Monday, August 26, 2013

Update

I added a section on the anecdote regarding Reagan and his willingness to show kindness to black teammates at Eureka College.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ronald Reagan: Racism, and Racial Politics: A Comprehensive Examination

Topics:
1. Ronald Reagan’s Racial Politics
2. Reagan’s Racially-tinged Narratives
3. Reagan’s Infamous Neshoba County Fair Speech and The Republicans’ Southern
Strategy
4. Reagan’s Infamous Neshoba County Fair Speech
5. Was Reagan Personally a Racist?
6. Reagan’s Racist Advisers and Political Allies
7. Reagan and Racial Dog Whistles
8. Reagan’s Racism: A List
9. Reagan’s Legacy Regarding Race
10. Why Mark Shields and Michael Reagan are Wrong about Ronald Reagan and Race
Ronald Reagan’s Racial Politics
When former president Ronald Reagan died in 2004, there were large crowds flocking to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Some commentators noted that even though the library was in the Los Angeles area, there were relatively few African-American faces in the throngs of mourners. One of the reasons is that blacks were a reliable scapegoat for Reagan, especially when he decided to run for president and extend the Republicans’ “Southern strategy” of currying favor with anti-civil rights whites in the South.

Reagan’s Racially-tinged Narratives
Reagan’s bogus tales of food stamps chiselers and welfare queens tended to employ racial imagery and often outright racist references to blacks (e.g., in telling a tale about food stamp fraud to a Southern audience, Reagan referred to a “young buck” (“buck” is a derogatory term used in the South to denote an African-American man) using his food stamps to buy T-bone steaks and to northern audiences he spoke of the apocryphal story of the “Cadillac-driving” Chicago welfare queen (Reagan's anecdotes were a wild distortion of the welfare fraud case involving a Chicago woman named Linda Taylor. These bogus stories were a double whammy: 1. They worked to break off a significant chunk of the white working class (the “Reagan Democrats”) by appealing to their worst instincts and fears; and 2. They served as a justification for Reagan’s economically regressive policies (also see the addendum)

What made these narratives particularly toxic is that this race-baiting was justified by the argument that Reagan and his allies were trying to better the situation of racial minorities. Reagan repeated these fabrications years after they were debunked. Having been a Hollywood star, Reagan knew that stories are more powerful persuaders than facts.

Reagan’s Infamous Neshoba County Fair Speech and The Republicans’ Southern Strategy
It was long after Reagan left office that I heard about Reagan’s infamous speech at the Neshoba County Fair, right outside Philadelphia, Mississippi where three civil rights workers—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner--had been slain in 1964. Reagan used this historic area to send a coded message to Southern racist. Ragan told the crowd that he was in favor of “state rights” and that as president he would "restore to states and local governments the power that belongs to them." Reagan shared the stage with John Bell Williams, a notorious segregationist and then-Representative Trent Lott who applauded Strom Thurmond's 1948 Dixiecrat campaign. Reagan only came to the Neshoba County Fair after Mississippi's Republican national committeeman wrote his campaign to advise that it would be a good place to reach out to "George Wallace-inclined voters.” Reagan’s 1980 campaign manager, Lee Atwater acknowledged in 1981 that the strategy had been designed to appeal to "the racist side of the [George] Wallace voter" without antagonizing other Americans who might be offended by ugly Wallace-style racism. As Atwater explained, "You start out in 1954 by saying, 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can't say 'nigger'—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like 'forced busing,' 'states' rights,' and all these things that you're talking about are totally economic things and a by-product of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it... because obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'Nigger, nigger.'"

Was Reagan Personally a Racist?
People wondered why Reagan, a man who for decades dealt with openly gay men and lesbians in Hollywood, would curry favor with bigoted homophobes like The Reverend Jerry Falwell. Some argued that that Reagan was a “closet tolerant,” meaning that he it was nothing personal against the minority groups he baited; it was just politics. Whether Reagan was personally racist or not, is irrelevant: he promoted a certain atmosphere. Rosalyn Carter discribed this atmosphere perfectly: ""I think he makes us comfortable with our prejudices."

