News & Politics

Forget About Rev. Wright, Check Out the Wingnuts Who Control HIV/AIDS Funding

Some of the most vocal critics of the minister's statements about HIV are also proponents of our dangerous, backwards international AIDS policy.
You know, I had a weary response semi-scripted in my head to those people making a fuss over Obama’s old minister’s belief in conspiracy theories about where HIV came from, a response that would both be understanding of why people fall for conspiracy theories while still maintaining that the truth is the most important thing, and conspiracy theories need to be pushed back against. With a soupcon of explaining why the underlying themes of conspiracy theories about the medical profession that proliferate in the black community are understandable, considering the circumstances. But luckily, wiser heads than me have tackled this problem, so I recommend reading them instead on this issue.

But what is interesting to me is how disingenuous some of the attacks against Rev. Wright are when it comes to actual concern for stopping the spread of HIV.* While not downplaying the role that HIV crankery plays in the spread of the disease (as Kevin notes, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has dismantled the infrastructure to respond to the disease in the wake of believing said crankery, but for racists eager to embrace this, it’s worth noting that Mbeki did so over backed by white advisors and over the objections of black officials), I’m going to say the larger problem here and everywhere around the world is lack of access to protection and lack of education about how to protect yourself from contracting or passing HIV.

As a demonstration of what utter, irresponsible bullshit is going on, I present you the figure of Michael Gerson. Gerson is very concerned about HIV conspiracy theories.

This accusation does not make Wright, as Obama would have it, an “occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy.” It makes Wright a dangerous man. He has casually accused America of one of the most monstrous crimes in history, perpetrated by a conspiracy of medical Mengeles. If Wright believes what he said, he should urge the overthrow of the U.S. government, which he views as guilty of unspeakable evil. If I believed Wright were correct, I would join him in that cause.
But Wright’s accusation is batty, reflecting a sputtering, incoherent hatred for America. And his pastoral teaching may put lives at risk because the virus that causes AIDS spreads more readily in an atmosphere of denial, quack science and conspiracy theories.

And Gerson should know about crankery and battiness on the issue of sexual health, because he’s one of the nation’s leading cranks who is eagerly spreading wack-a-doodle theories that are getting people killed unnecessarily.
Amanda Marcotte co-writes the popular blog Pandagon.
Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018