Continuing to drive a wedge between Barack Obama and the hopeful new America his campaign aims to impart to voters, Rev. Jeremiah Wright further defended comments he made during a YouTube taped Chicago Sermon while speaking before a group of journalists Monday.
Wright addressed the National Press Club in Washington D.C., saying he was unapologetic about comments in which he espoused anti-gay rhetoric and blamed the government for creating HIV.
The Chicago reverend, who democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has been aligned with over the course of his campaign, said that based on the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment, he has reason to believe that HIV is a manufactured disease.
For forty years between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis.
These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for “bad blood,” their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all.
The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis—which can include tumours, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death.
“As I see it,” one of the doctors involved explained, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.”
Former President Bill Clinton apologised to survivors of the experiment:
“The United States government did something that was wrong—deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens. . . . clearly racist.”
At the press club meeting, Wright further explained that he thinks many of his comments are misunderstood by the general public because of a deep misunderstanding of the Black religious experience.
Rev. Wright’s comments caused trouble for the Obama campaign as several minority groups, including the LGBT population, called on the junior senator from Illinois to distance himself from the Trinity United Church of Christ.
Wright isn’t the only controversial religious figure to whom Obama has been linked.
Earlier this month, Obama was linked to Rev. James T. Meeks, whose anti-gay comments have landed him in hot water with gay activists.