Writing coaches usually eschew the use of cliches, and generally, that is good advice. There is, however, one over-used phrase that was, is, and ever will be relevant to whatever time in which we live.
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
That aphorism seems especially relevant today, as the Sept. 24 episode of the Washington Post’s Presidential Podcast makes clear.
It focuses on the response, or lack thereof, by President Woodrow Wilson to the 1918 pandemic known as the Spanish Flu.
It infected an estimated 500 million and killed between 20 million and 50 million people worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 675,000 Americans died.
Wilson knew early on that the virus was wiping out thousands of people, but he ignored it and focused on the World War I effort instead. His administration established the Committee on Public Information, but that essentially was a propaganda machine.
Americans were fed a steady diet of optimistic, everything-is-good stories. The bad stuff – you know, hundreds of thousands of dead people – was ignored. When Wilson went to France to join armistice talks to formally end the war, he contracted the virus