HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

Blood libel — Don’t ask, don’t tell??

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/06/18

I’ve been slowly reading Anthony Julius’s interesting, difficult book, Trials of the Diaspora (Oxford University Press, 2010), described in a review as about the history of anti-Semitism in England but really much more comprehensive than that. Among much else, I was reminded that one of the standard calumnies of anti-Semitism is that Jews ritually murder Christian children to obtain blood for the making of Matzoth.

I’ve also been reading, very rapidly, the generally uninteresting daily newspaper. Just now it drew to my attention another kind of blood libel: “U.S. panel upholds ban on gay men as blood donors”. With all my reading about HIV/AIDS in recent years, I had somehow missed knowing that this ban was still in effect. Three decades ago, of course, when “AIDS” was “GRID” — gay-related immune deficiency — such a ban might have been rationalized as an immediate precaution taken in a crisis and before sufficient was known to exclude the possibility that GRID was infectious and could be transmitted through blood. That rationalization hasn’t been sustainable for a long time. What’s worse, the present rules incorporate a clearly irrational and prejudicial discrimination:

“The current policy — put into effect in 1985 during the early days of the AIDS crisis — prevents any man who since 1977 has had sex with another man from donating blood. . . . [and] the high-ranking panel voted 9 to 6 to uphold the blood donation ban for gay men, citing a very small but still unacceptable risk to the blood supply . . . . The panel deemed the current policy ‘suboptimal,’ however, and recommended steps toward a policy that looks at individual behaviors rather than barring a broad group such as gay and bisexual men.”
By contrast, however, “heterosexual men and women . . . are required to defer giving blood for only one year if they have sex with someone with HIV” (Roanoke Times, cr. wire reports).
Gay men are permanently unfit to donate even if they are not “HIV-positive”!

Were Anthony Julius writing about homophobia rather than anti-Semitism, here would be another clear example of how prejudice — even possibly subliminal prejudice — exerts a visible influence. Heterosexual blood is apparently able to regain its purity after a year, whereas gay blood can never do so.

The point I’ve appreciated most, so far, from Julius’s book is the insight that the very term “anti-Semitism” is iniquitous, no matter whether it’s used in criticism of “anti-Semitism” or in its justification, because it is a reification — making into a thing something that is not a thing — and it incorporates the belief that every Jew is somehow in essence the same sort of person.

Like “blood libel”, this too bears extension, to the nouns “homosexual” or “gay” or “lesbian”, which all promote an inference that the most significant thing about any given person is their particular preference as to sexual relationships and that all who are same-sex attracted somehow share all-encompassing characteristics that distinguish them permanently and significantly from everyone else. It was pointed out to me some time ago that one should not speak about “homosexuals”, “gays”, “lesbians”, because that incorporates the presumption that they’re all essentially the same; whereas “homosexual people”, “gay men”, “lesbian women” acknowledges that there are people who just happen, as only one aspect of their identity, to enjoy certain types of personal relationships.

Human beings cannot be simply classified into a few distinct behavioral groups. For a lengthier discussion of the foolishness of trying to do so, please see “Diversity and Identity”, an invited speech I gave at the 49th annual meeting of the American Conference of Academic Deans  (and which I’ve mentioned before, in “HIV skepticism, Nessies, homophobia, and racism”).

Blood libel — Don’t ask, don’t tell??

I’ve been slowly reading Anthony Julius’s interesting, difficult book, Trials of the Diaspora (Oxford University Press, 2010), described in a review as about the history of anti-Semitism in England but really much more comprehensive than that. Among much else, I was reminded that one of the standard calumnies of anti-Semitism is that Jews ritually murder Christian children to obtain blood for the making of Matzoth.

I’ve also been reading, very rapidly, the generally uninteresting daily newspaper. Just now it drew to my attention another kind of blood libel: “U.S. panel upholds ban on gay men as blood donors”. With all my reading about HIV/AIDS in recent years, I had somehow missed knowing that this ban was still in effect. Three decades ago, of course, when “AIDS” was “GRID” — gay-related immune deficiency — such a ban might have been rationalized as an immediate precaution taken in a crisis and before sufficient was known to exclude the possibility that GRID was infectious and could be transmitted through blood. That rationalization hasn’t been sustainable for a long time. What’s worse, the present rules incorporate a clearly irrational and prejudicial discrimination: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/news.aspx?ID=640056

“The current policy — put into effect in 1985 during the early days of the AIDS crisis — prevents any man who since 1977 has had sex with another man from donating blood. . . . [and] the high-ranking panel voted 9 to 6 to uphold the blood donation ban for gay men, citing a very small but still unacceptable risk to the blood supply . . . . The panel deemed the current policy ‘suboptimal,’ however, and recommended steps toward a policy that looks at individual behaviors rather than barring a broad group such as gay and bisexual men.”

