“The Enemy Within”
Christine M. Kreiser
Article Review 1.2
The posing question in America in the year 1918 was who is the real enemy, the Germans or the influenza? While Americans were concerned about the threat of the German attacks, we should have been concerned about the threat of a pandemic on our own soil. The true enemy at this time was not the Axis powers, which consisted of Germany and Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and Austro-Hungary, but a new kind of flu that spread like wild fire through the streets of our nations’ greatest cities, and over seas on the battle fields, killing millions in the process. The United States had to enter the war to stand up for what was right, even though President Wilson wanted to stay clear out of European affairs, which corresponded with his foreign policies and beliefs. Author Christine M. Kreiser stated in the article “The Enemy Within” between the months of September and June, the Spanish flu swept through America killing 675,000, however this epidemic was not just apparent in America, but all over the world with the death toll summing up to about 40 million. The men and woman who were our nurses, young factory workers, and soldiers were swept up by this flu, and immobilized completely. Not only were the Americans on our soil getting affected but also the brave men on the frontlines in Europe. The United States entered the war with relish, German U-boats were sinking American ships, and killing American citizens in an effort to cut off American supplies going into Europe. America at this point, was already heavily connected with The Allies (Britain and France) , and the U.S. had a large investment in the Allies, if their side didn’t win the war, then the U.S. economy would suffer. However their wasn’t just one single problem for America; their was the Great War and the influenza. The government made it apparent which one they prioritized. There were debates of quarantining off places for the safety of the public, but that would risk a decline of war bond sales, there was also a law that issued everyone to wear gauze masks to help in stop spreading the terrible disease. However there was also the Sedition Acts of 1918, which was an extension of the Espionage Act of 1917. In a nutshell this act limited out liberties, mainly freedom of speech, in referring to the war negatively , but these standards were only for in times of war. The attack of the disease within did not stop Wilson from sending troops to Europe, even though the men were just as sick as the civilians, further more spreading the disease across continents. The United States was insinuating into World War I to protect democracy, despite the flu terrorizing our cities, even if that meant for the importance of our foreign policy to outweigh the domestic.
To secure national safety all public gathering places were closed down, including churches. Although that helped the flu from spreading, it wouldn't slow the flu down much. The “Inquirer” in 1918 tried to unsuccessfully quiet the public panic saying “...Do not even discuss influenza...Worry is useless”. The government wanted to comfort the public so their war support wouldn't waver, but their carefree attitude wouldn't stop the flu. In “The Enemy Within” the author says that gauze masks were required to be worn when out in public at all times, but this mandate didn’t fly well with he public. This policy didn't stick for a long period of time with the population, they were first worn religiously, but the American people soon recognized that the masks were...