Reagan’s Racist Advisers and Political Allies
1. Roger Ailes. Roger Ailes began his political career as a media advisor to Richard Nixon when he was running for president in 1968. Ailes played racial politics. Tim Dickinson writes,
At the time, Nixon was consciously stoking the anger of white voters aggrieved by the advances of the civil rights movement, and Ailes proved eager to play the race card. To balance an obligatory "Negro" on a panel in Philadelphia, Ailes dreamed of adding a "good, mean Wallacite cab driver. Wouldn’t that be great? Some guy to sit there and say, 'Awright, Mac, what about these niggers?'"
Ailes still practices the politics of resentment.
2. Lee Atwater Lee Atwater, the most influential Republican political operative of the 1980s and Reagan's campaign manager in 1980, called Reagan's subtle approach to white backlash voters the "New Southern Strategy." See the section on the Reagan’s Neshoba County Fair speech for more.
3. Pat Buchanan served as Reagan’s communications director. Buchanan has a long history of racism and anti-Semitism.
4. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC). Helms was one of Reagan’s staunchest allies in the U.S. Senate. Helms had a long history of segregationist and racist politics in North Carolina. When the idea of a Martin Luther King holiday came up, Helms red-baited King.
5. Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC). Dixiecrat-turned-Republican who helped Nixon with the original Southern strategy. Thurmond was a strong proponent of Reagan’s policies.
6. Then-Representative Trent Lott (R-MS). See the section on the Neshoba County Fair and the Legacy section.
7. The Reverend Jerry Falwell. Reagan’s main ally in the sectarian right was the Reverend Jerry Falwell. Falwell was a political activist during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s—except that Falwell explicitly opposed civil rights and used Christianity to justify Jim Crow. In response to the activity of Martin Luther King, Falwell said that Jim Crow policies were God-ordained because blacks were stricken with the biblical “Curse of Ham,” meaning that black were meant to be the servants of whites. When Falwell was becoming a New Right activist in the 1970’s, rather than address his past racism, Falwell recalled his sermons from that period. During Reagan’s presidency, Falwell traveled to the Apartheid regime of the Union of South Africa and openly supported the regime, urging his flock to buy Krugerrands, and calling anti-Apartheid activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu “a phony.”
8.The Washington Times. Reagan called The Moonie-owned Washington Times his favorite newspaper. The Times has a long history of staffing itself with prominent white supremacists and racists including longtime editor Wesley Pruden, John Stacy McCain, longtime editor Fran Coombs (who spoke out against the “niggerification” of America) and other racist contributors.
10. Human Events is a right-wing political journal that Reagan called his "favorite reading for years." Human Events recently had a special offer to subscribers for the historically revisionist book The Politically Correct Guide to the Civil War. The cover of the book has a picture of notorious war criminal and Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest. The book glosses over Forrest's atrocities at the Fort Pillow Massacre and is an apologia for antebellum Southern policies.
11. Ed Meese was one of Reagan’sadvisors and later his Attorney General. Reagan had supported Meese's plan to grant tax-exempt status to South Carolina's Bob Jones University and other schools that, like it, practice racial discrimination.
12. Reagan picked William Bradford Reynolds to be the associate attorney general for civil rights. Reynolds encouraged school districts to dismantle long-established desegregation programs. Reynolds refused to fulfill the mandates of his position—namely to enforce civil rights laws. He ignored court rulings that went against his hard-line anti-civil rights agenda. Then-Republican Senator Arlen Specter accused Reynolds of giving misleading testimony, "disregarding the established law," and "elevating [his] own legal judgments over the judgments of the courts." His tenure was so controversial that even a Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee defeated his 1985 nomination for promotion to associate attorney general.
13. Jeff Sessions. Reagan nominated Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. During the confirmation hearings, it was disclosed that Sessions had engaged in a pattern of behavior that was hostile to civil rights and racial equality. Sessions had referred to the ACLU and the NAACP as “communist-inspired” and un-American because they “forced civil rights down our throats.” Thomas Figues, a black Assistant U.S. Attorney testified that Sessions said he thought that the Ku Klux Klan was “okay until I found out they smoked pot.” Figures also testified that Sessions called him “boy” and testified that "Mr. Sessions admonished me to 'be careful what you say to white folks.'"
14. Robert Bork. Reagan nominated Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. Bork had a history of hostility to civil rights legislation. For instance, in a law journal, Bork described pending legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as “unsurpassed ugliness” because it denied people the right to do what they pleased with their private property, even if it meant discriminating against blacks.
15. Mel Bradford.  In 1980, Reagan tapped Bradford, a pro-Confederate, for the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Bradford was a frequent contributor to Southern Partisan magazine, a pro-Confederacy journal.
16.  Civil Rights Commissioner William Allen.  During his 14-month tenure as chair in 1988 and 1989, Allen, a Reagan appointee, had been rebuked by the commission for an October 1989 speech titled "Blacks? Animals? Homosexuals? What Is a Minority?"
17.  Ernest W. Lefever. In 1981, Reagan  nominated Lefever for a post as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. During confirmation hearings, Lefever's own brothers pointed out his support for Dr. William Shockley's views that blacks are genetically inferior.
18. Dinesh D'Souza. In 1987, D'Souza became a senior policy analyst at the Reagan White House. While D'Souza was a student at Dartmouth, he edited the conservative student student newspaper The Darmouth Review that, among other thing, had an anti-affirmative action editorial in mocking pseudo-black dialect (the title was "Dis Sho Ain't No Jive Bro" was written by fellow student Keeney Jones eventually became a speechwriter for William Bennett). SourceWatch discussed D'Souza's views on race:
Under D'Souza's editorship, the Dartmouth Review became notorious both for its attacks on alleged liberal bias at the university and for its provocative articles on racial topics. It published a parody titled "Dis Sho Ain't No Jive Bro," which mocked the way African-American students supposedly speak. ("Dese boys be sayin' that we be comin' here to Dartmut an' not takin' the classics. You know, Homa, Shakesphere; but I hea' dey all be co'd in da ground, six feet unda, and whatchu be askin' us to learn from dem?") Also during his tenure as editor, according to a September 22, 1995, article in The Washington Post, the Review "published an interview with a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, using a mock photograph of a black man hanging from a campus tree."

