HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » It's a Disgrace to Celebr...

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 08:49 PM

It's a Disgrace to Celebrate George H.W. Bush on World AIDS Day

Just after midnight on December 1, World AIDS Day, I learned that President George Herbert Walker Bush had died. And I was dismayed not just that the hagiography afforded dead presidents would overshadow Bush’s own appalling legacy on AIDS, but that his death would eclipse the tens of millions of lives we should be remembering today.

When I teach AIDS history, I always show a clip of ACT UP’s October 11, 1992, “ashes action” at the White House, in which brave activists took the cremated bodies of loved ones who had died of AIDS and hurled them onto Bush’s lawn. (If you’ve never seen it, I dare you to watch without crying).

The ashes action is brilliant not just for how raw it was but also for how it held a powerful man to account without civility. (ACT UP had also gone to Bush’s vacation home in Maine, and they hounded him up until the night he lost reelection, when they marched the dead body of Mark Fisher to his campaign headquarters.) For in life—and, sadly, in the first obits, in death—Bush dangerously hid the vast nature of American violence beneath the seductive cloak of civility, that opiate of mass media that gets journalists and readers to let violence go unremarked.

https://www.thenation.com/article/george-hw-bush-world-aids-day-obit/

But at a presidential debate with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot the day after the ashes action, journalist John Mashek asked Bush:

Mr. President, yesterday tens of thousands of people paraded past the White House to demonstrate about their concern about the disease, AIDS. A celebrated member of your commission, Magic Johnson, quit, saying there was too much inaction. Where is this widespread feeling coming from that your administration is not doing enough about AIDS?

Looking annoyed, Bush listed what his administration was doing before saying, seemingly irritated, “I can’t tell you where it’s coming from. I am very much concerned about AIDS. And I believe we have the best researchers in the world at NIH working on the problem.” But then he added:

It’s one of the few diseases where behavior matters. And I once called on somebody, “Well, change your behavior! If the behavior you’re using is prone to cause AIDs, change the behavior!” Next thing I know, one of these ACT UP groups is saying, “Bush ought to change his behavior!” You can’t talk about it rationally!

1 replies, 1636 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 1 replies Author Time Post
Reply It's a Disgrace to Celebrate George H.W. Bush on World AIDS Day (Original post)
EarthFirst Dec 2018 OP
Haggis for Breakfast Dec 2018 #1

Response to EarthFirst (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2018, 10:07 PM

1. Before I get started, I want to thank you, EarthFirst, for this post.

I worked for the PHS for the decade of the 90s in HIV/AIDS health care. I could write pages about my experiences and personal feelings on this matter.

But I'll just say this. If HIV/AIDS had impacted rich, white, republican men, we would have had stopped this tragedy in its tracks in six months.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread