04 August 2013

AIDS, NYC, History

"New Yorkers are strong; we do not need to be protected from our past. Instead, we should learn from the hard truths and bad choices it contains. It is not enough to mourn the dead or memorialize the survivors; we must confront history in all its painful, guilt-inducing glory and use it as a guidepost for our behavior today."
The New York Historical Society has produced this exhibition on the early years of the AIDS epidemic in NYC. During those years governmental entities (elected and bureaucratic; local, state and federal) proved unresponsive, the church and mass media typically were actively hostile, the medical establishment largely uncomprehending and resistant and the broader public largely ignorant or indifferent. And ACT UP emerged as one truly inspiring radical democratic response to all that. In this Op-Ed - "How The Whitewash a Plague" - Hugh Ryan not only calls out the NYHS for getting nearly all of that wrong but underscores the consequences of doing so.

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