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AIDS and Insincerity

AIDS and Insincerity

Associate Editor

Friday, June 27th, 2008

My uncle, Milton Samuel Mark, died of AIDS a while back, from a blood transfusion given to him in a Bronx hospital, so I take the AIDS issue seriously and with some measure of resentment.

Back when he died, in the late 1980s, AIDS was the equivalent of global warming — partially science, partially politics, partially hysteria. My uncle was neither gay nor a drug addict, the two constituencies from whence the spread of AIDS primarily originates. Yet, it was politically correct for even doctors to say that AIDS would quickly move into the heterosexual community, as well. It didn’t.

We were all threatened, supposedly, even if we were neither gay nor needle-users, just as we are now all supposedly threatened by global warming. AIDS predictions from the 1980s now sound as ridiculous as Barack Obama already sounds when he promises that his presidency will be “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow.”

He must have been watching “Atlantic City,” when Burt Lancaster’s old-timer looks at the ocean and says, “You should have seen it in the old days, kid. It was something.”

A 1987 Time cover story, “How Heterosexuals Are Coping With AIDS,” told us: “The numbers as yet are small, but AIDS is a growing threat to the heterosexual population. Straight men and women in some cases do not believe it, in some cases do not want to believe it,” just as some of us do not want to believe that the “rise of the oceans” are about to cover the Throgs Neck Bridge. But it was the skeptics about the “political” science and probability of AIDS that proved to be correct.

Even in 2008, AIDS activists still prefer to say that “all” of us are in danger even though “all” of us are not.

This past week, The New York Times front-page headlined (June 26): “Push in Bronx for H.I.V. Test for All.” This is like saying that terrorism is best fought by strip-searching elderly Jewish ladies at the airport instead of profiling young Islamic men.

According to the Times, “The New York City health department plans to announce… an ambitious three-year effort to give an H.I.V. test to every adult living in the Bronx.” That can only mean the health department thinks its limited resources is best spent by testing Rabbi Mordechai Willig and the morning minyan at his Young Israel of Riverdale, and then taking blood from old Jewish guys in the Amalgamated co-ops near Van Cortlandt, before wrapping up the day by setting up a table outside Glatt Shop on Johnson Avenue.

When the health department says “all” it means all. But why not tell the truth about who in the Bronx really needs testing, and where health officials could really be doing some good and perhaps even save some precious lives?

This is akin to another front-page story, a few months ago, in the Times (March 12) headlined: “Sex Infections Found in Quarter of Teenage Girls.”

There are tens of thousands of teenage girls in Kiryas Joel, Flatbush, Crown Heights, Borough Park, and another two dozen Orthodox neighborhoods where teenage Jewish girls are taught tzniut, modesty in clothes and behavior. Make fun of them all you want, but do you think sex infections are found in a quarter of those teenage girls?

All the comedians and journalists who love taking shots at religious hypocrisy in the name of “honesty” ought to be honest as to which community is raising its girls to be a “quarter” infected and which community is not.

Since so many Jews are infatuated by the phantom black-Jewish coalition, this is an interesting stat: The Times reports, “Nearly half of the African-Americans in the study of teenagers ages 14 to 19 were infected with at least one of the diseases monitored in the study – human papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis, a common parasite. The 50 percent figure compared with 20 percent of white teenagers.” And what’s the percentage of white teenagers who go to Orthodox schools? The modern Orthodox and chassidic school systems would be the fifth largest in New York State if Orthodox New York was measured as a single city. How many of these kids have sexual infections? I’ll bet you not many kids at all.

When it comes to AIDS testing, “It’s not about one group doing it, it’s about everybody doing it,” said Dr. Sweeney of the health department.

No, not everybody. Not that there is “nobody” infected in the Orthodox world, but let’s give these rabbis, parents and most of all, our teenage girls, some credit. Maybe if everyone wasn’t so obsessed with the “unaffiliated” we could spend more time looking at this “affiliated” community to see what works and why.

It was George Orwell’s birthday (June 25) this week, and the great prophet once warned, “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns … instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”

Our health officials, our politicians, even some journalists forsake clear language for insincerity when it comes to fingerpointing exactly where the sexual health crisis exists, where terrorism exists, where danger exists, and where it doesn’t.

If Obama could hear Bush speak of appeasement in the appeasement-infested Knesset and be so sure Bush was talking about him on the other side of the globe, maybe a lot of politicians and “social activists” can read that Orwell quote and guess if it applies, just the same.

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