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Old 07-31-2019, 06:48 AM
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Ronald Reagan was a white supremacist (new Reagan-Nixon tape)


https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...-nixon/595102/

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The day after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China, then–California Governor Ronald Reagan phoned President Richard Nixon at the White House and vented his frustration at the delegates who had sided against the United States. “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “Yeah,” Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon gave a huge laugh.
Should we be surprised? Anyone want to take a crack at excusing or defending Reagan?

The hatefulness isn't new. It's just more out in the open with Trump. But it's been there, in the mainstream of the Republican party (and elsewhere, of course), for half a century or more.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 07-31-2019 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 07-31-2019, 06:53 AM
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Just got done reading that, myself. It wasn't a long quote but it was pretty clear.

Unfortunately it's going to be easy enough for conservatives to ignore if not contort themselves to defend.

Nixon, however...damn.
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Old 07-31-2019, 06:56 AM
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I'll try: "Everyone used to say that stuff. He was just being everyone."
Nope. Doesn't fly. But before I come across as ignoring racism from the Dems, it wouldn't surprise me to hear a tape of, say, Richard J. Daley saying something similar.
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Old 07-31-2019, 06:58 AM
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I'll try: "Everyone used to say that stuff. He was just being everyone."
Nope. Doesn't fly. But before I come across as ignoring racism from the Dems, it wouldn't surprise me to hear a tape of, say, Richard J. Daley saying something similar.
That wouldn't surprise me either.
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Old 07-31-2019, 07:26 AM
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I have no interest in defending Reagan or Nixon, but my issue is with your use of the term "white supremacist". What that quote shows is that both men held racist views, which is a pretty broad continuum not at all equivalent to white supremacy. Using the term in such a loose fashion robs it of its real meaning, a reference to a heinously vile ideology comparable to neo-Nazism. For all his many faults, and his apparent racism, Reagan wasn't a white supremacist.
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Old 07-31-2019, 07:31 AM
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I have no interest in defending Reagan or Nixon, but my issue is with your use of the term "white supremacist". What that quote shows is that both men held racist views, which is a pretty broad continuum not at all equivalent to white supremacy. Using the term in such a loose fashion robs it of its real meaning, a reference to a heinously vile ideology comparable to neo-Nazism. For all his many faults, and his apparent racism, Reagan wasn't a white supremacist.
I see it as pretty basic -- by the words he used, Reagan pretty clearly seemed to believe that black people were inferior. There are forms of racism which do not necessarily imply or indicate belief in inferiority, but this seems clearly, IMO, to be an example in which it does.

But this is a semantics argument. I use harsher language because of how harmful I see this stuff as. Ronald Reagan had far more power than some idiot asshole Klanner who spent most of his time drinking beer in the basement complaining about minorities, even if that latter idiot is more explicitly white supremacist, and more in favor of direct harm and violence. Reagan harmed far more black people, in far worse ways, then the average contemporary Klanner. And it's clear that he had some very hateful beliefs -- I think it's entirely fair to tie together that harm with those beliefs and call the total package "white supremacist".

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Old 07-31-2019, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
I have no interest in defending Reagan or Nixon, but my issue is with your use of the term "white supremacist". What that quote shows is that both men held racist views, which is a pretty broad continuum not at all equivalent to white supremacy. Using the term in such a loose fashion robs it of its real meaning, a reference to a heinously vile ideology comparable to neo-Nazism. For all his many faults, and his apparent racism, Reagan wasn't a white supremacist.
I think it's because "racism" is itself thrown about so easily these days that "racist" doesn't seem strong enough a word. However, most people think that they're superior to "monkeys", so I don't think it's that much of a stretch to call what he said in that particular instance white supremacist even if he wasn't one overall.
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:00 AM
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I think it's because "racism" is itself thrown about so easily these days that "racist" doesn't seem strong enough a word. However, most people think that they're superior to "monkeys", so I don't think it's that much of a stretch to call what he said in that particular instance white supremacist even if he wasn't one overall.
Which illustrates a good reason not to throw around terms so loosely. But yes, the "monkeys" comment seems pretty incriminating at first glance. OTOH, a more charitable interpretation of those comments is that Reagan was extremely critical of what he saw as the undue influence in the UN of underdeveloped (i.e.- "backward" or "uncivilized") African countries who were able to override the foreign policy goals of the US, and that this was the main target of his attacks. Now, I happen to think that Reagan was wrong about practically everything, including his disparagement of the UN, but nevertheless this appears to be what he was saying. Do you think Reagan would have referred to educated middle-class African-Americans as "monkeys"?
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:01 AM
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That's not white supremacist in the least; it's xenophobic, certainly. This is easily defensible; black people in the USA obviously are comfortable wearing shoes. I'm not even certain it's intended to be hateful. I might say that I'm afraid of visiting New Guinea for fear of being eaten by cannibals. Hyperbole, pure and simple.
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
Do you think Reagan would have referred to educated middle-class African-Americans as "monkeys"?
I think this quote indicates that there's a high likelihood that he might have done so in private to a confidante that he thought shared the belief.

