ATTACKS ON "AIDS, PUBLIC MORALITY, AND PUBLIC HEALTH"
To the Editors:
I read [John Adams Wettergreen's] article in The Claremont Review of Books, Volume IV, No. 3, titled "AIDS, Public Morality, and Public Health" with a great deal of disgust.
The second paragraph contains a blatant and unsupportable lie from which I assume further distortions and half-truths follow. I am the Shirley L. Fannin, M.D., referred to in the paragraph. Contrary to the statements, my unit has exhaustively studied all of our transfusion-related cases and have found high-risk donors in every donor group. These studies with others around the country led to the actions taken in March of 1983 by blood banks asking high-risk persons to refrain from donating blood. I did not ever make a statement to any member of the press that could have led to the insinuation that I did not wish to "disrupt" the lifestyle of high-risk groups.
I assume that Mr. Wettergreen has mastered the techniques of the propagandist well, but I do not appreciate his misrepresentation of fact as they apply to me and wish for an immediate retraction. I have documented proof of my assertions, can Mr. Wettergreen say the same?
- Shirley L Fannin, M.D.
Associate Deputy Director
Communicable Disease Control Programs
County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health Services
Dr. Fannin sent a copy of the letter to the Academic Ethics Committee of San Jose State University, where Dr. Wettergreen teaches.
To the Editors:
. . . If [Wettergreen's] article limited his personal opinion against homosexuality, that would have been taken for what it was-his opinion. To combine this opinion with a discussion of AIDS is to add misinformation and anti-gay sentiments to this serious health concern.
In order to meet the tragedy and challenge of the HTL virus, and treatment of people with AIDS, accurate information and education will be a public service. Until a treatment against the virus or a vaccine is available, education and accurate information is what responsible individuals and health providers have to offer. I hope he will take this responsibility more seriously in future articles.
- Stefhen C. Aron, M.D.
Director, Student Health Service
Claremont University Center
To the Editors:
I am writing to express my outrage at [Wettergreen's article]. Mr. Wettergreen makes his prejudicial and discriminatory attitudes towards homosexuals patently clear. He is, in effect championing a righteous, judgmental, and insensitive attitude towards other human beings. Under the guise of a rational concern for public health, Mr. Wettergreen's discussion of AIDS is merely a cover story for expressing homosexist and homophobic feelings. Because of this, the public is further misinformed, by this article, about AIDS and about what's needed to deal with the dreaded disease itself and to educate the public about the disease.
Your decision to publish this article has, unfortunately, contributed to the problem of intolerance and discrimination towards people because of their sexual orientation. Further, it has failed to provide a forum for a meaningful discussion of the public health concerns caused by the AIDS epidemic, presumably the goal of publishing such an article. That you chose to publish the article is appalling.
- Kumea Shorter-Gooden, Ph.D.
Director, the Monsour Counseling Center
The Claremont Colleges
- Kevin P. Austin, Ph.D.
Staff Psychologist, The Monsour Counseling Center
To the Editors:
I find it hard to believe that any editor of a publication which presents itself as an "academic" voice due the respect and confidence common people have been taught educators deserve would print undocumented and "out of context" assertions contained in [Wettergreen's] homophobic diatribe. . . .
Tear sheets containing the article were sent to me by a professor in one of the Claremont Colleges with this comment: "I find it inaccurate, disgusting, and exceeding the boundaries of good journalism."
My assessment is that the professor was really trying to be nice to you. I suspect that you are using the name "Claremont Review of Books" to give the impression of being a product of the highly regarded Claremont Colleges. My hope is that the effect on whatever readership you may have among students at Claremont Colleges is to be recognized as an example of irresponsible journalism and vicious political activism.
Most conscientious editors, upon being pressured to circulate such bigotry and undocumented statements as "all homosexual AIDS victims have had Hepatitis B, as well as at least one other venereal disease," would require some evidence of the truth of the statement. Throughout the article the author makes bold statements which, no matter how much he may wish them factual, are clearly assumptions used to make his personal fears appear to be genuine sociological and biological facts.
Propaganda under the disguise of academia may recruit a few followers to the squadron of would be rulers who expect to enjoy the power of enforcing the restrictions advocated by the author, who says, "The problems of AIDS can be solved instantly and efficiently by restricting homosexuality." Hitler had the same idea about another segment of human beings.
The insidious attempt to label Democrats as homosexuals is ludicrous and it reveals the desperation behind the writer's efforts to convince himself that this world should be run according to his standards (?). Would he also like to "restrict" Blacks, Indians, Chinese, and Latinos?
Since you made no editorial comment or disclaimer, I must presume you are a willing party to the deceptions and errors contained in the piece. On that basis, it seems I could legitimately request the Claremont Colleges to "restrict" circulation of your propaganda publication on their campuses. My preference, however, is to point out to the students the hazards of trying to manipulate facts to support a pre-drawn conclusion. Also, to show how easily one can invite ridicule and refutation.
It is obvious, of course, that my understanding of "morality" differs from that of the author but I'll bet if he were in my shoes his evident fears would be based on other grounds than the ones he states.
If you ever get around to publishing authentic research material or challenging intellectual explorations I'll be happy to receive your Claremont Review of Books. Otherwise, don't put me on your list, there's too much crap coming in the mail as it is.
When there's so much need for honesty and understanding, why waste energy and material in advocating hatred and selfishness?
- Galen M. Moon
Executive Officer for The Board of Directors Pomona-San Gabriel Valley Gay/ Lesbian Coalition
Mr. Moon's statements are his personal reactions and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person or officer of his organization.
To the Editors:
Like many of your readers, I am deeply concerned by the AIDS epidemic in our midst. Such a disease, with its unrelenting destruction of human life frightens and confuses the layman. There is a great need for responsible commentary to increase our awareness of this important issue.
To discover a self-proclaimed scholarly journal such as yours publishing a piece of malicious, judgmental diatribe by John Adams Wettergreen is not only disappointing to your readers, but damning of your integrity.
Jon D. Bailey
Professor of Music
To the Editor:
. . . The article contains many incorrect statements. Publishing such an article amounts to irresponsible journalism. In order to regain any credibility The Claremont Review has enjoyed in the past, you should publish another article in your next issue which corrects these gross inaccuracies.
- Jill S. Grigsby
Assistant Professor of Sociology
To the Editors:
We are writing to express our amazement that your publication, which purports to be a responsible, scholarly journal, would print (Wettergreen's) article . . .
Wettergreen believes that male homosexual practices ought to be censured and prohibited because they are not part of the natural order, and he claims that AIDS is the terrible retribution for the violation of that order-for the evil way our society "permits" homosexuality. The claim is absurd, but the article attempts to establish it anyway with an emotional and inaccurate account of recent research on how AIDS is transmitted. But no amount of information on this topic-even accurate information-can link evil and homosexuality. Did the editors of The Claremont Review not detect that Wettergreen's misleading discussion of this research was a mask for his extreme and unreasonable homophobia? Must we conclude that the editors do not know how to distinguish thoughtful and responsible studies from inflammatory diatribes? Or are we forced to conclude that the editors knowingly publish the latter?
Sexual bonds are the fundamental building blocks of human society. The fact that the AIDS virus can be transmitted sexually compounds tragically the problems we face as we try to build our world. How does Wettergreen's airing of his anti-homosexual prejudices in The Claremont Review help us confront these problems in any meaningful way?
- Betsy K. Emerick
Assistant to the Dean of Faculty and Dean of Students
- Judson J. Emirick
Associate Professor of Art History
To the Editors:
I was rather surprised to find that The Claremont Review of Books would publish an article which is not a book review and which is so silly and inaccurate. It is a good example, however, of how "flexible" the rational mind can be when it comes to justifying emotional responses of one kind or another.
- Robert Cable
Professor of Psychology
The Claremont Graduate School
To the Editors:
I would like to stand up and be counted among the many (I am sure) sensitive readers who were put off by the homophobic treatment of gay people in the article. . . . There is a serious public health concern aroused by the increasing incidents of AIDS, but this is no excuse to launch a witch hunt against gays. I found this article offensive.
- Kathy Pezdek
Associate Professor of Psychology
The Claremont Graduate School
To the Editors:
The article . . . was riddled with factual error and gross misrepresentation. I am appalled that you allowed the article to be published.
- Richard Tsujimoto
Professor of Psychology
To the Editors:
I am writing as a relatively regular reader of the Review who, although often in disagreement with your writers, enjoys the range of opinions expressed by them. I am writing, however, as I've been troubled greatly by what clearly is a case of opinion represented as fact. . . . [Wettergreen's] article disturbs me in several ways. First is the writer's apparent assumption that we will treat his undocumented assertions as statements of fact and proceed from there to agree with his rather sweeping conclusions. As galling as this argument by assertion is, even worse is the presentation of totally mistaken information about the nature of AIDS and its characteristics as an epidemic. The range of asserted truths, e.g., that it is almost purely a homosexual phenomenon and that it is primarily linked with anal intercourse, and the conclusions drawn from these assertions are not warranted by the epidemiological information available on AIDS in central Africa, where it afflicts heterosexuals primarily. A somewhat more open-minded reading of the technical literature-and of some of its more popular renditions in the press-would have convinced Professor Wettergreen of the greater complexity and danger of AIDS than those he presents. It is also clear that Professor Wettergreen misreads both San Francisco and national politics considerably in his argument that gays control either politicians or bureaucrats to any appreciable extent.
As it stands, Professor Wettergreen's article is both dangerous and ill-informed; it is an insult to those heterosexual and homosexual individuals who have died from AIDS and to the intelligence and ethical sense of the rest of us, whether gay or straight. I am surprised that you published it-better get back to the books.
