December 18, 2002
Why Does the New York Times Publish This Dreck?

I was a third of the way through a New York Times op-ed when I felt a shudder run up my spine. It was Abigail Thernstrom of the "high intellectual quality" Manhattan Institute, attacking the NAACP for being concerned about "partisan, non-civil rights matters" like "increasing global AIDS financing."

First of all, what in God's name is "partisan" about wanting to increase global AIDS funding? Jesse Helms is in favor of increasing global AIDS funding, for God's sake. AIDS is the worst public health disaster of the past hundred years. Abigail Thernstrom may think that healing the sick and preventing the spread of deadly infectious diseases is a partisan, Democratic cause, I don't believe it: it is a worse libel against Republicans than anything else I have heard this month.

Second, there is no sense in which it is inappropriate for the NAACP to place special extra weight on the global AIDS problem. Today the world's AIDS problem is concentrated in Africa. Some of the ancestors of today's NAACP members came from Africa, and came from Africa more recently than the ancestors of most of the rest of us. Just as it is fitting and proper for people whose ancestors came from Ireland to worry especially about Bloody Sunday, the Orangemen, and the Provisional IRA, so it is fitting and proper for people whose ancestors came from Africa to worry especially about Africa's current problems. These worries are transmitted to their representatives. Just as those representatives elected with lots of Irish-American votes pay special attention to northern Ireland, so those elected with lots of African-American votes pay special attention to African and global AIDS. This is democracy. It is true that there are a lot more Democrats than Republicans among congressmen who worry especially about global AIDS. But that is not because the cause is in some way Democratic, but because Republicans have been extraordinarily unsuccessful in attracting African-American votes. The fact that from this angle global AIDS might be said to be a "partisan" cause is not--as Abigail Thernstrom believes--a criticism of the NAACP, but of the Republican Party.

Third, there is a sense in which opposition to global AIDS funding is a... call it a cause adopted by a certain kind of... venomous toad. After it became no longer politic to appeal to certain groups of constituents by claiming that massive resistance form the South would defeat federal attempts to give equal rights to the "nigger race," southern politicians in the 1960s and 1970s found that they could appeal to the same constituents by decrying "unwarranted federal interference" that violated "states' rights." Similarly, now that it has become impolitic for a politician to say "I hate homos," some have found that they can appeal to the same constituents by talking about how they oppose expanding AIDS funding. Because in America AIDS is overwhemingly a disease of homosexuals (and drug users), you can use opposition to AIDS funding as a code to signal your approval of discrimination against homosexuals. (The fact that in Africa and worldwide AIDS is a heterosexual disease is irrelevant to this exercise in symbolic politics.)

Is it just an accident that when Abigail Thernstrom attacks the NAACP she does so for its being in favor of expanded global AIDS funding? Is she deaf to the overtones and undertones of American politics? Is this an innocent choice of one issue at random from among many possibilities? Or is it an attempt to send a coded signal--that if Trent Lott and other Republicans knuckle under to the NAACP, they are knuckling under to the homos as well?

Evil, venomous toad.

The New York Times

December 18, 2002

Trent Lott's Blow to Civil Rights

By ABIGAIL THERNSTROM

LEXINGTON, Mass.
I don't know what's in Trent Lott's heart, although he's already talked far too much about it for my taste. But two things are clear. A lot of Americans, including most black Americans, will never believe his contrition. And Mr. Lott, by playing the supplicant while clinging to his post as Senate majority leader, has conceded Republican leadership on race-related issues to the Democrats and the traditional civil rights community.

In his interview Monday on Black Entertainment Television, Mr. Lott called the controversy a "wake-up call," talked of a bipartisan "task force of reconciliation," came out for "across the board" affirmative action and savaged his own lawmaking decisions with the bizarre claim that "my actions, I think, don't reflect my voting record." Read between the lines: he will now take his cues from the Democrats and their allies like the N.A.A.C.P. and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Thus, the original tragedy — remarks that certainly sounded racist at Strom Thurmond's birthday bash — is compounded by his new posture as groveler-in-chief of the Republican Party. At a time when fighting racial inequality requires a willingness to challenge the mainstream civil rights establishment, Mr. Lott's party will no longer be able to stand tall.

On BET, Mr. Lott was defensive about receiving an F on the latest N.A.A.C.P. Congressional report card, saying that that "I have been changing." Yet this report grades politicians on such partisan, non-civil rights matters as their votes on extending unemployment benefits to aviation workers and increasing global AIDS financing. Not surprisingly, every Senate Republican received an F — even moderates like Lincoln Chafee and Olympia Snow. Mr. Lott can aim for a better mark, but he won't get one, not as a Republican.

The shame is that surrendering civil rights issues to the left would not be in the public interest or that of black Americans. Democrats and civil rights organizations are stuck staring into a rearview mirror. Of course, racism has not entirely disappeared, but the Democrats' attachment to yesterday's ideas — that inequalities can best be corrected through policies of racial preference — is a golden opportunity for Republicans to advance new ideas.

Take what is arguably today's most important civil rights issue: the racial gap in academic achievement. Robert Moses, a luminous figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960's, says that "the absence of math literacy . . . is an issue as urgent as the lack of registered black voters in Mississippi was in 1961." English literacy is equally important.

Yet the political left talks almost entirely of "re-segregated" and underfunded schools, and pushes for more busing and more spending, a strategy that has failed for decades. Democrats also believe in collective bargaining rules that allow dreadful teachers to retain their jobs. Their emphasis on "self-esteem" results in the dumbing-down of educational standards, what President Bush has rightly called "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

After an era of liberal leadership, the typical black or Hispanic student graduates from high school today with junior high skills, according to the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress.

If Mr. Lott cedes civil rights issues to the Democrats, how can Republicans in Congress join the majority of black parents who want vouchers so that their children can escape public schools that have become graveyards for hope?

For years, Republicans have run in terror from most controversial race-related issues. But it was not always so. More than 80 percent of Republicans in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Congressional Republicans can recapture the moral high ground — but not if their Senate leaders are unable to stand up to groups that are often at odds with the interests and even the views of their own minority constituents.

Abigail Thernstrom is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Posted by DeLong at December 18, 2002 10:13 AM | Trackback

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Andrew Sullivan must really be conflicted now. either that or he's bound to trash Howell Raines yet again.

Posted by: Randy Paul on December 18, 2002 10:58 AM

Sub-Saharan Africa
HIV/AIDS - 2002

20% or more adults infected in 7 African
countries.
11% or more infected in 12 countries.
5% or more infected in 24 countries.

"Should the risk of HIV/AIDS infection at
each age group drop by 50% over the next 15
years, in countries with current adult
infection rates of 15% at least 35% of boys
now age 15 will contract AIDS.

"Given a halving of the risks, 25% of Cote
d'Ivoire boys now age 15 will contract AIDS.
30% of Kenyan boys. 40% of Zambian boys.
45% of South African boys. 50% of Zimbabwean
boys. 65% of Botswanan boys.

Source UNAIDS

Posted by: on December 18, 2002 11:15 AM

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/16/opinion/16MON1.html

"The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has just started to give out its first grants and is already broke. As Washington and other donors demanded, the fund has designed a rigorous process and has received dozens of well-designed proposals to fight disease. But it must now tell countries there is no money to finance them. The administration makes much of the fact that the United States, which has pledged $500 million over two years, is the largest donor. But when measured by the size of the economy, it is actually giving half as much as Europe. Washington's contribution needs to be $2.5 billion a year to make a difference...."

Posted by: on December 18, 2002 11:35 AM

November 27, 2002

By Sabin Russell - San Francisco Chronicle

In a dreadful convergence of catastrophes, six southern African nations are facing a famine fueled by the combination of prolonged drought and a farm labor force decimated by AIDS, according to a new U.N. report on the global scope of the epidemic.

An estimated 14.4 million people face starvation in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, said UNAIDS, the Joint U.N. Program on HIV-AIDS in Geneva.

"This is the first sign of larger, society-wide destabilization" as a consequence of AIDS, said UNAIDS executive director Dr. Peter Piot, in a telephone press conference Tuesday. "I didn't think it would occur this fast." ...

Posted by: on December 18, 2002 11:39 AM

Saying AIDS funding is a partisan issue is reprehensible, but I have a different criticism. What the HELL is this person doing on the United States Commission on Civil Rights?? !! With these comments in the NYTimes today this appointment demonstrates where the heart of the Republican Party lies.

She obviously sees her role on the commission as representing the Republican Party, not the citizenry. She insults more than half of Americans - "the left" - and sees her role as a warrior for the right. She writes things like, "At a time when fighting racial inequality requires a willingness to challenge the mainstream civil rights establishment..." WHAT???

She comes from the Manhattan Institute, funded in part by the Bradley Foundation. Bradley is known funding things like the book, The Bell Curve.

Manhattan is also, of course, funded by the rest of the far-right funding lineup - Scaife, Olin, Coors and Smith Richardson. This is the crowd that funds ALL of the right. It ALL comes back to these FEW. Visit http://www.mediatransparency.org to learn more (and use their great search engine), and check http://www.commonwealinstitute.org/information.html. (Initially I accidentally searched on Hudson Institute - and the exact same funding crowd popped up.)

