of Taylor. Her brother Robert Corbitt, now 74, was just 8 years old when his eldest sister was kidnapped, but he remembers that night well, and all that followed.
He recalls crying on the porch of their childhood home as their father, Benny Corbitt, went out looking for her. “He came back by the house about three times, and each time, his shirt was wringing with sweat,” he told The Root. “Nobody slept that night.”
Two days later, he remembers, someone threw a firebomb at the home of Taylor, her husband and their 3-year-old daughter. “After that, they moved in with us,” said Corbitt. “At night, my father would sit in a tree and guard the house with a shotgun.”
The following month, in a farce of a grand jury trial at which none of the assailants even showed up, an all-white, all-male jury elected not to indict.
The family didn’t know it back then, but Parks, dispatched by the Montgomery NAACP to investigate the case, was setting the gears in motion for a far-reaching campaign. “Miss Parks told me to go with her to Montgomery until things were clear,” said Taylor, who stayed for three months in a rooming house, arranged for by Parks, before returning home. “She was trying to get something done. I’m not sure what. I was young and didn’t know nothing about law and stuff like that.”
Parks saw an opportunity to hold up Taylor’s story as a national example of Southern injustice. She partnered with other progressive groups — including the now mostly forgotten Southern Negro Youth Congress, the defense team of the Scottsboro Boys, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and other labor organizers, as well as communist networks — to form the Alabama Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor. The coalition became a national movement that the Chicago Defender called “the strongest campaign for equal justice to be seen in a decade,” and daily stories on the case were printed in newspapers across the nation, from Baltimore to Los Angeles.
But not in the tiny town of Abbeville, where Taylor’s family was largely unaware of the proceedings. Corbitt had quite a shock, years later, as a soldier stationed in Germany. “A German guy asked me where I was from, and when I told him Alabama, he started to tell a story he knew about that happened there,” he said. “He was talking about my sister.”
Danielle McGuire, an assistant professor of history at Wayne State University and author of the recently published book At the Dark End of the Street, documenting Taylor’s story as well as others from the civil rights era, says that the broader goal of the Committee for Equal Justice was to quash the legacy of Jim Crow. “They used the horror of her story to highlight the hypocrisy of the United States — at war around the world for democracy, and yet there was no democracy at home,” McGuire told The Root. “They might have not seen Recy Taylor as sophisticated enough to be a spokesperson for the campaign, so a lot of this was organized without the family’s knowledge.”
The effort included a massive letter-writing campaign to Alabama Gov. Chauncey Sparks in order to shame the state into bringing Taylor’s abductors to trial. Worried about the impact on Alabama’s reputation, Sparks arranged an investigation and even got admission statements from the assailants. “He and the attorney general believed the guys were guilty, and they were ready to do something,” explained McGuire. The only problem was that in Alabama law, a criminal case can’t proceed without an indictment in the county where the crime happened.
“They just were not going to indict their neighbors and sons in Abbeville,” said McGuire. There was no further hearing.
A Forgotten History
As the years passed, talk of the incident faded out. Somewhere along the way, it seems that history also forgot Recy Taylor and black women like her, many of whom also testified about the crimes committed against them. Although some African-American historians, such as Darlene Clark Hine, have cited incidents of rape as catalysts for the Great Migration, it hasn’t been part of the civil rights story in the major historical world.
“I think that has to do with, on some level, historians having a narrow focus on what ‘civil rights’ means,” said McGuire. “It has always meant voter registration and desegregation of public accommodations and schools, but in the 1940s in particular, the movement was really focused on human rights.”
Meanwhile, Taylor and her family did their best to forget and move on. Corbitt eventually settled in New York City, but during a visit home in 1999, he and his sister got to talking about the rape. “She started to cry,” he said. “I didn’t realize she was still hurting that bad. She tried to hold it inside all those years, but she talked freely to me. When I retired in 2001 and moved back to Abbeville, I decided to devote my time to trying to find some way to help her get justice.”
Corbitt spent days at the library, poring over microfilms of newspapers from the era. Nothing turned up but missing pages. The county courthouse had no record of the incident. He had nearly given up when, in 2008, he typed his sister’s name into an online search engine. Up popped an essay by Danielle McGuire referencing the case. Finally: historical recognition that this had happened.
“The article said the name of the man that held the gun on her and forced her to get in the car,” Corbitt said. “Just exposing this man’s name was a little measure of justice.”
