With Gay Pride season in full swing this month, it’s time for yet another round of Reagan-bashing, courtesy of angry, left-wing gay activists.
In this year’s episode, the White House invited a delegation of gay Philadelphians to a June 15 Pride celebration — the first ever at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. To the sounds of the Marine Corps Band, several of these guests stank up the place by giving the finger to the official portrait of the late Ronald Wilson Reagan. They proudly captured this incident on camera, as the photos demonstrate.
“F**k Reagan,” Matthew “Matty” Hart wrote in the Facebook caption of a picture showing him waving his middle digits at Everett Raymond Kinstler’s oil painting of the 40th President of the United States. “Yeah, f**k Reagan,” Hart reiterated in the June 22 Philly Post. As he told writer Victor Fiorillo, “Ronald Reagan has blood on his hands. The man was in the White House as AIDS exploded, and he was happy to see plenty of gay men and queer people die. He was a murderous fool, and I have no problem saying so. Don’t invite me back [to the White House]. I don’t care.”
If Hart and the other finger waggers aimed to make friends and influence people, they evidently failed.
“While the White House does not control the conduct of guests at receptions, we certainly expect that all attendees conduct themselves in a respectful manner,” declared
White House spokesman Shin Inouye. “Most all do. These individuals clearly did not. Behavior like this doesn’t belong anywhere, least of all in the White House.” This repugnant stunt notwithstanding, a powerful myth endures among many gay Americans and also on the broader left.
Their story: Ronald Reagan passionately hated homosexuals. Presumably he high-fived his equally homophobic advisers in the Oval Office as gay people dropped dead in the streets from AIDS while begging in vain for the glacier-hearted Reagan to do something — anything at all — to address the AIDS crisis.
Like body armor, this humongous lie seems impervious even to .44-caliber facts. Nonetheless, perhaps one of these bullet points will penetrate this still-impermeable untruth:
As part of his policy of supposed inaction, Ronald Reagan signed $5.73 billion in U.S.-government anti-AIDS outlays. That’s $10.6 billion in today’s dollars. Indeed, Reagan’s signature inaugurated federal action on AIDS research and treatment:
As the chart above confirms, federal anti-AIDS spending grew dramatically throughout Reagan’s term. The $8 million that Reagan approved in 1982 rocketed to $2.3 billion in 1989. The average annual increase in federal expenditures on HIV/AIDS under Reagan was 128.92 percent. If he had been happy to watch gays succumb to AIDS, he surely could have kept that growth rate somewhere south of 125 percent.
These figures did not erupt from Ann Coulter’s calculator. Rather, they are from a March 31, 1998, Congressional Research Service study by Judith Johnson titled “AIDS Funding for Federal Government Programs: FY1981–FY1999.”
Libertarians, conservatives, and liberals can debate the wisdom and scope of federal spending in every area, including AIDS. But only someone with cinder blocks over his eyes could examine these taxpayer dollars and claim that Ronald Reagan did anything other than actively deploy federal resources to combat AIDS — particularly when the disease’s cause was a mystery, even to scientists who lost years of sleep trying to vanquish it. While AIDS thankfully has gone from a death sentence to a manageable ailment, there still is no cure for this condition, more than 30 years after it emerged.