The End of Racism
D'Souza's key work is the 700-page The End of Racism, a book that managed to offend even conservative blacks with its declaration that black culture is pathologically inferior to white culture and that "the criminal and irresponsible black underclass represents a revival of barbarism in the midst of Western civilization" (p. 527). D'Souza's history of southern segregation characterized it as merely misguided paternalism, "based on the code of the Christian and the gentleman" and intended to protect blacks: "Segregation was intended to assure that blacks, like the handicapped, would be insulated from the radical racists and - in the paternalist view - permitted to perform to the capacity of their arrested development" (p. 179). The book's declarations were so extreme that two prominent African-American conservatives, Robert Woodson, Sr. and Glenn Loury, renounced their affiliation with the American Enterprise Institute to protest AEI's sponsorship of the book. According to Loury, AEI marketed The End of Racism extensively in business circles, and "Republican staffers on Capitol Hill are said to have eagerly anticipated how the book might move the affirmative action debate in the 'right direction.'"

Like many modern race-baiters, D'Souza hedges his inflammatory language with just enough caveats to justify apologetics. His reference to the "criminal and irresponsible black underclass" is preceded by the phrase "for many whites." After this passage was criticized by Glenn Loury, D'Souza responded that Loury had "completely lost" this "distinction" between his own views and those of "many whites" (The End of Racism, p. xx). In the original passage on page 527, however, D'Souza goes on to declare his essential agreement with the views that he attributes to whites. "If this is true," the passage continues, "the best way to eradicate beliefs in black inferiority is to remove their empirical basis. ... [I]f blacks as a group can show that they are capable of performing competitively in schools and the work force, and exercising both the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship, then racism will be deprived of its foundation in experience."

The End of Racism also suggests that laws like the 1964 Civil Rights Act should be repealed on the grounds that they are often misused as political weapons rather than for the the actual protection of civil rights. D'Souza's website declares that "the American obsession with race is fueled by a civil rights establishment that has a vested interest in perpetuating black dependency." [2]

