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Tags: ronald reagan | racism

A Point by Point Rebuttal on Reagan and Racism

A Point by Point Rebuttal on Reagan and Racism
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan prepares a speech at his desk in the Oval Office for a Joint Session of Congress on April 28, 1981. (Michael Evans/The White House/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 14 August 2019 12:52 PM

It has been said that defending the Reagan legacy from lies, smears, and slander could be a full-time job and with the release of a recent tape and the subsequent “hot takes” emanating from it, business is booming. Smearing Reagan is important to liberals. They know that to destroy American conservatism, they must destroy Reagan. It is that simple.

A recent Washington Post article — yet again — insistently argues that former President Ronald Reagan always was, and will forever be, an unrepentant racist. Furthermore, his obvious racism is the beacon in the dark that leads President Donald Trump forward. This one lays down its case with all the certainty of a prosecutor who has the accused “dead to rights,” but that’s not enough. He also makes the case with an indigestible amount of smugness that’s hard not to choke on.

So, once again, let's break this down:

First, the liberal author of the Post piece, Kyle Longley (recently terminated as Director from the LBJ library for unspecified reasons) argues that the recent tape unearthed of a private phone call between Reagan and Nixon proves that Reagan was a racist. While the language was awful and indefensible, Reagan’s many, many, actions and statements underscoring his commitment to opposing racism directly contradicts it.

Longley quickly segues into arguing that Reagan uses “racially coded language” to implicitly demonize minorities. This unoriginal argument is primarily based on assertions by yet another liberal author, Berkeley professor Ian Haney Lopez, as according to Lopez, when Reagan said "cut taxes," he was actually saying: "cut taxes so that in turn your taxes won't be wasted on minorities." If saying want to cut taxes is racist… then almost every presidential candidate in history is a racist.

Longley also invokes Reagan’s use of “Welfare Queens” to corroborate his accusation. In 1974, an individual named Linda Taylor, dubbed the Welfare Queen by multiple mainstream outlets, was discovered abusing the welfare system. Her subsequent, rightful arrest shed a light on just how badly a well-intentioned program could be easily manipulated. Apparently opposing waste, fraud, and abuse is also proof of racism. She ripped the system off for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Strangely, both The Washington Post and The New York Times at the time did lengthy exposes of Linda Taylor. They then must be racists too.

Another instance Longley attempts to attribute as Reagan being a racist is evident in his mentioning of Reagan’s referral to cities as “Jungles.” This is such an irresponsible perversion of the facts that it should be ensconced under “libel and lie” in Webster’s. While running for Governor of California, in 1966, Reagan said: “California also leads in some things that, unfortunately, give us no sense of pride. The only thing that’s gone up more than spending is crime. Our city streets are jungle paths after dark, with more crimes of violence than New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts combined.”

Hardly the racial “slam” the author implies. Dishonest. Disingenuous. Despicable.

Furthermore, Reagan went on to say: “Now, these aren’t delinquents; these are our children, inquisitive as puppies and filled with the spirit of adventure. They’re no match for that character leaning against the lamppost down the block from the school. They need more help than just our love and lectures. And they can have such help if we’ll untie the hands of our local law enforcement officers.”

“Inquisitive as puppies filled with the spirit of adventure.” It sounds an awful lot like Reagan was empathizing with poor, innocent children with good hearts that were being led astray. Not exactly the portrait painted by the error-prone Longley.

Longley invokes Reagan’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which Reagan later recanted) but failed to also mention that Reagan signed a 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act, Full stop.

Reagan also, per The New York Times: “favored a revision to make the law apply equally to all 50 states. The 1965 Act gave the Justice Department broad powers to combat discriminatory tactics in nine Southern states and parts of 13 other states, including New York City, with either histories of discrimination or large populations of minority groups.”

