Conservative columnist Dennis Prager claimed that “heterosexual AIDS” is a crisis “entirely manufactured by the Left,” continuing his years-long campaign of peddling dangerous and inaccurate AIDS denialism.
Prager's July 1 syndicated column featured a defense of the Washington Redskins' name. Prager accused the “American Left” of being preoccupied with “manufactured” controversies and crises, including “heterosexual AIDS”:
The great majority of American Indians understandably just don't care. Like heterosexual AIDS and so many other crises, this has been entirely manufactured by the Left. Since 1947, there has been a movie theater, the Redskin Theatre (with the same logo as the football team), in Anadarko, Okla., a city whose population is divided evenly between Indians and whites and that calls itself the “Indian Capital of the Nation.” Why, in 67 years, have the Indian populations of Anadarko and Oklahoma not changed this theater's name? Because the Left hadn't made it an issue. It's not an Indian issue; it's a left-wing issue. [emphasis added]
Prager's comparison is the latest in his long and bizarre history of falsely asserting that HIV and AIDS aren't issues for heterosexuals. As Adam Serwer wrote for The American Prospect in 2008, Prager exemplifies a strain of "AIDS denialism" that suggests that “AIDS is a 'gay' problem, and so heterosexuals don't have to worry about it.”
In a 2007 column titled “Does the Left Value Truth?,” Prager wrote:
The homeless, heterosexual AIDS and rape. For years, mainstream liberal news media purveyed false information supplied by Mitch Snyder, the major liberal activist on behalf of the homeless. Likewise, we were told by gay and AIDS activist groups that AIDS “doesn't discriminate,” meaning that heterosexuals in America were as likely to contract the HIV virus as homosexuals. It was never true in America (Africa may be another story for other reasons). [emphasis added]
According to Prager, AIDS activists invented the myth of heterosexual AIDS in order to generate hysteria about the disease. During a June 2008 edition of his radio show, he equated heterosexual AIDS with other purportedly exaggerated threats, including climate change and secondhand smoke:
Since then, Prager has repeatedly lumped heterosexual AIDS, climate change, and second-hand smoke together as progressive myths, accusing liberal scientists of “trying to building [sic] asecular-left dark age in our time." He's compared warnings about heterosexuals' susceptibility to HIV to warnings about the dangers of silicone breast implants and nuclear power. In 2011, he mocked the idea that “heterosexual AIDS would become a national plague,” calling it a "doomsday prophecy." And last December, Prager again assailed the “fabricated” heterosexual AIDS story in a column (falsely) asserting that Matthew Shepard wasn't actually the victim of anti-gay violence.
Prager's AIDS denialism is largely based on a 1990 book written by right-wing charlatan Michael Fumento, The Myth Of Heterosexual AIDS. Fumento is notorious for using faulty data to assert that the U.S. is spending too much money in the fight against AIDS. Like Prager, he's also known for denying climate change and dismissing the dangers of secondhand smoke. In 2006, Scripps Howard News Service canceled his syndicated column after it was revealed Fumento was taking money from agribusiness giant Monsanto while writing columns in the company's defense.
Prager's “Redskins” column was published at National Review Online, Investor's Business Daily, Townhall.com, and Real Clear Politics. His AIDS denialism reinforces some of the most basic and harmful myths about AIDS as a “gay disease,” but it apparently isn't enough to stop him from being published at prominent conservative media outlets.