Quotes from The End of Racism:
[The Civil Rights Movement] sought to undermine white racism through a protest strategy that emphasized the recognition of basic rights for blacks, without considering that racism might be fortified if blacks were unable to exercise their rights effectively and responsibly.
Most African American scholars simply refuse to acknowledge the pathology of violence in the black underclass, apparently convinced that black criminals as well as their targets are both victims: the real culprit is societal racism. Activists recommend federal jobs programs and recruitment into the private sector. Yet it seems unrealistic, bordering on the surreal, to imagine underclass blacks with their gold chains, limping walk, obscene language, and arsenal of weapons doing nine-to-five jobs at Procter and Gamble or the State Department.
Increasingly it appears that it is liberal antiracism that is based on ignorance and fear: ignorance of the true nature of racism, and fear that the racist point of view better explains the world than its liberal counterpart.
The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well.
The popular conception seems to be that American slavery as an institution involved white slaveowners and black slaves. Consequently, it is easy to view slavery as a racist institution. But this image is complicated when we discover that most whites did not own slaves, even in the South; that not all blacks were slaves; that several thousand free blacks and American Indians owned black slaves. An examination of these frequently obscured aspects of American slavery calls into question the facile equation of racism and slavery.
If America as a nation owes blacks as a group reparations for slavery, what do blacks as a group owe America for the abolition of slavery?
How did Martin Luther King succeed, almost single-handedly, in winning support for his agenda? Why was his Southern opposition virtually silent in making counterarguments?
Comments on Reagan
In a live chat with washingtonpost.com on Ronald Reagan, D'Souza wrote that blacks rejected Reagan because Reagan felt that what you could do was important, not your race, and blacks disagreed.

Dryden, N.Y.: A difficult question. Watching the SIMI viewing I have been struck by the overwhelming whiteness of the crowd. This to me is one dark facet of the Reagan legacy, a man who chose to start his campaign in Philadelphia, Miss. (where three civil rights workers were murdered). Why do you think he was so tone deaf on the vital American issue of race?
Dinesh D'Souza: Reagan had an unfailingly inclusive vision of America. His view was that it didn't matter where you came from or who you were. What mattered was what you could do. Immigrants found this appealing. Blacks in general didn't. Blacks are at a peculiar point in their history where many of them believe that "race does matter" and "race should matter." A different vision from what Martin Luther King held in his "I Have a Dream" speech. So Reagan didn't reject blacks, blacks rejected Reagan. It's unfortunate, but I don't think it tells against Reagan. Maybe there will be some reconsideration of Reagan now by African Americans.

Reagan and Racial Dog Whistles
Reagan was different from racial demagogues from previous decades in that he generally didn’t use overtly racist language (one notable exception was when Reagan addressed Southern audiences during the 1976 campaign and used the term “strapping young buck” to describe a supposed food stamp chiseler; however, he wisely steered clear of racial epithets in the 1980 campaign, using more vague language such as his appeal to “states’ rights” in his infamous Neshoba County Fair speech.

Reagan and Racial Politics: A List
• Racially-tinged Welfare Cadillac phony narratives that Reagan repeated even after they were thoroughly debunked.
• The Hearst Ransom Statement. In 1974, after Patricia Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), the SLA demanded that the Hearst family provide groceries to poor and minority areas. When the food-ransom went to poor and minority communities, Then-Governor Reagan joked, "It's just too bad we can't have an epidemic of botulism." Before its passage, Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination in public accommodations. This act was a cornerstone of the civil rights legislation that eliminated Jim Crow in the 1960’s.
• Reagan denigrated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A little background on the Act: Prior to the passing of the Act, voting by blacks in states in the deep South was less than 10 percent. This was largely because of sham literacy tests, in 1980, far from applauding the numerous injustices that the Voting Rights Act remedied, Reagan denounced it, declaring that it was “humiliating to the South.”
• Reagan and the racist South African regime. Reagan was very slow to criticize the South African Apartheid regime. He vetoed economic sanctions against the regime (Congress overrode the veto). Reagan’s political ally, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, traveled to South Africa and endorsed the apartheid regime-- encouraging his flock to buy Kruggarands in order to offset sanctions against the regime. Falwell referred to Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu as a “phony.” (Note: during the 1960’s, Falwell used the Bible to justify the preservation of Jim Crow laws by arguing that blacks were stricken with the “Curse of Ham” and thus, it was God’s plan that they be submissive to white people).
•In 1981,  on the same day U.S. Civil Rights Commission issued its school desegregation report criticizing the Reagan administration, the White House announced that Chairman Arthur Flemming and Vice Chair Steven Horn would be replaced. In February of 1982, the White House announced that Reverend Sam Hart, a Black minister from Philadelphia, would replace Jill Ruckelshaus, a moderate Republican appointed to the commission by former President Carter. Hart was far more conservative than Ruckelshaus; he opposed both the ERA and busing and had characterized homosexuality as "an abomination both to God and mankind." After both Republican senators from Pennsylvania, John Heinz and Arlen Specter - neither of whom had been consulted about the nomination - expressed misgivings, Hart withdrew his name from consideration.  In 1983, as a show to the South, Reagan fired three members of the  the commission and replaced them with right-wing ideologues.

