Ghost of Thanksgivings Future

By: - November 26, 2008 9:02 am

Did you see the big NYT piece on South Africa and AIDS today? It summarizes a Harvard report on the consequences of Thabo Mbeki’s refusal to make life-saving medicines available to his people because of his denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence on AIDS. His refusal to see the truth led to approximately 365,000 early deaths for South Africans.

The Harvard study concluded that the policies grew out of President Thabo Mbeki’s denial of the well-established scientific consensus about the viral cause of AIDS and the essential role of antiretroviral drugs in treating it.

Coming in the wake of Mr. Mbeki’s ouster in September after a power struggle in his party, the African National Congress, the report has reignited questions about why Mr. Mbeki, a man of great acumen, was so influenced by AIDS denialists.

And it has again caused soul-searching about why his colleagues in the party did not act earlier to challenge his resistance to broadly accepted methods of treating and preventing AIDS.”

Can’t you imagine seeing this kind of report on the front pages of newspapers around the world about the US in the future? About Bush and Iraq, or Bush and global warming, or Bush and stem cell research? I can, and, while the death toll probably won’t be so high for Americans (though it may be for you, Iraqis!), I can see the stories now. I know the Republicans are busy with their soul-searching these days, but I hope they factor this stuff into their framing of the future. I hope the rest of us do too, because I’m sorry to say I’ve been here all along, not making sure the people of Iraq, the environment, and the chronically ill are getting all the help they can get.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.