Reagan, White As Snow
by Alec Dubro
www.tompaine.com/, May 13, 2007
Domestically, he opposed every legislative remedy for African Americans, betraying a meanness of spirit and an open racism. As Sidney Blumenthal wrote in The Guardian in 2003:
Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (calling it "humiliating to the South"), and ran for governor of California in 1966 promising to wipe the Fair Housing Act off the books. "If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house," he said, "he has a right to do so." After the Republican convention in 1980, Reagan traveled to the county fair in Neshoba, Mississippi, where, in 1964, three Freedom Riders had been slain by the Ku Klux Klan. Before an all-white crowd of tens of thousands, Reagan declared: "I believe in states' rights."
It's hard to believe now, but in 1965, a higher percentage of congressional Republicans voted for the Voting Rights Act than Democrats. Reagan, then, wasn't following party tradition; he was making a grab for the white racist vote-and it worked. Southern Democrats abandoned the party en masse for one more welcoming to white supremacy. No wonder so many loved, and still love, the man: He validated people's whiteness.
It's true that Reagan knew enough to occasionally disguise his racism. He appointed Samuel Pierce to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where Pierce presided over the halving of housing subsidies. No matter. Reagan couldn't remember the man's name. Once, at a reception for the nation's mayors, he greeted Pierce with a '"Hello, Mr. Mayor." Despite this, a few black conservatives, such as Armstrong Williams, were willing to validate him as someone who knew better than the "civil rights establishment" what was good for African Americans.
But it was in foreign affairs that he showed that he could rise above mere opportunism and flaunt his racism for all the world to see. He was the best friend that South Africa's apartheid government had in the developed world.
When President, he allowed his staff to refer to the slain civil rights leader as "Martin Lucifer Coon."
Anybody wonder why the United States has rotted from the head down?