Poisoning the Wells with Ebola

The Confession of Agimet of Geneva, Châtel, October 20, 1348

The year of our Lord 1348.

On Friday, the 10th of the month of October, at Châtel, in the castle thereof, there occurred the judicial inquiry which was made by order of the court of the illustrious Prince, our lord, Amadeus, Count of Savoy, and his subjects against the Jews of both sexes who were there imprisoned, each one separately. This was done after public rumor had become current and a strong clamor had arisen because of the poison put by them into the wells, springs, and other things which the Christians use-demanding that they die, that they are able to be found guilty and, therefore, that they should be punished. Hence this their confession made in the presence of a great many trustworthy persons.

Agimet the Jew, who lived at Geneva and was arrested at Châtel, was there put to the torture a little and then he was released from it. And after a long time, having been subjected again to torture a little, he confessed in the presence of a great many trustworthy persons, who are later mentioned. To begin with it is clear that at the Lent just passed Pultus Clesis de Ranz had sent this very Jew to Venice to buy silks and other things for him. When this came to the notice of Rabbi Peyret, a Jew of Chambry who was a teacher of their law, he sent for this Agimet, for whom he had searched, and when he had come before him he said: “We have been informed that you are going to Venice to buy silk and other wares. Here I am giving you a little package of half a span in size which contains some prepared poison and venom in a thin, sewed leather-bag. Distribute it among the wells, cisterns, and springs about Venice and the other places to which you go, in order to poison the people who use the water of the aforesaid wells that will have been poisoned by you, namely, the wells in which the poison will have been placed.”

Agimet took this package full of poison and carried it with him to Venice, and when he came there he threw and scattered a portion of it into the well or cistern of fresh water which was there near the German House, in order to poison the people who use the water of that cistern. And he says that this is the only cistern of sweet water in the city. He also says that the mentioned Rabbi Peyret promised to give him whatever he wanted for his troubles in this business. Of his own accord Agimet confessed further that after this had been done he left at once in order that he should not be captured by the citizens or others, and that he went personally to Calabria and Apulia and threw the above mentioned poison into many wells. He confesses also that he put some of this same poison in the well of the streets of the city of Ballet.

He confesses further that he put some of this poison into the public fountain of the city of Toulouse and in the wells that are near the [Mediterranean] sea. Asked if at the time that he scattered the venom and poisoned the wells, above mentioned, any people had died, he said that he did not know inasmuch as he had left everyone of the above mentioned places in a hurry. Asked if any of the Jews of those places were guilty in the above mentioned matter, he answered that he did not know. And now by all that which is contained in the five books of Moses and the scroll of the Jews, he declared that this was true, and that he was in no wise lying, no matter what might happen to him.

I found this in the Internet Jewish History Sourcebook, a site maintained by Fordham University. I remember reading it a long time ago, probably when I was researching The New Hate, though I don’t see it in its index. Oh wait, there it is–in Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies, under AIDS in the Conspiracies section (I so wish that Vintage had made an index for that book!). “Denial, anger, and scapegoating are common reactions to a catastrophe of this magnitude,” I wrote.

Does it remind you of anything that’s going on in the news today?

Here’s another more proximate example of the same kind of thing. Last summer on the 700 Club, a visibly dotty Pat Robertson warned a caller about how gays in San Francisco were using specially made rings instead of thin, sewed leather bags for the same nefarious purposes (to the CBN’s credit, Robertson’s co-host quickly assured the viewer that he had nothing to fear and the show was yanked from its video archive).

“You know what they do in San Francisco? Some of the gay community there, they want to get people. So, if they’ve got the stuff, they’ll have a ring. You shake hands and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger,” Robertson said in the video. “Really. I mean it’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”

Bubonic Plague and AIDS are terrifying, no question about it; they killed by the millions and still kill today. But what’s even scarier to me is how many people see them as crimes of intention–and more deplorable still, that they pin the blame for them on the most vulnerable populations. Eliminationist racism in that light is not only justifiable self-defense, it’s a necessary component of social hygiene. No Jews, no plague. No gays, no AIDS. No African immigrants (or presidents), no Ebola.

I wrote The New Hate after all; it shouldn’t surprise me that Obama is being singled out as Patient Zero in certain quarters, or that, in Josh Marshall’s words, the CDC is being cast as ” a suspect, nefarious institution – almost like the CDC, before our eyes, is being transformed into the right’s next ACORN.” But there it is, from Dinesh D’Souza’s questionable “humor” (“Which is worse: EBOLA, the disease; or OBOLA, the dream from his father?”) to Michael Savage’s truly medieval fear-mongering. Obama, he says, “wants to infect the nation with Ebola.”

That’s the way to make things fair and equitable. You can’t have a nation with such good health in a world where there’s such sickness. Obama wants equality and he wants fairness and it’s only fair that America have a nice epidemic or two or three or four in order to really feel what it’s like to be in the Third World. You have to look at it from the point of view of a leftist.
The fact that this is all in the pursuit of temporary political advantage, that the right has raised the standard of Ebola because its fear-mongering about subsidized health insurance has come to naught, makes it even more disgusting. The fact that it seems to be working makes it unbearable.
These days it’s been all I can do just to read the stories. I don’t have it in me to blog about them anymore.

2 thoughts on “Poisoning the Wells with Ebola

  1. you can make anyone admit to anything if you torture them so…here we are back where we were during the inquisition, the nazi targeting, the mccarthy era…right back where we started…and morons are backing this crap up….sad, very sad and a disgrace…I hope there is a hell for them…I truly do…and I hope they know that’s where they are headed until they stop and make amends instead of believing there is such a thing as free get out of hell cards….there is not and in no place does it say that in the bible…no it doesn’t….it says jesus will tell evil people when they reach out to him….”I NEVER KNEW YOU”

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