- Donald Brenneis
Professor of Anthropology
To the Editors:
It is unbelievable that an academic and scholarly publication would print John Adams Wettergreen's article on AIDS. His article serves not to educate or inform, but to inflame and distort. His viewpoint is not to argue a potentially fascinating issue of public health and individual rights, but to present opinion disguised as fact and influenced by homophobia. His is not an attack on AIDS, but an attack on homosexuals. His article is tasteless, inaccurate, and unethical. It exceeds the boundaries of good journalism and academic scholarship.
Let me elaborate on this by illustrating the numerous errors of logic and egregious errors of fact contained in his piece. First let's agree that the number one issue is how to contain the spread of AIDS and how to find a cure. Wettergreen, however, proceeds from there using the following assumptions: most homosexuals are promiscuous, sex among homosexuals is riskier than that among heterosexuals, and homosexual sex is completely different from heterosexual sex (or to use his words, perverse and unnatural). These assumptions cannot be supported. I challenge Wettergreen to defend his position with citations and data!
His position, therefore, is that AIDS can be halted "instantly and efficiently by restricting homosexuality." How this is to be done, Wettergreen luckily does not suggest. Hitler had a similar idea when he put homosexuals in the concentration camps, tagged with pink triangles. Short of that, restricting homosexuality cannot be anything less than Sisyphean. One need go no further than Yale historian John Boswell's award-winning book Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (University of Chicago Press, 1980) to understand that homosexuality has always existed and always will.
Wettergreen also fails to see that his linking homosexuality with AIDS is illogical. Viruses do not have sexual preferences. I ask him therefore, why don't most homosexuals have AIDS? Just because the majority of AIDS patients are gay doesn't mean the majority of gays have AIDS. Even using a very conservative 5 percent estimate of homosexuals in the U.S. population, out of about 10 million homosexuals (and one could argue many more have engaged in homosexual behavior on occasion but do not identify as gay), about 10,000 have AIDS. That's around 1 percent. Restricting homosexuality couldn't possibly be the answer. Other more relevant factors must exist which are shared by those gay people who have AIDS.
Furthermore, Wettergreen's viewpoint takes an ethnocentric perspective, overlooking the fact that, in central Africa, AIDS is predominantly a heterosexual disease with equal numbers of men and women having it. Notice that nowhere in his article does he mention this fact; it would not fit into his homophobic tirade. Other factors beside homosexual sex must be involved. What these are is suggested by several studies. Recent evidence (reported in the Los Angeles Times in mid-October) from a Harvard epidemiological study traces AIDS in America to intravenous drug use, not to homosexuality. Another analysis of existing data on AIDS patients demonstrates that the common variable is drug abuse, not homosexuality. At least 79 percent of AIDS patients, gay and non-gay, have abused drugs. To quote from the Wall Street Journal (October 24, 1985), "It appears that AIDS patients have not been healthy people who got AIDS simply because they had sex with the wrong person. Rather, they seem to have been people who already were sick in the sense of having a damaged immune system."
I challenge Wettergreen to scientifically demonstrate with comparable data, and not with personal prejudice, that homosexuality is the common factor, not drug abuse. Since homosexual sexual practices have existed for centuries and since excessive immunologically damaging drug abuse has existed primarily from the late 1960s, it follows that drug abuse is a more likely co-factor. Otherwise, why hadn't AIDS appeared earlier? Wettergreen's analysis is too simplistic. Logically, if Wettergreen is concerned about ending AIDS, he should be proposing restricting drug abuse not homosexuality. But if the intent is to attack homosexuals, then such an alternative does not even enter into a system of rational thought and scholarship. Wettergreen does state that "male homosexuality is not the immediate cause of AIDS," but the key word is "immediate." The implication here and throughout the article is that homosexuality is related to AIDS, and to solve the problem you restrict it.
Wettergreen often confuses correlation with causation. In fact, the silliest example is his assertion that "every city which has a serious AIDS problem also has a (Democratic) local political leadership which is heavily dependent upon politically organized homosexuality." The implication is absurd and demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of big city politics, an astounding revelation for a political scientist.
What comes across most clearly, therefore, is Wettergreen's outright homophobia. He consistently demonstrates an absence of research and a lack of knowledge about the gay community and the nature of homosexuality. First of all, he discusses homosexuality as if it were restricted to men. If homosexuality is the evil source of AIDS, why don't lesbians have AIDS? In fact, heterosexuals have greater incidence of AIDS than lesbians, yet he doesn't blame heterosexuality for it. One answer, of course, is in the type of sexual practices, particularly passive anal intercourse. Wettergreen says this, but then fails to make the distinction between anal intercourse and homosexuality. A minority of homosexuals engage in passive anal intercourse (see Bell and Weinberg's Homosexualities, the 1978 book from the Kinsey Institute, published by Simon and Schuster) and some passive anal intercourse is engaged in by heterosexuals. This practice may be a source of transmission of the virus, but not the cause. Even then, AIDS depends on the quality of the person's immunological system, not his or her sexual preference.
Other examples of his lack of research on gay people abound. On page 3, he asserts (without sources or supporting evidence, as is customary with him throughout the paper) that AIDS is "apparently far advanced in the Soviet Union," First of all, what does it mean "apparently"? Given the lack of information coming out of the Soviet Union, what is his source of information? Later, on page 6, he writes that "AIDS thrives, not where homosexuals are persecuted, but where at least they are tolerated." Homosexuality is forbidden in the Soviet Union and certainly does not receive any degree of tolerance. How can Wettergreen have it both ways? I challenge Wettergreen to support both these statements with references and facts.
Numerous other errors of logic and fact dominate his paper. On page 3, he writes "bathhouses are the fundamental institution-indeed the only institution-of the 'gay lifestyle.'" This statement is absolutely incredible. Even before the closing of many baths, gay bars have been the dominant institution among gay people. That Wettergreen can make such a statement illustrates his homophobia and his lack of understanding about gay people. I challenge him to support this statement. One need only look at any gay newspaper or guide book to see that bars are much more prevalent than baths and that, in most cities, other organizations (such as gay churches, political organizations, sports clubs, and even gay AA meetings) far outnumber baths. I recommend historian John D'Emilio's book on the history of the gay movement, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities (University of Chicago Press, 1983), for an informative analysis of the role of bars and social/political organizations in the formation of the gay movement between 1940 and 1970. It is shocking that a political scientist does not have a sense of history and has not researched his subject.
There are so many other errors that I can only list some of them here. For each of them, I challenge Wettergreen to supply a citation backing up his assertion and "facts."
(1) "all homosexual AIDS patients have had Hepatitis B, as well as at least one other venereal disease"-my calls to AIDS experts could not uncover any support of this. What are his references?
(2) "San Francisco, which has the greatest number of AIDS victims per capita"-not true. Belle Glade, Florida, has the highest per capita, mostly heterosexual by the way. Even if you limit it to large cities, the borough of Manhattan has the highest per-capita rate, not San Francisco.
(3) "all those who have caught AIDS by blood contact . . . have had that contact with male homosexuals"-all? This overlooks the documented information that drug users often donate blood to raise money for their drugs. Please cite references to support this statement.
(4) "women cannot give [AIDS] to men"-not supported by studies demonstrating prostitutes transmitting it, by mothers giving it to their newborn children, or by data from central Africa,
(5) "the medical literature suggests the participation of AIDS patients in various forms of bestiality"-all AIDS patients? Is "suggests" a scientific finding?
(6) "'poppers'. . . are said to be the drug-of-choice of AIDS patients"-said by whom? Studies of gay lifestyles indicate that alcohol is the drug of choice (see Alcoholism and Homosexuality, Haworth Press, 1982). A less sensationalistic statement would explore the role of other drugs as well.
(7) "scientists at first missed the obvious connection between AIDS and poppers"-not true. The earliest theories focused on amyl nitrites and butyl nitrites (see recent issues of New York Native for the history of poppers and their role in AIDS).
(8) "AIDS spreads to heterosexuals only through the transfusion of blood and blood products"-absolutely false. Intercourse with other heterosexual and bisexual AIDS patients is a very typical route of transmission.
(9) "the chief beneficiaries of AIDS have been the vast variety of homosexual organizations"-not true at all. AIDS Project L.A. is the largest AIDS-related organization in the U.S. and it is not a gay organization, nor is the National Institute of Health or Centers for Disease Control. What does Wettergreen mean by this statement? Besides, this and the following statements on page 4 asserting that homosexuals are not primarily concerned with arresting the spread of AIDS are tasteless statements to make and go against all published and observational evidence. In fact, it was the gay community which first responded in any organized way to the crisis.
(10) "San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York have elaborate legal and administrative codes of 'gay rights'"-what does "elaborate" mean? Please document your assertions. By the way, New York has repeatedly failed to pass a gay rights bill for the past 15 years, so I'm not sure what Wettergreen means. Again, I challenge him to support his hyperbole with data.
(11) "the news media has [sic] helped to spread misinformation about the disease"-Wettergreen means by this that the media are emphasizing non-homosexual transmission. This is not misinformation; it is spreading among heterosexuals, and in fact began among heterosexuals in Africa. The number of heterosexuals with AIDS is now about the same as the number of homosexuals who had AIDS when it was first widely identified in 1981. But I would like to see which media Wettergreen is referring to, since most of what I have seen consistently discusses the fact that most epidemics are first concentrated within small segments of the population and then spread outward to other groups. The news media which spread misinformation are the poorly written and documented articles such as Wettergreen's which emphasize homophobia and overlook the relevant scientific literature on co-factors.
(12) "AIDS thrives . . . where [homosexuals] enjoy superior legal rights to heterosexuals"-please document this. Nowhere do homosexuals have rights superior to heterosexuals. At best, they have rights that are equal to heterosexuals, i.e. human rights as defined by the Constitution. Furthermore, AIDS is thriving in New York City, where there is no gay rights bill, and in Belle Glade, Florida, Central Africa, Brazil, etc.