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Old 07-31-2019, 08:18 AM
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I will never vote for Ronald Reagan again!!!

Anyone else remember LBJ's favorite saying about black Americans? (though he liked to use another word to refer to them) "All those n*****s want is a loose pair of shoes, a tight piece of ass and a warm place to take a shit."
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:19 AM
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What the hell does "white supremacy" mean if not thinking that white people are better than non white people? This is a case where the plain meaning of the phrase is the most useful meaning of the phrase. Getting caught up in a semantic argument about how we mustn't take the phrase literally is a distraction.
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:28 AM
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I will never vote for Ronald Reagan again!!!

Anyone else remember LBJ's favorite saying about black Americans? (though he liked to use another word to refer to them) "All those n*****s want is a loose pair of shoes, a tight piece of ass and a warm place to take a shit."
That points out the caution we should take with looking back decades into the past and applying today's standards to them.

I mean, if you go back to the early 1980s, I don't doubt you could find plenty of southern Democrats saying racially questionable stuff.

Hell, if you go back about 12 years, you get Joe Biden saying:

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I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.
There's not a lot of room for interpretation there- the implication is that black politicians prior to Obama were not articulate, bright, clean or good looking. And that was in 2007-2008.

My point is that while this definitely comes across as racist, Reagan was FAR from unique in 1971 in having or voicing those views among politicians of either party or the country at large.
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:37 AM
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I have no interest in defending Reagan or Nixon, but my issue is with your use of the term "white supremacist". What that quote shows is that both men held racist views, which is a pretty broad continuum not at all equivalent to white supremacy. Using the term in such a loose fashion robs it of its real meaning, a reference to a heinously vile ideology comparable to neo-Nazism. For all his many faults, and his apparent racism, Reagan wasn't a white supremacist.
A white man's racism is synonymous with white supremacy. What else should we call it? Reagan's racist rhetoric essentially compared Africans to sub-human savages -- it was dehumanizing. But that's not the worst of it; even worse is the fact that he convinced Nixon to take a position of using the vast political and economic influence of a largely white America to punish poorer and weaker African countries.

Let's not forget that the modern use of the term "dog whistling" was introduced in response to Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign speech at the Neshoba County, Mississippi state fair, in which he championed state's rights. Some have argued in the years since that it was just politics and winking at the Republican base, but this recording makes it clear that Reagan himself largely identified with the same kinds of white supremacists who murdered civil rights activists just down the road from where he spoke.
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
That points out the caution we should take with looking back decades into the past and applying today's standards to them.

I mean, if you go back to the early 1980s, I don't doubt you could find plenty of southern Democrats saying racially questionable stuff.

Hell, if you go back about 12 years, you get Joe Biden saying:
Applying today's standards? Biden was raked through the fucking coals for saying that, AT THE TIME. It very nearly derailed his presidential campaign, AT THE TIME.

Instead, this anecdote points out the caution of thinking that everyone in the past was super-racist, so super-racist bullshit from the past should be handwaved away.

No. AT THE TIME, people were varied. Plenty of people knew some racist bullshit when it was spewed their way. The only difference is, today the people who recognize racist bullshit have a little more power than they had in the past.
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:46 AM
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That points out the caution we should take with looking back decades into the past and applying today's standards to them.

