The phrase “adding insult to injury” is no doubt being redefined in several online dictionaries this week following news of a U.S. effort to sneak one of our dumber religions (and that’s saying something) into the minds of Vietnamese suffering from Agent Orange.
If you’re not familiar with Agent Orange, here’s a short summary from Veterans For Peace:
“Three million Vietnamese suffer the effects of chemical defoliants used by the United States during the Vietnam War. In order to deny food and protection to those deemed to be ‘the enemy,’ the U.S. defoliated the forests of Vietnam with the deadly chemicals Agent Orange, White, Blue, Pink, Green and Purple. Agent Orange, which was contaminated with trace amounts of TCDD dioxin — the most toxic chemical known to science — has disabled and sickened soldiers, civilians and several generations of their offspring on two continents. Millions of Vietnamese are still affected by this deadly poison and tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers. It has caused birth defects in hundreds of thousands of second and third generation children in Vietnam and the U.S.”
And here’s the latest news from the Associated Press:
“THAI BINH, Vietnam (AP) — North Vietnamese army veteran Nguyen Anh Quoc grimaces as he forces down the last of the 35 vitamins he takes each morning. After decades of suffering from illnesses he believes were caused by exposure to Agent Orange, he is putting his faith in a regime advocated by the Church of Scientology.
“‘I have to take them,’ the 62-year-old said at a treatment center established with the help of a Scientology-funded group. ‘They will clean up my body.’
“The center, a converted mushroom farm in northern Vietnam, owes as much to Scientology’s desire to expand around the world, away from scandal in the United States, as it does to pressure in Vietnam to try to help aging veterans still suffering from the effects of war.
“Many medical experts regard the treatment — a 25-day vitamin and sauna regime — as junk medicine or even dangerous. But for now at least, it has found fertile ground here.
“The Vietnamese advocacy group overseeing the program in Thai Binh province wants to offer it to all 20,000 people suffering from ailments blamed on dioxins in Agent Orange. U.S. airplanes sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant over the country during the Vietnam War to strip away vegetation used as cover by Vietnamese soldiers.
“The advocacy group, which has the implicit support of the government, has almost completed a two-story accommodation block for patients and is raising funds for a much larger complex, with 15 more saunas than the five it currently has.
“‘I have seen so many desperate families that their tears have dried up,’ said Nguyen Duc Hanh, the head of local branch of the Vietnam Association of Agent Orange Victims in Thai Binh. ‘I don’t know what the scientists say about its effectiveness, but the patients say it improves their health. They should be able to experience it before they die.’
“Scientologists believe the regime, which includes massive consumption of vitamins, four-hour sauna sessions and morning runs, can ‘sweat out’ toxins stored in body fat. There are no peer-reviewed studies to back this claim. . . .
“. . . In 1991, Scientology offered ‘rundown’ treatments in Russia to people suffering symptoms related to radiation exposure following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The church still refers to the mission in its online literature, claiming numerous successes, but Russia banned it from performing medical treatment in the country in 1996.
“Last year, a French court upheld fraud charges and fined the church $791,000 for its efforts to persuade people to take the ‘rundown.'”
I know: let’s sell it to the Vietnamese! It’s not as if we’ve done them enough harm yet!