(13) "In those few cities where (AIDS) is prevalent, the number of those diagnosed has doubled every six months since the disease first appeared among New York City's homosexuals in 1979." First of all, AIDS was first identified in Los Angeles in 1981, although retrospective evidence suggests it may have begun earlier in New York. More importantly, though is his erroneous information of it doubling. According to the Wall Street Journal, "the rate of increase has declined. It was 449 percent between 1980 and 1981, 283 percent between 1981 and 174 percent between 1982 and 1983, and 94 percent between 1983 and 1984." The rate of increase for the first half of 1985 compared with the first half of 1984 is only 50 percent.
The list could go on, but I think the point has been made that Wettergreen's expertise and credibility to discuss AIDS, homosexuality, and human rights can be justifiably questioned. If these factual errors aren't enough to demonstrate his homophobia, here are a few examples of his inflammatory and hyperbolic language which blatantly illustrate his homophobia:
(1) "protecting the 'lifestyle' of homosexuals to protecting the lives of innocents"-the old blaming-the-victim argument.
(2) "the perversity and sickness of the gay lifestyle"-associating gay lifestyle solely with sexual practices such as sodomy, thereby overlooking non-sexual aspects and the fact that sodomy laws also apply to heterosexual behavior.
(3) "the homosexuals who typically contract AIDS are the dregs of the 'gay community'"- tasteless and inaccurate, especially for those of us who have known electrical engineers, doctors, actors, clergymen, and lawyers, to name a few 'dregs' who have died from AIDS.
All this is in the context of Wettergreen's closing homage to Harry Jaffa: "all men are created equal," "living together justly," and "no human may rightly treat another human the way any human may rightly treat a dog, i.e., rule him without his consent." Doesn't Wettergreen see the irony in his closing statements? He blatantly contradicts throughout his article everything Jaffa is espousing. Wettergreen wants to treat Homosexuals as if they were created unequal, or at least to make them unequal in the eyes of the law. He wants to treat other human beings the way dogs are treated (restricting, controlling). He wants to rule homosexuals without their consent.
Ultimately the question is, why does Wettergreen want to blame and punish? The goal is to seek a cure for AIDS and to prevent more cases. Education and information are the key methods to achieve these ends. His article is the antithesis of these goals. There is not one constructive statement in his piece. There is not one positive educational suggestion in his article. In a newspaper purportedly reviewing books, the least Wettergreen could have done was review several of the readily available books on the subject of AIDS. This would have been educational for the reader and, as the above shows, for Wettergreen himself. Any attempt he made to raise a provocative question of civil rights and public health has been lost because of erroneous information, his hyperbolic language, his tasteless and specious arguments, and finally because of his homophobia.
An apology is due from Wettergreen and from the editor (for failing to edit erroneous information, poor writing, and bad journalism) to all AIDS patients, to gay people, to academics who normally research their subject, and to all human beings who believe we must unite to fight this disease rather than to divide and blame.
Unlike Wettergreen, I do not have an aversion to citing articles and data to support my statements. In fact, I will cite his article to support the opinion Wettergreen feels is deluded, namely his assertion on page 5: "The opinion that hatred and fear of homosexuals contributes to AIDS is deluded, of course." Of course.
- Peter M. Nardi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sociology
JOHN ADAMS WETTERGREEN REPLIES
Of all the controversial things I have written in this Review, the least controversial ought to have been the proposal that-for the sake of public health and public morality-mass, anonymous, commercialized sodomy be eliminated, i.e., that "gay bathhouses" (including sado-masochistic "torture chambers") be closed. The proposal was incidental to "AIDS, Public Morality, and Public Health," and it is today acceptable not only to conservative Republicans, but also to some organized homosexuals arid leftist Democrats.1 Therefore, dispassionate readers must wonder what raw spot my essay touched such that it provoked this ranting.
And ranting it is. The letters of Jon D. Bailey, Betsy and Judson Emerick, Robert Gable, Jill S, Grigsby, Kathy Pezdek, and Richard Tsujimoto are so devoid of substance that readers must wonder whether they really were written by academics-and in particular, professional social scientists. If they are not ashamed to appear this way in the public prints, imagine how they appear in their classrooms. Further, although all my critics make a great show of their professional titles, their understanding of the grave problems discussed in my essay remains at the level of the stupid and dangerous prudery of the mass media. Therefore, initially I determined only to point out the foolishness and sophistry of these blowhards (to use the scientifically precise, value-free term). However, my friends prevailed upon me that these idle academics need to face the biological, political, and moral facts. "AIDS, Public Morality, and Public Health"-I am sorry and amazed to admit-was too gentle and reserved. In what follows, I cite and quote some of the technical and nontechnical publications which form the foundation of my essay. I have also added some new and quite alarming information that became available to me only after I completed the essay on September 7, 1985. From this welter of citations, no reader should draw the conclusion that the essential truths about AIDS are arcane, appalling to the human mind, or even complex. Indeed, any citizen who reads the newspapers and congressional hearings with a critical eye can discover what he needs to know. However, even if my critics had read something more than the Los Angeles Times, it would have made no difference because they are constitutionally incapable of seeing biological facts in their moral and political context.
Typical of the benighted, moralistic positivism of public health bureaucrats which I describe in my essay is the attitude of Student Health Service Director Stephen C. Aron. Positivism-the belief that modern natural science is an adequate guide for public policy-makes separation of facts from values the first and perhaps the only moral responsibility of public health bureaucrats and every other professional. Accordingly, Aron says he does not object to my expression of my moral views ("values") about homosexuality, but does object to my combination of that expression with a discussion of medical matters ("the facts"). In practice, this means that Aron does object to my moral views when they are not identical with his.
Aron's positivism further requires that he suppose that the problems posed by AIDS can be solved by some treatment or vaccine. So, like all my critics (including Shirley Fannin), he is simply unaware of the practical maxim of public health: "[N]o disease has ever been eradicated through treatment-only through prevention."2 He cannot understand that "'All the data' are never in, and waiting for further data should not preclude vigorous efforts based on what is known."3 Believing that they are only waiting for science to save them, public health officials, in fact, make the moral choice to let innocents die.
To satisfy Aron and my many critics then, here is a sample of the coldly analytic, scientific descriptions of the medical facts of male homosexuality, which Aron believes I have a moral obligation to make public. First is a summary of dozens of clinical case studies:
The mucous membranes of the rectum in gay [sic] men are frequently traumatized and inflamed. Same engage in 'fisting,' in which a partner's fist is pushed into the anus and the rectum. Many have a history of multiple, recurrent bacterial, protozoal and viral infections of the gastrointestinal tract, including shigellosis, amebiasis, giardiasis, and salmonellosis. The genital and anal surfaces in homosexual males often show effects of many sexually transmitted diseases, including herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, nonspecific urethritis and venereal warts. The prior damage to these surfaces may actually facilitate entry of an agent of AIDS. How much oral contact among people through kissing, anilingus ("rimming") or fellatio is involved in passing on the disease is still basically unknown.4
Or perhaps Aron prefers the cool objectivity of the journalist who described San Francisco's Liberty Baths:
In the basement are a score of private rooms. . . . One door is open, and a man lies face down on a cot presenting himself seductively to anyone who might happen by. . . . Down the hall a middle-aged man stands at one of the stalls that have "glory holes" cut in at waist level while a faceless stranger on the other side of the partition performs fellatio on him.5
Or perhaps he happens to value unemotional, quantified studies:
The number of episodes of receptive anal intercourse per year was the variable most highly associated with [AIDS viral agent] HTLV/LAV seropositivity. . . . After adjustment for this variable, no other variable was statistically significant.6
These are the truths behind what the mass media, politicians, and the public health bureaucrats call "the exchange of bodily fluids" and "unsafe sex." The dispassionate reader will see that the Health Service Director, like the rest of my critics, is simply mistaken: No full discussion of the "facts" could have been less provocative of prejudice than my essay. Moreover, that essay, like this reply, does not really mention all or even the most inflammatory facts, just a few more than the "gay rights" position of the public health bureaucrats and the mass media permits. If Aron had risen above the level of enlightenment which is found in, e.g., the Los Angeles Times, he would have seen immediately how far I understated the medical facts.
Shirley L. Fannin's letter illustrates that combination of high dudgeon, baloney, and pretense of expertise which political scientists recognize instantly as bureaucratic bluster. Like the rest of my critics, she hopes that some one factual error-what she with her typical precision calls a "lie"-will prove that everything else in my article is a fabrication. Again typically, she did not stop to think: By parity of reasoning, if I did not lie, then every word I wrote was God's own truth.
Fannin's words are also a fair example of the level of practical judgment which citizens must expect in public health bureaucrats these days. Indeed, her colleagues in Los Angeles County's Health Services Department believe that "she is the clearest thinker we have and has the most knowledge." Anyway, that is what the Los Angeles Times reported, and, so far as I know-and I have looked-Fannin has not demanded either that her colleagues or the Times document this assertion or that the Times or her colleagues withdraw it.7 Therefore, given her scrupulousness about documentation and retraction, I assume that both Fannin and her colleagues still believe that she is the best and the brightest they have. That is one reason why I am worried about AIDS.
Let us review, in more detail than was necessary for my essay, Fannin's role in the evaluation of what she apparently now admits were the deaths of the three babies of AIDS. After comparing it with what she now says in her letter, I am confident that the reader will see who is trying to mislead the public.