I mean, if you go back to the early 1980s, I don't doubt you could find plenty of southern Democrats saying racially questionable stuff.

Hell, if you go back about 12 years, you get Joe Biden saying:



There's not a lot of room for interpretation there- the implication is that black politicians prior to Obama were not articulate, bright, clean or good looking. And that was in 2007-2008.

My point is that while this definitely comes across as racist, Reagan was FAR from unique in 1971 in having or voicing those views among politicians of either party or the country at large.
It's beyond absurd to compare Biden's off-the-cuff remarks which in no way were intended to be harmful or racist. Was Joe Biden guilty of bias? Yes, but there's little evidence of naked racism in those comments. Moreover, Biden had long since become a champion of civil rights. Reagan's recorded comments now make it abundantly clear why he opposed the Civil Rights Act, why he opposed and essentially nullified California's fair housing laws, and why he opposed the MLK Jr holiday, which he later signed into law but begrudgingly. In fact this article makes a good case that Reagan coopted King's legacy as a way to advance "color-blind racism."

http://bostonreview.net/race-politic...racial-justice
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:51 AM
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Applying today's standards? Biden was raked through the fucking coals for saying that, AT THE TIME. It very nearly derailed his presidential campaign, AT THE TIME.

Instead, this anecdote points out the caution of thinking that everyone in the past was super-racist, so super-racist bullshit from the past should be handwaved away.

No. AT THE TIME, people were varied. Plenty of people knew some racist bullshit when it was spewed their way. The only difference is, today the people who recognize racist bullshit have a little more power than they had in the past.
Right. It's like evaluating slave-owners in the 18th and 19th centuries -- by the standards of the time, it was still evil. Not by the standards of the slave-owners, but by the standards of the slaves, or Ben Franklin, or other abolitionists. Lots and lots of Americans recognized how evil slavery was at the time.
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:59 AM
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What the hell does "white supremacy" mean if not thinking that white people are better than non white people? This is a case where the plain meaning of the phrase is the most useful meaning of the phrase. Getting caught up in a semantic argument about how we mustn't take the phrase literally is a distraction.
I agree that we should not fall into the trap of engaging in literalism, yet that's exactly what you appear to be doing in asserting a "plain meaning". You simply cannot infer the meaning of an idiomatic expression from the literal meanings of its individual words. An "accessible entrance" is not the opposite of an "inaccessible entrance" that only birds can get into -- it's specifically a building entrance that accommodates disabled people. "Affordable housing" is not the opposite of housing that no one can afford, it's low-income housing. And the term "white supremacist" does not refer to someone who merely thinks white people are superior to non-whites -- that's just plain run-of-the-mill racism; it refers to an entire hateful ideology closely related to neo-Nazism that seeks to establish the white race as the exclusive owners of political and social power.

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Old 07-31-2019, 09:05 AM
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I agree that we should not fall into the trap of engaging in literalism, yet that's exactly what you appear to be doing in asserting a "plain meaning". You simply cannot infer the meaning of an idiomatic expression from the literal meanings of its individual words. An "accessible entrance" is not the opposite of an "inaccessible entrance" that only birds can get into -- it's specifically a building entrance that accommodates disabled people. "Affordable housing" is not the opposite of housing that no one can afford, it's low-income housing. And the term "white supremacist" does not refer to someone who merely thinks white people are superior to non-whites -- that's just plain run-of-the-mill racism; it refers to an entire hateful ideology closely related to neo-Nazism that seeks to establish the white race as the exclusive owners of political and social power.
The "hateful ideology related to neo-Naziism" you're referring to wants to exterminate non-white people, unless I'm missing something. That's pretty different -- I don't believe Reagan had any interest in exterminating non-white people. But based on this rhetoric, and other things he said and did (like his policy towards apartheid and South Africa), I think it's pretty clear that he was comfortable with "the white raced as the exclusive [or perhaps near-exclusive/functionally exclusive] owners of political and social power".

