Monday, March 03, 2003
Krugman's on vacation: Which means it's Nicholas Kristof's turn. I don't disagree much with's Kristof's sudden "discovery" that hey, there aren't a whole lot of evangelical Christians in the mainstream media -- I've known it for a long time. In fact, in my nearly 9 years in newspapers, large and small, I can easily call to mind three evangelical Christians I've worked with.
However, what I will take issue with is Kristof's ignorance about what works -- especially in Africa -- in curbing the spread of AIDS.
I tend to disagree with evangelicals on almost everything, and I see no problem with aggressively pointing out the dismal consequences of this increasing religious influence. For example, evangelicals' discomfort with condoms and sex education has led the administration to policies that are likely to lead to more people dying of AIDS at home and abroad, not to mention more pregnancies and abortions.
Maybe if Kristof took his own advice and interacted, on a less-accusatory basis, with those very same evangelical Christians, he might actually find out more about what is actually happening out in the world.
What are the "dismal consequences" of promoting abstinance in AIDS-ravaged African nations? National Review's Rod Dreher recently reported on them.
In the late 1980s, when AIDS first came to Uganda, the Kampala government realized that it was being transmitted through sexual behavior. Authorities rallied religious leaders and others behind a massive campaign to convince the population to change its sexual behavior. "Zero grazing outside of your own field," was the slogan the government used to promote its "ABC." initiative. The message to the Ugandan people: Abstain from sex if you can, Be faithful to your partner, and if this doesn't work, use a Condom.
It worked brilliantly. Unlike most other African nations, the HIV infection rate peaked in 1991, and has been steadily dropping since. Studies show that Ugandans dramatically reduced their risky sexual activity. And this successful program, which was devised wholly by the Ugandans themselves, could be implemented with little money.
The real truth why Kristof and his friends in the liberal elite oppose anything that smacks of religion in dealing with a deadly, largely sexually-transmitted disease, is that the are loath to condemn any "lifestyle" as being somehow "wrong" -- especially when it involves sex.
I deal with people who hold fundamentally different worldviews all the time -- it helps to broaden my perspective. Kristof might consider spending one Sunday morning a month at a church -- it might help him.