When the three died in the summer of 1983, the physician for two of the babies, Dr. Joseph A. Church, a clinical immunologist at Children's Hospital, said that he was "95 percent certain" that they had died of AIDS, which had been contracted from blood transfusions. Contrary to what she now seems to say in her letter, Fannin then insisted-insisted against the specialist on the spot-that her department's investigation indicated that the children had congenital (not acquired) disorders of the immune system. This is what she said then: We looked at the possibility of transfusions, but we could not find among their donors anybody who had or subsequently came down with AIDS.8
As the babies' doctor pointed out at the time, this was unclear thinking
on Fannin's part: In the first place, it was not based upon knowledge of the babies' medical histories, which was nothing like the history of congenitally immuno-deficient babies; secondly, the fact that the Health Services Department's comparison of the list of donors with the list of AIDS victims did not find a donor with AIDS did not mean that none were carriers of AIDS. Accordingly, to settle the dispute and to advance scientific knowledge of AIDS,9 Church proposed that the donors be interviewed individually in order to determine whether they might be carriers, i.e., intravenous drug abusers and/or very active homosexuals. This is where the Times left the story, and so far as I know-and I have looked-Fannin has never written to the Times to correct or retract any part of it.
For Fannin's sophistical-actually, flippant-refusal of the doctor's proposal, one could read an Associated Press report, as published in the San Jose Mercury (July 27, 1983: F, 1-1), which I cite so that Eannin can write to demand a retraction if it is inaccurate. This is the relevant passage in full: Are you going to go out and go to 57 people [Fannin declaimed] and say to them, "Somebody who got your blood died of AIDS" and disrupt their lives? So far as I have been able to discover-and I have looked-Fannin has never corrected or retracted this remark. Indeed, her letter intimates that no such remarks have ever been made "to any member of the press," if not to others.
Not only does Fannin's response support my contention that she has been positively precious about "gay rights," it is also unworthy of anyone who is seriously interested in enlightening the public about AIDS. Of course, one does not "go out . . . and say, 'Somebody who got your blood died of AIDS,'" especially if one is investigating and so does not even know whether the person being interviewed is a carrier of AIDS. Such obvious methodological points somehow slip by the unusually clear-thinking, well-informed mind of this public health bureaucrat. If that is the way Health Services treats citizens in its investigations, it is no wonder that AIDS is spreading!
Furthermore, even if the investigation were run in this ham-handed manner, why would any decent citizen's lifestyle be disrupted by such an inquiry? A drug abuser or the denizen of a homosexual bathhouse might be distressed by such an inquiry because his "privacy," i.e., his participation in illegal or shameful acts, might become public. However, when there is some reason for suspicion, decent citizens-are pleased to find out whether they have a disease that threatens the health of their fellow citizens, kin, and neighbors. Still further, one must remember the context of Fannin's remarks: In the summer of 1983, it was still quite fashionable to be concerned about homosexuals' "rights to privacy," especially when it came to blood donation, because organized homosexuality was still outraged by the March 1983 request of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Food and Drug Administration that homosexuals be somehow excluded from giving blood.10
It is no accident, then, that for the two years hence Fannin has consistently displayed her willingness to fight against what she regards as the bigotry of the public even at the expense of its health. Most recently, as I noted in "AIDS, Public Morality, and Public Health,", she cooperated in the passage of a foolish and dangerous ordinance guaranteeing the employment rights of AIDS victims, specifically, in food-handling positions. No AIDS victims needed this law.11 Rather, to repeat what I said in my essay, Fannin abused her public trust and risked the lives and health of citizens in order to gain public respectability for homosexuality.
My most decent and intelligent critic, Donald Brenneis, recognizes somehow that our differences are moral, not professional. Nevertheless, he is in the grips of the academic superstition, characteristic of positivism, according to which "fact" can be clearly and radically distinguished from "opinion." What such a separation of facts from values implies for public policy is quite clear: Homosexuality ought to be as publicly respectable as natural sexuality. From this it easily follows, by the perverted reasoning of Affirmative Action, that in the present circumstances the "gay community" ought to be protected, at the expense of public treasure and innocent lives, from prejudice and AIDS and any other consequences of its "lifestyle." So, for his ideological purposes, it is essential that the importance of anal intercourse be understated and the possibilities for natural sexual transmission, which Brenneis believes to take place in Africa, be overstated.
Brenneis knows I can document my claims of "fact." That is why he just whines that I should have interpreted "the technical literature-and . . . some of its more popular renditions in the press" in a more "open-minded" way. However, the whole point of my essay was to show that what he calls open-mindedness is really moral blindness. Furthermore, there is no lack of charitable readings of the facts, as my essay and the present reaction to it demonstrates. Every use of the ideologically loaded term-"gay"-in preference to the scientifically correct term-"unnatural"-is a further evidence of how far interpretations of the facts sympathetic to or uncritical of the ideology of organized homosexuality dominate the mass media. In my judgment, these interpretations have not been compassionate, as Brenneis believes. On the contrary, to spare the feelings and political interests of organized homosexuality, such interpretations tolerate the continuance of immeasurable suffering, whose end is not yet in sight.
Knowing I am correct on the facts, Brenneis faults me for sins of omission, not commission. I did not mention "AIDS in Africa, where it afflicts heterosexuals primarily." (It would have been scientifically correct and more precise to write, "where it sometimes afflicts females almost as often as males.") Of course, I did not mention a lot of things. For example, I did not say, "human retroviruses [including HTLV-IH] could be transmitted by mosquitoes," because it seemed uncertain to me.12
The story about "heterosexual" AIDS in Africa is old-especially in New York's "gay community" and in the Los Angeles Times, where it is used to distract public attention from homosexual AIDS in the United States.13 Old as it is, it is still controversial, despite the huge research projects (demanded by organized homosexuality) which are now beginning to be publicized.14 The controversies are many and growing. First, information about AIDS in Africa is not accurately or fully reported because African governments are embarrassed by it and because their administration of public health is even less competent than ours. Secondly, the studies to which Brenneis's sources in the mass media are probably referring document HTLV-III antibodies, not AIDS, in male and female Africans.15 Because the mass media grasps for facts to support the moral equality of homosexuality with natural sexuality, it typically does not make this distinction. Thirdly, since HTLV-III antibodies without AIDS are more common in Africa than in the United States, some suppose that African AIDS is not the same disease as American AIDS. Further, there might be more than one form of African AIDS.16 It is not even clear whether American AIDS spread to or from Africa.17 Most importantly, whatever the situation might be in Africa, the crucial point is this: There, as in the United States, the link to natural sexuality-as distinguished from sodomy, drug abuse, and other barbaric practices-is always questionable, because it is primarily a venereal disease.18
When I wrote my essay, I did not believe there was "any substantial medical knowledge" from Africa (or anywhere else) which contradicted my essay's major points. I still do not. Accordingly, I did not mention African AIDS explicitly, and I mention it now only to show how unenlightening and distracting a discussion of it would be. After all, my subject is a moral-political problem in the United States, not the etiology of AIDS.
I have already indicated above (n.5, context, and n.20) why medical scientists and I suppose that anal intercourse is, by far, the most effective means by which AFDS spreads. Moreover, when it has spread to significant numbers in other countries, it has been by homosexual anal intercourse.
Increased frequency of anal receptive intercourse was also independently associated with seriopositivity. . . . [And] Seriopositivity was most strongly associated with sexual exposure to men in the United States.19
If these practices had been curtailed three years ago, when it was already obvious what spread AIDS, thousands would have been saved.
Brenneis incorrectly states that I believe AIDS to be "primarily linked with anal intercourse." As I stated rather plainly in my essay, the most general condition for its spread is a violation of the circulatory system.20 To the extent that the lesion is constantly bathed in bodily fluids bearing the agent -e.g., semen, blood, tears, saliva, feces-or if those fluids are directly injected into the bloodstream, AIDS is a more likely result. Such violations of the circulatory system, centering on the anus and including drug abuse, are important rituals of the "gay lifestyle." The fact that the similar conditions might somehow be met in relations between men and women somewhere else in the world does not contradict anything that I have said about American male homosexuals.21
Despite such errors, Professor Brenneis might be more correct than he knows about the ease with which AIDS is spread. New, alarming evidence of the possibility of nonsexual transmission became available to me after the completion of my essay. Apparently, the AIDS agent (LAV/HTLV-III) is stabilizing, i.e., becoming more viable outside the body than has been suspected heretofore. It can be lethal ten days after its exposure to air at room temperature. Consequently,
The resistance of LAV at room temperature may explain the appearance of some AIDS cases in nonrisk groups [sc., those who are not male homosexuals and/or drug abusers or users of blood products gathered from homosexuals and/or drug abusers]. To prevent possible contamination by viral particles in dry or liquid form hygiene should be increased in the general population.22
Of course, this does not contradict the evidence regarding violations of the circulatory system, but it does indicate that AIDS is (or has become) considerably more dangerous to the general population than public health bureaucrats like Fannin have been swearing for years now. Moreover, this makes it even clearer why the "gay bathhouses" and "torture chambers" are deadly places.
Brenneis's reaction to my claims, like that of his fellow critics, is typical of those who pay more attention to the headlines than the facts, for-to repeat what I said in my essay-"The media emphasize the fact that nonhomosexuals are contracting AIDS, but fail to point out that virtually every case of nonhomdsexual AIDS of which there is any substantial medical knowledge can be traced back to those engaged in homosexual practices." Although the mass media love to report that AIDS is spreading among non-homosexuals, the fact remains, as I said in my essay and as remains uncontradicted by my critics, that the proportions of homosexual to non-homosexual victims remains the same wherever AIDS spreads in America (and from America).
Other cases of the mass media's distortion have arisen since I first wrote my essay. "Drug Users-Not Gays [sic]-Called First AIDS Victims" reports the Los Angeles Times.23 Twenty-four paragraphs later, pages back, at the very end of the story, we learn that, although drug users were the first to die from AIDS, "the spread [is believed to be] from gays [sic] to drug users rather than vice versa." Another egregious example is the mass media's reports of studies of transmission by artificial insemination as supporting the possibility of natural transmission; the technical study actually confirms the difficulty of female-to-male transmission.24 Nor is it hyperbolic to say that the mass media are willing to risk human lives to protect "gay rights." Fabian Bridges, a homosexual AIDS victim from Houston, was subsidized by a CBS affiliate and Public Broadcasting's "Frontline" while he had sexual relations with over forty different males in less than a month; the reporters claimed to be testing the hypothesis that fear of AIDS is more dangerous than AIDS.25
Let us turn now to the "gay rights" activists.
