Every time I hear someone disparaging the idea of "political correctness", I just roll my eyes because they just don't get it.
Which is what I did when I read what Mike Huckabee said yesterday in response to publication of his 1992 AP survey responses, the responses where he supported quarantining AIDS patients, said that "Hollywood celebrities" should fund AIDS research instead of the government, and thought that homosexuality posed a "dangerous public risk." His response was that his "concern was safety first, political correctness last."
Apparently his disrespect for "political correctness" includes a disrespect for "factual correctness."
From Jim Burroway's transcription of Huckabee on Fox News:
Chris, I didn’t say that we should quarantine. I said it was the first time in public health protocols that when we had an infectious disease and we didn’t really know just how extensive and how dramatic it could be and the impact of it, that we didn’t isolate the carrier. Now the headlines yesterday started saying that that I called for quarantines, which, if you go back and read my comments, I did not.
I simply made the point, and I still believe this today, that in the late eighties and early nineties when we didn’t know as much that we do now about AIDS, we were acting more out of political correctness than we were out of the normal public health protocols that we would have acted as we have recently, for example, with Avian Flu…
By 1992 we knew that HIV wasn't spread through casual contact (NY Times):
Fears of AIDS spreading widely in the United States were common in the mid-1980s, as doctors struggled to learn about how the virus that causes the disease was transmitted. But by the time Mr. Huckabee answered the A.P. survey, it was well established that the virus could not be spread through casual contact.
And Chris Wallace on Fox News called Huck on that (interesting when Fox News knows more about the AIDS epidemic than a presidential candidate), and he responded:
Would I say things a little differently in 2007? Probably so, but I’m not going to recant or retract from the statement that I did make, because, again, the point was not saying we ought to lock people up who have HIV/AIDS. I knew people who had AIDS. I had a close friend who had died of it in the 1980’s. He was a hemophiliac; he had contracted it through a blood transfusion. I had other friends of mine, one of whom passed away, he was in fact homosexual.
But my point is, I was trying to talk about different public health protocols we were dealing with. I think what it really does show though is that when people are digging back into everything I have ever said and done — and I understand that, it’s part of the political process. But what I’m not going to do is to go back and now try to change every story that I’ve ever had. I’m going to simply say that is exactly what I said, I don’t run from it, don’t recant from it. Would I say it a little differently today? Sure, in light of fifteen years of additional knowledge and understanding I would.
Of course Huck's not going to retract a statement when the focus of his attacks on Rudy and Mitt are their flip-floppiness. And while he's not going to get many gays or poz people to vote for him, he's definitely going after the fundie vote. And not the TV-genic Pat Robertson or middle-of-the-road evangelicals, but crazy, World Net Daily lovin', end-times-style fundamentalists. Maybe this development will help him in front of them.
He said on Fox News that he "didn’t say that we should quarantine". Here's Huckabee's 1992 statement:
If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.
It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.
Is "isolation" different from "quarantine"? Is "we should" different from "we need"? Or are statements like these a lot less fashionable nowadays than they were back in the day when HIV was a gay disease and it was OK not to care about who died from it? Is the pastor is having a case of selective amnesia when it comes to the "Thou shalt not lie" part of the Bible?
Laura at DailyKos puts it this way:
Shorter Huckabee on Fox News Sunday: I didn't say we should quarantine people with AIDS, I just thought it was a bad thing that we hadn't done it. And I still agree with myself.
As much as he tries to smooth the edges of his rough personality with an "Aw shucks" make-over, Mike Huckabee is in fact a particularly nasty human being. At the same time that he supported quarantining AIDS patients, he also supported cutting AIDS funding (because there was way too much of that in 1992):
In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional federal spending can be justified. An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor (,) Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research.
In other words, if they love the faggots so much....
His call for quarantining had nothing to do with a concern for public health. It had nothing to do with being completely ignorant of the fact that the mode of transmission for HIV was already well-known in 1992. It was a way to show his animosity for queers at a time when it was more appropriate than it is today.
That's compassionate conservatism for ya.