Suppose there were an outbreak of smallpox somewhere which had already affected 11% of the population with the expectation that this would spread to at least another 10% in the foreseeable future. And suppose that country refused to use an available tried and true vaccine. Would you support the U.S. spending $620 million dollars to care for the ill without insisting that the population be inoculated? This is happening now in South Africa where 5.7 million out of 49 million people are HIV positive though circumcision alone could cut the rate of contracting the virus by as much as 50%. Over the next two decades,South Africa will spend more than 100 billion dollars (much of it borrowed) on trying to contain the number of new infected people at 5 million. In the same way that apartheid became a cause engaging countries of the west to pressure the government of South Africa for change, why aren’t we campaigning and boycotting for mandatory circumcision of male children at birth? Where are the voices of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela insisting on the moral imperative for their government to do this? Is knowingly refusing to contain an epidemic any different than refusing to grant people civil rights?
The notion that cultural habits should weigh more heavily on government policy than the health of an entire nation is absurd. In this country we have instituted laws that have successfully altered the social acceptance of smoking and we are in the process of doing something similar with fatty and sugary foods. Should we be more condescending to Africans than we are to our own population? How can it be considered humanitarian aid to allow people to continue practicing unsafe sex when a proven remedy exists that could cut the disease rate in half? And where are the liberal voices of concern for the innocent victims of South African male preference for multiple sex partners? Where are the feminist freedom flotillas sailing to Capetown to free women and children from the death sentence that awaits them for as long as promiscuity is not considered a punishable offense as serious as manslaughter? Where are the western celebrities who have poached on Africa for their adoptive desires and those who have called our attention to our mandate to help the less fortunate - Bono, Madonna, Brangelina? Where is the gay lobby for a disease that affects their population in our own country disproportionately?
Let’s give this campaign a blue ribbon and let South Africa know that all the voices of the west are exhorting them to exercise the discipline within their own powers to alter the odds of controlling this scourge. And let’s make our foreign aid contingent on their doing this before we reflexively send more money to sustain a lethal status quo.
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