Quacks abound at KC revival

Like the medicine shows of old, the event boasted of cure-alls, rousing oratory and shameless self-promotion.



September 29, 2021 - 10:49 AM

From left, state Sen. Mike Thompson, attorney general candidate Kris Kobach and state Sen. Mark Steffen were on hand at the the Freedom Revival in the Heartland event, a kind of modern medicine show. (Clay Wirestone illustration/Kansas Reflector)

The same day that US. deaths from COVID-19 passed the toll of the Spanish flu pandemic, a modern-day medicine show rolled into Lenexa.

Like the entertainments of old, this medicine show boasted cure-alls, rousing oratory, and shameless self promotion. Unlike those showcases, it didn’t sell high-octane patent medicine to get you drunk or high. Speakers proffered a new generation of cures: ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, the Republican Party. Don’t forget the grift: The “Freedom Revival in the Heartland” charged concert ticket prices of $89 per person.

The Sept. 20 confab wasn’t just about fictitious vaccine dangers, though. Oh, no. That would be too focused for a medicine show, then or now. The day’s event was also about government overreach, the redeeming power of religion and Black Lives Matter protesters. Disjointed, perhaps. Hard to follow, absolutely. That was the point of the exercise — keeping the audience terrified, ready to both buy and believe. At least they had raffles and food trucks.

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