Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dissecting a calumny -- debunking the Reagan-was-racist fallacy

Deroy Murdock dismantles the Paul Krugman/Bob Herbert efforts to portray Ronald Reagan as a racist. The whole piece is worth reading, but here are some highlights.

Krugman and Herbert’s liberal limousine glides right past numerous inconvenient truths about Reagan’s record on race:

As the future president was growing up, “The Reagans were so poor that he played in the street with black children and thought little of it,” Nicholas Wapshott remembered in the November 14 New York Sun.

In his memoir, An American Life, Reagan wrote: “My mother and father urged my brother and me to bring home our black playmates, to consider them equals…There was no more grievous sin at our household than a racial slur or other evidence of religious or racial intolerance.”

In 1931, Reagan was on Eureka College’s football team. One night, Reagan biographer Lou Cannon recalls, an Elmhurst, Illinois hotelier refused lodging to two of Reagan’s black teammates. Reagan invited them to stay at his parents’ home, where Mr. and Mrs. Reagan welcomed them. Reagan “and one of the players, William Franklin Burghardt, remained friends and correspondents until Mr. Burghardt died in 1981,” Cannon wrote Sunday.

As an adult, Reagan had a long history of bias-free fair-mindedness. As Cannon added:

As a sports announcer in Iowa in the 1930s, Mr. Reagan opposed the segregation of Major League Baseball. As an actor in Hollywood, he quit a Los Angeles country club because it did not admit Jews. In 1978, when preparing to run for president, Mr. Reagan opposed a California ballot initiative that would have barred homosexuals from teaching in the state’s public schools.

Ronald Reagan Jr. recalls the day at a California barbecue when his father dived into a pool to save a black child from drowning.

As president, Reagan named Samuel Pierce, a black man, as his secretary of Housing and Urban Development. While Pierce was outside Reagan’s inner circle, he was in Reagan’s Cabinet. In 1982, Reagan promoted Roscoe Robinson to become the Army’s first black four-star general. Reagan also helped place Clarence Thomas on his path to the United States Supreme Court by naming him chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Simply stated, critics claim Pres. Reagan pursued racist ends because his policies ran contrary to the liberal, government-run, socialistic agenda that the Left advocates.

Ultimately, there is an agenda at work in this situation -- that of dishonest liberals like Krugman and Herbert:

“Why is this slur being floated now?” wonders Hoover Institution scholar Martin Anderson, Reagan’s long-time aide, chief White House domestic-policy adviser, and co-editor of several books documenting Reagan’s insightful, hand-written, speeches, and correspondence on public affairs. “I don’t know — maybe the 20th anniversary of Reagan’s departure from office, which is looming ahead, will show that his legacy is far more important than we knew. And that will be intolerable to a lot of people.”

Especially with the White House at stake, Leftist hacks like Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert will keep trying to smear Ronald Reagan as a racist. The obvious implication is that those of us who love America’s 40th president also are either racists or self-hating blacks.

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