To the zombified conservative champions of Ronald Reagan, nothing other than Him is apparently sacred. There are no truths insufficiently Reagan that deserve to survive his worship.
To witless: some of the gilded “truths” of Reagan’s presidency. While the almost-a-century opposition of American leaders to Soviet Communism, at a cost of thousands of lives and probably trillions of dollars, is a trifle you might remember it was actually a bunch of tough talk from the actor/President that wiped the Evil Empire out. Pay no mind to the freedom-hungry Soviets who chose Gorbachev to remake their world because Reagan’s lips were what did the trick. And, lest we forget, it was he, Ronald Magnus, that proved you could slash the government to balance budgets and spark Great American Prosperity. Just forget the nuclear record-setting explosion of the debt that forced both Bush 41 and Clinton to raise taxes in order to avoid fiscal catastrophe. Oh, and forget the recession he left Poppy with as well.
It seems that reality is only loosely associated with The Greatest President Ever.
Exactly. Now comes the latest bit of historic psychedelia attributed to Him. Did you know Ronald Reagan was totally awesome to black people?
Who was the first black president?
Two decades before the election of Barack Obama, novelist Toni Morrison dubbed Bill Clinton “our first black President.” She even said that Clinton was “blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.”
Well, I could make an even stronger case for my father, Ronald Reagan, as “our first black president” — but I won’t make that claim.
Ronnie’s adopted son will stop popping tabs of Silky Burkean Pulsar to write this:
But the past two years have made one thing clear: Ronald Reagan was a far better friend to black Americans than Barack Obama has been. Just compare the Reagan and Obama records. Under Obama, black unemployment rose from 12.6 percent in January 2009 to 16.0 percent today. This means that black unemployment has increased by more than one-fourth since Obama took office.
And the Reagan record? African-American columnist Joseph Perkins has studied the effects of Reaganomics on black America. He found that, after the Reagan tax cuts gained traction, African-American unemployment fell from 19.5 percent in 1983 to 11.4 percent in 1989.
WHOA groovy. Let’s ignore the bizarre notion that presidential policies benefiting a certain population magically turn a president into a member of that group. Otherwise, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ would be bad news for the First Lady.
Let’s just say any notion that Ronald Reagan was a friend to black people — almost any African American person — is ridiculous. Media Matters knocks down that first bit of fantasy:
So what happens if we compare apples to apples by looking at the first two years of data for both presidents? When Ronald Reagan took office in January 1981, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among African Americans was 14.6 percent. In December 1982, it was 20.9 — 43 percent higher. When Barack Obama took office in January 2009, seasonally adjusted unemployment was at 12.7 percent. In December 2010, it was 15.8 — 24 percent higher.
So, if you compare equivalent portions of their presidencies — which is really the only honest way to go about things — Michael Reagan’s lead piece of evidence for his provocative claim that his father was a “far better friend to black Americans” than Obama completely disintegrates.
Any claim like Michael’s would at least disintegrate, if not spontaneously ignite like a burning cross. Wigga, please:
The murders [“Mississippi Burning” –ed.] were among the most notorious in American history. They constituted Neshoba County’s primary claim to fame when Reagan won the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1980. The case was still a festering sore at that time. Some of the conspirators were still being protected by the local community. And white supremacy was still the order of the day.
That was the atmosphere and that was the place that Reagan chose as the first stop in his general election campaign. The campaign debuted at the Neshoba County Fair in front of a white and, at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000, chanting: “We want Reagan! We want Reagan!”
Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”
Either that, or he knew nothing about race relations, Mississippi, civil rights struggles or the United States of America in general. Obviously, that must have been the problem:
He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation.
Yeah, the poor guy just didn’t know any better.
—President Reagan goes to war with the inner city and virtually all social programs.
His indifference to urban problems was legendary. Reagan owed little to urban voters, big-city mayors, black or Hispanic leaders, or labor unions – the major advocates for metropolitan concerns. Early in his presidency, at a White House reception, Reagan greeted the only black member of his Cabinet, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Samuel Pierce, saying: “How are you, Mr. Mayor? I’m glad to meet you. How are things in your city?”
…By the end of Reagan’s term in office federal assistance to local governments was cut 60 percent. Reagan eliminated general revenue sharing to cities, slashed funding for public service jobs and job training, almost dismantled federally funded legal services for the poor, cut the anti-poverty Community Development Block Grant program and reduced funds for public transit. The only “urban” program that survived the cuts was federal aid for highways – which primarily benefited suburbs, not cities.
…Another of Reagan’s enduring legacies is the steep increase in the number of homeless people, which by the late 1980s had swollen to 600,000 on any given night – and 1.2 million over the course of a year. Many were Vietnam veterans, children and laid-off workers.
That’s the Ronald Reagan I remember well.
—Reagan, racial scapegoater, practically invented “Welfare Queen.”
The term “welfare queen” is most often associated with Ronald Reagan who brought the idea to a national audience. During his 1976 presidential campaign, Reagan would tell the story of a woman from Chicago’s South Side who was arrested for welfare fraud:
“She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.”
Most people don’t believe this woman ever existed. No one ever actually saw her. But somehow everybody remembers the color of her skin.
—Reagan refused to oppose South African Apartheid in any form.
On Capitol Hill, [Nobel Peace Prize Winner Bishop Desmond] Tutu became a public relations disaster for Reagan. Tutu started off the hearing by saying apartheid itself “is evil, is immoral, is un-Christian …” I was there, and all breathing stopped.
Tutu continued: “In my view, the Reagan administration’s support and collaboration with it is equally immoral, evil, and totally un-Christian…. You are either for or against apartheid and not by rhetoric. You are either in favour of evil or you are in favour of good. You are either on the side of the oppressed or on the side of the oppressor. You can’t be neutral.”
…Reagan was not moved. Over the remainder of his presidency, at least 3000 people would die, mostly at the hands of the South African police and military. Another 20,000, including 6000 children, according to one estimate by a human rights group, would be arrested under “state of emergency” decrees.
I would think this sad legacy forever makes any detente between American blacks and St. Ronald impossible. Conservatives are stupid to hope otherwise.
Nobody with as dismal a race record as Ronald Reagan is a friend to anybody’s people but his own. And I find it appalling that, even when it’s his son, anyone would use the celebration of Martin Luther King jr. to make the ‘case’.
As seen above Ronald Reagan was opposed to the creation of the national holiday to celebrate him. But that was hardly Ronnie’s only mistake in revealing his true feelings for the civil rights leader.
King, of course, was not a Communist and had broken no federal laws, but by challenging the status quo, King and the Civil Rights Movement discomfited the Washington establishment. Charges of Communism were a popular way to discredit people who dared speak truth to power during the 50s and 60s, and King’s opponents made liberal use of that tactic.
When Helms tried to revive that tactic, Reagan defended him. A reporter asked Reagan about the charge of Communist against King, and Reagan said that Americans would find out in around 35 years, referring to the length of time before any material the FBI gathers on a subject could be released. Reagan later apologized, and a federal judge blocked the release of King’s FBI files.
There you go. So, I went the long way ’round to prove something you already knew of the great Reagan, race-wise: he stank.
Of course, I could have just shown you this, the racial breakdown of the 1984 election:
. . but you know some zombie would have said black people don’t know who their real friends are, or something.