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Forwarded Stories, Articles and Editorials

Wolfgang Busch - Real University Staff Member
LGBT politics/culture/arts

June 2004

Planet Reagan
By William Rivers Pitt

Ronald Reagan is dead now, and everyone is being
nice to him. In every aspect, this is appropriate. He
was a husband and a father, a beloved member of a
family, and he will be missed by those he was close
to. His death was long, slow and agonizing because of
the Alzheimer's Disease which ruined him, one drop of
lucidity at a time. My grandmother died ten years ago
almost to the day because of this disease, and this
disease took ten years to do its dirty, filthy,
wretched work on her.

The dignity and candor of Reagan's farewell letter
to the American people was as magnificent a departure
from public life as any that has been seen in our
history, but the ugly truth of his illness was that he
lived on, and on, and on. His family and friends
watched as he faded from the world of the real, as the
simple dignity afforded to all life collapsed like
loose sand behind his ever more vacant eyes. Only
those who have seen Alzheimer's Disease invade a mind
can know the truth of this. It is a cursed way to die.

In this mourning space, however, there must be
room made for the truth. Writer Edward Abbey once
said, "The sneakiest form of literary subtlety, in a
corrupt society, is to speak the plain truth. The
critics will not understand you; the public will not
believe you; your fellow writers will shake their

The truth is straightforward: Virtually every
significant problem facing the American people today
can be traced back to the policies and people that
came from the Reagan administration. It is a laundry
list of ills, woes and disasters that has all of us,
once again, staring apocalypse in the eye.

How can this be? The television says Ronald Reagan
was one of the most beloved Presidents of the 20th
century. He won two national elections, the second by
a margin so overwhelming that all future landslides
will be judged by the high-water mark he achieved
against Walter Mondale. How can a man so universally
respected have played a hand in the evils which
corrupt our days?

The answer lies in the reality of the corrupt
society Abbey spoke of. Our corruption is the absolute
triumph of image over reality, of flash over
substance, of the pervasive need within most Americans
to believe in a happy-face version of the nation they
call home, and to spurn the reality of our estate as
unpatriotic. Ronald Reagan was, and will always be,
the undisputed heavyweight champion of salesmen in
this regard.

Reagan was able, by virtue of his towering talents
in this arena, to sell to the American people a flood
of poisonous policies. He made Americans feel good
about acting against their own best interests. He sold
the American people a lemon, and they drive it to this
day as if it was a Cadillac. It isn't the lies that
kill us, but the myths, and Ronald Reagan was the
greatest myth-maker we are ever likely to see.

Mainstream media journalism today is a shameful
joke because of Reagan's deregulation policies. Once
upon a time, the Fairness Doctrine ensured that the
information we receive - information vital to the
ability of the people to govern in the manner intended
- came from a wide variety of sources and
perspectives. Reagan's policies annihilated the
Fairness Doctrine, opening the door for a few
mega-corporations to gather journalism unto
themselves. Today, Reagan's old bosses at General
Electric own three of the most-watched news channels.
This company profits from every war we fight, but
somehow is trusted to tell the truths of war. Thus,
the myths are sold to us.

The deregulation policies of Ronald Reagan did not
just deliver journalism to these massive corporations,
but handed virtually every facet of our lives into the
hands of this privileged few. The air we breathe, the
water we drink, the food we eat are all tainted
because Reagan battered down every environmental
regulation he came across so corporations could
improve their bottom line. Our leaders are
wholly-owned subsidiaries of the corporations that
were made all-powerful by Reagan's deregulation craze.
The Savings and Loan scandal of Reagan's time, which
cost the American people hundreds of billions of
dollars, is but one example of Reagan's decision that
the foxes would be fine guards in the henhouse.