Posted by: IssuesGuy on December 18, 2002 12:50 PM

I agree that the government should be funding efforts to fight AIDS in Africa and also agree that it's a legitimate concern of the NAACP. But Thernstrom was careful to describe it as not a civil rights issue per se and therefore argued that the NAACP rating did not bear directly on Lott's views on race issues. (Thernstrom does not appear to present a personal opinion on the issue or the bill.) Does Brad know which AIDS appropriation bill was being referred to? Isn't the reaction -- umm, a bit EXTREME without knowing more about the bill? Does Thernstrom deserve this abuse for what appears to be a tangential reference?

Posted by: JT on December 18, 2002 12:52 PM

"The fact that in Africa and worldwide AIDS is a heterosexual disease is irrelevant to this exercise in symbolic politics."

Indeed....

Posted by: on December 18, 2002 12:52 PM

“Yet this report grades politicians on such partisan, non-civil rights matters as their votes on extending unemployment benefits to aviation workers and increasing global AIDS financing. “

Brad DeLong is taking Abigail Thernstrom totally out of context. It is obvious that she is talking about the specific bills introduced in Congress concerning the AIDS epidemic---and not the battle per se against this horrible disease. Her phrasing could admittedly be bit clearer, but a fair minded person wouldn’t have jumped to the wrong conclusion.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 18, 2002 12:55 PM

IssuesGuy: your post has a number of problems.

"She obviously sees her role on the commission as representing the Republican Party, not the citizenry." Umm, the Republicans won more votes than the other major party last time I checked. In any case, it seems like a sure bet that the Republicans -- just like the Dems -- represent the "citizenry." That being said, there is no objective non-partisan representative of the citizenry -- it's a politically-contested position. This is a democracy after all.

"She insults more than half of Americans - "the left" - and sees her role as a warrior for the right." Thernstrom probably means the more extreme wing of the left here but in any case it's certainly not "more than half." And I don't see how she "insults" anyone -- it's aggressive criticism.

Manhattan Institute: you're making a guilt by association argument here. Very unconvincing.

I'm frankly puzzled about why everyone is getting into such a snit by Thernstrom's article. She castigates Lott, advocates the advancement of minorities and - WHOA! -- apparently criticizes affirmative action, referring to it as "racial inequality." Well, you may very well disagree with her but I think it can't come as a surprise that certain segments of the political spectrum oppose the civil rights establishment and the affirmative action that it supports. Constructive arguments might help.

Posted by: JT on December 18, 2002 01:06 PM

"At a time when fighting racial inequality requires a willingness to challenge the mainstream civil rights establishment..." WHAT???"

The so-called "mainstream" civil right establishment embraces a radical left wing agenda which many of us consider to be highly destructive. As matter of fact, this is the consensus opinion of the Neo-Liberals. Mickey Kaus, for instance, constantly harps on the harm caused by these folks. Abigail Thernstrom also added these comments in her article:

"Yet the political left talks almost entirely of "re-segregated" and underfunded schools, and pushes for more busing and more spending, a strategy that has failed for decades. Democrats also believe in collective bargaining rules that allow dreadful teachers to retain their jobs. Their emphasis on "self-esteem" results in the dumbing-down of educational standards, what President Bush has rightly called "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

Posted by: David Thomson on December 18, 2002 01:10 PM

Social changes -

AIDS infections peak for southern Africa's
women and men during their mid to upper
twenties. Death comes in about a decade.

Proportions of children and adults over 60 are
increasing in populations creating
demographic, social and economic landscapes
never before experienced.

Botswana is expected to have more women in
their sixties and seventies than in their
forties and fifties by 2020.

An entire generation of children are of
necessity to be raised by grandparents,
generally grandmothers, scant of means and
waning in strength.

Before the beginning of the AIDS epidemic the
number of orphans in developing countries came
to about 2% of all children. By 1997 the
numbers of orphans had climbed to 7% in many
African countries and 11% in a few.

Because of AIDS, it is estimated that life
expectancy in Kenya will be 43.7 years rather
than 69.2 years by 2010.

Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is likely to
decline to 38.8 from what might have been
69.5.

African teachers are sorely needed and most
vulnerable. Thousands of teachers are dying
of diseases caused by AIDS. Thousands of
orphaned children lose support for
schooling. Millions more children are to go
unschooled for a lack of teachers and support.

Farming is an essential means of support for
a majority of families in many developing
countries. The dying and death of a young
adult is crippling for a once self-reliant
farm family. AIDS has been gradually eroding
subsistence crop production in rural
communities.

AIDS is expected to lead to the deaths of
between 8% and 25% of today's practicing
doctors in the 7 countries of southernmost
Africa by 2005.

Source UNAIDS

Posted by: on December 18, 2002 01:10 PM

"What the HELL is this person doing on the United States Commission on Civil Rights??"

