Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jesse Helms, Friend to Gays. You Have to Read this Hypocrisy to (Dis)Believe It

     By recently lifting the ban on HIV-positive immigrant and travelers, the United States finally put aside ignorance and homophobia and entered the 1990s. 

     For twenty-two years, foreign nationals living and working in the USA who became HIV-positive were deported.

     Here's a bit of the history surrounding the bad, care of The New York Times:
     The ban was imposed in 1987 when H.I.V.-positive foreigners were added to a list of inadmissible undesirables that included prostitutes and felons, said Christian Schmidt, a San Francisco immigration lawyer.  “They didn’t let you in,” Mr. Schmidt said. Those already here were tested. If results were positive, they had to leave.
    The ban grouped H.I.V. — which is infectious and transmitted in blood and through sexual contact — with tuberculosis, a contagious airborne disease.  Critics said that by incorrectly inferring that H.I.V. was spread by casual contact, and equating the sick with criminals, the ban demonized those infected. “It’s really impossible to underestimate the stigma caused by this law,” Mr. Ralls said.
    The ban “set a very bad precedent,” he said. “It undermined H.I.V. awareness and testing.” Foreigners avoided testing, which Mr. Ralls said might have worsened the spread of AIDS. The United States was the only industrialized country with such a policy; the handful of others included Iran, Iraq and Syria.  The policy took effect in the Reagan administration.
     Now that the ban has been lifted, one notorious anti-gay homophobe and bigot is undergoing a PR makeover, from the grave.  The morons, who preach their Gospel According to Hate, have a new savior of gay rights: Jesse Helms.  (I'm not making this up.)

     The Times continues:
     Efforts to lift the ban were blocked by a 1993 Congressional amendment introduced by Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina. Those who fought the law say Mr. Helms, who died in 2008, perpetuated decades of discrimination. But just as the ban has disappeared, the curators of Mr. Helms’s legacy are trying to touch up the relevant history. Some want him seen as a savior to those with AIDS and a defender of gay rights.
     Despite Mr. Helms’s storied opposition to “a homosexual lifestyle,” the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, N.C., is challenging the idea that he was a “homophobe” or obstructive in the AIDS fight.  According to the center’s Web site, “It was Senator Helms who worked most tirelessly to protect the very principles of freedom that homosexuals are denied in many other nations.”
    John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center Foundation, recently disputed an editorial in the British newspaper The Guardian that vilified Mr. Helms for his role in the ban. Mr. Dodd argued that “two million Africans were alive” because of the senator’s work fighting H.I.V.
    Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, whose partner Tim Curbo died from AIDS, said the Helms Center sought to sanitize the record. “It’s spitting on the graves of all the people who suffered,” Mr. Ammiano said, adding, “He was truly evil and very cavalier about it. He should be in the hall of shame.”
     The HIV/AIDS hall of shame, indeed!  Right there beside his buddy and fellow homophobe Ronald Reagan.

    Over the years Helms has declared homosexuality "degenerate," and homosexuals "weak, morally sick wretches." (Newsweek, 12/5/94) In a tirade highlighting his routine opposition to AIDS research funding, Helms lashed out at the Kennedy-Hatch AIDS bill in 1988: "There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy." (States News Service, 5/17/88)
    I leave you with a paraphrase of Kate Clinton's response to the death of Jerry Falwell:  "My mother told me only to speak good of the dead.  Jesse Helms is dead. Good."

Image credit: The Onion


truthspew said...

I can see why the apologists would want to dig up such a quality specimen.

Helms is dead, nobody can make him say anything else. He and Ronnie Raygun are perfect for the Republican party of today.