A series of embarrassing episodes involved Commissioner William Allen during his 14-month tenure as chair in 1988 and 1989. Allen, a Reagan appointee, had been rebuked by the commission for an October 1989 speech titled "Blacks? Animals? Homosexuals? What Is a Minority?"
• Reagan attempted to revoke the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination.
• Reagan used a stop at the Neshoba County Fair in his 1980 campaign to inject dog whistle politics aimed at unreconstructed Southern segregationists by the tactical use of code words like “states’ rights.”
• In 1986, Reagan nominated Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. During the confirmation hearings, it was disclosed that Sessions had engaged in a pattern of behavior that was hostile to civil rights and racial equality. Sessions had referred to the ACLU and the NAACP as “communist-inspired” and un-American because they “forced civil rights down our throats.” Thomas Figues, a black Assistant U.S. Attorney testified that Sessions said he thought that the Ku Klux Klan was “okay until I found out they smoked pot.” Figures also testified that Sessions called him “boy” and testified that "Mr. Sessions admonished me to 'be careful what you say to white folks.'"
Reagan appointee Marianne Mele Hall, who edited a book titled Foundations of Sand that berated blacks who supposedly “insist on preserving their jungle freedoms, their women, their avoidance of personal responsibility and their abhorrence of the work ethic.” The book was also critical of social scientists who “put blacks on welfare so they can continue their jungle freedoms of leisure time and subsidized procreation.”
• Washington Times Check the other section on the paper's racial politics.
• Human Events magazine. Check the other section on the journal's racial politics.
• Reagan attempted to undermine the credibility and mission of the U.S. Civil rights Commission the commission was still suffering from the effects of a series of embarrassing episodes involving Commissioner William Allen during his 14-month tenure as chair in 1988 and 1989.103 Allen, a Reagan appointee, had been rebuked by the commission for an October 1989 speech titled "Blacks? Animals? Homosexuals? What Is a Minority?"
• Reagan appointee Marianne Mele Hall, who edited a book titled Foundations of Sand that berated blacks who supposedly “insist on preserving their jungle freedoms, their women, their avoidance of personal responsibility and their abhorrence of the work ethic.” The book was also critical of social scientists who “put blacks on welfare so they can continue their jungle freedoms of leisure time and subsidized procreation.”

• Reagan picked William Bradford Reynolds to be the associate attorney general for civil rights. Reynolds encouraged school districts to dismantle long-established desegregation programs. Reynolds refused to fulfill the mandates of his position—namely to enforce civil rights laws. He ignored court rulings that went against his hardline anti-civil rights agenda. Then-Republican Senator Arlen Specter accused Reynolds of giving misleading testimony, "disregarding the established law," and "elevating [his] own legal judgments over the judgments of the courts." His tenure was so controversial that even a Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee defeated his 1985 nomination for promotion to associate attorney general.
• Although Reagan was in the Party of Lincoln, that didn’t prevent him from heaping praise on Confederates such as president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, whom Reagan called, “a hero of mine.”
• Reagan vetoed The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 (Congress overrode the veto).
• Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
• Reagan opposed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He later called it "humiliating to the South" and as president, Reagan sought to weaken it.
• Reagan opposed California Fair Housing Act. When campaigning for governor, Reagan told a crowd, "If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it's his God-given right to do so."


Reagan’s Legacy Regarding Race
Reagan is as dead as a doornail but his legacy lives on in the Republican Party:
• Trent Lott, who gave a speech lauding Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrat presidential run of 1948 at the same rally at the Neshoba County Fair that Reagan gave his infamous “states’ rights” speech in 1980, was elected to the U.S. Senate and eventually became Senate Majority leader. As was the case of Neshoba, in 2002 he gave a speech lauding Thurmond’s Dixiecrat campaign at an event celebrating Thurmond’s 100th birthday; and as was the case in 1980, the mainstream media ignored Lott’s comments—at least initially. Unlike in 1980, in 2002, there were Internet bloggers who refused to let Lott get away with it. The political firestorm resulted in Lott’s resignation as Majority Leader. Prior to the controversy, Lott had close ties to the modern day version of the White Citizens Councils, the Council of Conservative Citizens. Lott also quipped that the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, would have approved of the Republican platform.

• The solid Democratic South has became the Republican South.

• Jeff Sessions, the Reagan nominee who was defeated because of his racist associations and activities, ran for the U.S. Senate in Alabama and won.