Astonishingly, this person is attacking the NAACP. What this person seems to be most concerned about is that Trent Lott may really have begun to understand what the absence of equality in civil rights meant for so many for so long.

Posted by: on December 18, 2002 01:40 PM

Trent Lott's Blow to Civil Rights
By ABIGAIL THERNSTROM - New York Times

While Trent Lott is its leader, the Republican Party will not be able to challenge the mainstream civil rights establishment.

Good Grief....

Posted by: on December 18, 2002 01:42 PM

'Yet this report grades politicians on such partisan, non-civil rights matters as their votes on extending unemployment benefits to aviation workers and increasing global AIDS financing.'

She says global AIDS financing is a partisan, non-civil rights manner. Ok, it's not a civil rights issue; but PARTISAN?

She has a point about Lott's new (and amusing) desire to agree politically with the NAACP. That doesn't excuse her bizarro-world throwaway about AIDS being partisan.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 18, 2002 01:45 PM

Does any Sub-Saharan country have WMD's? No? Well, forget about it. Latin America is allegedly of strategic importance to the US, and while the continent is imploding economically at an accelerating pace, Bush isn't even lifting his pinky. Even Fox, has gone cold on the US... Afri-what? Osama-bin-who?

Seriously, I think I am getting very tired of right-wingers (that's the right turn - let's stop complimenting them with the term 'conservative' or 'libertarain') who sound racist, whether outside of, or in context.

Right-wing tactic #653: don't ever admit you couldn't care less about {African Americans / AIDS / poverty / education / hatred crimes / etc.}, rather say you care deeply about the issue but that you disaggree about the way to go about it. In the mean time, bring up other issues, voters' attention on {African Americans / AIDS / poverty / education / hatred crimes / etc.} won't last very long.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on December 18, 2002 01:48 PM

"Does any Sub-Saharan country have WMD's? No?"

Well, at least at one point under the old regime, it was considered highly likely that S. Africa had a few . . .

Posted by: rea on December 18, 2002 05:10 PM

. . . and does it have anything to do with the fact that Cheney voted against the liberation of Mandela? Wouldn't want these nukes to fall into the hands of an inferior race, I guess . . .

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on December 18, 2002 05:21 PM

"Latin America is allegedly of strategic importance to the US, and while the continent is imploding economically at an accelerating pace, Bush isn't even lifting his pinky. "

First, your statement is wrong, Bush is indeed lifting his pinky, for example, aiding and abetting the failed Venezuelan coup.

Second, I can guarantee you that all that the vast majority of Latin Americans want is that the US do not interfere. Please leave us alone.

Posted by: Economista Brasileiro on December 18, 2002 08:10 PM

Economista Brasiliero:

What's the most frightening sentence in the Portuguese language?
"Somos do governo de E.U.A. e nós estamos aqui ajudar. "

And, for most of the rest of Latin America, in the Spanish language?

"Somos del gobierno de EE.UU. y de nosotros aquí deberemos ayudar."

That is, "We're from the U.S. government, and we're here to help."

(joke courtesy d-squared; translations courtesy freetranslation.com; any complaints should be sent to them.)

Posted by: Matt Weiner on December 18, 2002 09:01 PM

Does any Sub-Saharan country have WMD's? No? Well, forget about it. Latin America is allegedly of strategic importance to the US, and while the continent is imploding economically at an accelerating pace, Bush isn't even lifting his pinky.

Good grief, this is rich, coming from a Frenchman. What is the French interest in sub-Saharan Africa, except its oil and maintaining its "influence"? And what pray tell has the French government done for Latin America? The only time I heard it was doing anything (ok I admit I haven't followed it closely, so maybe I'm wrong here), was when it was lobbying against an Argentinian government proposal that tried to help Argentian depositors at the expense of foreign banks. Needless to say, in that case the French government wasn't lobbying on behalf of the Argentinians.

Which is to say, it's easy to criticize other countries and other peoples. We all have our shortcomings. A little more modesty and a little less bombast, might be in order.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on December 19, 2002 04:42 AM

Good grief, this is rich, coming from a Frenchman.
Actually, I don't know you're French (not sure why I think so - the arrogrance ? ;-) ), so some red face here. But take whatever country you're from and ask for instance what it's doing for South America, and my guess is, it's not much.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on December 19, 2002 04:57 AM

"Second, I can guarantee you that all that the vast majority of Latin Americans want is that the US do not interfere. Please leave us alone."

Yeah, buy they still want American money. Latin America is a basket case because of the pernicious influences of the socialists. The Venezuelans voted their idiot president into office and therefore should pay the consequences. They have no one to blame but themselves.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 19, 2002 07:38 AM

The so-called "mainstream" civil right establishment embraces a radical left wing agenda which many of us consider to be highly destructive.<<

It's "radical left wing" because it's not "radical right wing". It's a semantic ploy conservatives use constantly - something is genuinely liberal or progressive, and all of a sudden, it's a dangerous socialist plot to destroy white people.

