AIDS will return to haunt the Democrats

Mona Charen

November 30, 1992|By Mona Charen

ALL those awful things the liberal Democrats who are runnin the country gleefully laid at the door of Republican presidents will now come back to haunt them.

Remember the Democratic convention in July? (You know, that was the convention which featured Jesse Jackson and Mario Cuomo and was universally characterized in the press as "moderate.") More than one speaker took the rostrum to say that a vote for George Bush was a vote for more deaths from AIDS.

AIDS burst upon the scene in the early 1980s, casting its ugly pall over the lives of the young, the vigorous and, most important, the articulate. The gay community and its allies were able to transform the reality of a disease transmitted (for the most part) by avoidable behavior into something else. They successfully created the impression that the problem was not disease-spreading conduct but rather prejudice and ignorance on the part of the uninfected.

It became a point of pride -- a way to prove one's enlightenment -- to support more and more funding for AIDS research and care, even when the federal dollars for AIDS vastly outstripped funding for other, more widespread illnesses like cancer, which took the life of a member of my family three years ago.

With practically the entire news media, as well as all of Hollywood, on the bandwagon, it became conventional wisdom that people were dying of AIDS unnecessarily and that a more concentrated government effort could halt the progress of the disease. Some even seemed to believe that AIDS was hitting homosexuals, blacks and drug addicts disproportionately because Republican presidents were unsympathetic to those people. If intolerant groups on the right saw AIDS as God's retribution against the sin of sodomy, nutty leftists saw the disease as the agent of Republican wrath.

It will now be interesting to see how the liberals handle the facts about AIDS when a Democrat who says all the right words is in the White House. As my colleague Charles Krauthammer has pointed out, modern medicine, for all its miracles, is still quite feeble at fighting viruses, which is why 20,000 Americans die of the flu each year.

Beyond the limitations of science lies the even thornier matter of human beings behaving stupidly. Having a Democrat in the White House has not yet been found to diminish dumb, self-destructive conduct (some would say Democrats merely contribute to it). So the Democrats should chew on this news morsel for a while: A new study has found that in small towns, almost one-third of gay men say they are having unprotected anal intercourse on a regular basis. Nine percent said they are already infected with the AIDS virus.

Many of those who admitted to this behavior said they believed )) that their risk of getting the disease was slight or nil. Evidence of foolishness, you say? That's not the way the researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin saw it. According to the Washington Post, they put this spin on the study: "Our findings show clearly that enhanced community-based resources and prevention efforts are now urgently needed for reaching gay men in smaller cities who have been neglected in AIDS prevention relative to their urban counterparts."

In short, more money for education. It is difficult to imagine that anyone living in a small town or even on a remote mountain top could be ignorant of the way AIDS is transmitted. One need not have been the special target of a government-funded education program to know the facts. They are broadcast almost daily on television, covered exhaustively in newspapers and magazines, and analyzed to the point of vertigo on all the TV and radio talk shows.

If a person is still engaging in unprotected anal intercourse in the year 1992, it isn't because the government has been lax about explaining the facts of life to him, and it isn't because of a lack of funding. It's because that person chooses not to know the truth.

No government, no matter how benevolent in intent, can overcome the human being's sovereign ability to deceive himself.

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist.

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