Ronald Reagan Can Suck It

I know. I know. I have a well-established precedent of being a bleeding heart liberal. I’m totally cool with that. Label me all you want. Fuckit. I don’t care. I’m down with my moral paradigm.

A few years ago I watched this 8 hour documentary on History of AIDS produced by Frontline on PBS. It was an eye-opening and moving experience. To think about what people went through in the 1980’s, in my OWN personal time, was astounding. The prejudice, bigotry, and ostracizing of so many sick individuals who needed care. If ever there was a moment for America to stand up and say… “Hey. Let’s be a global leader.” Sadly, that did not happen.

Our past president, Ronald Reagan, was the elected leader of this country during the first major outbreak of AIDS in North America. At that point, the disease was primarily being spread via the gay male population. Thus the stereotype “The Gay Man’s Disease” (see Kitti’s post here). However, it wasn’t long before the populations of children, women and heterosexual males were contracting it too. So, what did Reagan do to subside the concerns our country had about this “new disease”?

Fucking nothing. Like, my shoes did more than he did.

It wasn’t until 1987, that Ronald Reagan even MENTIONED the word AIDS publicly. “By the end of that year, 59,572 AIDS cases had been reported and 27,909 of those women and men had died.*”

It was this fact alone which rocked me to the core of my morality. How can someone see their countrymen and women dying right in front of them, and choose to ignore? It was HIS choice and he failed Americans. Here’s an example of how Reagan handled it: the 1986 centenary rededication of the Statue of Liberty. The Reagans were there sitting next to French President Francois Mitterand and his wife, Danielle. Bob Hope was on stage entertaining the all-star audience. In the middle of a series of one-liners Hope quipped, “I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS but she doesn’t know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Fairy.” As the television camera panned the audience, the Mitterands looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing.**“

I know it’s not good to hate. Hate eats at your heart and weakens your inner light. So let me just say this. If Reagan from 1987 was standing in front of me, I would totally kick him in the nuts.

Articles on Reagan’s Silence:

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9 thoughts on “Ronald Reagan Can Suck It

  1. […] Marleen Vaughan is NOT the biggest fan of Ronald Reagan. In her blog post on coffeesmoke she discusses the politics of HIV/AIDS status in the 1980′s. Read more here: […]

  2. You hit the nail on head M.

  3. Jeez, that’s scary. Someone in Reagan’s position had no right not to talk about the subject. It’s part of that whole canon of “O, it’s difficult, therefore I will say it’s impossible and refuse to engage”. Ugh ugh ugh. This is why I should run to be PM here in the UK – so I can bring the death penalty to people who think this is okay :P

  4. Thanks for this. When Reagan did acknowledge AIDS in 1987, he stated that the government should not provide safer sex education, saying “How that information is used must be up to schools and parents, not government. But let’s be honest with ourselves, AIDS information can not be what some call ‘value neutral.’ After all, when it comes to preventing AIDS, don’t medicine and morality teach the same lessons.” I’m with you on the nut-kicking.

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