Monday, November 10, 2003

Ooops....I was a little hasty in my earlier posts that Reagan didn't appear to be a religious bigot about gays. It turns out that Reagan did have religiously-based reasons that may have caused his indifference to the spread of AIDS among the gay population, even though his daughter says he was tolerant of gays personally, in part because of his Hollywood background. As Reagan biographer Edmund Morris, in his Sunday New York Times Op-Ed, points out: "The writers of CBS's canceled miniseries have invented a bit of dialogue to the latter effect [religious bigotry about AIDS victims], but historians might more seriously ponder Mr. Reagan's actual remarks, including, `Maybe the Lord brought down this plague [because] illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments.'"
Here's my view: the original dialogue quoted him as telling Nancy that those who live by sin, die by sin. So why couldn't the screenswriters use the real quote, rather than make one up that didn't appear to have any factual grounding? My guess: they did a sketchy job of research, and didn't want to wade through Morris's poorly received biography.
But the upshot is that his glaring indifference to the spread of AIDS, documented in Randy Shilts' And the Band Played On, is a blight on the historical record of Reagan. Also see Neal Pollack's hilarious take on the Reagan movie dispute in his blog, mentioned in a previous post.
Op-Ed Contributor: Too Big a Man for the Small Screen

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