It has become part of liberal folklore to blame Reagan for the AIDS epidemic because he didn’t immediately launch a massive research and education campaign when it first erupted. The fact is that for years, the danger of AIDS wasn’t accurately understood by most. Few guessed how terrible a scourge it would become. Even the gay community didn’t recognize the danger. Today, many have forgotten how confused everyone was by the appearance of a horrible illness that seemed like some monstrous plague risen from the Dark Ages.
With 20/20 hindsight, pundits have condemned Reagan for being slow to react, forgetting their own ignorance. They also forget that the federal research and educational programs that are now fighting AIDS were launched by the Reagan administration. Was enough money devoted to AIDS? Probably not. Enough money is seldom allocated to any disease, from cancer to tuberculosis. We’ll only know how much is enough after a cure is produced. In the meantime, the sums and the choices made will be debated, and if such a discussion was the substance of The Reagans, it might prove useful in helping us learn how to deal with future health threats. But that’s not what’s presented. Instead, we’re given a false history to justify hatred for Reagan. It also justifies complacency in those who failed to make the case for urgent action or did nothing at all to fight AIDS during the 1980s. They can excuse themselves by blaming Reagan.
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Yes, I keep harping on this stupid movie that I haven’t yet seen (and am not likely to). But I’m not going to take it lying down, and neither should you.