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Old 07-31-2019, 09:08 AM
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Now that you have told me that a man I never voted for and who has been dead for a long, long time was a racist, what exactly is it that you want me to do? IOW, how did you expect to influence the behavior of others by passing this along?
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:11 AM
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Further evidence that racism and “white supremacy” are not acceptable in US society and have not been for quite a while. If they were acceptable, Reagan would have said this in public and the thoughts would not be broadly condemned today.
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:12 AM
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Now that you have told me that a man I never voted for and who has been dead for a long, long time was a racist, what exactly is it that you want me to do? IOW, how did you expect to influence the behavior of others by passing this along?
You must abase yourself publicly every time you see a person of color, and pledge all future earnings to black liberation. Obviously!

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Old 07-31-2019, 09:21 AM
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You must abase yourself publicly every time you see a person of color, and pledge all future earnings to black liberation. Obviously!
I don't know where the idea that you lack humor started, but the people who say that are clearly wrong.
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:24 AM
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Do you think Reagan would have referred to educated middle-class African-Americans as "monkeys"?
I think this quote indicates that there's a high likelihood that he might have done so in private to a confidante that he thought shared the belief.
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The "hateful ideology related to neo-Naziism" you're referring to wants to exterminate non-white people, unless I'm missing something. That's pretty different -- I don't believe Reagan had any interest in exterminating non-white people. But based on this rhetoric, and other things he said and did (like his policy towards apartheid and South Africa), I think it's pretty clear that he was comfortable with "the white raced as the exclusive [or perhaps near-exclusive/functionally exclusive] owners of political and social power".
Both of those statements seem to be wild conjectures not supported by the evidence you provided in the OP. They may even be true for all I know, but they aren't supported either by that evidence or any other evidence I've seen.
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:34 AM
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I don't know where the idea that you lack humor started, but the people who say that are clearly wrong.
Thank you! I suspect that many who disagree with me see me as strident and perhaps harsh with my views, but I recognize that we're all people, and very few of us are monsters. Even most racists and white supremacists are just people who have been exposed to a profoundly bigoted (IMO) society and culture and just internalized much or all of it rather than recognizing and fighting agaainst the bad parts. I focus on this stuff because I think it's so harmful, not because the people who tolerate or even support it are all evil. They're mostly just wrong, but they're still just people -- highly flawed people who probably love their families and neighbors and would likely stop to help a bleeding person on the side of the road. Growing up in Louisiana and Arkansas, I knew many such folks. They weren't evil, but they were wrong in a way that is profoundly harmful to society and to many other Americans, when such beliefs are so commonly held. IMO, of course.
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:35 AM
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Both of those statements seem to be wild conjectures not supported by the evidence you provided in the OP. They may even be true for all I know, but they aren't supported either by that evidence or any other evidence I've seen.
YMMV, but I think it's supported by this quote, Reagan's policy towards South Africa, and other words and policies. It's still conjecture, but I think it's conjecture supported by words and actions.
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:50 AM
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A white man's racism is synonymous with white supremacy. What else should we call it?
No, the terms are not synonymous. White supremacy involves the belief that white people should be in control, should be dominant. It's possible to be racist without holding that particular belief.
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:58 AM
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Now that you have told me that a man I never voted for and who has been dead for a long, long time was a racist, what exactly is it that you want me to do? IOW, how did you expect to influence the behavior of others by passing this along?
I endorse this question. Many old, white guys were/are racist. Is that somehow new information?
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:03 AM
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He made a racist joke about some people he was angry with. It was a different time and people were much looser with ethnic and racial jokes.
He was a national political figure for decades, wrote columns, had a radio spot, gave thousands of speeches, and one racist joke is the evidence that he was a white supremacist.
It has nothing to do with anything now. Lots of democrats were openly saying horribly racist things back then and it tells you nothing about how democrats feel now.
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:08 AM
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That's not white supremacist in the least; it's xenophobic, certainly.
It used to be common, and maybe still is, for Americans to think of the people of Africa as primitive savages, running around with a spear and a loincloth and a bone in their nose. If you're old enough, you may remember seeing black "savage" or "cannibal" characters in cartoons. Maybe some of the people who honestly thought that way weren't racist, just xenophobic or just plain ignorant, but a lot of them were.