Mickey Kaus, for instance, constantly harps on the harm caused by these folks.<<

Mickey Kaus is a conservative and has been for a few years, sorry. If the fact that he can only ever seem to critique liberals and praise conservatives didn't clue you in, perhaps a better exapmle would be the fact that he seems to be point man on the anti-Raines bandwagon, critiquing any and everything in the Times which might ever be considered "liberal", regardless of its veracity.

Posted by: jesse on December 19, 2002 08:57 AM

Thernstrom seems to have generated this kerfuffle by using the admittedly ill-considered term 'partisan' to refer to increases in international AIDs funding. But surely the point she meant to demonstrate stands. Let's just stipulate: more AIDs funding would be great! Even so, one would not normally construe international health policy as reading on American civil rights issues. Thus, Thernstrom suggests that an "F" on the NAACP report card may entail differences on matters more linked to 'partisan' differences than conflicts over civil rights.

And, indeed, this suggestion is correct. I invite skeptics to persuse the actual NAACP report card for the 107th Congress.
(http://www.naacp.org/work/washington_bureau/107thcongress.pdf)

Core civil rights issues are well represented, but so are garden variety domestic-policy. Votes that count towards a legislator's civil rights ranking include:

--s 1052 (patient's bill of rights)
--s.1 ESEA (billingual education funds)
--H.R. 2944 (needle exchange)

Surely we can all agree that opposition to the patient's bill of rights doesn't entail racism? Right?

Thernstrom was complaining that the use of NAACP rankings consittuted a cheap shot. As she notes *in the article,* (indeed, in the next sentence!), every Senate republican got an F on the NAACP score card. So it's a bit rich to use the ranking to castigate Lott. Ironically, Brad Delong saw this as an occassion for ... another cheap shot. Super.

Posted by: ben a on December 19, 2002 09:28 AM

Thernstrom seems to have generated this kerfuffle by using the admittedly ill-considered term 'partisan' to refer to increases in international AIDs funding. But surely the point she meant to demonstrate stands. Let's just stipulate: more AIDs funding would be great! Even so, one would not normally construe international health policy as reading on American civil rights issues. Thus, Thernstrom suggests that an "F" on the NAACP report card may entail differences on matters more linked to 'partisan' differences than conflicts over civil rights.

And, indeed, this suggestion is correct. I invite skeptics to persuse the actual NAACP report card for the 107th Congress.
(http://www.naacp.org/work/washington_bureau/107thcongress.pdf)

Core civil rights issues are well represented, but so are garden variety domestic-policy. Votes that count towards a legislator's civil rights ranking include:

--s 1052 (patient's bill of rights)
--s.1 ESEA (billingual education funds)
--H.R. 2944 (needle exchange)

Surely we can all agree that opposition to the patient's bill of rights doesn't entail racism? Right?

Thernstrom was complaining that the use of NAACP rankings consittuted a cheap shot. As she notes *in the article,* (indeed, in the next sentence!), every Senate republican got an F on the NAACP score card. So it's a bit rich to use the ranking to castigate Lott. Ironically, Brad Delong saw this as an occassion for ... another cheap shot. Super.

Posted by: ben a on December 19, 2002 09:28 AM


What she wrote:

...this report grades politicians on such partisan, non-civil rights matters as their votes on extending unemployment benefits to aviation workers and increasing global AIDS financing.

What she might have written:

...this report grades politicians on such partisan matters as their votes on extending unemployment benefits to aviation workers and such non-civil rights matters as increasing global AIDS financing.

Now, many folks think of AIDS as a public health program, rather than a civil rights issue, and are well aware of a broad public consensus for funding it. If Ms. Thernstrom had been a mite clearer, would she still be a loathsome, venomous toad?

Oh, why do I ask?

Posted by: Tom Maguire on December 19, 2002 09:48 AM

If Ms. Thernstrom had been a mite clearer, would she still be a loathsome, venomous toad?--

Yes, if only because of everything else she said.

"At a time when fighting racial inequality requires a willingness to challenge the mainstream civil rights establishment, Mr. Lott's party will no longer be able to stand tall."

Mr. Lott's party hasn't even gotten out of bed yet. Voucher programs, which seem to be the only idea besides wasteful standardized testing that the GOP has, don't fight racial inequality inasmuch as they give someone Neosporin for a severed limb.

Posted by: jesse on December 19, 2002 10:15 AM

>>Ms. Thernstrom had been a mite clearer, would she still be a loathsome, venomous toad?<<

Remove "partisan" from modifying "global AIDS funding" makes it a *huge* amount better. I would say that would reduce her to a non-venomous toad.

