June 30, 2004
If a Person Dies, and No One Sees It, Are They Still Dead?
BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
I just read this piece,"Woman arrested at '9/11' film," And I am still feeling that Pennsylvania has acquired a surreal atmosphere under the Shrub administration. Dubya blew into town last week, and I heard he had to bus people to an African American Church, where he spoke at, because "no self respecting black person would dare attend," a good friend told me -- LOL. (That may actually be true, since there were a few oddly out of place elderly white men there.) He also spoke about his AIDS initiatives, whatever those may be.
Every person that I know and spoke to about this in the medical and AIDS communities felt it was a slap in the face for Dubya to speak on our behalf, given the new "lottery" for medical help for 50,000 Medicare patients lucky enough to have their numbers chosen and the continued decreases in services available to people (most grievously children infected with HIV, and now homeless on the city streets).
Most outrageous of all, though, is Dubya's careless and reckless abandonment of safe sex programs and the growing antiabortion movements new sense of power under this administration, whose protesters stop not only women seeking abortions, but also young people seeking information and guidance around the issue of AIDS and other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), which may also be fatal, like Hepatitis B.
I can honestly tell you that, at least, here in Philadelphia, PWAs (person's with AIDS) have had it. Abstinence only? We are not only talking about preventing births these days. Has sex become a criminal act punishable by meting out a slow, painful, and spiritually, as well as socially diminishing disease?
I have been involved with AIDS since before it had a name and was called the "gay plague" or "that Haitian disease." This takes me back to 1981, when the Reagan/Bush the elder team decided to address AIDS finally (thousands of Americans were dead by this time) and Reagan actually said the word AIDS for the first time in public -- acknowledging it, and us, I guess. They stated that AIDS must be a priority now, because the Red Cross didn't screen blood for HIV and now it could affect the heterosexual community as well. We learned that despite the White House continually claiming that AIDS was a priority, it wasn't until it became a threat to "acceptable" people.
The GOP's compassionate conservatism is truly overwhelming. I worked in nursing, with a few AIDS patents on dialysis, until, on March 12, 1985 (ironically my birthday), I too was diagnosed with HIV. Since then, I have personally held a friend's hand at his time of death, because he was alone after his family disowned him, and my partner and I have watched almost every one of our friends pass away through this crisis.
Still the GOP remains the largest obstacle in beating this, or at least preventing this disease from spreading further. Last Sunday, at a graduation party for one of my nieces, one of my cousin's children told me AIDS was discussed in his health education class, but he wasn't sure how to avoid getting it (I thought it best to leave that one up to his mother, who is very educated on this topic now).
When I learned I was infected, my family gathered around the dining room table and discussed the issue, and how, or why, my partner was negative (after 22 years together he still is negative, I guess safe sex works). My point is that we need to be more open and aggressive about this issue -- it is a matter of life and death, not right or wrong.
Honesty and frank openness on this topic is needed to help save as many lives as we still can, and the far right's stifling political correctness is as corrosive as hiding the bodies of our fallen soldiers at Dover Air Force Base. If a person dies, and no one sees it, are they still dead?
Fortunately, for me, the anger this created in my life has turned into raw energy to do whatever I have to do to prevent this devastation from occurring in other people's lives. Depression eventually also gave way to action, and a heightened sense of urgency, rather than hopelessness for me. For that, I am truly grateful, but very pissed off at the GOP again.
In Philadelphia, and actually all around the Delaware Valley today, Michael Moore's film is not being shown. Just like AIDS was not addressed publicly by President Reagan in the eighties, until after it was too late to really do anything about it, so to will Fahrenheit 9-11 not get the discussion it deserves until it is too late. Withholding the truth yields much more carnage than knowing the unpleasant facts.
will an American democratic leader finally stand up for those of
who vote? If any democratic leader would like
face to use, and a story to campaign with, use mine. I would
only if they
wanted to tackle the issue, and I have yet to see
any politician willing to
do that, or much else, against the GOP. If you happen
one, BuzzFlash may
give them my email address. Good
This century isn't shaping up very well for basic American values, at least not when compared to the America I knew.
need change, "Big-Time!"
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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