By contrast, however, “heterosexual men and women . . . are required to defer giving blood for only one year if they have sex with someone with HIV” (Roanoke Times, cr. wire reports).

Gay men are permanently unfit to donate even if they are not “HIV-positive”!

Were Anthony Julius writing about homophobia rather than anti-Semitism, here would be another clear example of how prejudice — even possibly subliminal prejudice — exerts a visible influence. Heterosexual blood is apparently able to regain its purity after a year, whereas gay blood can never do so.

The point I’ve appreciated most, so far, from Julius’s book is the insight that the very term “anti-Semitism” is iniquitous, no matter whether it’s used in criticism of “anti-Semitism” or in its justification, because it is a reification — making into a thing something that is not a thing — and it incorporates the belief that every Jew is somehow in essence the same sort of person.

Like “blood libel”, this too bears extension, to the nouns “homosexual” or “gay” or “lesbian”, which all promote an inference that the most significant thing about any given person is their particular preference as to sexual relationships and that all who are same-sex attracted somehow share all-encompassing characteristics that distinguish them permanently and significantly from everyone else. It was pointed out to me some time ago that one should not speak about “homosexuals”, “gays”, “lesbians”, because that incorporates the presumption that they’re all essentially the same; whereas “homosexual people”, “gay men”, “lesbian women” acknowledges that there are people who just happen, as only one aspect of their identity, to enjoy certain types of personal relationships.

Human beings cannot be simply classified into a few distinct behavioral groups. For a lengthier discussion of the foolishness of trying to do so, please see “Diversity and Identity”, an invited speech I gave at the 49th annual meeting of the American Conference of Academic Deans http://henryhbauer.homestead.com/files/DIVERSITY_AND_IDENTITY.pdf (and which I’ve mentioned before, in “HIV skepticism, Nessies, homophobia, and racism”).
http://wp.me/p8Qhq-gl

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Categories:  HIV risk groups,  HIV transmission,  prejudice,  uncritical media

Tags blood donating

14 Responses to “Blood libel — Don’t ask, don’t tell??”

  1. On that reasoning one should also not refer to “men” and “women” either, but instead to male persons and female persons. And some people do preoccupy themselves with these self-labels, not least a high proportion of Muslims. Quite a few people appear to be obsessed with the fact that they are not hetero.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Robin:
      The difference between men and women is a definitive physical one, whereas the putative differences between Jews and others, and same-sex-attracted people and others, is not. And many or most people are obsessed by something or other.

  2. I’d question how many gays and lesbians and transgendereds would agree with that view of it (albeit their perceptions are a bit of a mystery to myself). (And hopefully you’re as not obsessed with having the last word as I am.)

  3. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, Here’s another tidbit of history. Bejamin Rush the first Surgeon General of the United States and a signer of the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that the dark skin color of Negros was caused by leprosy after he met a Negro former slave Henry Moss who had lost his skin color (probably due to vertiligo). Rush concluded that in order to prevent the spread of leprosy, that blacks and whites should not marry and subsequently infect white people hence the bans on miscegenation which contiued in many states up until 1967 when the Supreme Court struck them all down (Loving vs Virginia).

  4. Gorky said

    There is so much that can be said on the largely unconscious prejudicial nature behind much of the hysterics re AIDS pseudoscience, not only the anti-gay prejudice, but of course the anti-black prejudice. In both cases of course gallingly, absurdly and ironically these deep-seated prejudices are formented under the name of human rights, compassion, equal rights for all and health care.

    In fact even AIDS dissidents have tended to neglect the deeper unconscious aspects of these prejudices, yes the prejudices here are obviously recognised by the likes of us, but the deeper unconscious psychodynamics and cultural dynamics here are something else, and need a book-length treatment to do justice to. Also there is a tragic gay and black (I actually refer more to African black communities here, more so than African-Americans per se) complicity in this AIDS fiasco. I don’t necessarily mean solely unconscious deep-seated feelings of inferiority and the like (although it is there), but in both cases distinct cultural dynamics amongst their communities that have not been given the attention they deserve in their destructive aspects. It is certainly well recognised and acknowledged by many AIDS dissidents but it does need to be fleshed out more.

    In the US gay community alone, there is so much that needs to be recognised about the social and psychological dynamics driving the pre-GRID cruisin’ bath-house culture (inseperable of course and affected by the ‘free love’ heterosexual culture of the time). In fact ironically I find the best sources here the gay mainstream who inadvertently give away so much regarding the gay cultural dynamics that made an inadvertent and tragic gay community complicity in the AIDS fiasco inevitable. For example when one reads the most conspicuous, influential and active AIDS mainstream gay activist in the US, Larry Kramer’s pre-GRID ‘Faggots’ on the bath-house cruisin’ scene, these destructive aspects practically leap off the pages. Kramer was aware of this at the time but never saw and doesn’t see how this has shaped gay complicity in the HIV/AIDS insanity because of course he is ensnared in it as much as anybody. In fact Kramer’s writings are a must-read (and of course I mean his AIDS writings predominantly) in order to ‘get’ where he and other mainstream AIDS gay activists are coming from, albeit of course this is all deeply unconscious, and would not be capable of being recognised by the Kramers and Achmats of the world themselves. I am not being explicit on what I mean exactly, like I said it deserves extensive treatment going beyond something I could write up on a blog.

    Of course the unrecognised prejudices sanctioned by society and the medical profession go beyond and predate AIDS. There is much prejudice in the history of Western medicine itself, reflecting the prejudices in society – there is a strong current of misogyny in the history of medicine for example and in the history of the numerous confusions and blunders surrounding STDs especially syphilis (blamed initially on the natives of the New World, a highly dubious charge) there is much prejudice and bigotry. Much more can and needs to be said here but this is beyond the scope of this post but hardly unrelated to the AIDS fiasco.

    I also think there are parallels between anti-Semitism and the unconscious anti-black and anti-gay prejudices underlying much of the social dynamics of HIV/AIDS hysterics, that have not been acknowledged at all. The reasons being that one needs to recognise both the deep-seated complex cultural roots and fluidic dynamics of anti-Semitism in the West (little recognised even by Jewry, btw I am Jewish) AND be an AIDS dissident AND recognise the prejudicial cultural dynamics that help to prop up this horrid HIV/AIDS blunder, dynamics that are often given short shrift by AIDS dissidents themselves. The focus instead is perhaps excessively on the careerism and profiteering aspects of the AIDS industry (AIDS Incorporated) and this is at the expense of the broader and perhaps more significant cultural aspects.

  5. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, Sigmund Fraud, who went to his grave believing that masturbation caused insanity, canonized the “disease” hysteria (probably invented by Charcot)- note only women got it – of course – hysteria comes from hystera Greek for womb from which hysterectomy or removal of the uterus was derived. In order for a woman to be transgenered into a “man”, the uterus must be removed in some states. The whole aspect of sexual prejudice in transexualism is analized quite well in Janice Ramond’s “The Transexual Empire”.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Martin:
      I don’t think Freud was a fraud. Like most people, he happened to be wrong about some things, and some of the things he was wrong about were widely believed, without his help, a century or so ago when he was making his mark.
      I have a strong inclination to look at Freud’s good points rather than others, because of a family connection I’ve described before:
      “On a personal note, I’ve also had a long interest in matters psychological. I grew up in an environment where Freudian ideas were common parlance, in part perhaps because my paternal grandmother had once been governess to Sigmund Freud’s children — my father was named after one of Freud’s sons, the family stayed in intermittent touch with Anna Freud, and I even got to shake the old man’s hand in London when we were on our way to Australia. I still find enlightening much of what Freud wrote about slips of the tongue and the interpretation of dreams”.
      So I hope you’ll chuckle with me when I suggest that you made a Freudian slip in writing “analized” instead of “analyzed” 8)

      • HJ Eysenck said of Freud that what’s true isn’t new and what’s new isn’t true.
        There’s certainly validity in some concepts such as projection and repressed unconscious and emotional significance of dreams, but I guess they belong in the not-new category. Overall, Freud is a waste of time better spent reading my great works instead…

      • Henry Bauer said

        Robin:
        “What’s true isn’t new and what’s new isn’t true” has been directed at many people; typically, of course, by those who are jealous of the prestige attained by high achievers, and also by mainstreamers who opposed “deniers” for many years before having to capitulate.

      • Robin P C said

        ““What’s true isn’t new and what’s new isn’t true” has been directed at many people;”
        Perhaps, but do you have any evidence in justification of that assertion? After all, your life appears to be devoted to challenging certain others for lacking evidence for their assertions.

  6. Gorky said

    Yes I agree with Dr Bauer on the excessive criticisms of Freud (all too fashionable in our age, much of it predicated on a superficial reading of his output and a lack of familiarity with his life-story). He made mistakes as do all giants in every field, he had his deep flaws as do we all, yet his contributions remain outstanding, profound and wide-ranging. Much of his writings remain deeply relevant, whatever their shortcomings. Many of his contributions to our understanding of the subconscious, the nature of self-decepetion, neuroses and trauma stand firm. If we see further than him it is because we stand on the shoulders of men like him.

    I think because of the understandable modern backlash against psychoanalysis and its abuses, Freud inevitably bore much of the brunt of this.

    That’s interesting about Bauer’s family’s association with the Freuds, didn’t know that.

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