But all this is hypothetical, isn't it? The point is that she thinks that global AIDS funding is a partisan Democratic issue, and that to criticize Democrats for supporting global AIDS funding is to send the same kind of nudge-nudge wink-wink message as "states' rights" used to send...


Brad DeLong

Posted by: Brad DeLong on December 19, 2002 10:20 AM

“The point is that she thinks that global AIDS funding is a partisan Democratic issue, and that to criticize Democrats for supporting global AIDS funding is to send the same kind of nudge-nudge wink-wink message as "states' rights" used to send...”

There is an unfair interpretation of her comments. Is is obvious that Abigail Thernstrom was referring to specific Democrat legislation, and not to the per se fight against AIDS. Moreover, no one else has jumped to this peculiar conclusion. I will concede one point: you do have the right to seek further clarification from Ms. Thernstrom. Has this even been attempted?

You probably could contact her via Lindsay M. Young, Communications Director, Manhattan Institute, 212-599-7000, Ext. 315

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/thernstrom__a.htm

Posted by: David Thomson on December 19, 2002 10:37 AM

AIDS 2002

10,649,000 total population of Zambia.
4,740,000 population of adults 15 to 49.

1,000,000 adults HIV/AIDS positive.
21.5% adult rate of infection.
59.0% of infected adults are women 15 to 49.
16.78 - 25.18% range of women 15 to 24
infected.
150,000 children 0 to 14.

120,000 AIDS deaths in 2001.
570,000 AIDS orphans cumulatively to 2002.


1,788,000 total population of Namibia.
820,000 population of adults 15 to 49.

200,000 adults HIV/AIDS positive.
22.5% adult rate of infection.
55.0% of infected adults are women 15 to 49.
19.43 - 29.15% range of women 15 to 24
infected.
30,000 children 0 to 14.

13,000 AIDS deaths in 2001.
47,000 AIDS orphans cumulatively to 2002.

2,057,000 total population of Lesotho.
984,000 population of adults 15 to 49.

330,000 adults HIV/AIDS positive.
31.0% adult rate of infection.
54.5% of infected adults are women 15 to 49.
24.75 - 51.40% range of women 15 to 24
infected.
27,000 children 0 to 14.

25,000 AIDS deaths in 2001.
73,000 AIDS orphans cumulatively to 2002.


938,000 total population of Swaziland.
450,000 population of adults 15 to 49.

150,000 adults HIV/AIDS positive.
33.4% adult rate of infection.
59.3% of infected adults are women 15 to 49.
31.59 - 47.38% range of women 15 to 24
infected.
14,000 children 0 to 14.

12,000 AIDS deaths in 2001.
35,000 AIDS orphans cumulatively to 2002.

12,852,000 total population of Zimbabwe.
5,972,000 population of adults 15 to 49.

2,000,000 adults HIV/AIDS positive.
33.7% adult rate of infection.
60.0% of infected adults are women 15 to 49.
26.40 - 39.61% range of women 15 to 24
infected.
240,000 children 0 to 14.

200,000 AIDS deaths in 2001.
780,000 AIDS orphans cumulatively to 2002.


1,554,000 total population of Botswana.
762,000 population of adults 15 to 49.

300,000 adults HIV/AIDS positive.
38.8% adult rate of infection.
56.7% of infected adults are women 15 to 49.
22.99 - 44.98% range of women 15 to 24
infected.
28,000 children 0 to 14.

26,000 AIDS deaths in 2001.
69,000 AIDS orphans cumulatively to 2002.

Source UNAIDS

Posted by: on December 19, 2002 11:19 AM

Abigail Thernstrom wrote what she wrote. What was written was an utter disgrace. AIDS in Africa is the most profound of civil rights issues and calls for the attention and dedication of us all.

Posted by: on December 19, 2002 11:24 AM

Since we know David Thomson would never, ever give creedence to anything said by anyone he considers 'left,' I think I will simply ignore his pitiful attempts at revisionism. Thernstrom said what she said, and its 'wink-wink' qualities were apparent to me when I read the editorial.

David, read Michael Lind, and come back when you're able to refute him.

Posted by: Lordwhorfin on December 19, 2002 12:02 PM

I think we all agree that the right has been known to use code words to appeal to unsavory elements of their electorate. But this a case where Pat Buchanan mutters darkly about "rootless cosmopolitan elites" in a stump speech. No doubt many an unscrupulous politician has used AIDs as a cipher for gays, but is anyone really suggesting that Abigail Thernstrom has trying to do this in the pages of the New York Times? Yeah, that's the venue where you want air your subtly crafted appeal to homophobes!