Kumea Shorter-Gooden and Kevin P. Austin use the psycho-babble of organized homosexuality ("homosexist," "homophobic") to express their feelings of "outrage" (more coin of the realm in psycho-babbledom). Instead of explaining why I or anyone else should care whether they are outraged, they assert that I misinform, but fail to mention, much less document, even one specific instance of misinformation. In short, this is a cheap, i.e., effortless, expression of "outrage," the very kind of screech we have come to expect from advocates of "gay rights" and of the moral . . . [illegible in original copy] . . . debased.
Galen M. Moon argues reductio ad Hitlerum, something almost as obligatory as psycho-babble for organized homosexuality. He has learned long since that liberals will feel guilty about patting their dogs, if one just tells them that Hitler loved his dog. Although such tactics work surprisingly well with some members of Congress, readers of this Review will find it difficult to believe that mass, commercialized, anonymous sodomy should not be restricted because Hitler had a murderous hatred of the Jews. Equally foolish is Moon's argument that I "label Democrats as homosexuals" when I did not even label homosexuals as Democrats. It is no secret that national and local Democrats openly court the "gay" vote.
Moon chances to be correct in doubting my judgment that "all homosexual AIDS victims have had Hepatitis B." Rather, "virtually all AIDS victims have had hepatitis."26 He does not dare to question my opinion that homosexual AIDS victims are typically disease-ridden, because the evidence is overwhelming that among the typical first acquisitions of those who begin to live the "gay lifestyle" is infection by Hepatitis B virus and by cytomegalovirus, among other things.27 Doctors who deal with them know that active male homosexuals, including AIDS victims, are extraordinarily diseased:
The examination of male homosexuals is more extensive [than that of female homosexuals or heterosexuals], because many sites of infection must be considered, and because the incidence of infectious disease in this group is steadily growing.28
It is amazing that Moon actually believes it to be bigotry to point out this threat to the public health. Yet this attitude is typical among organized homosexuals and their partisans in the public health bureaucracy.
I find it difficult to take seriously Peter M. Nardi's screed. After all, it was written by a sociologist of magic, who is reported to believe that it is "Halloween every day of the year" because "people use illusion every day to get ahead, stay in place, or cover up."29 Nardi himself is an illusionist, but not a very good one. For example, he claims to be willing to cite "articles and data," but he cannot conceal the fact that there is not a single usefully complete citation in his whole letter. Perhaps in Nardi's magical West Hollywood world of Halloween, scholars can find articles and passages in books merely by knowing their publication was "recent," in "mid-October," or in "1980." Here in my world, which Nardi probably calls the "straight world," scholars need page numbers and even the day of publication in the case of newspapers and magazines, if they are to take a citation seriously.
Most, if not all, of the disagreements with my essay in this heap of quibbles are due to Nardi's failure-indeed, his incapacity-to understand the argument and intention of "AIDS, Public Morality, and Public Health." In this respect, he differs from my other critics only in degree. Nardi is so wrapped up in "the gay community" that he assumes we will agree that "the number one issue is how to contain the spread of AIDS and how to find a cure." He does not see that the very title of my essay indicates that I do not think that is the most important issue. Rather, as I try to show in a number of places in my essay, AIDS is a small but spectacular part of a serious problem of public health. That problem is due-ultimately-to the application of a false standard of public morality by politicians, by public health bureaucrats, by organized homosexuality, and by the mass media. Because they are obsessed with AIDS and the "gay lifestyle," all my critics-but especially Nardi-fail even to see, much less reply to this point. Their obsession blinds them to the facts in their own backyards: For example, in San Francisco, where "Per Capita AIDS Rate . . . Is Tops In U.S.," an administrative directive kept the bathhouses open because they were "'symbolic' of the rights of an oppressed group."30
The cause of Nardi's inability to understand my essay is his unwarranted assumption that there exists a "gay community" which is separate from and morally equal to a "heterosexual community." Nardi assumes, for example, that, since homosexuals go to "churches, political organizations, sports [sic] clubs," and bars, the bathhouse is not the only institution of the "gay community." However, homosexuals frequent churches, bars, athletics clubs, etc., because they are members of the human species who as such need to pray, drink, exercise, and so on, and not because they wish to lead the "gay lifestyle." If there really does exist a "gay community," which I doubt, then it is constituted by its unnatural sexual preferences: The bathhouses are designed solely to service these preferences. In short, the bathhouse is to the "gay community" what the family is to natural human communities; the difference is that, by Nature, the one breeds AIDS and the other breeds children. So San Francisco "gay activist" Konstatin Berlandt might have been correct when he predicted that the "gay community" could not survive the end of the bathhouses. Incidentally, for the same reason that bathhouses are the only "gay" institution, "poppers" are the "drug-of-choice" of AIDS victims.31 Because Nardi is incapable of correctly distinguishing natural sexuality from homosexuality, he counts it as "heterosexual transmission" if a mother gives AIDS to her male child, whether by blood contact at birth, across the placenta, or-God forbid!-in her milk.32 Presumably, he would call her transmission to her female child "homosexual." If a female mosquito transmitted HTLV-III from a male homosexual to a female homosexual, what kind would Nardi call that? He cannot recognize that the relation between a mother and child is heterosexual by Nature, because it proceeds from the only genuinely heterosexual act, i.e., the distinctively male-female sexual act. As we shall see, whether we are considering biological or moral facts, Nardi ignores Nature.
I have no trouble accepting Nardi's word that "homosexuality has always existed and always will." Much the same could be said of nose-picking, adultery, and a number of other greater and lesser human foibles and vices.33 However, "the gay community" and mass, commercialized, anonymous sodomy are "a new phenomenon,"34 which were founded when the "consenting adults" standard of public morality was applied to homosexual relations.35 Of course this same standard has helped to foster vicious heterosexuality. If it becomes as openly vicious as the "gay lifestyle," we can expect that social scientists will call cheap motels "institutions of the fornicating lifestyle" and that the mass media will refer to "the adulterous community." The very use of such euphemisms reveals the debasement of public morality.
Nothing illustrates Nardi's blindness to public morality more clearly than his criticism of my opinions of natural equality and liberty. He carefully skirts my every reference to Nature as a standard for human life, as if the equal natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness gave some a right to death, slavery, and the pursuit of unhappiness-just so long as they consent to it! Just what does Nardi think it means to say that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are natural (or inalienable) and equal? That means that death, slavery, and the pursuit of unhappiness are evils for every member of the human race, no matter what "consenting adults" might say in the depths of a homosexual bathhouse or a sado-masochistic "torture chamber" or the back room of a bar.
Not understanding natural equality and liberty, Nardi can have no clear idea of what constitutes consent. In particular, he supposes that homosexuals have not already given their consent to be governed by the laws made by their fellow citizens.36 This, however, is typical of the advocates of "gay rights," who, like the Virginia Puzzo mentioned in my essay, consistently refuse to recognize their obligations to their fellow citizens while insisting upon their fellow citizens' obligations to homosexuals.
This same radical elitism and moral irresponsibility characterizes all my critics. They all believe that "lifestyles" which are demonstrably suicidal, unhealthy, or degrading-both to those who live them and to others-should not be discriminated against, and should even be licensed and protected (if not subsidized) by government. However, they cannot prove, what their very lives assert, that any member of the human species has the right to destroy arbitrarily his own or another's life, health, or freedom.
Those who have read this reply, but not the original essay, are likely to suppose that "AIDS, Public Morality, and Public Health" is a review of the medical literature on AIDS and male homosexuality. Therefore, in closing, I wish to restate the essay's thesis. Implicitly, I shall be answering my critics' claim that organized homosexuality is not politically important.
My essay argued that, because of the application of a false principle of public morality to sexual relations, socio-political relations are endangered by venereal disease. The false principle in question is: Not Nature, but any individual's own will or interest, however irrational and debased, ought to be the standard of the laws and regulations respecting sexual relations and their administration. AIDS was my case in point, but I said quite clearly and I repeat:
Today, at least 32 organisms and 26 syndromes are officially recognized as being "sexually transmitted." AIDS is just one among many.
Moreover, I asked quite explicitly: What must be the social consequences when sexual relations become so polluted? This is not a rhetorical question! Nor is it one that my critics even take seriously, although most of them claim to be social scientists.
Every time a public health professional denounces the general public for its bigotry and ignorance about AIDS in the name of "gay rights," and every time these denunciations are uncritically accepted by the press, the intelligentsia, and politicians, they all demonstrate their moral insensitivity to important conditions of the public good, i.e., health and life, and thus undermine their own authority. Nevertheless, attacks upon the good sense and good health of the American people continue unabated even today from the very people who are responsible for it.
The remarks of David J. Sencer, M.D., a New York City Commissioner of Health, are typical of the sentiments expressed on the nightly news and the covers of Newsweek and Life:
I think if anything good comes out of our struggles against the disease, it may be a better understanding of the rights of individuals to their own lifestyles. It is very troublesome to see the sorts of things that are proposed in . . . [the equivalent of The Claremont Review of Books]. It is going to take leadership at all levels to try and combat this.37
Of course, "the rights of individuals to their own lifestyles" could be more important than a cure for AIDS only if health and life were merely biological facts, devoid of moral worth relative to "gay rights." So there is a fundamental confusion on the part of health professionals, who take it as their first duty to serve the lifestyles of individuals as distinguished from the life and health of society.38 In fact, they are to serve Nature, and when they do that they serve the life and health both of individual humans and of society.