Ronald Reagan believed in small government,
despite the fact that he grew government massively
during his time. Social programs which protected the
weakest of our citizens were gutted by Reagan's
policies, delivering millions into despair. Reagan was
able to do this by caricaturing the "welfare queen,"
who punched out babies by the barnload, who drove the
flashy car bought with your tax dollars, who refused
to work because she didn't have to. This was a
vicious, racist lie, one result of which was the
decimation of a generation by crack cocaine. The urban
poor were left to rot because Ronald Reagan believed
in 'self-sufficiency.'

Because Ronald Reagan could not be bothered to
fund research into 'gay cancer,' the AIDS virus was
allowed to carve out a comfortable home in America.
The aftershocks from this callous disregard for people
whose homosexuality was deemed evil by religious
conservatives cannot be overstated. Beyond the graves
of those who died from a disease which was allowed to
burn unchecked, there are generations of Americans
today living with the subconscious idea that sex
equals death.

The veneer of honor and respect painted across the
legacy of Ronald Reagan is itself a myth of biblical
proportions. The coverage proffered today of the
Reagan legacy seldom mentions impropriety until the
Iran/Contra scandal appears on the administration
timeline. This sin of omission is vast. By the end of
his term in office, some 138 Reagan administration
officials had been convicted, indicted or investigated
for misconduct and/or criminal activities.

Some of the names on this disgraceful roll-call:
Oliver North, John Poindexter, Richard Secord, Casper
Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, Robert C. McFarlane,
Michael Deaver, E. Bob Wallach, James Watt, Alan D.
Fiers, Clair George, Duane R. Clarridge, Anne Gorscuh
Burford, Rita Lavelle, Richard Allen, Richard Beggs,
Guy Flake, Louis Glutfrida, Edwin Gray, Max Hugel,
Carlos Campbell, John Fedders, Arthur Hayes, J. Lynn
Helms, Marjory Mecklenburg, Robert Nimmo, J. William
Petro, Thomas C. Reed, Emanuel Savas, Charles Wick.
Many of these names are lost to history, but more than
a few of them are still with us today, 'rehabilitated'
by the administration of George W. Bush.

Ronald Reagan actively supported the regimes of
the worst people ever to walk the earth. Names like
Marcos, Duarte, Rios Mont and Duvalier reek of blood
and corruption, yet were embraced by the Reagan
administration with passionate intensity. The ground
of many nations is salted with the bones of those
murdered by brutal rulers who called Reagan a friend.
Who can forget his support of those in South Africa
who believed apartheid was the proper way to run a
civilized society?

One dictator in particular looms large across our
landscape. Saddam Hussein was a creation of Ronald
Reagan. The Reagan administration supported the
Hussein regime despite his incredible record of
atrocity. The Reagan administration gave Hussein
intelligence information which helped the Iraqi
military use their chemical weapons on the battlefield
against Iran to great effect. The deadly bacterial
agents sent to Iraq during the Reagan administration
are a laundry list of horrors.

The Reagan administration sent an emissary named
Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to shake Saddam Hussein's hand
and assure him that, despite public American
condemnation of the use of those chemical weapons, the
Reagan administration still considered him a welcome
friend and ally. This happened while the Reagan
administration was selling weapons to Iran, a nation
notorious for its support of international terrorism,
in secret and in violation of scores of laws.

Another name on Ronald Reagan's roll call is that
of Osama bin Laden. The Reagan administration believed
it a bully idea to organize an army of Islamic
fundamentalists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet
Union. bin Laden became the spiritual leader of this
action. Throughout the entirety of Reagan's term, bin
Laden and his people were armed, funded and trained by
the United States. Reagan helped teach Osama bin Laden
the lesson he lives by today, that it is possible to
bring a superpower to its knees. bin Laden believes
this because he has done it once before, thanks to the
dedicated help of Ronald Reagan.

