Bias Watch

Conservative pundit whines gay men were never “pariahs” during AIDS crisis like anti-vaxxers are now

Dennis Prager
Dennis Prager speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC 2.0.

Conservative writer and radio host Dennis Prager said that gay men never experienced being treated like “pariahs” during the AIDS crisis the way that people who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 are right now. Liberals and LGBTQ people pointed out on Twitter why he wasn’t showing a good understanding of history.

“During the AIDS crisis, can you imagine if gay men and intravenous drug users – who were the vast majority of people with AIDS – had they been pariahs the way the non-vaccinated are?” Prager asked during an appearance on Newsmax.

Related: Dr. Fauci talks about his visits to gay bars & bathhouses (for scientific reasons)

“It would have been inconceivable. It should have been inconceivable! They should not have been made pariahs! But this is kosher, this is OK, you can make the non-vaccinated” pariahs, he said, adding that people refusing all of the COVID-19 vaccines “are the pariahs of America – as I have not seen in my lifetime! – any pariah group like this.”

Prager is the host of the rightwing radio show The Dennis Prager Show and is perhaps best known for co-founding PragerU, a non-profit organization that makes videos to “educate” conservatives on various topics. PragerU is not an academic institution and Prager himself does not possess any graduate degrees.

On Twitter, people gave their time to educate Prager and others about this history of HIV and AIDS in the U.S., about the enormous stigma that people living with HIV faced in the 1980s and 1990s that went far beyond being asked to get a free shot or get tested to help prevent the spread of a deadly, airborne virus.

Others pointed out that it was conservatives like Prager – and sometimes Prager himself – who were behind making gay men pariahs during the AIDS crisis.

Others pointed out that people refusing all of the COVID-19 vaccines are only “pariahs” because they are refusing potentially life-saving medical treatment, whereas the pariah-dom of people with AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s led to a denial of medical care and dignity.

In 1996, Prager testified in Congress that “the acceptance of homosexuality as the equal of heterosexual marital love signifies the decline of Western civilization” in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned marriage equality at the federal level.

He told Congress at the time that “compassion for gays is non-compassion for children” because “do children not deserve a mother and a father because of compassion for gays?”

He said that gay people should be treated as second-class citizens because “human nature is largely bisexual” but favoring heterosexuals makes people marry a person of the opposite sex.

“It is a sad day when you’re called a hatemonger if you think men and women should marry and that should be the standard,” Prager told Congress.

Congress is not currently debating laws to prevent anti-vaxxers from having children out of fear that they’ll reproduce.

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