Friday, March 11, 2016

The Celebrated Death of Low Key Advocacy




“And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan–in particular Mrs. Reagan–we started a national conversation when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it. And you know that too is something that I really appreciate with her very effective, low-key advocacy but it penetrated the public conscience. And people began to say, ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too"- Hillary Clinton

This may be one of the most offensive things she's said so far.  To rebrand the Reagans, who would've been content to let AIDS wipe out the queer population and acted with scorn that some would even think it merited their time (see the conversations above), as cautious but somehow brave champions of care is beyond contemptuous.  There is no way to read the Reagan legacy on HIV/AIDs as anything but abysmal.  It's impossible to know just how long their failure to act quickly set back research for those research vaccines/treatments.

It was so bad that Rock Hudson, once one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and a friend of the Reagans, had to look to France to find a hospital that could actually treat the disease with any of the attention it needed.  He pleaded with Nancy to help get him clearance to be admitted, which he could not do initially on account of not being French.  Fearing being associated with a gay disease, Nancy refused to help but instead directed him to the French Ambassador's office.  He would eventually make it into that hospital after being transferred from another one, but died shortly afterward.

And there's the thing- the ones who actually did advocate, who marched and did the hard work of fighting for AIDS awareness- many of them did not live to see it come to fruition.  They were not using a "low-key advocacy" approach, because they literally did not have time to wait for change to come.  They were fighting from their deathbeds  This is the crux of the issue with Hillary Clinton's "Low-key advocacy" approach; it expects all of us to wait for low-key advocates to come out of the woodwork- until these shitty human beings who hide behind poll numbers and focus groups feel safe enough with what's arguably an intensely low-level risk compared to the sacrifices of the activists living and dying for these causes.  There's no limit to how many groups are expendable to the wishy-washy trends and fundamentalist devotion to "political reality" when someone's stance on a controversial issue may or may not poll well in their key districts.

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