On All Things Considered on Thursday, I heard John McCain say something that made me go to NPR’s web site to make sure I’d heard it right. I had. Here’s what Senator McCain said last month, in New Hampshire (“it”, here, refers to U.S. foreign aid):
It really needs to eliminate many of the breeding grounds for extremism, which is poverty, which is HIV/AIDS, which is all of these terrible conditions that make people totally dissatisfied and then look to extremism, particularly Islamic extremism.
I don’t recall hearing anything about this at the time, but is this statement really as stupid as it sounds? Did he really say that AIDS results in terrorists? And not just any ones, but “particularly Islamic” ones? Why should Islamic extremists be more motivated than any other sorts by widespread AIDS infection? And is there any evidence that AIDS fosters extremism in general (other than, perhaps, “extremist” demands for more money to combat AIDS)? Where did he pull that one out of?
Yes, we should definitely put a good bit of our foreign aid money toward fighting AIDS. Absolutely.
We should also make sure we don’t elect someone who makes stupid, unsupportable statements like this. We’ve already had one of those for the last eight years.