After meeting McGuire and learning more about Abbeville’s handling of his sister’s assault, he redirected his anger from the rapists to the police. “All of the men admitted that they kidnapped and raped her, but the police covered for them and said they didn’t do it,” he said. “That was a hard pill to swallow.”
Corbitt doesn’t think he’s asking for much these days. “I’d like a public apology from the city of Abbeville and the state of Alabama,” he said. “Most of the white people here don’t know anything about what happened, because the police kept it such a secret.”
It’s unclear what legal options the family has today, but because Alabama has no statute of limitations on rape, McGuire posits that Taylor’s case could potentially be reopened if the assailants are still alive. “There may be a possibility that they could sue the county or sheriff’s department for obstruction of justice, given the cover-up,” she said. “A creative attorney could certainly find a way.”
As for Taylor, she agrees with her brother that an apology is the least anyone could do. She also blames herself for some of the hush-hush nature of her story. “I should have talked more about it too myself,” she said. “At the time, I didn’t want nobody to think something like that happened to me. I thought folks were going to talk about me and say, ‘You was raped.’ I was ashamed of it, and I didn’t know how to go about talking about it.”
She pauses, lost for a moment in her thoughts. “It was a long time ago,” she says finally. “But I still think something should have been done about it.”
Cynthia Gordy is the Washington reporter for The Root.
DWAYNE MCDUFFIE, COMIC-BOOK WRITER
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: February 23, 2011
Dwayne McDuffie, a comic-book writer known for diversifying the pantheon of superheroes, creating popular black characters in print and on television, died in Burbank, Calif., on Monday, the day after his 49th birthday.
John Sotomayor/The New York Times
Dwayne McDuffie’s stewardship the Justice League of America added new black and female characters.
Dwayne McDuffie diversified the ranks of superheroes with characters like Static, above.
Mr. McDuffie was best known as a founder of Milestone Media, described by The Plain Dealer of Cleveland in 2000 as “the industry’s most successful minority-owned-and-operated comic company.”
An independent company whose work is distributed by DC Comics, Milestone produces comics with ethnically diverse casts. Among its major characters (all of whom Mr. McDuffie helped create, in collaboration with illustrators and other writers) are Static, Icon and Hardware, all of whom are African-American; Xombi, who is Asian-American; and the Blood Syndicate, a crime-fighting group of men and women that includes blacks, Asians and Latinos.
Static, perhaps the most famous, is the alter ego of a mild-mannered teenager, who uses secret electromagnetic powers to do valiant things. Mr. McDuffie named Static’s alter ego Virgil Hawkins, after the black man who waged a midcentury fight to be admitted to law school at the University of Florida, a process that eventually led to the desegregation of Florida’s public university system.
That comic inspired the animated television series “Static Shock,” originally broadcast on the WB television network from 2000 to 2004, for which Mr. McDuffie was a creator, story editor and writer.
Mr. McDuffie’s other screen credits include writing and producing several mainstream animated series for television, including “Ben 10: Alien Force” and “Justice League.” Under his stewardship the Justice League of America — predominantly an old boys’ club featuring white males like Batman and Superman — added new black and female characters.
Dwayne Glenn McDuffie was born in Detroit on Feb. 20, 1962. Growing up, he later said, he encountered few comic-book characters who looked like him; he encountered fewer still who were simultaneously black, heroic and even remotely authentic.
“You only had two types of characters available for children,” Mr. McDuffie told The New York Times in 1993. “You had the stupid angry brute and the he’s-smart-but-he’s-black characters. And they were all colored either this Hershey-bar shade of brown, a sickly looking gray or purple. I’ve never seen anyone that’s gray or purple before in my life. There was no diversity and almost no accuracy among the characters of color at all.”
Mr. McDuffie received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan, followed by a master’s in physics there; he later studied film at New York University. After a stint as a copy editor at Investment Dealers’ Digest, he took a job as an editor with Marvel Comics in 1987.
At Marvel Mr. McDuffie helped develop the company’s first line of superhero trading cards and wrote for established series like Spider-Man and Captain Marvel. He also created Damage Control, a mini-series published at intervals from the late ’80s to the present. Mr. McDuffie devised the series to address a long-overlooked but perennially nagging question: Who cleans up the comic-book universe after the preternaturally messy battles between the forces of good and evil?
