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Ronald Reagan 1911-2004

by : Steve Gilliard
Sunday June 6, 2004 - 23:49
5 comments

The hagiography started as soon as they announced Reagan’s death. How he ended the cold war, how he was a decisive leader, all this nonsense about Reagan which is just ridiculous.

The British have a tradition: when someone dies, their newspaper obituary tells the truth. Americans like to say something kind about the dead, no matter how scummy they were. Even Nixon got a halo in death, where only Hunter Thompson reminded people of who exactly he was and how the honors given him were, well, wrong.

This deification of Reagan began as soon as Clinton took office. There has been pressure to name everything but rest stop toilets after the man. Some right wing cranks wanted to add him to Mount Rushmore, as if FDR didn’t exist. They forced his name on an unhappy Washington DC, by renaming the airport, still called by many, National.

So let’s get past all the maudlin bullshit and discuss what Reagan really did.

First, Reagan rode to power on a wave of reaction to the Civil Rights struggle. California, a state with a deep well of racial resentment, supported Reagan, who would protect the establishment and call for students to be murdered on their campuses. Reagan was regarded as a crank by many on the left, but his appeal to middle America was strong. It wasn’t that Reagan was a racist, as fas as is known, he wasn’t. But he sure could pander to them, as he did in 1984 at Philadelphia, MS. For those of you unaware, that is the place three civil rights workers were murdered by the Klan. It would be like a British Prime Ministerial candidate going to Amritsar to talk about the glory of the British Army (the site of a 1921 massacre of peaceful Indian protesters). Reagan pandered to the racist right with ease, even as Barry Goldwater, the man he supported in 1964 with a convention speech, slowly backed away from many of his reactionary views. Instead, Reagan depicted blacks as "welfare queens" leeching off the society, when in reality, white women are the largest recipients of AFDC. Reagan used race like a club to hammer minorities and pander to the racist right.

We need to ask what hath Reagan wrought. His economic policies crippled this country, preventing the kind of long term structural changes which are still needed. How long will American businesses have to foot the bill for health insurance? How long will unequal funding for schools exist? How long will the right of women to control their bodies be subject to restrictions? This is the real, domestic legacy of Ronald Reagan. His breaking of the PATCO strike began the road to anti-Union policies across business. Once, businesses wanted labor peace, after Reagan, strike breaking was permitted, hell encouraged.

Reagan began the road of crippling America’s ability to care for Americans. Now we have this failed trickle down economic policy pushed by yet another President. One that leaves Americans in record debt and record bankruptcies. Instead of tax rates which fairly distribute the burden of funding America, the rich have been encouraged to avoid their fair share. Ronald Reagan began the bankrupting of America and the creation of a super wealthy CEO class, one where their great grandchildren will never have to work, an aristocracy of trustifarians. Under Reagan hypocracy and selfishness became the rule of the road. Not just in public life, where his staff routinely lied, eventually leading to Iran-Contra.

But if Reagan started to ruin America, his foreign policy left the dead around like fallen leaves. His foreign policy was a disater by any standard. Dead nuns in El Salvador, murdered school teachers in Nicaragua, the tortured in Argentina, the seizure of Grenade, the failed intervention in Lebanon, the aerial assasination attempt on Khaddafi, which led to the bombing of Pam Am flight 103. Reagan’s policies left a trail of failure and disaster at every turn.

How to explain funding the deeply corrupt Contras? Former Somocista generals who funded their war by the drug trade? Who murdered the innoncent. Or the war in Guatemala and the genocide of the indian population. Or the war in El Salvador, where American nuns, among many others, were raped and murdered. A government so callous that it murdered an archbishop in his church.

Reagan’s foreign policy left a trail of death and fear wherever it touched.

