Life

It’s The Information Age, Mike!

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In an upcoming article, Mike Huckabee, who has surged ahead in the GOP polls, is questioning the Mormon faith:

“Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, asks in an upcoming article, ‘Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’

“The article, to be published in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, says Huckabee asked the question after saying he believes Mormonism is a religion but doesn’t know much about it.”

Has Huckabee ever heard of the internet? Or the Information Age? It’s amazing what one can find in just .0013 seconds in a good Google search. Like this article from the homepage of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints about their beliefs on the subject of Jesus Christ. Or their official definition of Satan, which makes no mention whatsoever of him being the brother of Christ.

Of course, there’s the other side of the coin, that we are all children of God, and thereby brothers and sisters of each other in a spiritual sense. So Christ and Satan are spiritual brothers, just as I am your spiritual brother as children of God. Unfortunately for Huckabee, even Southern Baptists believe that.

This little blunder comes on the heels of his unsatisfactory explanation of his own words from 1992, when he urged the “isolation” of “carriers” of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He also opposed increased funding for finding a cure and said homosexuality could pose a public health risk.

He now says that today, he might phrase his answers “a little differently,” but doesn’t define exactly what those differences would be. Of course, Huckabee has “flip-flopped” on the funding issue, and now claims that his remarks were made at a time when little was known about how the AIDS virus was transmitted.

And here’s where that dreaded “Information Age” comes in, again. Sorry, Mike, but that just doesn’t ring true, unless you were as uninformed about AIDS in 1992 as you seem to be about other religions in 2007.

Let’s review a little history, shall we?

  • It is interesting to note, however, that as far back as 1959, scientists isolated what they believe was the earliest known case of AIDS, and that in 1978, gay men in the United States and Sweden, and heterosexuals in Tanzania and Haiti began showing signs of the illness.
  • In 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected and 12 years before Huckabee’s remarks, 31 people died of the illness. The following year, there were 234 known deaths.
  • In 1982, a full decade before Huckabee didn’t seem to know much about it, the illness became known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and the Centers for Disease Control linked it to blood. There were 853 known deaths attributed to AIDS that year.
  • In 1983, during which 2,304 people died from it, the AIDS virus was identified. The CDC warned of a potential problem with the blood supply.
  • By 1985, the first antibodies test for AIDS was developed, and the blood supply was checked for signs of the virus. That was the first year that Reagan mentioned AIDS in public.
  • AZT, the first anti-HIV drug, hit the market in 1987, five years before Huckabee’s call for isolation. In April of that year, Reagan, speaking to a group of physicians in Philadelphia, refers to AIDS as “public enemy number one.”
  • In 1988, the United States mailed out more than 100 million copies of a booklet written by then-U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop called Understanding AIDS. Huckabee’s copy, undoubtedly, was lost in the mail.
  • In 1990, Reagan apologized for neglecting the crisis during his eight-year presidency. That same year, teenage Ryan White, a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion, died. Notables like Rock Hudson, Liberace, and Amanda Blake are already gone.
  • An alarming statistic came in 1991, when the World Health Organization estimated that 10 million people worldwide were HIV-positive. That was the year before Huckabee opposed funding for a cure and wanted to ship HIV+ patients somewhere else.

Here is a different look at what knew about AIDS and when we knew it:

  • By 1982, the CDC had identified four primary risk factors: male homosexuality, intravenous drug abuse, Haitian origin and Hepatitis A.
  • In 1983, the U.S. Public Health Service had released recommendations to prevent transmission of HIV through sexual contact and blood transfusions. The CDC added female sex partners of HIV+ men as a fifth high-risk group. (They probably didn’t have to think too long about that one.)
  • In 1985, the U.S. Public Health Service issued its first recommendations for preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child.

By 1992, it was clear to most people — other than Huckabee or those who continued to rule out AIDS as anything but a “gay disease” — how HIV was transmitted. It was not some mystery illness that had people wearing masks to prevent airborne infection.

Yet somehow, despite the fact that women and children were getting the disease in manners that had nothing to do with gay sex, Mike Huckabee opposed funding to find a cure, and apparently didn’t understand the basics about how it was spread.

If he could miss a decade of scientific data, a kind of “intelligence information,” can you imagine what he might do with Iraq?

3 Comments

  1. The reality is that in spite of the access to information the general public often remains grossly misinformed and unwilling to admit it.

    A valid point. The question is, is that a good qualification for a lawmaker, especially one who wants to be president?

  2. i can’t speak for or against mr. huckabee, but i do know that even in the early nineties, reasonably, bright people still were grossly misinformed about aids…and that is in spite of the media taking on the mantle of educating and informing the general public.
    case in point: while completing my nursing degree back then i had an opportunity to provide private nursing care to a man living with aids. it was well paying and flexible as i was juggling school, marriage and raising a preschooler. my husband was more than supportive but our room mate (his sister) went crazy on me accusing me of exposing her and her child to this disease that i would be bringing home. nothing i could say could make her realize how ridiculous this possibility was. frankly, the only one who might have been remotely at risk was myself and, perhaps my husband but my client had very strict guidelines and expectations to protect his loved ones and caregivers as well as himself. even in this “enlightened and informed” age i am still shocked and mystified to encounter people like her who just don’t understand this disease. but then again many of the masses seem to think that it even though we can rescue and care for babies born more than four months early that it is okay and these babies will be okay. the reality pat is that in spite of the access to information the general public often remains grossly misinformed and unwilling to admit it.

  3. Ah-h-h-h, Patrick.

    The facts–about Mormonism or about the GLBT lifestyle (the real one–not the “evil” salacious one as defined by the far-right fundamentalists who would scare us all into the Falwellian Theocracy of the Prosperity Gospel)– don’t matter a damn bit to pols who pander to the judgmental religiosity folks. they want to get them angry, terrified and to the polls on election day.

    Fear and loathing (thanks, Hunter) of that which we do not bother to understand drives us to vote Right, to surrender our constitutional rights for protection from the evil forces out there who are determined to destroy the Blessed American Way of Life. All Muslims are terrorists; all GLBTs are out to defile the sanctity of marriage and corrupt our children; all people of color are lazy, ignorant and a lethal drain on our economy.

    An intellectually lazy public buys the rhetoric of rage and repression. It gives us a headache to think too much or to read. Certainly we do not want to engage with the sinners who will seize power and ruin a pristine nation.

    We forget we invaded this country in the name of God. We breached her borders without invitation or documentation in the name of God. We refused to learn the language; to assimilate, in the name of God. We saw a profit to be made in a land rich with resources, so we stole it–in the name of God. Then we committed genocide against the native population. In the name of God. They were non-believers. Savages.

    Our founders thought slavery was just dandy. So we participated in the kidnapping and enslavement of free citizens of Africa…

    I could go on. About our complicity in assassinations and the overthrow of duly elected governments of other countries because their natural resources were vital to our national security 9read national greed). Diamonds, rubber, gold, oil…I suspect God is right disgusted with us.

    The “greatest nation on earth” dares not look in the mirror. It’s far easier to label enemies, within and without, so we can take what we want and condemn who we will.

    It’s sad that we have prospered so long as a nation and have yet to learn to look at ourselves–each and every self-absorbed one of us–before we persecute someone else.

    Huckabee is the ideal candidate for the ugly American.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.