After leaving Marvel in 1990, Mr. McDuffie did freelance work for DC and other comic publishers before founding Milestone with three partners in the early ’90s. The company’s first comics appeared in 1993 and were published regularly by DC until 1997 and in reprints afterward; two new Milestone series, Xombi and Static Shock, are scheduled to be published by DC this year.
Mr. McDuffie’s honors include a Humanitas Prize in 2003 for an episode of “Static Shock” about gun violence.
Mr. McDuffie’s first marriage, to Patricia Younger, ended in divorce. He married Charlotte Fullerton, a writer of comic books and animated TV shows, in 2009. She survives him, as does his mother, Edna McDuffie Gardner.
To those who thought comic books unlikely vehicles for advancing social justice, Mr. McDuffie’s reply was simple.
“You don’t feel as real if you don’t see yourself reflected in the media,” he told The Chicago Sun-Times in 1993. “There’s something very powerful about seeing yourself represented.”
EDWIN KILBOURNE, FLU VACCINE EXPERT
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Published: February 24, 2011
Dr. Edwin D. Kilbourne, a medical researcher who figured out how to outwit fast-evolving flu germs, developing a new vaccine each year by intermingling genes of different disease strains, died Monday in Branford, Conn. He was 90.
Dr. Edwin Kilbourne in 1973.
For all his prestigious discoveries, awards and positions, Dr. Kilbourne had his greatest visibility during the swine flu epidemic of 1976. When a soldier died at Fort Dix, N.J., after being infected by a particularly virulent flu virus, Dr. Kilbourne wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times warning of a worldwide flu pandemic, and personally led in developing a vaccine to meet its challenge.
President Gerald R. Ford ordered 200 million doses of the vaccine to be administered to that many Americans. Dr. Kilbourne was a principal adviser to the president on the program. But even as the disease seemed to subside on its own, several hundred people who received shots contracted a kind of paralysis. Some died.
Time magazine asserted that “election-year fever” had prompted the president to move quickly, while The Times called Mr. Ford’s scientific advisers “panicmongers.” The program was stopped after 43 million vaccinations.
A causative connection between the vaccinations and the paralytic syndrome was never proved. And Dr. Kilbourne remained convinced that the mass vaccinations were the right policy, pointing out that the virus that killed the soldier bore a sinister resemblance to the pandemic of 1918-19, which infected two billion people around the world and killed 20 million to 40 million. He also warned that the disease could be hibernating, which he had proved it could do.
“Better a vaccine without an epidemic than an epidemic without a vaccine,” he said years later. He called the episode “my 15 minutes of infamy.”
Although Dr. Kilbourne never stopped believing that Mr. Ford’s aggressive actions were warranted, only 230 cases of flu were diagnosed at Fort Dix, and none elsewhere.
Of the 43 million who got flu shots, 535 came down with the paralytic syndrome known as Guillain-Barré; 23 of them died.
Dr. Kilbourne’s early research examined links between hormones and viruses, but it was his work on the flu that earned him global note as early as the mid-1950s. His goal was to find weapons to combat the flu virus comparable to the way penicillin fights bacterial infections.
He was up against one of the most fickle, enigmatic, persistent microbes to attack man or beast. These microbes are capable of changing their surface characteristics to elude barriers the body has erected against them. Dr. Kilbourne’s solution was to mix, or “recombine,” the genes of different strains of the virus to “persuade” the body to come up with new defenses.
“This accomplishment represents the first deliberate genetic engineering of any vaccine,” the New York Academy of Medicine said in presenting Dr. Kilbourne with its highest award in 1983. For years after, he created annual versions of flu vaccine targeted at emerging viruses.
In 1973, Dr. Kilbourne proposed that worldwide epidemics might be terrestrial “Andromeda strains” coming to man from the barnyard and then retreating to await the next great outbreak. “The Andromeda Strain” in Michael Crichton’s novel of that name is an organism from outer space that Earth is not prepared to handle.
In delivering the R. E. Dyer lecture to the National Institutes of Health in 1973, Dr. Kilbourne suggested that two conditions must be met for a new viral strain to go from swine or other animals to man. One was the random recombination of a virus, making it infectious to man. The other was an ecological niche for the virus in a human population unprepared to fight back.
“If my hypothesis is correct,” he said, “the pandemic viruses of tomorrow and of remote yesterdays may already exist in our domestic animals today.”