But Iran-Contra was the defining moment. Despite a congressional prohibition on aid to the Contras, a group inside the White House decided to circumvent the law, so ineptly, and so completely, we wound up arming Iran and getting few hostages held in Lebanon released. We also sold chemical and biological weapons to Iraq. While Saddam murdered thousands, the US government was his ally. Even after 34 sailors were murdered by an Iraqi exocet missle, we still backed Saddam. No governmental outrage, no demands on Saddam. Like the Liberty incident, we turned our backs and hoped for the best.

Reagan and his conservative hagiographers, have wanted to claim his massive defense build up broke the Soviets, which rips the bravery and courage of the Czechs and East Germans who finally overthrew their dictatorial governments.

Reagan also embraced Angolan UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, the puppet of the racist South African regime. He repeatedly refused to back away from him, despite South Africa’s notorious, and it later turned out, mad, racial policies. Not until 1988, when the Cuban army decisively defeat the SADF at Cuito Carnevale in Angola, did the war end. The US turned its back as the South African-sponsored Renamo massacred their way across Mozambique. No one knows how many Africans died in the wars of South Africa, but US complicity with the racist regime of South Africa helped extend their lifespan. At no point did Reagan do anything to stop this.

Silent complicity was the hallmark of Reagan’s policy towards dictatorships. From Indonesia to El Salvador, the innocent died and the US said nothing, did nothing, except make their lives worse.

We backed the guerrilla groups in Afghanistan, funding the most radical ones and then leaving the country in disarray.

Reagan’s legacy is a dark one, one of backing murderers and robbing America of a fairer future. It wasn’t that he was an evil man, or a bad one. It is what he believed and what he supported caused so much pain and misery for so many people, who had to live with the results of his policies.

http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/2...



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> Ronald Reagan 1911-2004
Thursday June 10 - 20:34 - Posted by 3f53659e48d50d32...

Thanks much. Greatly appreciate the unflinching perspective — the candor. All the above is exactly how I remember it. One other detail.... (I’m sure there’s enough for a book)... his stonewalling of AIDS control efforts - not bothering to mention the word until 1987. Glad the bastard is dead... the best acts in his life were (in reverse order): getting Alzheimer’s then dying a piteous death while his ideological successor fought stem cell resaerch. Both unintentional acts, by the way.




> Ronald Reagan 1911-2004
Monday June 14 - 19:44 - Posted by 02eb7470e5c5ade3...

Given the caution that is put forth above concerning abusive language - please remove the previous message. I am a teacher of history and would rather not have my students possibly reading such foul language and abusive remarks, especially ones that are not supported by facts.



> Ronald Reagan 1911-2004
Friday July 9 - 19:10 - Posted by 5d2dbe693f455a5d...

Once again someone takes a shot at somebody who can’t defend themselves.If you don’t like freedom(I don’t suppose you were forced to write this)give your space(large I’m sure) to someone who can appreciate and write your dribble for Cuba or whoever else you admire, you cheese eating surrender monkey!




> Ronald Reagan 1911-2004
Sunday November 28 - 18:10 - Posted by b44683de41552b27...

Reagan couldn’t defend himself when he was alive, because he lied constantly. Looking at how he convienently "forgets" many aspects of his presidential duties when it came to the Iran-Contra issue; we can see it mirrored the image he set of "forgetting" aspects of his contractual obligations as part of the Screen Actors Guild in the 60’s, effectivly screwing actors when studios "owned" them. Reagan was a brilliant man, a brilliant anglo-saxon white man who’s vision for a perfect world without blacks, homosexuals, or anyone that his religious-right saught to demonize, has now lead us here...Reagan was a greed mongering corporate tool. Those who enjoy the politics of men like Reagan are either close minded in their ability to just "accept" whatever tryte the government panders to the public; or the upper 10% of wealthiest people. Which one are you?
Btw, I bet you have never read any publication on the movements for and by the people of Cuba, or maybe you have and I am wrong.



Ronald Reagan 1911-2004
Friday May 4 - 14:24 - Posted by 3a9419734288d067...





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