In 1998, two American embassies in Africa were
blasted into rubble by Osama bin Laden, who used the
Semtex sent to Afghanistan by the Reagan
administration to do the job. In 2001, Osama bin Laden
thrust a dagger into the heart of the United States,
using men who became skilled at the art of terrorism
with the help of Ronald Reagan. Today, there are 827
American soldiers and over 10,000 civilians who have
died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war
that came to be because Reagan helped manufacture both
Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

How much of this can be truthfully laid at the
feet of Ronald Reagan? It depends on who you ask.
Those who worship Reagan see him as the man in charge,
the man who defeated Soviet communism, the man whose
vision and charisma made Americans feel good about
themselves after Vietnam and the malaise of the 1970s.
Those who despise Reagan see him as nothing more than
a pitch-man for corporate raiders, the man who allowed
greed to become a virtue, the man who smiled vapidly
while allowing his officials to run the government for

In the final analysis, however, the legacy of
Ronald Reagan - whether he had an active hand in its
formulation, or was merely along for the ride - is
beyond dispute. His famous question, "Are you better
off now than you were four years ago?" is easy to
answer. We are not better off than we were four years
ago, or eight years ago, or twelve, or twenty. We are
a badly damaged state, ruled today by a man who
subsists off Reagan's most corrosive final gift to us
all: It is the image that matters, and be damned to
the truth.

May 2004
Why is the HIV infection rate going up???
(Published by Gay City News, November 20-26, 2003)

Harvey Fierstein must be burned out from providing his talents, time, money and celebrity status helping the community. He is wondering why the HIV infection rate is going up with no improvements in sight. Harvey is questioning himself on an issue that is dear to his heart and he is looking for answers.

Harvey went on the Center's stage, with his mind set on: "No scandals tonight please." The very first announcement to the audience from Harvey was not to get personal and please audience, don't attack anybody. Harvey must have felt a lot of pressure having to say that.

Unfortunately with that opening statement the community was told to keep issues that could have made a difference outside.

The beautiful voices of the community were heard and applauded, but nobody on the panel can put it to use. No forum follow-up, no future discussions, no place to go from here.

This forum made a point but is sending the wrong messages to our community. By asking the community to check their opinions outside the room, it opened the door for the AIDS organizations to sit on their chairs feeling only a little nervous. At least one of them. They gave us their spiel and lies, without giving us the opportunity to challenge them. I am afraid that the forum encouraged AIDS organizations in our community to continue to divide us and give us a bad reputation in society.

AIDS organizations continue to add to our crises.

I felt the pain all night in the room, but I also felt the hope and the energy from the community that something good is going to happen very soon.

Meetings of this nature are short term and not thought through. All they do is hype us up with no place to go after that meeting. If we, the LGBT community, doesn't provide us with a platform to challenge our community, what reason do we give them to change anything. We only boost their confidence and they give themselves promotions with a raise after they got caught and they laugh all the way to the bank.

Only two AIDS organizations were present at the panel. The very best and the worst of NYC's AIDS organizations.

A true inspiration to the LGBT community is Dennis deLeon from the Latino Commission on AIDS. Dennis is the best the LGBT community has to offer in activism and leadership.

Also present was Michael Robertson, representing Gary English from the People of Color in Crises, and in crises they sure are. Listening to both speakers made it clear that Mr. deLeon has the vision.

Because of POCC, GMAD and GMHC, we don't get enough funding anymore. I hold them responsible for the community in crises, the bad reputation they build in the society at large and leaving the community confused - resulting in HIV affection rates going up across the community. They compete against each other for the grant money, to the point where they don't even support each other's events, because of personal reasons.

Our community-based organizations operate like corporations. The sense of community support and community respect has been taken off the board room agenda. Many lost focus and they forget that they are working for a community-based organization. They are greedy and they made us slaves to corporate America and Government institutions. Our community depends on them like people depend on crystal meth, causing the HIV infection rate going up in the white community.

In closing I would like to say that if our community-based organizations and community leadership were doing it right, there would be enough noise and enough money to go around.

Wolfgang Busch Via the Internet
Gay City News is published by
Community Media LLC.
Gay City News | 487 Greenwich St., Suite 6A | New York, NY 10013

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