Citizens have every right to be fearful of AIDS, All the more are they right to be suspicious and fearful of those public authorities "at all levels" who suppose that individual humans (and societies) can rightly behave in ways that destroy their own health, freedom, and lives, and those of their fellows.
1See "AIDS Epidemic Places Spotlight on Bathhouses," New York Times, October 14,1985: K, 16-1. See also Representative Dannemeyer, "Introduction of Legislation to Protect the Public Health from AIDS," Press Conference, October 30, 1985.
2Testimony of Mervyn F. Silverman, Federal Response to AIDS, Hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives, 98th Cong., 1st Sess., August 1, 2,1983, p. 273. Hereinafter cited as Federal Response with page number(s) only. See also, "U.S. Scientists Say. . . A Cure is Years Off," Wall Street Journal, April 25, 1984, I, 2-2, and "The Race to Develop Vaccine Against AIDS...," Walt Street Journal, September 4, 1984, I, 1-1.
3L. A. Hassell, "Preventing the acquired immune deficiency syndrome," New England Journal of Medicine, 1983; 309 (22): 1395.
4Frederick P. Siegal and Marta Siegal, AIDS: The Medical Mystery (Grove Press: New York, 1983), pp. 77-78. H. W. Jaffe et al, "National case-control study of Kaposi's sarcoma and pneumoncystis carnii pneumonia in homosexual men: part I, epidemiological results," Annals of Internal Medicine, 1983; 99 (2): 145-51 documents the relative importance of "Exposure to feces during sex" and "Exposure to semen or rectal trauma during sex." Even more 'objective' are the color plates in one of the first articles on AIDS: F. P. Siegal et al., "Severe acquired immunodeficiency in male homosexuals, manifested by chronic perianal ulcerative herpes simplex lesions," New England Journal of Medicine, 1981, 305 (24), 1439-1444. See also R. S. Klein et al., "Oral canidiasis in high risk patients as an initial manifestation of acquired immune deficiency syndrome," New England Journal of Medicine, 1984; 311:354-8,
5Peter Collier and David Horowitz, "Whitewash," California Magazine, July 1983; 8 (7):52.
6Janet K. A. Nichols et al., "Exposure to human "T-lymphotropic virus type III/lymphadenopathy-associated virus and immunological abnormalities in asymptomatic homosexual males," Annals of Internal Medicine, 1985; 103 (1):38.
7"Profile . . . ," Los Angeles Times, February 13, 1984, II, 1-1-P. One can appreciate her colleagues' point when her boss, Martin Finn, was reported still to believe that being Haitian is a risk factor, in Los Angeles Times, September 26, 1984, II, 1-4.
8See Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1983, II, 1-4. Identification of individual donors was nothing new. It was not even controversial, except among organized homosexuals and their supporters; see "U.S. Public Health Service Restricts Blood Donations...," Los Angeles Times, March 4, 1983, I, 3-6. Fannin must not have read the Centers for Disease Control, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report hereinafter MMWR) 1983; 32(8)102; "the California cluster investigation and other epidemiological findings suggest a 'latent period' of several months to two years between exposure and recognizable clinical illness...."
9The Times was still referring to AIDS as "the mysterious disease" more than a year later; see "Bradley Seeks New Ways to Help L.A.'s AIDS Victims," September 20, 1984, I, 3-4.
10See the testimony of Alan P. Brownstein, Executive Director, National Hemophilia Foundation, Federal Response, p. 50 ff, and the questions of Representative Ted Weiss (Democrat, New York), p. 63, and the responses of Virginia M. Apuzzo, p. 65. It is amazing how quickly this view was accepted and propagated by medical professionals, also see R. Bayer, "Gays and the Stigma of 'Bad Blood,'" Hastings Center Report, 1983; 13(2):5-7. See also Office of Technology Assessment, Blood Policy & Technology (G.P.O.: Washington, D.C., 3985), pp. 100-101, and Charles Krauthammer, "The Politics of a Plague," New Republic, August 1, 1983, 189(5): 18-21.
11See "New Bias Law Has No Effects," Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1985, II, 1-1.
12R. J. Biggar et al., "ELISA HTLV retrovirus antibody reactivity associated with malaria and immune complexes in healthy Africans," Lancet, 1985; II:522.
13See, e.g., James E. D'Eramo, "Is African Swine Fever Virus the Cause?" New York Native, June 5, 1983, p. 1 ff. and also "Belgian Study on African AIDS," Los Angeles Times, November 16, 1983, I, 1-5. Organized homosexuals in New York are partisans of Jane Teas, "Could AIDS agent be a new variant of African swine fever virus?" Lancet, 1983; I: 923. Cf. J. Colaert, "African swine fever virus not found in AIDS patients," Lancet, 1983; I:1098.
14See "AIDS risk grows," San Jose Mercury News, November 8, 1985, I, 1-3.
15R. J. Biggar et al., "ELISA HTLV retrovirus antibody reactivity associated with malaria and immune complexes in healthy Africans," Lancet 1985; II: 523; R. J. Biggar et al., "The seroepidemiology of HTLV-III antibodies in a remote population of eastern Zaire," British Medical Journal, 1985; 290: 803-10; L. Kestens, "Absence of immunosuppression in healthy subjects from eastern Zaire who are positive for HTLV-III antibodies," New England Medical Journal 1985; 312:215-19; F. Barin et al., "Virus carriage in symptom-free blood donor positive for HTLV-III antibody," Lancet, 1985; II: 98. Consider (forthcoming) L. Kestens et al., "Endemic African Kaposi's sarcoma is not associated with immunodeficiency," International Journal of Cancer, as cited in R. J. Biggar et al., "ELISA HTLV retrovirus antibody reactivity ...," op. cit.
16P. Perre et al., "Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in Rwanda," Lancet, 1984; II: 62-65; P. Piot et al., "Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in a heterosexual population in Zaire," Lancet, 1984; II: 64-69. A very recent study supports the same contentions; D. Serwadda el al., "Slim disease: a new disease in Uganda and its association with HTLV-III infection," Lancet, 1985; II: 850-2.
I7G. Hunsman et al., "HTLV positivity in Africans," Lancet, 1985; II: 952-3.
18N. Clumeck et al., "Heterosexual promiscuity among African patients with AIDS," Journal of the American Medical Association, 1985; 313 (3):182. Early reports of "heterosexual" transmission in MMWR (1983; 31 : 697-8) did not exclude needle sharing or anal intercourse.
19M. Melbye et al., "Seroepidemiology of HTLV-III antibody in Danish homosexual men: prevalence, transmission and disease outcome," British Medical Journal, 1984; 289:573. Age, number of years a homosexual, number of partners, oral intercourse, and use of "poppers" were found not to be independent of anal intercourse; other factors ("fisting," bestiality, cacophagy) were not investigated. Without its authors' knowledge, this article presents a shocking story of moral irresponsibility in sexual matters on the part of homosexuals and public health officials on both sides of the Atlantic. See also R. Detals et al., "Relation between sexual practices and T-cell subsets in homosexually active males," Lancet, 1983; 1:609-11. Anal intercourse spread AIDS from the U.S. to Brazil, and is mainly responsible for its spread within Brazil; see S. N. Wendel el al., "AIDS and blood donors in Brazil," Lancet, 1985: II: 506.
20Transmission by conception, if it really is possible, seems to me to be a special case of a breach of the circulatory system; see below, n.24.
21See P. Van de Perre et al., "Female prostitutes: a risk group (or infection with . . . [HTLV-III]," Lancet, 1985; II: 524-26.
22F. Barre-Sinoussi et al., "Resistance of AIDS virus at room temperature," Lancet, 1985: II, 721 (my emphasis).
23October 18,1985, I, 1-1.
24G.J. Stewart et al., "Transmission of . . . (HTLV-III) by artificial insemination," Lancet, 1985; 11:581-4.
25"TV crew participated in AIDS victim's story," Sun Jose Mercury News, November 10, 1985, 11A-2.
26Testimony of Dr. James Wyngaard, Director, NIH, in Biomedical Research, Training, and Medical Library Assistance Amendments of 1983, Hearing before the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, U.S. Senate, 98th Cong., 1st sess., March 17, 1983, p. 38. Hereinafter cited as Bio-medical Research Hearings with page number(s) only. J. F. D. du Mayne, "Hepatic vascular lesions in AIDS," Journal of the American Medical Association, 1985; 254 (1): 53 confirms that this is still the case.
27I forgot Jaffe et al., "National Case-control study...," Annals of Internal Medicine, 1983, op. cit., which reports some cases without Hepatitis B. Clinical studies of Hepatitis B in male homosexuals, not just AIDS victims, have found very high levels: M. T. Schreeder, "Hepatitis B in homosexual men; prevalence of infection and factors related to transmission," Journal of Infectious Disease, 1982; 146: 7-15 (51 to 76 percent); see also N. E. Reiner et al., "Asymptomatic rectal mucosal lesions and hepatitis B surface antigen at site of sexual contact in homosexual men with persistent hepatitis B virus infection: evidence for de facto parenteral transmission," Annals of Internal Medicine, 1982; 96: 171 which implies still higher rates. On the general level of disease in the "gay community," see Drew et al., "Cyto-megalovirus and Kaposi's sarcoma in young homosexual men," Lancet, 1982, 2 (8290), 125-7; Friedman-Kien and Stevens, "Kaposi's sarcoma and hepatitis B vaccine," Annals of Internal Medicine, 1982, 97 (5), 787; CDC, "Inactivated Hepatitis B Virus Vaccine," MMWR [June 25] 1982, reprinted in Siegal and Siegal, AIDS: The Medical Mystery, p. 225-26; Siegal and Siegal, AIDS: The Medical Mystery, pp. 77-79; Donald Armstrong, "Viral Infections" in The AIDS Epidemic, ed. Cahill (St. Martin's: New York, 1983); Donald P. Francis, "The Search for a Cause," in The AIDS Epidemic, p. 147; CDC, "Recommendations for protection against viral hepatitis," Annals of Internal Medicine, 1985; 103 (3): 394, 395.
