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A nation grieves; a group blamed

By Cheryl K. Chumley
web posted June 14, 2004

It sure didn't take long for the attacks to get started.

As the nation mourned the death of its 40th and arguably most honorable president, Ronald Reagan, a rally of a different sort was brewing within the homosexual community.

"…I do know that the Reagan administration's policies on AIDS and anything gay-related resulted – and continue to result – in despair and death. Oh, Steven, how much I wish so much you were here."

That's the conclusion of "A Letter to My Best Friend, Steven Powsner, On the Death of Former President Ronald Reagan," written by Matt Foreman, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The letter came one day after the passing of the former president, a tactless timing for an even more tactless diatribe that serves only to expose the chomping-at-the-bit mentality of its author to use whatever means necessary to disdain Reagan.

"Dear Steven," Foreman begins. "I so much wish you were here today to tell me what to do. You would know if it's right to comment on the death of former President Reagan, or if I should just let pass the endless paeans to his greatness."

Steven was a friend who Foreman said would "still be here…if protease inhibitors had been available in July of 1995 instead of December." Protease inhibitors are used to treat HIV, and have been found helpful in slowing and decreasing the number of deaths from AIDS.

"But you're not here," Foreman continued. "Sorry, Steven, but even on this day I'm not able to set aside the shaking anger I feel over Reagan's non-response to the AIDS epidemic or for the continuing anti-gay legacy of his administration … I know for a fact that you would be alive today if the Reagan administration had mounted even a tepid response to the epidemic."

Aside from Reagan, Foreman also blamed "evangelical Christian conservatives" led by former White House Communications Director Patrick Buchanan for the death of Steven, as well as then-Secretary of Education William Bennett and former domestic policy advisor Gary Bauer. But the sad criticism does not stop there: In Foreman's world, what he characterizes as the cruel spirit of Reagan continues to infect even today's presidential leadership.

"Steven, can you believe that the unholy pact President Reagan and the Republican Party entered with the forces of religious intolerance have not weakened, but grown exponentially stronger? Can you believe that the U.S. government is still bowing to right wing extremists and fighting condom distribution and explicit HIV education, even while AIDS is killing millions across the world?"

This accusation of intolerance and disregard for the plight of the diseased seems curious, given our sitting president's signed commitment of a year ago to provide $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS abroad.

But then, so does Foreman's accusation that Reagan was so "anti-gay" that he could "not bring himself to address the plague until March 31, 1987." Here's an example of facts getting in the way of fantasy, though.

Nationally syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock addressed this very same point in his 2003 National Review Online "Anti-Gay Gipper" article and found not only on-record quotes of Reagan speaking as early as September of 1985 for the need to fight AIDS via research, but also that government spending on HIV/AIDS actually grew phenomenally between 1982 and 1989.

So tell me again how exactly was Reagan anti-gay?

Perhaps Foreman is confusing the real-life Reagan, by all accounts a heartfelt, principled leader who indisputably restored the hope and pride of a nation and spread the dream of freedom world-side, with that of the anti-gay, anti-AIDS presidential portrayal on the cancelled CBS broadcast, The Reagans.

But more to truth he is probably confusing the role of government with the notion of individual accountability – a very Reagan-like belief in itself, and one that no doubt continues to fuel the homosexual community's furor with anyone who dares to claim that sexual activity is a choice that carries responsibility, and sometimes sadly, negative consequences.

It would be nice, in Judeo-Christian principled fashion, to offer Foreman condolences for his friend Steven and heartfelt sympathy that the past eight years has not yet brought complete relief. But Judeo-Christian sympathy is probably not politically correct in this instance, and besides, it would be hard to dredge up pity for one who stoops to using death and dishonesty to pack a political punch.

Cheryl K. Chumley is a regular contributing columnist for www.newswithviews.com, www.pipelinenews.org and www.thedailycannon.com, among other sites. She may be reached at ckchumley@aol.com.

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