Reagan's remark strikes me as being in this "tradition." Does it prove he was a racist, or even a white supremacist? By itself I don't think it rises to the level of proof—but it is, indeed, hard for me to imagine someone who wasn't racist saying what he said.

And if so: I didn't know Reagan was a racist, but it doesn't surprise me particularly. And I knew Nixon was a nasty man.
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:23 AM
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No, the terms are not synonymous. White supremacy involves the belief that white people should be in control, should be dominant. It's possible to be racist without holding that particular belief.
You can believe that if you want. People can argue the semantics of both terms, but they are commonly understood to be synonymous.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism

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Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another
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In terms of political systems (e.g., apartheid) that support the expression of prejudice or aversion in discriminatory practices or laws, racist ideology may include associated social aspects such as nativism, xenophobia, otherness, segregation, hierarchical ranking, and supremacism.
Again, if you want to argue differently, that's your choice, but it's my choice to ignore it because they're commonly understood to be synonymous.
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:25 AM
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I agree that Reagan's words, here, are racist.

I'm not sure what is the proposed solution or action though. To rename Reagan Airport or the USS Ronald Reagan carrier? For conservatives to stop praising the economic growth and revival of the 1980s?
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:25 AM
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It used to be common, and maybe still is, for Americans to think of the people of Africa as primitive savages, running around with a spear and a loincloth and a bone in their nose. If you're old enough, you may remember seeing black "savage" or "cannibal" characters in cartoons. Maybe some of the people who honestly thought that way weren't racist, just xenophobic or just plain ignorant, but a lot of them were.
In other words, racism used to be more common than it is now. The fact that it's "tradition" doesn't make it less racist. Christ, look at what you're writing and think about it for more than a minute.
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:28 AM
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"One racist joke"? Black people have been saying for years Reagan was racist because he opposed the Voting Rights Act, vetoed the Civil Rights Restoration Act, said Jefferson Davis was a hero of his, supported apartheid South Africa and 'states rights' and used racist appeals in all of his campaigns. Now we have Reagan being clearly as racist as you can get (and just because other people made "jokes" like this, that doesn't mean they weren't racist - it was simply "acceptable") and people still make excuses.
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:29 AM
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I agree that Reagan's words, here, are racist.

I'm not sure what is the proposed solution or action though. To rename Reagan Airport or the USS Ronald Reagan carrier? For conservatives to stop praising the economic growth and revival of the 1980s?
I would posit that there's no need to rename anything. Reagan, like Woodrow Wilson, achieved some measure of good which cannot be taken away from him. I've always personally felt Reagan was a shitty, overrated president and it had nothing to do with what I've always suspected was closet racism - long before what we've just uncovered.

Legacies are complex. We don't have to completely rewrite a legacy based on an obvious flaw, even if it's offensive. But we should acknowledge the character flaw, and we shouldn't just accept it because other people of Reagan's generation were racist too. So what? There were plenty of other people, including Republicans, who were not racist during that time and fought hard to improve what most decent people knew to be a terrible social and political injustice in this country - something which Reagan apparently worked hard to fight against.
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:29 AM
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but it's my choice to ignore it because they're commonly understood to be synonymous.
Looks to me like the cite you just quoted supports me. "racist ideology may include ... supremacism." When one category includes another, they're not synonymous. ("A is a subset of B" is different from "A is equal to B.")
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:30 AM
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I will never vote for Ronald Reagan again!!!

Anyone else remember LBJ's favorite saying about black Americans? (though he liked to use another word to refer to them) "All those n*****s want is a loose pair of shoes, a tight piece of ass and a warm place to take a shit."
That wasn't Johnson who said that. It was Ford's Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz.
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:36 AM
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"One racist joke"? Black people have been saying for years Reagan was racist because he opposed the Voting Rights Act, vetoed the Civil Rights Restoration Act, said Jefferson Davis was a hero of his, supported apartheid South Africa and 'states rights' and used racist appeals in all of his campaigns.
This is the kind of thing that needs to be said. I was relatively young and apolitical during the Reagan years, so I wasn't particularly aware of the evidence for Reagan's racism; so pointing this stuff out now is helpful.
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:42 AM
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and, btw, Fuck the National Archives:

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The National Archives originally released the tape of the phone call in 2000 without the racist portion
It's not their job to sanitize history
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:54 AM
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That wasn't Johnson who said that. It was Ford's Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz.
I had always heard that attributed to LBJ, so I stand corrected and appreciate the Straight Dope on that.