28B. Romanowshi et al., "Sexually transmitted diseases," Clinical Symposia, 1984; 36(1): 4.
29"Halloween Every Day of the Year," Los Angeles Times, October 31, 1985, V, 1-1.
30"Per Capita AIDS ...," San Jose Mercury News, April 3, 1985, F, 2-1; "Doctor's Efforts to Control AIDS Spark Battles Over Civil Liberties," Wall Street Journal, February 8, 1985, 13-4.
31 On "poppers" research, see Biomedical Research Hearings, p. 37-8; see also, above, n.19, and Siegal and Siegal, AIDS: The Medical Mystery, p. 76.
32See J. B. Ziegler et al., "Postnatal transmission of AIDS-associated retrovirus from mother to infant," Lancet, 1985; 1:896-98, and L. Thiry et al., "Isolation of AIDS virus from cell-free breast milk of three healthy virus carriers," Lancet, 1985; II:891-2.
33The primary technical literature on this question, to say nothing of the secondary, is far too extensive to even begin to cite.
34Donald P. Francis, "The Search for a Cause," in The AIDS Epidemic, p. 139.
35As Nardi seems to know, rumors of bestiality abound. It is difficult to verify these in the case of any venereal disease and it is of doubtful medical utility; see C. C. Dennie, A History of Syphilis (Charles C. Thomas; Springfield, 111., 1962), pp. 68, 71. Moreover, AIDS leaves its victims open to animal agents in any case. For these reasons, clinical studies are rare and carefully worded. See, e.g., G. M. Shearer, M. R. Hapke, R. B. Levy, "AIDS in monkeys and men," Lancet, 1983; I: 1097-8; CDC, "Cryptosporidosis: assessment of chemotherapy of males with . . . [AIDS]," MMWR, 1982; 31:591-2.
36Moreover, he assumes that the rule of law in the Soviet Union is the same as in a free nation; see "AIDS 'a problem' to Soviets," San Jose Mercury-News, August 16, 1985, A, 1-3, Cf. "Soviet Has No AIDS, Russian Official Says," New York Times, October 7, 1985, I, 2.
37Federal Response to AIDS, p. 284. Sencer believes that the problems of homosexuals are analogous to those of American negroes in the 1960s.
38This is the position of Student Health Director Stephen Aron (personal letter, November 5, 1985).
THE CLAREMONT REVIEW RESPONDS
To paraphrase Ring Lardner, "Shut up!" they explained. The letter writers' seething mountain of fustian produced only a ridiculous mouse. It is readily apparent that Dr. Wettergreen demolishes his critics, and he could easily have expanded his lengthy rebuttal. Of particular note is his critics' bizarre mode of argumentation, which demonstrates their incompetence to hold positions of responsibility in the academy. These replies, both in tone and content, indicate the tremendous problem students face in obtaining a liberal education today: The persons to whom these students' education is entrusted are the very ones who pose the greatest obstacle to it.
To begin with, what is this "homophobia"? Bad Greek to be sure. It evidently means "fear of homosexuality." But this is no phobia like any number of "phobia"-suffixed terms such as claustrophobia or acrophobia. In labeling the natural disgust at perversion a "phobia" or pathology, these employers of Newspeak assert that the overwhelming majority of human beings are in need of counseling to cure them of their problems. Posing as defenders of freedom and human dignity, these sophists in fact advance an Orwellian world-view, where truth is the product of will, not the understanding of nature, and where human beings are robbed of all freedom and dignity.1 Such ideologues cannot defend civilization-in fact, they are its worst enemies.
Desperation has driven some of these correspondents to remarkable silliness. For example, imagine the Review publishing "an article which is not a book review." (Did none of them read the prescient political analysis 'The Spirits of Geneva," which immediately followed Dr. Wettergreen's essay?) Or again: The Claremont Review is "attempting to give the impression of being a product of the highly regarded Claremont Colleges" (as though we were the School of Theology in Claremont).2 Finally, most preposterous of all, the Review is a "self-proclaimed scholarly journal." The letters' cant and chant reminds one more of the congratulatory telegrams Richard Nixon used to have sent to himself than of anything brought forth by passion for scholarly integrity.
In attempting to push Dr. Wettergreen's essay beyond the pale of civilized discourse, the correspondents reflect the overwhelming partisanship in the contemporary academy itself, characterized by bastardized versions of the more pathological forms modern thought has taken, in Marx and Nietzsche. The universities today are dominated by those who were students or young faculty in "the sixties" and accept as given an ideological conception of the academy's mission, which now happens to include the moral equality of homosexuality and heterosexuality as a tenet. Hence it is that these letter writers prefer partisan outcry to plain argument ("I would like to stand up and be counted . . ."), and make unreasoned ex cathedra attacks against an article they decry as "emotional," "inflammatory," "offensive," "righteous," and "judgmental." Some do not hesitate to exploit the noble struggle of racial minorities for equal rights by comparing it with the homosexual position. And of course, these professors simply assume when making partisan statements that they may identify their policies with those of their colleges; only the officer of the "gay" organization had the decency to distinguish his political views from those of his institution.3 Thus they exemplify perfectly the arrogance typical of the academy, its contempt for common decency (and majority opinion) and for rational discourse, and hence its distaste for democracy. These ideologues are not fit to hurl about the barbaric example of Hitler.
Contemporary higher education is not only incapable of defending civilization from either its enemies abroad or at home; in its current pathological condition, it undermines a reasoned defense of civilization. With professors such as these correspondents, do students stand a better chance of a truly liberal education here than at Moscow's Patrice Lumumba University? The editors and staff of The Claremont Review of Books have the fortune of being Claremont Colleges students, alumni, and instructors. Proud of such ties with them, we wish to preserve what is best in one of the few places on earth where, thanks to the presence of a few great teachers and a community of thoughtful and spirited students, a decent liberal arts education is still possible. Whether the issue be Soviet foreign policy, current literary criticism, the significance of the Founding Fathers, religion, or, as in this case, a peculiar species of affirmative action, the Review will continue to present the best arguments available for the consideration of its readership in Claremont, throughout the nation, and abroad, and thus make its contribution to liberal education.
To carry on this discussion we propose a debate, to be held here in Claremont, between Dr. Wettergreen and his opponents on the ideology of the AIDS controversy. If such a debate, to be held under conditions conducive to a rational exchange of opinions, does not occur, it will not be his fault.
Finally, we wish to thank John Adams Wettergreen for his continuing willingness to write for the Review. His essays reflect a rare insight and boldness, which are winning the admiration of both scholars and policy makers. We are proud, that many of his growing number of readers, both those he edifies and those he simply aggravates, will have to acknowledge that they read him first in The Claremont Review of Books.
1The best discussion of "homophobia" as a nonsense term is Harry V. Jaffa, "Sodomy and the Academy: The Assault on the Family and Morality by 'Liberation' Ethics," in American Conservatism and the American Founding (Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 1984), pp. 263-78; see especially pp. 275-77.
2See Steven Hayward, "Demonology," a review of the catalogue of The School of Theology at Claremont, The Claremont Review of Books, December 1983, p. 17.
3Studies of the influence of ideology on supposedly neutral institutions such as university counseling centers would be of immense service to the students who use them.
ON "NATURAL RIGHT AND THE FUTURE"
To the Editors:
I was not favorably impressed by the cacophony of confusion created by Gregory B. Smith in his review article "Socrates and Political Philosophy" (Claremont Review, Summer 1985) and in his later exchange with Thomas G. West entitled "Natural Right and the Future" (Fall 1985).
Of the various difficulties with which Smith confuses the reader, one point, it seems to me, should be addressed immediately, as it leads to many other misunderstandings. Nor would it be easy to find time to deal with all the difficulties of this sort. In his dispute with West, Smith makes a distinction between the idea of philosophy and the idea of nature (one which is not unusual for an historicist) and wreaks havoc with it. Thus he pretends or perhaps mistakenly believes that "it was I [Smith, rather than West or Socrates or the pre-Socratic philosophers, for that matter] who proposed 'nature' as a standard for judging political life" ("Natural Right and the Future," p. 29, Fall 1985; but cf. West's "Introduction," Four Texts on Socrates, pp. 11, 35, and 37). He cannot understand how West can "dub Socrates as the father of the Natural Right Tradition." Hence he raises a gray mist by remarking that although Leo "Strauss did say that Socrates was the father of political philosophy, it is not clear that political philosophy is identical to natural right."
