November 1, 2007
Come on Cosby: It's Time to Come Clean about AIDSBy Marc Sheppard
As a longstanding fan of Bill Cosby, it pains me to criticize a man whose comedy and politics have been overwhelmingly constructive. But in the matter of AIDS, he needs to be a bit more forthcoming.
A report published Monday by University of Arizona evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey has traced the path of AIDS from its origins in the Congo to the United States via Haiti as early as 1969. It depicts an HIV epidemic ignited by Haitians returning home from Africa and spreading undetected for over 10 years within their country before expanding to America and, ultimately, throughout the world.
Measured together with comments made in his new book, this scientific revelation clearly signifies that the time for widely venerated actor, comedian, sage and activist Bill Cosby to come clean over his previous rancorous accusations as to the disease's origin is long overdue.
And here's why.
In Chapter 6 of the otherwise laudable Come On, People, Cosby appropriately sounds the alarm that while African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S population, they:
He then breaks down the horrifying demographics of its baleful bloom in the black community, citing HIV/AIDS as the
But he then submits a troublesome opinion as to why early educational programs have proven ineffective in halting the disease's spread amongst black people: [emphasis added]
While these words from the man who introduced us to his friend Fat Albert are strictly factual, Bill Cosby owes his readers a more forthcoming treatment and repudiation of the rumors and his own role in their spread.
The Origins of a Deadly and Despicable Lie
In 1988, Steve Cokely, an aide to then-Chicago mayor Eugene Sawyer, was fired in response to his delusional claim that the "AIDS epidemic is a result of doctors, especially Jewish ones, who inject the AIDS virus in the blacks." In spite of being as acutely absurd as it was profoundly debasing, Cokely's accusation actually caught on with many fellow black racists and anti-Semites.
According to Larence D. Lowenthal's 1993 op-ed Understanding Farrakhan & His Organization, upon learning of the plight of his frantic hero, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan admonished Sawyer -- who is himself black -- for dismissing his "innocent" assistant, proclaiming that,
No surprise there. In 1997, Daniel Pipes would reveal in his American Spectator essay Conspiracy Farrakhan's "claims that the U.S. government shipped a billion units of AIDS-infected blood to Africa to annihilate its population."
Incendiary, to be sure, but given the limited reach and credibility of both sources, hardly the stuff that anything stronger than urban legend is built upon,
But the year 1992 found unpredictable filmmaker Spike Lee lending the inanity a bit more credence when he wrote in Rolling Stone that the disease was a government plot to kill blacks, gays and Hispanics:
While this did, indeed, help propagate the insidious conspiracy theory amid the black community to a marginal extent, by far the most revered and credible person to jump upon the genocide bandwagon was that national genial father figure, Cosby himself.
That's right -- the great story-teller shocked a huge segment of his fans when, in December 1991, he gave both the New York Post and national television audiences his concurrently vague and unmistakably clear response to the news of Magic Johnson's HIV status. A straight-faced Cos actually maintained that AIDS was "started by human beings to get after certain people they don't like."
It was this barely disguised accord by one of America's most trusted entertainers of the time that elevated the irresponsibly life-threatening indictment beyond its cult following. And yet, 16 years later he blames "some black people" for the distrust in medical practitioners by others.
It's Time to Practice What You Preach, Bill
Okay, so his confidence in Al Sharpton's Tawana Brawley con job was so irrationally intense that he actually co-sponsored a $25,000 reward in 1988 to anyone who could prove its racist lies. And there were all those alleged sex scandals. Nonetheless, Cosby remains a great benefactor and genuine elder statesman with his admirable vision of a much-improved black condition throughout this world.
Yet he does blame much of AIDS' spread among blacks on their dishonestly induced fear of white doctors which he, himself, helped induce. And now this study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reaffirms that the disease, which the World Health Organization estimates has killed over 25 million people since 1981, was introduced to predominantly white America by black Africans and Haitians, not the other way around, as he previously had so forcefully and carelessly asserted.
We can easily dismiss the hate-based foolishness of Steve Cokely, who traveled the black mad-as-hell radio airwaves for a while but was eventually forced to resign from KPFK-FM in December of 1991 after repeating on-air the same lunacy that had cost him his earlier political career. And, while Spike Lee could be caught spreading his nonsense now and then on TV for a few years, he soon gave up his nutty journey as gay and PC activists succeeded in turning the battle to treat and cure AIDS mainstream. As to screwy-Louie, well these were far from the least sane words to have passed through his racist, anti-Semitic lips, so, once again, his idiotic utterances were of no lasting importance to anyone.
But Bill Cosby has made a name for himself by preaching personal responsibility to the black community. Along the way, he's angered more than a few of his peers by challenging them to stop blaming white people for problems they should solve themselves. Now that Dr. Worobey's study has all but proven what most of us already knew, will he heed his own advice and take responsibility for the irreparable damage inflicted by his prior irresponsible actions?
As a long time fan of some of his politics and most of his comedy, I, for one, certainly hope so.
Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your feedback.