It sounds an awful lot like Reagan was interested in expanding the Voting Rights Act, not diminishing it. Many liberals insisted racism and segregation were things that happened in the south, not the north. Only today are they finally coming to terms with the fact that some of the worst income inequality and segregation is practiced, not in Alabama, but in New York. And it was in Boston that race riots broke out over forced busing in the 1970’s, but in the south, the ruling went down peacefully. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called Chicago the most racist city in America. The liberal tony parts of the Upper West side of New York and the Georgetown section of Washington are known best for their high walls, guard dog and electronic security systems, where few minorities are seen.

Reagan did oppose parts of the Civil Rights Act on the grounds that it, in its defense of certain civil rights, violated others. Call it racist, but it was a feeling later shared by prominent black, gay, socialist, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin on the issue of Affirmative Action. On Rustin’s death, Reagan issued a statement praising him and noting that Rustin: "Was denounced by former friends, because he never gave up his conviction that minorities in America could and would succeed based on their individual merit.” Still, Reagan later renounced his opposition to the Civil Rights Act.

Longley moves next to the argument that Reagan seemingly “condemned” Communist Party advocate and Black Panther activist Angela Davis.

This argument, to quote Monty Python, is “Right Out.”

Davis became an outspoken Communist, actively advocating for the Soviet Union to defeat the West. Communist governments heaped praise and accolades on her as she toured the world, denouncing the mass incarceration in the states, while actively ignoring the horrific atrocities occurring behind the Iron Curtain.

When asked why she refused to support Czech political prisoners being held by their communist government, she replied: "They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison." Apparently it’s only mass incarceration when America does it. Denounce the communist sympathizer Davis? You bet.

The rest of the article employs the same arguments we’ve heard time and time again. Not mentioned of course is Reagan’s opposition to the Briggs Amendment, which would have legalized discrimination against gays in California, or his appointment of more African Americans to positions of authority as governor of California, more than all the previous Golden State governors combined. Or, that as president, he signed the holiday commemorating the life of Dr. King or even that he refused membership in an exclusive Los Angeles country club because it prohibited blacks and Jews from joining.

That believing power shouldn’t be concentrated in one corrupt city on the Potomac is racially coded hate speech. That arguing for the sovereignty of the state is a dog whistle aimed at ginning up racial hate. The greatest list of languid and lazy liberal arguments is all there.

The Washington Post continues to fall down the slippery slope of biased journalism, and their refusal to curb such hateful rhetoric, and instead champion the written character slaughter of a deceased and beloved president only heightens the astonishing lack of morals and ethics within the news company. No one at the Post reviewed the disgraced Longley’s piece to see how many prevarications and carnards he could drag up? Shame, shame, shame on the Post.

Who is in charge at the Post these days? Don’t they even do simple fact checking? Or when it comes to a conservative, do they not let the facts stand in the way of the good smear? Of course, Longley never reported that Reagan said, “I abhor racism. These skinheads and white supremacist groups have no place in this country. They are not what we are about, and I wish they would just vaporize.” To report the facts of Reagan would destroy an ugly lie and Longley and the Post would rather recite ugly lies about Reagan. One pities the readers of the Post and the students in Longley’s classes.

What is most galling about fallacious articles such as this is the absolute certainty in which they are written. That the Post would actually print such lies and unsupported charges is a reflection of how far the Post has fallen. French philosopher Albert Camus once said "A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world." Beasts indeed.

There are hard conversations to be had about the rhetoric of past leaders, left and right. Conversations we need to have in order to evolve our political discourse, but those aren’t simple and they don’t get “clicks.” I only wished The Post cared about more than “clicks,” no better than sleazy porn sites, but less honest.

Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include, “Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,” “Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and “ Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December, 1941” and his new 2019 book, “Mary Ball Washington,” a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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It has been said that defending the Reagan legacy from lies, smears, and slander could be a full-time job and with the release of a recent tape and the subsequent “hot takes” emanating from it, business is booming.
ronald reagan, racism
Wednesday, 14 August 2019 12:52 PM
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