I wish sometimes that I could move to the fantasy world that conservatives like Business School Senior Alexander Franz and LSA Senior Jonathan Pape inhabit. (The real Reagan, 2/6/2011). In the conservative utopia, tax cuts pay for themselves and former President Ronald Reagan is the next best thing to Jesus. However, human beings don’t inhabit the conservative Never-Neverland. We live in reality. The Right’s obsession with Reagan has created this mythic figure that never existed. The information either glossed over or ignored by Franz and Pape is quite revealing of the conservative mindset. Reagan was the most overrated president in the history of our republic, to put it kindly, and was a prolific war criminal, to put it more accurately.
The People’s Park protests in 1969 at University of California, Berkley were not made violent, as Pape and Franz imply, by the students and other protestors. They were made violent by Reagan’s ordering of California Highway Patrol officers and the California National Guard to suppress them in an event known as “Bloody Thursday.” Hardly something to take pride in.
His massive tax cuts, which benefitted the wealthy predominantly, exploded the deficit and tripled the debt to nearly $3 trillion by the time he left office. Those beloved tax cuts may have been a boon to the wealthy, but inequality grew astronomically. Unemployment in 1981 grew to 10.8 percent.
Reagan didn’t return the United States to prominence. He helped the wealthy at the expense of the poor and working classes. While Iran-Contra was a passing footnote for Franz and Pape, I will call it for what it was: an unconstitutional power grab. Congress wouldn’t allow Reagan, through the Boland Amendment, to directly aid the Nicaraguan Contras, paramilitary groups that engaged in massive human rights abuses. So, in order to get around that whole pesky separation of powers thing, he illegally sold weapons to Iran and used the money to support groups that routinely kidnapped, tortured, executed and raped civilians.
Franz and Pape also neglected to inform their readers that their hero supported South African apartheid. He ignored AIDS until 1985, after thousands had already become infected and died. Let’s not forget that it was Reagan who armed and trained Osama Bin Laden during the Soviet Union’s disastrous 10-year invasion into Afghanistan.
I’m sorry, but in the real world, such a president isn’t worthy of such praise 100 years after his birth. Reagan’s legacy will be class warfare against the poor, support of racists and mass murderers abroad and an ideology that has been consistently proven wrong.