In a wildly incorrect statement, Hillary Clinton yesterday praised Nancy Reagan and her husband, President Ronald Reagan, for helping America de-stigmatize AIDS and its victims. In an MSNBC interview, Clinton expressed appreciation to the Reagans:
“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS in the 1980s,” Clinton said. “And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan — in particular Mrs. Reagan –we started a national conversation.”
The fact is that the Reagans were not helpful in starting a national conversation. They were completely closed-mouth and unhelpful, even when their supposedly close friend from Hollywood, Rock Hudson, was dying of AIDS. They refused to issue any public statement of support for Hudson. They managed only to later say that they were sorry that he had died.
The Reagans were role models for keeping AIDS out of polite conversation, for branding AIDS as a gay disease, and for delaying a medical response to the virus.
I am not comfortable trashing public figures who pass away. So, I have not posted or LIKED on social media the “Good riddance, Nancy” comments. We don’t need to do that type of postmortem battling, no matter how emotionally satisfying it may seem.
On the other hand, it’s too much to let Hillary Clinton’s erroneous praise of the Reagans pass. Clinton is very much alive, very much embraced by the Gay political establishment (including the corporate-friendly Human Rights Campaign), and very much putting herself out there as a consistent champion for equality.
No! No, damn it, you are not my champion!
No person of Clinton’s age (which is about mine) who has any real connection with the fight for gay rights would ever, ever, ever, praise Nancy or Ronald Reagan for helping fight — or even talk about fighting — AIDS. Never.
For Clinton to “misspeak,” supposedly conflating the fight against AIDS with the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, is evidence to me that she has no true connection to the struggle of gay people.
Clinton’s “misspeaking” about AIDS shows her total disassociation from my world. It’s a truly horrific statement, and one that couldn’t possibly come from the lips or brain of anyone of our generation that was remotely involved in — or even aware — of gay rights.
You misspeak when you say you call your dogs by your child’s name. You misspeak when you say you went to Rochester instead of Richmond. You do something else when you create noble actions for people who in real life fought against the nobility you’re now praising.
Saying the Reagans were helpful in fighting AIDS is a moral outrage. It’s akin to praising President George W. Bush for his fast compassionate action in helping hurricane Katrina victims. Or, lauding Michigan governor Rick Snyder for his quick and transparent handling of the lead in Flint water. Saying things that are factually wrong and which pervert morality is more than just a misstatement. It’s a divorce from reality.
I remember in 2008 when Clinton “misspoke” about being under sniper fire when she landed in Bosnia as First Lady. I wondered then how someone could not remember accurately whether or not they being attacked by snipers. What was Clinton’s commitment to the truth as opposed to her desire to deliver a good-feeling public statement?
And, now, eight years later, I wonder again about Clinton’s true understanding, memory, and beliefs?
Mrs. Clinton, how deep is your commitment to LGBT equality? How understanding are you of my struggles? Are you equally clueless about African Americans, Latinos, or non-Christian minorities in this country?
Mrs. Clinton, where is your true soul?