He is styled State Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, but what does the D stand for?
“Deranged” is my best guess, because he is far too right-wing to be a Democrat. In fact, he'd probably be the most rabid member of any Pachyderm Club.
He must be pretty thick-skinned, because he shows no sign of embarrassment even when he latches onto some idea that is widely regarded as nutso.
A couple of weeks ago, for instance, he tried to let schools abandon standardized tests, declaring that Common Core was a conspiracy by the likes of Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg to destroy families and promote abortion and atheism. A committee struck a blow for public education by killing his bill, and no harm was done beyond lending credence to the notion that Louisiana is a haven for credulous rubes.
Last Monday, however, Milkovich was back on the attack, this time to promulgate theories that are not only cockamamie but pose a serious threat to public health. He got on his hind legs on the Senate floor to aver that vaccinations for mumps, measles and rubella cause autism and bowel disease.
Responsibility for this pernicious falsehood rests with British-born doctor Andrew Wakefield, who managed to get the results of his bogus research accepted more than 20 years ago by the authoritative medical journal The Lancet. A 2004 newspaper investigation revealed him as a fraud, however, and the British General Medical Council struck him off in 2010 on grounds that he was “dishonest, irresponsible and showed callous disregard for the distress and pain” he caused through unnecessary and invasive tests on child patients.
By that time the purported link had caused many parents to refuse vaccinations for their children, so that diseases that had been on the verge of eradication made a comeback in Britain, America and elsewhere. If the recrudescence did not reach epidemic proportions, it was largely because enough children were vaccinated to reduce the overall exposure to contagion. Still, a lot of children contracted mumps and measles, and some died.
More are likely to do so now with the current outbreak of measles, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared in 2000 had been eliminated in America. Already this year the CDC says 704 cases have been reported in this country, and it is obvious why. Although every credible medical authority repudiates any idea of a link between vaccinations and autism, the myth is proving hard to dislodge. And so it will remain if persons in positions of public trust — yes, that includes Louisiana legislators — spread the kind of hogwash with which Milkovich favored his Senate colleagues.
He told them, for instance, that autism didn't exist when he was growing up. Of course it did. The condition was first called autism in 1943, 14 years before Milkovich was born in Roundup, Montana.
There is no element of Milkovich's political credo that marks him out as a Democrat. He is fiercely pro-gun and anti-gay, and takes the somewhat unoriginal position that Louisiana does not have a revenue problem; it has spending problem.
Milkovich's natural home is the paranoid wing of the GOP; he is not only an unabashed fan of President Donald Trump but wrote and published a book last year entitled, “Robert Mueller: Errand Boy for the New World Order.”
Milkovich has evidently found a spiritual home in Louisiana's Bible belt, where he is a big wheel in Shreveport's First Assembly of God Church and has opined that, “If we don't get back to God, we're headed for a train wreck.” There is no harm in believing that, but when he pledges to defend the right of “teachers, principals and coaches to express their faith,” he is clearly not devoted to the separation of church and state enshrined in the Constitution he swore on the Bible to uphold.
He is not the first to be lukewarm on that issue. No other legislator, however, joined him in linking vaccinations and autism. The current outbreak of measles has not yet affected Louisiana, but when it does it is quite conceivable that some poor kid will die or be struck blind. We can pray that it doesn't happen, but vaccinations work better.
Email James Gill at Gill1407@bellsouth.net.