On August 19, 1992, during the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas, Mary Fisher, a 44 year old HIV positive mother of two kids and a rich Republican, delivered a moving speech to bring awareness to the American public about the stigma and danger of HIV and AIDS in the 90’s. In 1992, millions of Americans were infected, and many of these people were ashamed to publicly speak up for themselves. Fisher knew that in order to change federal policies and reverse the stigma of HIV/AIDS we need to coalesce as a nation.
Mary Fisher’s speech is informative, passionate and brave; her speech calls on the Republican Party to act and understand that HIV/AIDS is a present danger that does not discriminate against the color of your skin, your sexual orientation or whether you are rich or poor. In 1992, HIV/AIDS was the third leading cause of death in America, and we as a nation were very misinformed about the effects of the disease and the number of Americans affected and living with HIV/AIDS.
In her speech, Fisher presented factual evidence about the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic when she says: The reality of AIDS is brutally clear. Two hundred thousand Americans are dead or dying; a million more are infected. Worldwide, forty million, sixty million, or a hundred million infections will be counted in the coming few years. But despite science and research, White House meetings and congressional hearings; despite good intentions and bold initiatives, campaign slogans and hopeful promises–despite it all, it’s the epidemic which is winning tonight.
(Fisher 1992) This is a great example of logos, Fisher use statistics that are not only shocking, but also informative to drive home the point of how HIV/AIDS is affecting America and the world. Fisher passionately drove home the point that HIV/AIDS affects us all, and that the disease does not differentiate between us on our differences because we are all human. She stood up as a voice and a figure that most in the audience could relate to when she states; Tonight, I represent an AIDS community whose members have been reluctantly drafted from every segment of American society.
Though I am white, and a mother, I am one with a black infant struggling with tubes in a Philadelphia hospital. Though I am female, and contracted this disease in marriage, and enjoy the warm support of my family, I am one with the lonely gay man sheltering a flickering candle from the cold wind of his family’s rejection. (Fisher 1922) Fisher urged her party to take a stand and be compassionate to those who struggle with the disease, and asked the audience to remember that we are all human.
She reminded everyone that the public can be harsh and cruel when dealing with carriers of the virus, but people with HIV/AIDS are indeed humans who are admirable of kindness and sympathy. Fisher stated this when she said, “We may take refuge in our stereotypes, but we cannot hide there long. Because HIV asks only one thing of those it attacks: Are you human? And this is the right question: Are you human? Because people with HIV have not entered some alien state of being. They are human” (Fisher 1992).
Fisher is using pathos here to appeal to people’s emotions by realizing that this disease can affect them or someone they care about. It took great courage for Mary Fisher to speak in front of the Republican Party in 1992, a party who just years prior just thought of HIV/AIDS as a gay disease, and used the issue for political gain. In an editorial in the New York Times, titled “Teaching Mercy to Republicans” the anonymous author states; Ms. Fisher spoke from the same podium that had showcased the former Presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, who once said that AIDS was God’s revenge on homosexuals.
She spoke before delegates from the religious right who are likely to view AIDS in terms of sin and to Republican operatives who are prepared to exploit anti-gay and anti-AIDS hysteria for political gain” (Teaching et al. 1992). That reference shows the mentality and ideas the Republican Party shared at the time, and sometimes continue to share in the present day. Even prior to 1992, President Ronald Reagan would not talk about HIV/AIDS at the beginning of the epidemic, as stated by Jeffrey Schmalz, from the New York Times, “The epidemic was more than five years old before President Ronald Reagan uttered the “A” word publicly.
The wrath of God, the right wing said. All those homosexuals and blacks and drug abusers. ” (Scmalz 1992). In addition, Fisher stated in her opening, “Less than three months ago, at the platform hearings in Salt Lake City, I asked the Republican Party to lift the shroud of silence which has been draped over the issue of HIV/AIDS. I have come tonight to bring our silence to an end” (Fisher 1992). Cleary she and her audience understood how the Republican Party treated and dealt with the HIV/AIDS crisis in America during that time.
She was a brave Republican woman who stood up and brought forth the idea that HIV/AIDS can affect their own community and that the issue can no longer be ignored. Here you had a straight white woman; a mother with kids and a husband explain to the audience that HIV/AIDS can affect anyone. Fisher used ethos in applying her knowledge of HIV/AIDS as an activist and a person who votes Republican to appeal to the Republican Party. Fisher’s speech was very moving and captivated the audience. She used personal stories and factual evidence to make the audience aware that HIV/AIDS was a problem that our nation could no longer ignore.
She mad the audience realize that everyone was at risk because the disease only cared if you are human, and that the disease was a real threat to the future of the nation. She shared that the disease was still spreading worldwide, with the highest infection rates in woman and children, all the while many young adults were dying of the disease. She expressed that we have all assisted in the spread of the disease, “And we have helped it along–we have killed each other–with our ignorance, our prejudice, and our silence” (Fisher 1992). Fisher’s experience and background where a catalyst for HIV/AIDS awareness for the nation in 1992.
During this time many people only thought that HIV/AIDS was a disease that affected the poor, gay and minority communities. Her speech brought the disease closer to home, and showed that anyone can be impacted by HIV/AIDS. Have pioneers for HIV/AIDS awareness such as Mary Fisher made it easier for people in today’s world to publicly speak up about their battles with the disease? Many people today believe the answer is yes. For Fisher to take a stand during a time when there was so much hate and shame for people with HIV/AIDS shows that she is a brave woman.
Her knowledge, dedication and courage to stand up and address the entire nation regarding the dangers and the battle we still face with the disease was very admirable. She took the stage for all the people suffering from HIV/AIDS, and told them not to be ashamed for having the disease; that the shame should be felt by the people who have been intolerant, ignorant, and fear mongering. To not even whisper HIV/AIDS during that time was the norm, but Fisher helped those whispers to be heard so that we no longer ignored the disease, in order that one day the world would not need to whisper its name ever again.
Word Count: 1273 Works Cited Fisher, Mary. “A Whisper of AIDS. ” Speech. 1992 Republican National Convention. Houston. 6 Oct. 2013. Speeches USA. Web. 11 Oct. 2013. . Kelly, Michael. (1992, Aug 20).
A DELICATE BALANCE: Issues — AIDS; AIDS speech brings hush to crowd. New York Times. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/428627751? accountid=7054 Schmalz, Jeffrey. “AIDS Test. ” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Aug. 1992. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. . “Teaching mercy to republicans. ”
(1992, Aug 22). New York Times. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/428631171?accountid=7054 Mary Fisher, “A Whisper of AIDS” Less than three months ago, at the platform hearings in Salt Lake City, I asked the Republican party to lift the shroud of silence which has been draped over the issue of HIV/AIDS. I have come tonight to bring our silence to an end. I bear a message of challenge, not self-congratulation. I want your attention, not your applause. I would never have asked to be HIV positive. But I believe that in all things there is a good purpose, and so I stand before you,and before the nation, gladly. The reality of AIDS is brutally clear.
Two hundred thousand Americans are dead or dying; a million more are infected. Worldwide, forty million, sixty million, or a hundred million infections will be counted in the coming few years. But despite science and research, White House meetings and congressional hearings; despite good intentions and bold initiatives, campaign slogans and hopeful promises–despite it all, it’s the epidemic which is winning tonight. In the context of an election year, I ask you–here, in this great hall, or listening in the quiet of your home–to recognize that the AIDS virus is not a political creature.
It does not care whether you are Democrat or Republican. It does not ask whether you are black or white, male or female, gay or straight, young or old. Tonight, I represent an AIDS community whose members have been reluctantly drafted from every segment of American society. Though I am white, and a mother, I am one with a black infant struggling with tubes in a Philadelphia hospital. Though I am female, and contracted this disease in marriage, and enjoy the warm support of my family, I am one with the lonely gay man sheltering a flickering candle from the cold wind of his family’s rejection.[Applause] This is not a distant threat; it is a present danger. The rate of infection is increasing fastest among women and children. Largely unknown a decade ago, AIDS is the third leading killer of young-adult Americans today–but it won’t be third for long. Because, unlike other diseases, this one travels. Adolescents don’t give each other cancer or heart disease because they believe they are in love. But HIV is different. And we have helped it along–we have killed each other–with our ignorance, our prejudice, and our silence. We may take refuge in our stereotypes, but we cannot hide there long.
Because HIV asks only one thing of those it attacks: Are you human? And this is the right question: Are you human? Because people with HIV have not entered some alien state of being. They are human. They have not earned cruelty and they do not deserve meanness. They don’t benefit from being isolated or treated as outcasts. Each of them is exactly what God made: a person. Not evil, deserving of our judgment; not victims, longing for our pity. People. Ready for support and worthy of compassion. My call to you, my Party, is to take a public stand no less compassionate than that of the President and Mrs.
Bush. They have embraced me and my family in memorable ways. In the place of judgment, they have shown affection. In difficult moments, they have raised our spirits. In the darkest hours, I have seen them reaching not only to me, but also to my parents, armed with that stunning grief and special grace that comes only to parents who have themselves leaned too long over the bedside of a dying child. With the President’s leadership, much good has been done; much of the good has gone unheralded; and as the President has insisted, “Much remains to be done.
” But we do the President’s cause no good if we praise the American family but ignore a virus that destroys it. We must be consistent if we are to be believed. We cannot love justice and ignore prejudice, love our children and fear to teach them. Whatever our role, as parent or policy maker, we must act as eloquently as we speak–else we have no integrity. My call to the nation is a plea for awareness. If you believe you are safe, you are in danger. Because I was not a hemophiliac, I was not at risk. Because I was not gay, I was not at risk. Because I did not inject drugs, I was not at risk.
My father has devoted much of his lifetime to guarding against another holocaust. He is part of the generation who heard Pastor Niemoeller come out of the Nazi death camps to say, “They came after the Jews, and I was not a Jew, so I did not protest. They came after the Trade Unionists, and I was not a Trade Unionist, so I did not protest. They came after the Roman Catholics, and I was not a Roman Catholic, so I did not protest. Then they came after me, and there was no one left to protest. ” The lesson history teaches is this: If you believe you are safe, you are at risk.
If you do not see this killer stalking your children, look again. There is no family or community, no race or religion, no place left in America that is safe. Until we genuinely embrace this message, we are a nation at risk. Tonight, HIV marches resolutely toward AIDS in more than a million American homes, littering its pathway with the bodies of the young. Young men. Young women. Young parents, and young children. One of the families is mine. If it is true that HIV inevitably turns to AIDS, then my children will inevitably turn to orphans.
My family has been a rock of support. My eighty-four-year-old father, who has pursued the healing of the nations, will not accept the premise that he cannot heal his daughter. My mother has refused to be broken; she still calls at midnight to tell wonderful jokes that make me laugh. Sisters and friends, and my brother Phillip, whose birthday is today–all have helped carry me over the hardest places. I am blessed, richly and deeply blessed, to have such a family. But not all of you [Applause], but not all of you have been so blessed. You are HIV-positive but dare not say it.
You have lost loved ones, but you dared not whisper the word AlDS. You weep silently; you grieve alone. I have a message for you: It is not you who should feel shame, it is we. We who tolerate ignorance and practice prejudice, we who have taught you to fear. We must lift our shroud of silence, making it safe for you to reach out for compassion. It is our task to seek safety for our children, not in quiet denial but in effective action. Someday our children will be grown. My son Max, now four, will take the measure of his mother; my son Zachary, now two, will sort through his memories.
I may not be here to hear their judgments, but I know already what I hope they are. I want my children to know that their mother was not a victim. She was a messenger. I do not want them to think, as I once did, that courage is the absence of fear; I want them to know that courage is the strength to act wisely when most we are afraid. I want them to have the courage to step forward when called by their nation, or their Party, and give leadership–no matter what the personal cost. I ask no more of you than I ask of myself, or of my children.
To the millions of you who are grieving, who are frightened, who have suffered the ravages of AIDS firsthand: Have courage and you will find support. To the millions who are strong I issue the plea: Set aside prejudice and politics to make room for compassion and sound policy. To my children, I make this pledge: I will not give in, Zachary, because I draw my courage from you. Your silly giggle gives me hope. Your gentle prayers give me strength. And you, my child, give me the reason to say to America, “You are at risk. ” And I will not rest, Max, until I have done all I can to make your world safe.
I will seek a place where intimacy is not the prelude to suffering. I will not hurry to leave you, my children. But when I go, I pray that you will not suffer shame on my account. To all within the sound of my voice, I appeal: Learn with me the lessons of history and of grace, so my children will not be afraid to say the word AIDS when I am gone.
Then their children, and yours, may not need to whisper it at all.God bless the children, and bless us all–good night. http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=0vTKDFcRDLY Part 1 http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=9Zu0rqwuv_E Part 2.