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Old 07-31-2019, 10:54 AM
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I would posit that there's no need to rename anything. Reagan, like Woodrow Wilson, achieved some measure of good which cannot be taken away from him. I've always personally felt Reagan was a shitty, overrated president and it had nothing to do with what I've always suspected was closet racism - long before what we've just uncovered.

Legacies are complex. We don't have to completely rewrite a legacy based on an obvious flaw, even if it's offensive. But we should acknowledge the character flaw, and we shouldn't just accept it because other people of Reagan's generation were racist too. So what? There were plenty of other people, including Republicans, who were not racist during that time and fought hard to improve what most decent people knew to be a terrible social and political injustice in this country - something which Reagan apparently worked hard to fight against.
All of this is true, and well said.

But since LBJ has been mentioned, I am reminded that he was racist, and yet he also "fought hard to improve what most decent people knew to be a terrible social and political injustice in this country." (Lyndon Johnson was a civil rights hero. But also a racist.)
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:59 AM
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Water is wet.
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Old 07-31-2019, 11:11 AM
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Should we be surprised? Anyone want to take a crack at excusing or defending Reagan?

The hatefulness isn't new. It's just more out in the open with Trump. But it's been there, in the mainstream of the Republican party (and elsewhere, of course), for half a century or more.
Which President prior to Reagan, other than maybe Carter do you think wasn't racist and said racist things? Johnson? Kennedy? Truman? They all were racists. Wilson was a legitimate White Supremacist without exaggeration. Anyone pretending shock that Nixon was racist is full of shit. If you know anything about tricky Dick, you also know he was racist. I doubt Bush the Elder wasn't racist, not sure, but unlikely. FDR, no question. Please ask the Japanese Americans at least.

Teddy far less than most, but still by today's standards. Progressive for the time though.

I hope that if we really dig, it turns out Carter & Ford are clean of this, but I wouldn't be shocked by a Elite southerner or WWII vet having said racist things at some point.

Oh, to be sure Reagan was racist, his campaign promoted the myth of the welfare queen, didn't it?

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Old 07-31-2019, 11:56 AM
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All of this is true, and well said.

But since LBJ has been mentioned, I am reminded that he was racist, and yet he also "fought hard to improve what most decent people knew to be a terrible social and political injustice in this country." (Lyndon Johnson was a civil rights hero. But also a racist.)
I think there are two reasons that Reagan's racism matters more:

One is the fact that, unlike Johnson, he advocated policies and politics that clearly harmed people of color, so unlike LBJ, he's much less entitled to the benefit of the doubt. The same could be said of Teddy Roosevelt, who promoted imperialist policies that were consistent with the white supremacist view of the world at that time but who nevertheless took measures to integrate the federal workforce, compared to Woodrow Wilson he re-segregated the workforce and hosted a viewing of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation at the White House. We can criticize "both sides" for having prejudices, but let's also acknowledge that "both sides" aren't necessarily equal in their application of racism.

The other reason that Reagan's racism matters is that there are people alive today who grew up with Reagan as their president, even as their governor. They felt the sting of his politics more directly than someone who presided over the nation's affairs decades earlier. We're still living with and trying to understand Reagan's legacy in its totality, and this helps fill in some of the missing blanks. If we had learned that he'd had a heated argument with a black activist or lawmaker and privately referred to him as a "n----r" but had simultaneously supported anti-discrimination laws and been a political friend of the black community, we'd probably have different feelings about what his comments mean. But we have a whole body of evidence to work with showing that he was no friend to people of color. We just weren't sure what level of antipathy we were dealing with, but these comments don't make him look good at all, particularly considering that they had real-world impact.
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Old 07-31-2019, 12:00 PM
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Should we be surprised?
The Ronald Reagan who vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986? The Ronald Reagan who rode the Southern Strategy into power? The Ronald Reagan who spoke of "welfare queens" and "strapping young bucks"?