De Long wrote:
-----------
Or is it an attempt to send a coded signal--that if Trent Lott and other Republicans knuckle under to the NAACP, they are knuckling under to the homos as well?
---------------
I note that, couched in the form of rhetorical questions, DeLong never actually claims that Thernstrom is trying to use homophobia to save Lott's job. Although that seems to be the clear implication. And it's a good thing he doesn't, because it is off the deep end. In truth, it fills me with despair to see a commentator as informed, and well, smart, as DeLong jump to such a wacked-out conclusion.

Posted by: ben a on December 19, 2002 12:46 PM

I don't think Thernstrom is using homophobia to try to save Trent Lott's job. I think Thernstrom is using homophobia to try to tear down the NAACP.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on December 19, 2002 03:44 PM

Well, this may be an irreconcilable conflict. On the one hand, we have the argument that, based on one sentence that may simply have been poorly written, Ms. Thernstrom is advancing a homophobic agenda, which she cleverly conceals by pretending to address civil rights and affirmative action.

Making this case is a fellow with a less than stellar record for objectivity when it comes to interpreting the motives of those on the right. As an instance of failed objectivity and judgement, I will just mention this post about John Ellis ("Jeb") Bush.

Possibly further compounding our host's objectivity on this point is Ms. Thernstrom's role in evaluating the Florida voting debacle in 2000 - her dissent argues, roughly, that all was well with the world. I imagine that the Prof's view of Florida is well known by this readership.

So, an alternative view - she wrote a poor sentence, and no reasonable inference as to her views on AIDS or homophobia can be reached.

How to choose between these two hypothesis? Frankly, I am stuck. Here is a link to Ms. Thernstrom's bio, which was not helpful. It is interesting to note that she was a liberal with an ardor that once matched DeLong's - time will tell how the tone of this site will evolve.

Here are her articles, from her site at the Manhattan Institute. Affirmative action, civil rights, voting rights - her career is based on these issues. I suspect that she could not have written her book on race in America without mentioning AIDS/HIV, but I can not find separate articles in that area.

So, the case that she is promoting a homophobic agenda and is opposed to AIDS funding seems to rest on one sentence that may simply have been poorly constructed, unless another researcher has more skill or perseverance than I (low hurdle, BTW).

Now, the Prof has taken his stand and will no doubt stick with it, as he is sticking by his suggestion that Jeb Bush was named to honor the Civil War general.

And those who are inclined to be convinced by the balancing of one poor sentence against a lifetime of published articles are surely free to do so.

But, people believe what they want to believe. And, at least just now, some folks seem to want to believe the worst about every Republican they encounter.

Happy Holidays.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on December 19, 2002 09:05 PM

From http://www.stuartbuck.blogspot.com/2002_12_01_stuartbuck_archive.html#86275539

I usually like Brad Delong's website, but when it comes to certain issues, he becomes rather shrill. Latest example: Abigail Thernstrom wrote a column in the New York Times that included the following paragraph:

"On BET, Mr. Lott was defensive about receiving an F on the latest N.A.A.C.P. Congressional report card, saying that that "I have been changing." Yet this report grades politicians on such partisan, non-civil rights matters as their votes on extending unemployment benefits to aviation workers and increasing global AIDS financing. * * * "

DeLong then, in what appears to me to be complete hysteria, says that global AIDS financing is not a "partisan" issue, and that opposition to such financing reflects hatred of homosexuals. His concluding paragraph:

"Is it just an accident that when Abigail Thernstrom attacks the NAACP she does so for its being in favor of expanded global AIDS funding? Is she deaf to the overtones and undertones of American politics? Is this an innocent choice of one issue at random from among many possibilities? Or is it an attempt to send a coded signal--that if Trent Lott and other Republicans knuckle under to the NAACP, they are knuckling under to the homos as well?

"Evil, venomous toad. "


Well, now. As I read Thernstrom, she was just taking issue with the view that any politician who gets an "F" from the NAACP must therefore be hostile to "civil rights" per se. To demonstrate her point, she observed offhandedly that the NAACP ranks politicians on lots of issues that have nothing to do with "civil rights," and that the NAACP's function in this regard is really just to support liberal causes of all stripes. DeLong went way overboard on this one.

Posted by: Anon on December 20, 2002 01:48 PM

'Well, now. As I read Thernstrom, she was just taking issue with the view that any politician who gets an "F" from the NAACP must therefore be hostile to "civil rights" per se. To demonstrate her point, she observed offhandedly that the NAACP ranks politicians on lots of issues that have nothing to do with "civil rights," and that the NAACP's function in this regard is really just to support liberal causes of all stripes. DeLong went way overboard on this one.'

Yeah, she just decided to do it in a way that declares AIDS to be a partisan issue, like unemployment benefits.

Actually, after digging around google for "Abigail Thernstrom + gay" and "Abigail Thernstrom - AIDS", and getting absolutely nothing, I think she gets on the homophobic angle; you'd if she was a bigot there'd be *something*.

