Helpful Reminder: Trump's CDC Guy Thought AIDS Was 'God's Judgment' For Gay People Existing
Yesterday, Donald Trump gave a strange and rambling press conference at the Centers for Disease Control that was supposed to be about the coronavirus but was in fact about how he coulda been a research scientist, ratings on Fox News, him not liking Jay Inslee and his desire to keep 3,500 people aboard a cruise ship that had been exposed to the coronavirus in order to keep "numbers" down in the United States. Not for fear that they would infect others, but because he wouldn't like how the higher numbers would make him look. Because that is, of course, the most important thing here.
Joining him at this press conference were Health Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Chief Robert Redfield, not to be confused with Robert Redford, who is not only much more handsome, but a more decent fella all around!
In case you weren't freaking out about the coronavirus enough already (WASH YOUR HANDS!!! DON'T TOUCH YOUR FACE!), it is reasonable to freak out about the fact that Redfield is supposed to be the go-to guy on all of this. You see, like most Trump appointees, Redfield is extremely, extremely incompetent. And stupid.
Redfield's early engagement with the AIDS epidemic in the US in the 1980s and 90s was controversial. As an Army major at Walter Reed Medical Institute, he designed policies for controlling the disease within the US military that involved placing infected personnel in quarantine and investigating their pasts to identify and track possible sexual partners. Soldiers were routinely discharged and left to die of AIDS, humiliated and jobless, often abandoned by their families.
In the 1980s Redfield worked closely with W. Shepherd Smith, Jr. and his Christian organization, Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy, or ASAP. The group maintained that AIDS was "God's judgment" against homosexuals, spread in an America weakened by single-parent households and loss of family values.
Huh! I wonder who he thinks is to blame for the coronavirus! Is that also gay people? Or is it feminists and people who have abortions? Because we're always out there causing hurricanes, so it could be us.
Anyone who sees — or even associates with anyone who sees — disease as a righteous punishment from God, is a dangerous person to have anywhere near anything concerning our health as a nation. Not to mention anyone who thinks the most simple and obvious ways of preventing a virus should be discouraged, because God.
In the early 1990's, ASAP and Redfield also backed H.R. 2788, a House bill sponsored by deeply conservative Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-California). It would have subjected people with HIV to testing, loss of professional licenses and would have effectively quarantined them. (The bill died in Congress.)
Now, just as a reminder, we do not have government subsidized health care in this country right now, and we sure as hell didn't have it in the early '90s, back when you could be denied health insurance for a pre-existing condition. This guy wanted people with HIV to be unable to earn a living, at a time when AZT cost from $8,000 to $10,000 a year. Which means he wanted them to die.
In the 2000s, Redfield was a top advocate for the so-called "ABCs of AIDS" in Africa, pressing to prevent HIV infection through sexual abstinence, monogamy and the use of condoms only as a last resort.
Yes. In the 2000s. Nearly ten years after that Linda Ellerbee/Magic Johnson Nickelodeon special that they showed us all in school (well, those of us who were in school at the time), he was still out there being stupid about this shit.
So yeah, it's unsurprising that he, and those who work with him, would think Donald Trump would be an excellent research scientist.
Oh boy, what could possibly go wrong?
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse