Jon Rappoport: Renaissance Man

(Reprint, Awareness Magazine, July/August 1995 Issue)
Story by: Mark Gabrish Conlan

Los Angeles-based Jon Rappoport lists such a wide variety of credentials on his resume - poet, painter, investigative journalist, talk-show host and political candidate - he practically qualifies as a modern Renaissance man. Besides his diversity of interests and talents, he has another quality associated with the proverbial "Renaissance people": an inquisitive mind, an unwillingness to accept the establishment's standard "truth" and a commitment to researching and finding answers for himself.

In 1987, Rappoport began applying this inquisitiveness to the AIDS issue. In his book, AIDS, Inc., Scandal of the Century, published in 1988, he recalled that his interest in the issue began when he met people who had been diagnosed with AIDS who didn't fit the pattern the AIDS establishment was telling us to expect: initial exposure to the so-called Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), a period of progressive deterioration and finally the appearance of one or more of the 30 or so AIDS-defining opportunistic infections.

* In his book - reprinted in 1993 in identical form to the 1988 edition, which indicates that Rappoport had done his homework so well his book didn't need to be updated - he examined all the other theories of what could be causing AIDS. These included not only Peter Duesberg's "risk-AIDS" model, which says recreational drugs and AIDS "treatments" like AZT are the main risks, but also theories involving antibiotics as a risk factor and theories suggesting other microbes, like cytomegalovirus and the syphilis bacterium, might also play a role.

But as the title of his book suggests, Rappoport didn't confine himself to the question of what causes AIDS. He also examined the extent to which AIDS had become "big business," and how the structure of the conventional medical establishment actually got in the way of treating not only AIDS, but cancer and other serious diseases as well. In 1993, he made a surprise appearance on the PBS talk-show Tony Brown's Journal, introducing four people who had cured themselves of chronic conditions like cancer, asthma , heart disease and hyperglycemia through diet change, vitamins and other holistic remedies.

Since then, Rappoport has sponsored an ongoing "Video Healing Project" to document such cases. He also has gone on the airwaves himself, hosting a radio talk show on KPFK Los Angeles called Health News. The purpose of Health News is to expose the toxicities of many conventional pharmaceutical "treatments" for disease, offer information about less toxic potential alternatives and examine the connection between environmental degradation and personal health.

Rappoport thinks the challenge to the HIV/AIDS model has "gained a lot of steam" since he first published AIDS, Inc. in 1988. "A lot more people are aware that HIV is a hoax and AZT is killing people." Among the hopeful signs are the hints of national media exposure - notably the Day One episode in March 1993 and the Nightline show a year later, both on ABC - the letter recently written by first-term Minnesota Congressmember Gil Gutknecht challenging the HIV/AIDS model and the regular attendance of over 100 people at meetings of the Los Angeles branch of HEAL (Health, Education, AIDS Liaison). Originally founded by New York hypnotherapist Michael Ellner, HEAL does AIDS education from a non-HIV perspective. Rappoport is on the board of the LA chapter.

"I think more people are seeing through the epidemic," Rappoport said, "More people are realizing this is not behaving like a contagious disease. This goes along in general with a larger questioning of the federal government and orthodox medicine. It's becoming part of a much larger picture."

As part of this "larger picture," some sources are linking opposition in the HIV/AIDS model to political conservatism. A December 9, 1994 article in Science magazine quoted University of California at San Diego (UCSD) sociologist of science Steven Epstein as saying that non-HIV theories of AIDS in general, and Duesberg's drug- AIDS model in particular, have a "particular conservatives - certainly including those with little sympathy for the gay movement."

"This is part of the political divisiveness that's existed since the beginning of time," Rappoport replied. Rappoport says he's "never been a leftist," and he regards "left" and "right" as artificial categories that only get in the way of solving political problems, but he's published in left-of-center papers like the Village Voice and In These Times, Rappoport simply thinks political considerations are irrelevant to this question.

"The issue is, does HIV cause AIDS or not, not whose political agenda is being served one way or the other<" Rappoport said, "Some people will use anything to further their political cause." He thinks gay men who are afraid of the non-HIV models of AIDS for fear they will be used to "blame the victims" for causing their own disease are themselves misplacing their trust out of ignorance and blind faith in the government's medical research establishment.

"Most people haven't heard a coherent presentation of the non-HIV view of AIDS, and are looking to the government to save their sociological butts," Rappoport said. "People who insist that HIV is the cause of AIDS are groping in the dark and trusting in medical research. The people who brought them AZT, which is killing everyone who takes it, are posing as the people who will save gay men from the radical right. The reality is the government is going to continue to kill gay men with AZT."

Rappoport took on the "liberal" political establishment directly last year, when he ran in the Democratic Congressional primary against Henry Waxman, principal advocate for main-line medical research in Congress. Though he got only 20 percent of the vote, Rappoport said his campaign gave voters "a completely different take" on what a politician could do, and showed people there are possibilities for solutions that weren't coming out of Washington, D.C."

While Rappoport was glad to see that the Republicans takeover of Congress deprived Waxman of his seat at the head of the House's leading health issues committee, he is not particularly optimistic about the Republican leaders either. "They've made pleasant noises about health freedom, and they may try to weaken the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support the pharmaceutical industry's right to market anything they want to, but that doesn't mean they care about people," Rappoport said.

"The giveaway is that the Republicans are not going to cut significantly from the real welfare recipients: defense, oil, agribusiness, subsidies to transnational corporations and medical research," Rappoport said. "None of that will take a serious hit . . . I think we need an injection of different kinds of politics in this country to live up to our real human potential."

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

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