Andrew Sullivan, who is HIV positive, has this to say about the campaign being waged against Ronald Reagan with respect to his response as president to the AIDs epidemic, as manifested in Showtime’s airing of The Reagans:
“We’re in the middle of a propaganda blitz designed to persuade people that Ronald Reagan deliberately foisted HIV onto the population of the United States, by a mixture of negligence and malevolence. The publicity surrounding Tony Kushner’s ‘Angels in America,’ will center on depicting closeted McCarthyite Roy Cohn as the true soul of modern conservatism. (I wonder why they don’t cite uncloseted McCarthyite Bobby Kennedy, but never mind.) Meanwhile, the myth that there was somehow a magic wand in the early 1980s to cure AIDS – a wand that Reagan deliberately refused to wave – is now almost conventional wisdom. Into this blizzard of misinformation, Deroy Murdock provides some truly important evidence. Reagan could have done more. He shouldn’t be left off the hook. But he shouldn’t be subjected to disinformation either. Meanwhile, as Natalie Solent points out, the real threat to containing and treating HIV has come from widespread efforts from the left to persecute the pharmaceutical companies. Her money quote:
‘Why the decline [in HIV research]? Because the drugs companies no longer believe that they are going to get rich out of AIDS research. In fact they begin to doubt they will get any compensation at all. They read the newspapers, they study the speeches of politicians, and they sense that the popular wind is blowing against them. They think, probably rightly, that governments will either force them to sell at a loss drugs that were developed at huge expense or will bypass them and the law entirely by buying generic copies of patent drugs. Governments, after all, are the ones who can change the law when it is inconvenient. One minute the authorities will come down like a ton of bricks on pirate music or pirate videos. The next minute they will say that it is ‘unacceptable greed’ for companies to actually want to profit from patents on medical discoveries. I accept that there are subtleties and genuine conflicts of principle in the field of intellectual property – but the bottom line is that if pharma companies get nothing but abuse for the work they put in they bloody well won’t put in much more of it. Just as for the slaves, it’s no surprise that if people are forced to work for nothing then they don’t bust a gut.’
“Tuesday night, at Colgate University, the one point I made that truly shocked the audience was a defense of the drug companies. It has been imprinted on an entire generation that Big Pharma is the source of all evil. But the only reason I’m writing this blog at all is because of Big Pharma. They’re not angels in America. They’re capitalists. But the profit motive has been the most progressive force in pioneering specific medical breakthroughs that we have yet found. Why cannot the left see this? Why are they – more than Ronald Reagan – pursuing policies that will consign many people with HIV to earlier deaths? And why do so few people call them on it?”
Here’s the link to Murdock.
HINDROCKET adds: We shouldn’t forget that the left contributed to the AIDS epidemic in another important way. If normal public health procedures had been followed, the disease would have spread much less slowly. But they weren’t, because the left framed the issue as a “human rights” campaign. (The phrase “right to die” never had such immediate meaning.) So contacts were not traced, and gay bathhouses were even permitted to operate long after they were identified as prime sources of infection. The left bears primary responsibility for the spread of what is, in fact, an eminently preventable disease.
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