I apologize to those who may get bad flashbacks from the above. I wouldn't have posed it if it weren't necessary. On Monday night, conservative personality Dennis Prager said an absolutely idiotic thing in defense of anti-vaccine activists:
“During the AIDS crisis, can you imagine if gay men and intravenous drug users, or the vast majority of people with AIDS, had they been pariahs the way the non-vaccinated are? But it would’ve been inconceivable.”
Prager is being inane on so many levels. For the purpose of this blog, his inanity involves a deliberate rewrite of history. The truth was that the people Prager listed were seen as pariahs during the AIDS crisis, most specifically gay men. The above video underscores that fact: It was created by director Scott Calonico and premiered during World AIDS day in 2015:
The nearly 8-minute film features previously unreleased audio of former Reagan press secretary Larry Speakes scoffing at, and making light of, persistent questions in a span of three years (1982-1984) on the disease's outbreak from reporter Lester Kinsolving. The audiotape, which includes reporters openly laughing at the notion of a "gay plague," puts the administration's lack of response in perspective."As you can hear in the tape, the whole AIDS issue was treated by Speakes and the press pool, for that matter, as a joke. I'd like to think that the Reagan administration didn't realize what they were grappling with at first," Calonico told MSNBC.Reagan did not utter the word AIDS until 1985, following the death of his friend, Hollywood actor Rock Hudson, from the disease. He did not speak about the disease at length until near the end of his second term in 1987 during an AIDS conference in Washington, D.C. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "36,058 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS and 20,849 had died," by the time Reagan made that speech. Reagan also reportedly prevented his surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, from being more aggressive about raising public consciousness of the disease.
One reason why Koop may have been unsuccessful could have had to do with a White House aide by the name of Gary Bauer. Bauer reportedly undermined Koop's efforts because he felt that AIDS was "God's punishment." Since that time, Bauer has traveled in and out of several "traditional values" groups, including Focus on the Family and serving for a time as president of hate group the Family Research Council. His last bit of exposure was being one of the conservative evangelicals supporting and making excuses for former president Donald Trump when he was in office. As far as I know, Bauer has never been questioned or confronted about his activities regarding the AIDS crisis while he was in the Reagan Administration.