5/2/08

AIDS and the government

Rev. Jeremiah Wright has attracted a lot of attention with his theories about the federal government creating AIDS in a laboratory. Here's an excerpt excerpt from Talk Radio Can't Handle the Truth By Casey Lartigue Jr. and Eliot Morgan

Sunday, August 5, 2007; Page B03

Often, just one word can silence those who doubt the conspiracy theory of the day: COINTELPRO, the FBI's notorious anticommunist program that was used against groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Council and the Ku Klux Klan. From the Scottsboro Boys to the Tuskegee syphilis study, our government has displayed a willingness to conspire against its citizens.

Likewise, truth-squadding becomes difficult when such theories are linked to hard data: Black Americans constitute about 12 percent of the U.S. population but about half of the nation's AIDS cases. That sets up the conditions in which, according to researchers Sheryl Thorburn Bird and Laura M. Bogart, more than 20 percent of black Americans think that HIV was created to restrict the black population.

A 1990 survey by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference found that one-third of black American churchgoers believed that AIDS was a form of genocide. One-third also believed that HIV was produced in a germ-warfare lab, and 40 percent of black college students in Washington, D.C., agreed. An even higher percentage of blacks polled said they thought that crack cocaine was custom-made to be planted in African American communities to keep them crime-ridden and poor and that the government deliberately targeted black elected officials to drive them from office.

These beliefs keep some black Americans from having their children vaccinated, from receiving AIDS tests and early medical treatment, and from practicing safe sex or using clean needles, as Patricia A. Turner and Gary Alan Fine note in their book, "Whispers on the Color Line." They also make seeking the truth an uphill battle.