No, I am decidedly not surprised.
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Old 07-31-2019, 12:08 PM
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No, the terms are not synonymous. White supremacy involves the belief that white people should be in control, should be dominant. It's possible to be racist without holding that particular belief.
But it's exactly that view that Reagan was espousing in this context - that (White) American foreign policy should hold sway over the desires of (Black) African countries on the China/Taiwan issue.
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Old 07-31-2019, 12:13 PM
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YMMV, but I think it's supported by this quote, Reagan's policy towards South Africa, and other words and policies. It's still conjecture, but I think it's conjecture supported by words and actions.
It's pretty weak or flawed evidence, in my view. I hate to be in the position of seemingly defending Reagan, but what I'm really defending is the appropriate use of a highly loaded term like "white supremacist". Even Churchill's alleged white supremacy -- which was in a very different time and with views more extreme than anything I've seen from Reagan -- has been widely disputed -- despite the fact the he said, in 1937, "I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place." Reagan was, at worst, a common run-of-the-mill racist and did not, to my knowledge, make such statements or hold such beliefs.

As for Reagan's policies toward South Africa, I think he's been unfairly maligned for that, too, mainly based on his veto of the House bill imposing sanctions on the apartheid regime of the time. But Reagan was in fact quite strongly anti-apartheid, it's just that he was even more fervently anti-communist, and felt that economic sanctions would hurt poor South African blacks and make the nation vulnerable to communism at that point in history. But he enacted his own version of sanctions by curtailing military and diplomatic relations with the South African regime, sending William Clark to officially inform the apartheid Prime Minister of Reagan's opposition to apartheid policies, and directly confronted the regime by appointing Edward Perkins as the first black ambassador to South Africa, which the apartheid PM there saw as infuriatingly provocative. Do those sound like the actions of a white supremacist?
  #48  
Old 07-31-2019, 12:17 PM
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I would posit that there's no need to rename anything. Reagan, like Woodrow Wilson, achieved some measure of good which cannot be taken away from him.
..and Hitler built the autobahns...

Naah, Reagan was an evil man, and we shouldn't honour the achievements of evil men.
  #49  
Old 07-31-2019, 12:19 PM
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It's pretty weak or flawed evidence, in my view. I hate to be in the position of seemingly defending Reagan, but what I'm really defending is the appropriate use of a highly loaded term like "white supremacist". Even Churchill's alleged white supremacy -- which was in a very different time and with views more extreme than anything I've seen from Reagan -- has been widely disputed -- despite the fact the he said, in 1937, "I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place." Reagan was, at worst, a common run-of-the-mill racist and did not, to my knowledge, make such statements or hold such beliefs.

As for Reagan's policies toward South Africa, I think he's been unfairly maligned for that, too, mainly based on his veto of the House bill imposing sanctions on the apartheid regime of the time. But Reagan was in fact quite strongly anti-apartheid, it's just that he was even more fervently anti-communist, and felt that economic sanctions would hurt poor South African blacks and make the nation vulnerable to communism at that point in history. But he enacted his own version of sanctions by curtailing military and diplomatic relations with the South African regime, sending William Clark to officially inform the apartheid Prime Minister of Reagan's opposition to apartheid policies, and directly confronted the regime by appointing Edward Perkins as the first black ambassador to South Africa, which the apartheid PM there saw as infuriatingly provocative. Do those sound like the actions of a white supremacist?
I think this difference of opinion stems from a difference in our understanding of what constitutes a white supremacist. What you describe doesn't necessarily conflict with these beliefs, IMO. It's almost a mundane and expected thing, in my view, if a wealthy white older American man in the 1970s is a white supremacist. That was the "default" -- not a pro-extermination view, but a "yes, it's good that white men are generally in charge of America, because white men are generally better at leading and deciding than others" kind of view. Which qualifies as white supremacist, IMO.
  #50  
Old 07-31-2019, 12:26 PM
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As for Reagan's policies toward South Africa, I think he's been unfairly maligned for that, too
Naah, he wasn't maligned enough.
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, mainly based on his veto of the House bill imposing sanctions on the apartheid regime of the time.
Bullshit. There's a lot more than that.
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