Since he seems to defer to Strauss on this point, a few quotations from Strauss's Natural Right and History, coupled with the barest comment, must suffice to help clear away the mist: "The discovery of nature is the work of philosophy." "The discovery of nature necessarily precedes the discovery of natural right. Philosophy is older than political philosophy" (pp. 81-82). Plainly enough, Strauss implies that the discovery of natural right is the work of political philosophy. Then quite explicitly Strauss says: "The end of the Laws is devoted to the central theme of the Republic: natural right, or political philosophy and the culmination of political philosophy, replace the cave of Zeus" (emphasis added). He clarifies his meaning by speaking in the same context of "Socrates as the representative of the quest for natural right" (p. 85). Socrates, Strauss notes, "is said to have been the founder of political philosophy. To the extent to which this is true, he was the originator of the whole tradition of natural right teachings" (p. 120, emphasis added). The culmination of political philosophy is, then, the end of the Socratic quest for natural right, the discovery of natural right. Accordingly, Strauss speaks not merely of the Socratic but of the "Socratic-Platonic" natural right "teaching" (p. 146). "The classic natural right doctrine in its original form, if fully developed, is identical with the doctrine of the best regime" (p. 144). But "it is characteristic of the classic natural right teaching to culminate in a twofold answer to the question of the best regime: the simply best regime would be the absolute rule of the wise; the practically best regime is the rule, under law, of gentlemen, or the mixed regime" (pp. 142-43, emphasis added). This twofold answer very roughly corresponds to the difference between the Apology, wherein Socrates claims as his fit desert that the city set him up in the Prytaneum, and the Crito, wherein he maintains, against the fears of his friend, an Athenian gentleman, that he must submit to the punishment of the city's laws. In other works, Strauss has suggested that if Socrates in the Crito had instead decided to escape from prison and flee to Crete, he might have become the main character in the Laws, Plato's most political work, in which a philosophic legislator develops a rational code of laws, and which according to Strauss represents the culmination of political philosophy. But Socrates fulfilled his political obligation in practice "in order to preserve philosophy in Athens" and thereby allowed Plato (and Aristotle) to develop a comprehensive teaching about political obligation and natural right. It would seem that West is correct to contend that the Socratic quest for natural right issues in the discovery of a reasonable basis for the defense of constitutional government and that "classical natural right stemming from Socrates . . . points to a government that represents all the people . . . and governs under law with a view to justice and the general good."
Unlike West, Smith muddles together Socratism and Nietzschean historicism when he warns West against "overestimating what the philosopher can accomplish, especially in the way of willing a nomos for practical humanity" (emphasis added). As if West, when he spoke of the classics, had Nietzsche in mind! In other words, Smith does not seem to understand what it is to which the terms political philosophy and natural right in their classic form refer. Perhaps the following remark by Harry V. Jaffa may assist the reader:
The Declaration of Independence expresses the conviction that there is a permanent order in the universe by which human beings, ought, directly or indirectly, to be guided, whether as men or citizens. This conviction-the heart of the Declaration-is also the one upon which the idea of natural right-the idea of political philosophy-stands or falls. (How to Think About the American Revolution, pp. x-xi, emphasis added)
If we turn from Smith's treatment of natural right to his treatment of the future, it might seem inappropriate to preserve a solemn tone, for he fancies himself a member of what West facetiously calls the "New Nobility." Equally facetiously, Smith condescends to include West in the number, in the spirit of Antony who, in his famous funeral address, calls Brutus "noble" and "an honorable man," for Smith speaks of West and of himself as "both being noble and honorable men." Such banter might seem unnecessary; however, Smith wishes to appear cute, and feigns to puzzle over whether "rapiers or sledgehammers" ought to be his "choice of weapons." But does Smith really have, or, more to the point, do we really have such a choice of weaponry? The Kremlin has chosen SS-18s and other types of nuclear weapons, and the Kremlin does not consist of "noble" or "honorable men." Because Smith fails to bring this fact to bear on the core of his thought about politics and philosophy, he can speak of "the joy and exhilaration" of "our intellectually privileged position" in the face of moral and political crisis in the Western world. This neglect leads to a corresponding neglect in his thought about the future.
From where I stand [he says] our country as a whole, indeed our entire planet, is and will continue to become more secular, cosmopolitan, and urbanized. Whatever provinces that remain in twenty years will be as dominated by the effects of an ever-increasing standard of living: an increasing amount of leisure time without ends to pursue . . . as are those who presently live in our cities.
Yet in his prediction, Smith completely overlooks the possible victory of Soviet Communism within the next twenty years, as he neglects the possibility of war with Soviet Communism during the next twenty years. Does he seriously believe that Soviet Communism would bring us an "ever-increasing standard of living"? Only a Marxist blind to the economic facts setting America and the Soviet Union in stark contrast could believe that. Does he believe that war would bring "an increasing amount of leisure time without ends to pursue"? Smith's "intellectual" or, perhaps, dreamy joy and exhilaration tend to create oblivion to matters such as duty and national survival. Again, does he believe that Soviet Communism would bring "an increasing amount of leisure time"? He must be far gone in Utopian speculations if he does!
However many disclaimers he throws in against West (such as: "the Soviet-American confrontation . . . needless to say, must be taken seriously"), it seems clear that Smith does not in fact take the confrontation seriously, as is indicated by the fact that he feels no obligation to consider the Soviet threat in making his twenty-year predictions. In 1983, the Soviet Union's once-leading scientist and now-famous dissident, Andrei Sakharov, wrote:
The restoration of strategic parity is only possible by investing large resources and by an essential change in the psychological atmosphere in the West. There must be a readiness to make certain limited economic sacrifices and, most important, an understanding of the seriousness of the situation. . . . In the final analysis, this is necessary to prevent nuclear war, and war in general. . . . If the probability of such an outcome could be reduced at the cost of another ten or fifteen years of the arms race, then perhaps that price must be paid. (Quoted in Edward Teller, "SDI: The Last, Best Hope," Insight, Vol. I, No. 6, October 28, 1985, p. 79, emphasis added)
Smith does not even consider the possibility that America will be induced or compelled to make economic sacrifices in order to stave off either nuclear war or defeat in conventional war.
All this seems to be related to the fact that Smith actually wants the "provinces" to disappear. Thus in his final paragraph he is pleased to "agree with what I take to be the conclusion of both Plato and Aristotle, that it is in the city ruled by the naturally best, the noble, that philosophy is most esteemed, not in the one ruled by rustics and provincials. . . ." Smith's self-serving distinction between nobility and rusticity would have appeared utterly foreign as well as neglectful of the meaning of America to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln, all of whom esteemed political philosophy and natural right, and all of whom came from the provinces. Indeed, Lincoln was unambiguously of rustic background. Leo Strauss speaks of the "noble simplicity and quiet grandeur" of the classics; but Smith, in the name of classicism, scorns the noble simplicity or reserve of an Abraham Lincoln. I doubt that this is effete aristocratic insolence, but it may perhaps be "yuppie" intellectual insolence.
Accordingly, in rather smug fashion, Smith says that "West seems intent upon keeping from us the news that 'God is dead.' Unfortunately, the word has leaked out." But Smith seems less than candid. How can he think that this is so very unfortunate, if this "news" is the cause of so much intellectual joy and exhilaration to him, as he supposes? Like many intellectuals today, Smith seems more than ready to engage in his share of "news" leaks. Yet many Americans today have not heard the "news" or, if they have, have rejected it as false. Smith is surely correct to imply that there are those who would drive it down their throats.
Nietzsche's phrase (even he introduced it dramatically through the mouth of a madman) refers to an atheism which is founded on historicism. But if historicism is false and if America's fundamental principles, "the laws of nature and nature's God," as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, deny that it is true, it is senseless to gleefully spread the "news," even if it is "intellectually" gleeful to do so. According to Smith, "only in a serious confrontation with what is implied in that phrase . . . can we expect a moral revival." But what does such a serious confrontation mean? The principles of the Declaration of Independence assert that freedom is intrinsic to human nature; Marxist historicism denies human freedom. Marxism-Leninism would eradicate human nature, and ultimately the freedom of the mind, for the sake of man's universal socialization. America and the West stand for the realm of human freedom. Within this realm, Western civilization has carried forward the dispute between reason and revelation. The meaning of America is to elevate this dispute to the plane of thought and to check the divisive political effects it had caused in the past. But Marxism, desirous of overcoming once and for all the dispute between reason and revelation, denies human freedom, human nature, and God, as it denies philosophic reason, Judaism, and Christianity, in order to bring about a perfect socialization of all men. In denying that all men are by nature equally free, Marxist historicism asserts, in effect, the bestialization of all men. If Smith expects a moral revival, it would seem that, like West, he ought to seek it in a serious defense of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
But a serious confrontation also means a moral and political confrontation with Marxist-Leninist historicist atheism as carried forward by the Soviet Union and other Communist nations, a confrontation with a view to the eventual political defeat, above all, of Soviet Communism! If Smith, agrees with Leo Strauss that the modern enlightenment is problematic, as he claims to do, he either does not understand the reason why (namely, that the universal rational society is impossible) or he does not understand its implications. If he did, he would see that the problem of political obligation is at the core of philosophy and is as inevitable as moral and political choice is inevitable. American constitutionalism is morally and politically choiceworthy in part because one of its high aims is to protect the equal right of conscience, hated so much by Marx, and therewith the liberty of all citizens. "Almighty God hath created the mind free," said Jefferson, the author of the Declaration. But "what is here a right towards men," said Madison, the father of the Constitution, "is a duty towards the Creator." Our obligation to God as a matter of moral decision is a fundamental duty underlying American constitutionalism. But the duty which we owe to God "can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force and violence," Madison held in accordance with America's natural right principles. Both Biblical faith and classical reason, the twin causes of Western civilization according to Strauss, are protected by an American constitutionalism based on natural law. Whatever their differences, Jews, Christians, and adherents of the tradition of classical rationalism can reasonably unite in defense of America and the rule of law against the atheistic despotism of Soviet Communism which denies genuine human freedom.
Sometimes Smith appeals to Aristotle for help in his attempt to reform America, but he displays little of Aristotelian practical wisdom in doing so. Like Aristotle's innovating Hippodamus, who failed in his attempt to found political science because he was insufficiently aware of the realm of human moral choice, but unlike Aristotle himself, who taught the importance of moral virtue and habituation, and unlike Madison, who taught reverence for law, and unlike Lincoln at Gettysburg, who nurtured "a new nation, under God," Smith shows little respect for the conditions of a decent and law-abiding country. He would have us believe that it is appropriate for him to confuse the minds of American youth in order to establish morality on some, as he admits, "vague," "new ground" or "new foundation," evidently so that in the process all can, or at least he can, experience confusing intellectual joy and exhilaration. It would seem that Smith, unlike Socrates in the Crito, and unlike the classics generally, has not really faced the issue of political obligation.
- Sanderson Schaub