Thursday, June 02, 2005

Who Would Jesus Condemn to Death?

Religious conservatives are having a hard time controlling people’s behavior over here in the first world. Uh… Well, maybe not. But still they’re having a much better go of it in Africa. Salon’s Geraldine Sealey writes this morning about Bush’s AIDS “prevention” efforts in Africa. Which is to say, Bush’s pro-AIDS initiative. Remember Bush’s 2003 State of the Union in which he pledged mad Benjamins for AIDS relief in Africa?

Bush requested only $2 billion for PEPFAR in its first year, at least a billion less than one might have expected, given his pledge. Then, when Congress decided to approve $400 million more than the president asked for, Bush unsuccessfully fought to block the increase. By the time the plan was fully implemented, nearly a year and a half had passed since the president had announced it -- a costly delay in fighting an epidemic that claims 8,500 lives every day.
OK, so he’s underfunding it. He does that with everything except those that profit his buddies. Oh wait...
Tobias, a former CEO of Eli Lilly and Co., has found himself under international fire as Bush's AIDS emissary. Last year, Tobias was booed at the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok by protesters carrying signs that read: "He's lying." And as a former pharmaceutical executive, he's taken heat for the administration's insistence on relying on brand-name AIDS drugs instead of generics that are two to four times cheaper. "There comes a moment in time," says Stephen Lewis, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, "when you stop bowing to Big Pharma and recognize that the human imperative at stake of keeping people alive requires that we embrace low-cost generics because we can treat so many more people." Lewis rejects the administration's argument that generics are less safe and effective than brand-name drugs. "Everyone understands that the position which is taken [by the U.S. government] significantly supports major pharmaceutical companies," he said.
No surprise there. If we’re going to just give drugs away, we might as well funnel money into the pockets of Bush’s friends, right? Really, what’s more important – saving lives or making a profit? Hey, Jesus might have been a nice guy and our savior, but he wasn’t a dirty communist. Well, anyway, the important thing when it comes to saving lives is to learn from others, work collaboratively and make sure that no matter what, the sick people come first.
The president's AIDS initiative, like his invasion of Iraq, is a go-it-alone affair that ignores the clear global consensus on how to fight AIDS. In launching his own initiative, Bush has shifted the bulk of U.S. money away from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international financing mechanism established before PEPFAR and widely recognized as the best way to distribute AIDS funds. "Bush is starving the fund," Zeitz says. "It's despicable, frankly."
Woah. Well, that’s a bitch. Ah, no matter. Bush is a genius when it comes to going into countries where he’s never been and completely understanding the people’s needs and desires. Just think of the flowers and chocolates that greeted our soldiers in Iraq. The point is that he knows what he’s doing, and he’ll use the most advanced scientific studies to ensure that the money we spend over there will save as many lives as possible.
Overlooking the grim realities on the ground, Bush is using AIDS funds to place religion over science, promoting abstinence and monogamy over comprehensive sex education that includes information about and access to condoms. This should be no surprise, given the administration's track record. Yet it is still shocking to observe an administration that claims to be acting in the name of morality consigning tens of thousands, perhaps millions, of people to death because of its policies.
Well, look. We can’t save everybody. It’s sad, but people have to die. And why should we save the dirty slut whores, when we could be saving decent, God-fearing virgins?
...focusing on abstinence and monogamy ignores the reality facing young women and girls in Africa and other impoverished regions, who are often infected by wandering husbands or forced to have sex in exchange for food or shelter. Among 15- to 24-year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa, studies show, more than three times as many young women are infected with HIV as young men. Preaching about abstinence and faithfulness to girls and women in risky situations "can't be made sense of on any level," Jacobson says. "It's not only contrary to public-health best practices, it's contrary to common sense and contrary to human rights principles."
Contrary to human rights principles. That’s funny in an article talking about Bush. His idea of human rights is the hand most people write with.

Here’s where I have to take a moment from the sarcasm to point out what’s going on here. This is a new form of a Crusade. Do you see? We can’t just go and invade every non-Christian country on earth – only the ones with piles of oil. So instead of killing them with guns, we’re going to go over there and at, what would you say, “disease-point,” force them to either accept Christ as their personal savior and follow all these ridiculous “Christian” rules or die. Perhaps it’s not quite as Machiavellian as that. But the effect is the same. Missionaries are one thing. Hey, talk to as many people as you want. But when you deny people or entire countries life-saving medicines because they don’t follow your narrow-minded worldview, that’s just plain wrong. And I’m pretty certain that Jesus, best friends with a prostitute if you recall, would NOT approve.
"Condoms promote promiscuity," says Derek Gordon of the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family. "When you give a teen a condom, it gives them a license to go out and have sex." At a congressional hearing in April, Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., threatened to cut funding for organizations that promote condoms. "The best defense for preventing HIV transmission is practicing abstinence and being mutually faithful to a non-infected partner,"
And there’s your problem. Just like with evolution and global warming, instead of looking at scientific studies, the religious right just goes on their instinct. Show me a single study that shows that condoms promote promiscuity. Just one. In the meantime, I’ll show you fifty studies that show that condoms prevent the spread of HIV. And it’s not just having the condoms around; one of the problems in Africa is the stigma attached to condoms. Remember even as recently as the 80s in this country, condoms were kind of dirty and embarrassing. Nowadays, people have no shame when they go to the drug store and buy them. Nor should they. Through a concerted effort we’ve removed the stigma attached to condoms and people use them in much greater numbers than ever before. They need a 20 year effort to make people more willing to use them over there, not less. But it’s not going to happen if we have the countries saying how bad they are and trying to keep them out of people’s hands.

Telling people that sex is dirty has never worked from the beginning of human existence. People are going to fuck. Get over that, Jesus freaks. Now, let’s move on to Jesus’ actual teachings - things like caring for the needy. Do we want to save lives or do we want to condemn "sinners" to death? You know what? Don’t answer that; it’ll just make me angrier.

No comments: