AIDS, Huckabee, and William F. Buckley, Jr.

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One unfortunate by-product of conservatism is the possibility that in standing athwart history yelling stop, one just might just impede genuine societal progress. Former Governor Mike Huckabee, the leading Republican Presidential candidate in Iowa, is under deserved fire for his ugly 1992 remarks that victims of AIDS should be put into isolation. Huckabee’s excuse is that he made those remarks early in our collective understanding of the disease. Unfortunately, the former Governor’s conscience is clear of the need to retract those remarks. Ironically, National Review editor at large and Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame member William F. Buckley, Jr., the intellectual godfather of contemporary American conservatism, who made similar remarks — but actually went further — also refuses retraction.


Buckley, then the editor-in-chief of National Review and a self-proclaimed libertarian, proposed that tattooing AIDS victims on the forearm and buttocks would cease the spread of the disease. That was over twenty years ago. Two years ago Buckley reiterated that ugly idea. From February 2005, National Review:

”Someone, 20 years ago, suggested a discreet tattoo the site of which would alert the prospective partner to the danger of proceeding as had been planned. But the author of the idea was treated as though he had been schooled in Buchenwald, and the idea was not widely considered, but maybe it is up now for reconsideration.”

Let’s hope not. Like intellectual godfather, like intellectual godson?