She's guilty of the wierd opinion that AIDS funding is partisan, though.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 20, 2002 04:34 PM

So she said that global AIDs financing is a partisan issue. So what? It's absurdly hysterical (not to mention adolescent, immature, and histrionic) to take that throwaway line as an excuse to 1) call Thernstrom names like "evil, venomous toad," or 2) accuse her of somehow appealing to homophobia.

Mr. DeLong's reaction is staggeringly out of proportion to the supposed offense, and betrays a fundamental lack of proportion and judgment.

Posted by: Anon on December 21, 2002 08:04 AM

>>Thernstrom seems to have generated this kerfuffle by using the admittedly ill-considered term 'partisan' to refer to increases in international AIDs funding. But surely the point she meant to demonstrate stands. Let's just stipulate: more AIDs funding would be great! Even so, one would not normally construe international health policy as reading on American civil rights issues. Thus, Thernstrom suggests that an "F" on the NAACP report card may entail differences on matters more linked to 'partisan' differences than conflicts over civil rights.<<

Except that the difference over global AIDS funding isn't "partisan," is it? And there's no reason why the NAACP should limit itself to civil rights issues, is there? (Except, of course, that Abigail Thernstrom says that they should stay in their place.)

Posted by: Brad DeLong on December 21, 2002 08:26 AM

>> And there's no reason why the NAACP should limit itself to civil rights issues, is there? <<

Not at all, if it wants to bill itself as just another liberal interest group lobbying across-the-board on behalf of any other group that funds it. E.g.: Then it can be 100% opposed to school vouchers as it receives heavy funding from the teachers's unions, and can be opposed to African Americans who advance high in the government as conservatives simply because they aren't liberals.

On the other hand, if it wants to claim the moral high ground of being a "civil rights organization", perhaps it should actually keep its focus on civil rights?

And if it wants to claim its purpose is the "advancement of colored people" -- as opposed to the advancement of liberal colored people, or of liberal interests by colored people -- perhaps it should recognize, for example, that the strongest support for vouchers is among colored people with school-age children and be willing to say at least *one word* to the teachers' unions about it? And perhaps it should celebrate and encourage the advancement of colored people even through conservative ranks? And not stand idly by (or even agree) when those who do advance that way are slurred by other liberals as being "house slaves", or worse?

Whaddya think?

Posted by: Jim Glass on December 21, 2002 04:12 PM

>> Is she deaf to the overtones and undertones of American politics? ... Or is it an attempt to send a coded signal -- that if Trent Lott and other Republicans knuckle under to the NAACP, they are knuckling under to the homos as well? <<

Hello?? For supporting "global AID financing" to be "knuckling under to the homos", the African AIDS epidemic would have to be a 'pink' issue. Medically, as to the means of transmission of the disease, and in US politics.

Is Prof. DeLong saying this is true?

Or is this another example of the sort of thing liberals need to construct for themselves to feel sufficiently morally superior to call conservatives "vile loathesome toads" and the like.

But what's the attraction of such name calling? Is it that one can't say such things face-to-face in real life to the *real* vile loathsome toads we know unless one has a job as a football coach -- so if we get an op-ed column or sest up a web site we go for it?

After reading Thernstrom's column I'd say an awful lot of effort has been expended in generating outrage over four words lifted out of context from 630, while ignoring 100% of the substance of what she said.

I mean, if I was genuinely worried about the advancement of economically lagging racial minorities, I'd be concerned about the substance of her message...
~~
Democrats and civil rights organizations are stuck staring into a rearview mirror ... Take what is arguably today's most important civil rights issue: the racial gap in academic achievement. Robert Moses, a luminous figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960's, says that "the absence of math literacy ... is an issue as urgent as the lack of registered black voters in Mississippi was in 1961."

Yet the political left talks almost entirely of "re-segregated" and underfunded schools, and pushes for more busing and more spending, a strategy that has failed for decades. Democrats also believe in collective bargaining rules that allow dreadful teachers to retain their jobs. Their emphasis on "self-esteem" results in the dumbing-down of educational standards...
~~
That would concern me a lot. And maybe I'd ask, "Where is the NAACP on all this?"

But if I was just a liberal politico operating without an answer to the message, I might try to manufacture a nasty dispute about something entirely unrelated -- to both distract the audience from the real message and kill the messenger at the same time...

Posted by: Jim Glass on December 21, 2002 05:06 PM

Note that Thernstrom doesn't utter a peep about the huge disparities in funding between poor school districts and rich school districts -- which, as even George Will has pointed out at length, must be removed as part of any strategy to improve schools for the poor and provide equality of opportunity in this country.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 26, 2002 06:19 PM
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