• Haley Barbour, a Mississippi, was the head of the Republican national Committee. Barbour is an unreconstructedunreconstructed neo-Confederate apologist. In the lead up to the GOP nomination race of 2012, Barbour was criticized for saying laudatory things about the old White Citizens’ Councils (WCC) and his past association with the modern incarnation of the WCC, The Council of Conservative Citizens. Barbour lamely claimed that he became a Republican because of his opposition to the segregationist policies of Southern Democrats in the 1960’s.

• In the 21st century, the right and the GOP have engaged in a war on black voters. George W. Bush became president largely because Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris engaged in a felon-purge of the voter rolls—largely disenfranchising non-felons. Voter intimidation was institutionalized by Republican lawmakers in the form of Voter I.D. laws that address the largely nonexistent problem of voter fraud. U.S. Attorneys Firings Scandal was largely over the issue of U.S. Attorneys who were fired because they were pressured to put on the front burner cases of alleged cases of voter fraud even though voter fraud was extremely rare. Even though Republicans were told that voter caging was unacceptable, Tim Griffin, now in the U.S. House, engaged in the practice. During Bush’s rule, vacancies in the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice were filled with hacks and anti-civil rights activists who were illegally chosen because of political affiliation.

• Roger Ailes, Reagan’s media man who got his start race-baiting for Richard Nixon, became the head of Fox News.

• Right-wing talk radio has become a repository for racist thought. The most notable talk radio racist is Rush Limbaugh who has made many racist comments.

• Another notable talk radio host who exploited race is Sean Hannity. Hannity was one of Trent Lott’s biggest defenders when Lott got in trouble because of his 2002 comments about Thurmond’s 1948 Dixiecrat run. Hannity also was a close associate of virulent racist Hal Turner. During the 2008 elections, Hannity used his Fox News program to give a platform to crackpot and virulent anti-Semite and racist Anthony Robert Martin-Trigona (AKA Andy Martin) whom Hannity laughably presented as an “internet jounalist.”

• Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) referred to the U.S. Civil War as the "Great War of Yankee Aggression."

The Most Important Thing About Reagan’s Racist Legacy
The United States is increasingly becoming a more racially and ethnically diverse country. Using racist scare tactics made electoral sense in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Not any longer. In addition to the increasing racial diversity, the younger generations of Americans are turned off by GOP staples such as the Southern strategy, neo-Confederative, and xenophobia. Discriminatory voter laws, intended to decrease the percentage of minority vote, will have little long-term effect against the coming demographic wave. Republicans have painted themselves in a corner.

ADDENDUM:
Sen Bob Packwood (R-OR) claims President Reagan frequently offers up transparent fictional anecdotes as if they were real. "We've got a $120 billion deficit coming," says Packwood, "and the President says, 'You know, a young man went into a grocery store and he had an orange in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other, and he paid for the orange with food stamps and he took the change and paid for the vodka. That's what's wrong.' And we just shake our heads." Agriculture official Mary C. Jarratt tells Congress her department has been unable to document President Reagan's stories of food stamp abuse, pointing out that the change from a food stamp purchase is limited to 99 cents. "It's not possible to buy a bottle of vodka with 99 cents" she says. Deputy White House press secretary Peter Roussel says Reagan wouldn't tell those stories "unless he thought they were accurate."

Why Mark Shields and Michael Reagan are Wrong about Ronald Reagan and Race
Mark Shields and more recently Michael Reagan (in a critique of the film Lee Daniels' The Butler)  have come to Reagan's defense.  Both cite an incident that occurred when Reagan was a football player at Eureka College.  Reagan invited two black players to stay at his home when local hotels refused to allow them to stay there.  While this is a heartwarming anecdote and suggests that Reagan probably wasn't personally racist, it does nothing to address his appalling record regarding race especially since he began running for president.  The fact is that Reagan threw blacks under the bus in an attempt to curry favor with anti-civil rights Southerners.  The upshot is that when it really mattered (i.e., when Reagan had the power to make a real difference in America, he was a miserable failure.

I have no doubt that Reagan, who spent decades in Hollywood and had many gay friends, was not personally homophobic.  However, in order to appease the Jerry Falwells and Tim LaHayes in the emerging Republican coalition, Reagan talked trash against gays and lesbians.  Anecdotes are nice but what is important are the man's policy decisions and public statements.  On both race and sexuality, Reagan was a failure.