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2012 Election Year Resurrects Culture Wars on AIDS, Race and Welfare

January 4, 2012

2012 Election Year Resurrects Culture Wars on AIDS, Race and Welfare

The beginning of 2012 feels strangely like 1982, largely because GOP Presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have returned to brazen scapegoating of Black people on welfare and people with HIV as a drain on civil society, in order to solidify their base support before last night's Iowa Caucuses. The scarier part is that it worked.

On Sunday, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) appeared on Fox News, where he defended comments he made in a 1987 book saying people with HIV should be forced to pay for their own care. He defended his earlier comments from 25 years ago by telling Chris Wallace:

"I don't know how you can change science. Sexually transmitted disease is caused by sexual activity and when its promiscuous it spreads disease. That's been known about 400-500 years on some of how these diseases are spread ... Innocent people -- why should they have pay for the consequences? ... In a free society people are allowed to act how they want to act, but they're responsible for their actions ... You don't have a right to demand that somebody else take care of you because of your habits."

The following morning, when discussing Medicaid expansion set to happen under the Affordable Care Act in 2014, Rick Santorum told an Iowa audience (in front of news cameras) that "They're just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote. I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them other people's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families."

Though both comments by Paul and Santorum have received a lot of critical press, they seemed to resonate with many Iowa caucus goers: Santorum only lost to Romney by 8 votes, and Paul came in 3rd place.

We're likely to hear more race-baiting, sexism, AIDS-phobia, homo/transpohbia as the election year continues. Brace yourselves.

Follow the Update blog on Twitter @housingworks.

This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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