Far-Right Host Compares Unvaccinated People During COVID to Gay Men During AIDS Crisis in Unhinged Rant
Right-wing elected officials and media personalities have vocally opposed virtually all efforts to encourage vaccinations against the virus that's killed over 750 thousand Americans—vaccines that have proven to be safe and effective.
They've painted vaccine information initiatives as federal overreach on par with Nazi atrocities. They've decried businesses who've chosen to mandate vaccines for their employees and customers. They've repeatedly peddled disinformation regarding the lifesaving medicine.
They also claim that willfully unvaccinated people are being discriminated against by initiatives barring them from certain activities.
Far-right pundit Dennis Prager of conservative media company PragerU recently appeared on the right-wing disinformation outlet Newsmax, where he proceeded to claim that unvaccinated people are being treated like "pariahs"—and he rewrote some history in the process.
Dennis Prager: "During the AIDS crisis, can you imagine if gay men and intravenous drug users...had they been pariahs the way the non-vaccinated are? But it would've been inconceivable"pic.twitter.com/GQsOq4X63u— Jason Campbell (@Jason Campbell) 1636410010
"During the AIDS crisis, can you imagine if gay men and intravenous drug users, who were the vast majority of people with AIDS, had they been pariahs the way the non-vaccinated are? But it would've been inconceivable and should've been inconceivable, they should not be made pariahs."
No one has to imagine if gay men and drug users were made pariahs in the face of the AIDS crisis, because that actually happened.
At the height of the crisis, Republican heavy-hitters like then-President Ronald Reagan and GOP Senator Jesse Helms dismissed efforts for adequate AIDS awareness programs, choosing instead to blame what they perceived as a lack of morality in gay men.
In justifying his stance, Helms once said:
''We have got to call a spade a spade and a perverted human being a perverted human being.
For decades, people with HIV/AIDS were banned from entering the country. Antigay hate crimes rose as the virus infected more Americans.
Until just last year, gay men couldn't donate blood in the United States unless they'd been celibate for a year, regardless of whether or not they're HIV negative. That mandatory celibacy time has since been reduced to three months.
People were amazed at Prager's complete revision of history and reality—and they soon brought receipts.
Dennis Prager, 2008 -- complaining that some people were trying to "de-stigmatize AIDS as primarily a gay man's disease"\n\nhttp://townhall.com/columnists/DennisPrager/2008/11/25/why_reporters_--_and_judges_and_professors_--_are_biased\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/WGe72EkiQT— Kevin M. Kruse (@Kevin M. Kruse) 1636414705
AIDS patients died because people feared simply touching them would lead to infection. Families abandoned their own children to be buried in unmarked graves. Let us know where we can send the books Dennis, God forbid you read one.https://twitter.com/jasonscampbell/status/1457835361812496395\u00a0\u2026— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten Buttigieg) 1636428013
"During the AIDS crisis, can you imagine if gay men...had been pariahs the way the non-vaccinated are?" 1/ https://twitter.com/jasonscampbell/status/1457835361812496395\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/4oiBpMtBBO— Ashton Pittman (@Ashton Pittman) 1636420740
this is a remarkable statement especially since Prager lived through this history. First of all gay men were treated as utter pariahs. but unlike antivaxxers they were pleading for medical care not avoiding it.https://twitter.com/jasonscampbell/status/1457835361812496395\u00a0\u2026— Josh Marshall (@Josh Marshall) 1636412653
A 1985 poll showed 51% of Americans wanted to quarantine AIDS patients in camps, segregating them.\n\nConservatives like William F. Buckley went even further, saying \u201cEveryone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper forearm.\u201d By the late 1980s, 29% of Americans agreed.https://twitter.com/jasonscampbell/status/1457835361812496395\u00a0\u2026— Arlen Parsa (@Arlen Parsa) 1636419028
William F. Buckley proposed tattooing all HIV carriers in an op/ed carried by, I hope you\u2019re sitting down, the New York Times. https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/00/07/16/specials/buckley-aids.html\u00a0\u2026 https://twitter.com/jasonscampbell/status/1457835361812496395\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/afEfDaQxff— Jean-Michel Connard \uea00 (@Jean-Michel Connard \uea00) 1636411812
Rush Limbaugh had a a regular "AIDS Update" segment that mocked the deaths of gay people.https://twitter.com/JasonSCampbell/status/1457835361812496395\u00a0\u2026— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) 1636420073
There was universal disgust at Prager's deliberate deception.
Fully expressing the ill will I feel for this man would get me banned from Twitter.https://twitter.com/jasonscampbell/status/1457835361812496395\u00a0\u2026— Daniel \u201cGiblets!\u201d Summers, MD (@Daniel \u201cGiblets!\u201d Summers, MD) 1636414415
So outrageous, ahistorical and offensive.https://twitter.com/jasonscampbell/status/1457835361812496395\u00a0\u2026— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sherrilyn Ifill) 1636421466
He knows the truth.\n\nFascists lie because they know they\u2019re unlikely to be challenged, and they know it\u2019s menacing for people of good faith to watch liars tell lies unchallenged.https://twitter.com/jasonscampbell/status/1457835361812496395\u00a0\u2026— A.R. Moxon (@A.R. Moxon) 1636424423
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Prager attempted to backtrack, claiming he specifically meant the government didn't make gay men pariahs—once again, at odds with reality.