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April 30, 2005

AIDS ACTION BOARD MEMBER RESIGNS, BLASTS COMPROMISES WITH 'EVIL' BUSH POLICIES

On the eve of this coming week's AIDS March on the White House, Craig Miller -- a long-serving member of the board of AIDS Action Council (AAC) -- has just resigned from AAC with a ferocious blast at the organization's temporizing and compromising with the Bush administration, POZ magazine reported exclusively yesterday on its website. "“I cannot subscribe to a policy of timidity toward this Bush administration…whose [domestic HIV] policies are callous and evil to the core,” Miller wrote (you can read the full text of his letter by clicking on the link to it in the POZ article).

Readers of DIRELAND will recall that I've been extremely critical of AIDS Action's Bush-coddling in the past. Miller is the first AAC insider to break the omerta reigning on the AAC board, which whitewashed AAC executive director Marsha Martin after she joined a host committee for an inaugural celebration of the Republicans' '04 election victory thrown by a front-group for Big Pharma.

Now Miller -- a respected veteran AIDS activist who has for years organized the AIDSWalk fundraisers that are a mainstay of the big AIDS service organizations like Gay Men's Health Crisis and AIDS Project Los Angeles -- has joined the growing chorus of criticism targeting AIDS Action's boot-licking of Bush. POZ also quotes this blast from the admirable Martin Delaney -- founder of Project Inform and another veteran AIDS activist: "There is a wide feeling out there that AIDS Action Council has gone off the deep end...Working on the inside does not mean you have to roll over and spread your legs every time. What’s the point of being there at all if you’re not going to argue with them?” Indeed. My own view is that AIDS Action for years has been infected with a culture of compromise -- remember how the organization attacked AIDS activists who called attention to the Clinton-Gore administration's water-carrying for Big Pharma's efforts to stifle generic AIDS-fighting meds, instead of denouncing the administration for helping deny life-prolonging drugs to the world's poor? As we've spelled out previously on this blog, it's lick-spittle attitude toward the Bush administration has been even more shocking.

AIDS Action cares about only one thing -- Ryan White appropriations. Why? Because that money pays for the (sometimes extravagant) salaries of the bureaucrats in the Big Six ASOs (known in the AIDS world as the "Divas") that dominate AAC, and also makes up a big part of the budgets of the three thousand-odd ASOs that support -- and pay for -- AIDS Action. And in their money chase, these self-perpetuating AIDScrats have frequently thrown principle out the window. As long as AIDS Action continues to exist, it will be difficult for the AIDS community -- whose resources are already stretched to the breaking point -- to give birth to a Washington lobby that represents with vigor and and an activist spirit both the oh-so-urgent needs of people with AIDS, and a meaningful AIDS prevention policy agenda both here and abroad. As I've said before, I fervently wish local ASOs would disaffiliate from AIDS Action and put their money into more useful activities. (This recommendation is reinforced by the devastating criticism of AIDS Action in a report on the effectiveness of AIDS organizations in the nation's capitol by the Ford Foundation, issued this past winter. You can read the entire report by clicking here.)

One of those activities, of course, is the new Campaign To End AIDS (C2EA), launched earlier this year, which kicks off with a week of events in Washington beginning on May 2. C2EA is a grassroots effort conceived and supported by dozens of AIDS organizations -- both service and advocacy -- from around the country. The lobbying on Capitol Hill and the conferencing this week (including a Youth Training Institute for 150 young activists) will culminate in a "Walk a Mile in MY Shoes" AIDS March to the White House on Thursday, May 5. After a rally at Lafayette Park (just opposite the White House) that promises to be lively and loud, there will be a procession of 8000 empty pairs of shoes -- to symbolize the 8000 people in the world who die of AIDS every single day. And the unveiling of a 21-point program to end the AIDS epidemic world-wide.

Then, in September, people with HIV/AIDS and activists from every state will join up in nine cross-country caravans, converging on Washington for five days of action and advocacy on October 8-12. All this is the sort of thing AIDS Action -- which claims to be "the national voice on AIDS" -- bloody well ought to be doing. But, as we reported earlier, AIDS Action refused to endorse  this week's March and the vital new Campaign to End AIDS -- just as AIDS Action refused to endorse the nonpartisan AIDSVote campaign last year to get the HIV-positive and their friends and family registered to vote.

So, if you can't get to Washington this week, enter in your computer's link list the Campaign's new website -- which will become operational this Thursday -- at www.endAIDSnow.org, so you can keep in touch with the extensive Fall schedule of events and read the 21-point Ending AIDS program.

Posted by Direland at 08:46 PM | Permalink

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» DC to get new AIDS chief from AIDS Combat Zone
AIDS Action is a generally respected national organization, though recently some have criticized the group for being "too close to the Bush administration." Likewise, Ms Martin has caught her share of criticism for her ties to the White House. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 22, 2005 12:58:01 AM

» DC to get new AIDS chief from AIDS Combat Zone
AIDS Action is a generally respected national organization, though recently some have criticized the group for being "too close to the Bush administration." Likewise, Ms Martin has caught her share of criticism for her ties to the White House. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 22, 2005 12:59:07 AM

Comments

m688k

Posted by: ro848ck | Jul 5, 2007 1:16:00 PM

So many people now with HIV/AIDS and only about 2/3 of the people who have HIV or AIDS even know it! I got HIV in the 80s, I made some sites relating to my disease on http://www.HIVAIDSsearch.com/Menu.htm where you can see I am trying to help the POZ community.

Posted by: HIV Chat | Oct 21, 2005 4:58:04 PM

Doug says what many of us involved in HIV services and activism have known for quite some time. Martin is a hack and a disaster. A mediocre academic and so-called homelessness expert from NYC (Hunter College), she's been the worst leader in AIDS Action's history. And can we speak the truth -- that ever since progressive gay men were marginalized and disempowered (this is especially true for gay men in public health agencies)and heteros like Martin got the top spots, we've been in deep trouble re HIV prevention and advocacy.

Posted by: Giorgio | May 2, 2005 10:07:16 AM

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