Edwin Dennis Kilbourne was born on July 10, 1920, in Buffalo. He graduated from Cornell University in 1942 and Cornell Medical College in 1944. For the next two years he served in the Army, where he became intrigued with influenza while treating soldiers.
He next worked as a researcher at the Rockefeller Institute before working at four medical schools: Tulane, Cornell, Mount Sinai (as chairman of the microbiology department) and New York Medical College.
Dr. Kilbourne is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Joy Schmid; his sister, Sylvia Hosie; his half-sister, Lynn Norton; his sons, Edwin, Richard, Christopher and Paul; and eight grandchildren.
Over the desk in Dr. Kilbourne’s laboratory, the most prominent award, obscuring honors like his membership in the National Academy of Sciences, was a plaque honoring his contribution to his team’s 1988-89 victory in a men’s bowling league in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.
He was also a published poet, devoted to extolling the bizarre mating habits of animals like hairy-legged fruit flies. A paean to the bighorn ram illustrates:
His wooly wooing is neither smooth nor is it unctuous,
And therefore can be fairly termed rambunctious.
EDWARD ZIGO, A DETECTIVE IN THE ‘SON OF SAM’ CASE
By JOSEPH BERGER
Published: February 22, 2011
Edward Zigo, a seasoned New York detective who helped arrest David Berkowitz for the so-called Son of Sam serial murders, which terrorized New York in the mid-1970s, died Saturday at his home in Lynbrook, on Long Island. He was 84.
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Edward Zigo with David Berkowitz, known as the Son of Sam, in August 1977. Mr. Zigo had searched Mr. Berkowitz’s car.
His death was confirmed by Michael Grant, a director of the Flinch & Bruns Funeral Home in Lynbrook. The Associated Press reported that he died of cancer.
The Son of Sam case was one of New York City’s signature crimes. Starting in July 1976, a serial killer wielding a .44 caliber Charter Arms revolver preyed on young women or couples in Queens and the Bronx. By the summer of 1977, the toll had reached five dead and six injured. A bizarre four-page letter, addressed to Capt. Joseph Borrelli, the head of the homicide unit for Queens, and peppered with allusions to vampires and monsters, heightened the unease by warning that he would strike again.
When the killer shot Stacy Moskowitz, his sixth murder victim, and wounded a companion in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn on July 31, 1977, Mr. Zigo, a homicide detective at the time, was assigned to work on the case with Detective John Falotico, Mr. Borrelli said Tuesday. Fifty detectives had already been assigned to the manhunt in a task force known as Operation Omega.
A significant break in the case came when a woman walking her dog the night of the Moskowitz murder remembered seeing an officer ticketing cars. Another detective, James Justus, followed up on the tickets, one of which had been issued to a David Berkowitz of Yonkers for a Ford Galaxie parked too close to a fire hydrant.
According to an account of the case in Jonathan Mahler’s 2005 chronicle of the year 1977, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning,” Detective Justus called the Yonkers police and reached the switchboard operator, who turned out to be the daughter of Sam Carr, a neighbor of Mr. Berkowitz. Mr. Berkowitz later told the police that Mr. Carr’s dog was giving him instructions to kill.
On the afternoon of Aug. 10, Mr. Zigo arrived outside the apartment house where Mr. Berkowitz lived and saw the Ford Galaxie. In its back seat, he spotted a duffel bag containing a rifle. In the glove compartment, he found a letter threatening to attack a disco. “Eddie said the writing resembled what I had shown him,” Mr. Borrelli said.
The police waited until Mr. Berkowitz emerged and got into his car. Detective Falotico, his gun drawn, approached the car and ordered Mr. Berkowitz out.
“You got me,” Mr. Berkowitz said, adding a moment later, “I’m the Son of Sam.”
When Mr. Berkowitz was led into the 84th Precinct station house the next day, with an army of photographers and reporters recording the event, Detectives Zigo and Falotico flanked him. For his role, Mr. Zigo was promoted to first-grade detective.
The A.P. reported that he is survived by his wife, Eileen; a son, Edward III; a daughter, Susan; and eight grandchildren.
Mr. Zigo, who retired from the police force in 1982, went on to have a brief movie career, playing law enforcement figures in two movies and working as a technical consultant on four others.
In a 1985 television movie about the Son of Sam case, “Out of the Darkness,” Mr. Zigo was portrayed by Martin Sheen.
NASA / GSFC / Arizona State Univ.
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