Monday, November 29, 2010

The Rise of Reagan: Part Two

The following conversation erupted on my Facebook wall in response to the Reagan article:

Matthew Rozsa
In response to my Reagan article, Dan Reagan decided to post a response in which he asserted that The Gipper did not deserve the racist designation that the three British authors assigned to him back in 1969. Of course, since he didn't have the courage to post this on the message board of this thread (where everyone could read it), I have decided to show generosity of spirit and do that for him:

And now my rebuttal:

1) Danny is ignoring that the people who referred to Reagan as a racist in this piece did so in 1969, more than a decade before he had even been elected to the presidency, much less subsequently deified by the radical right. As such, the entire premise of this piece - i.e., that liberals are retroactively attributing racism to him as a means of promoting our own agenda - is inapplicable in the case of the book I've quoted.

That aside, however...

2) The article conveniently ignores each and every reason why Reagan has been called a racist, instead focusing on public relations stunts committed by the former president to protect himself from that charge (a tactic that harkens back to the days of Strom Thurmond and George Wallace), pointing out that he had black friends as a child and his father once saved a drowning African American (awww... how sweet), and arguing that right-wing programs which some liberals cite as evidence of racist animosity are in fact anything but. That said, the article doesn't discuss:

1) The fact that Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

2) The fact that Reagan opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which he claimed was an unjust humiliation of the South).

3) The fact that Reagan fought against measures which would have denied tax-exempt status to schools with racially discriminatory policies, particularly Bob Jones University.

4) The fact that Reagan supported the South African apartheid regime even at a time when many mainstream Democrats AND conservative Republicans were vocal in opposing it.

5) The fact that Reagan was notorious for using racist code language in his political campaigns, from spreading the "welfare queen" bugaboo about African-American welfare recipients to, yes, talking about states' rights.

A thought on that last example. The article you cited claims that liberals call foul on the term "states' rights" because of our deep-seated opposition to everything federalist, American, God, Family, and Apple Pie. In fact, the reason we call foul on it is because the term "states' rights" has a long history of being used by segregationist demagogues as a code for perpetuating racism in the South. It's similar to how I, as a Jew, would be a bit disturbed if an anti-Israel orator began spewing on about how the Jewish State needed its "final solution."

I don't expect you to have the intellectual fortitude and ideological chutzpah to respond to this, but if you do, please be considerate and post it on this thread. I have no qualms about making my work accessible to everyone. You shouldn't either.

Dan Reagan
post your email address so we can discuss this via email..I'm not going to get into a stupid discussion with you via FB because amongst other things, I posted a quote from Bill Parcells on your board..figure that out and when you do you'll know why I won't engage you in this manner any longer...

Matthew Rozsa
‎"They don't know what they don't know."

Yeah, I'm having a real difficult time cracking that masterpiece of tautology. Incidentally, since I do understand it, I can also say that it has absolutely no relevance to the question of why you're unwilling to debate me in an open forum. Needless to say, I'll draw my own conclusions.

Matthew Rozsa
PS: If you can prove me wrong on the countless fact-based points I just made, imagine how much you'll impress everyone who reads this thread?

Dan Reagan
Matt, My point was YOU don't know what you don't know! Period! You're not as smart as you like to believe you are. Remember I knew your father before he met your mother who you like to site for validation on this site from time to time. I have neither the time nor the inclination to debate you in a public forum where your like minded socialist sickos can chime in. If you want to continue this off line you can email me..otherwise..Parcells's line applies to youi! That's what I meant. You're a smart guy, but not as smart as you think! Lou Cannon has written 5 books on Reagan. I've read a couple. They're fair. The article I linked to was written by an intelligent black writer. But since that didn't fit your template or your argument you think you have won the argument. Okay Matt, You win! Feel better! Nobody in their right mind though, who knew the man, and LIVED back then, including Tip O'Neil, would have said that he was a racist. Only you would say it now because your guy is such a colossal failure that you have to say and do anything to change the discussion. Feel better. You're smart Matt. I can't compete with you. I bow to you. If you had ANY intellectual curiosity at all, maybe, just maybe, you'd read a book on Reagan, maybe one of Lou Cannon's 5 books or one of Peggy Noonan's 2 books before you go and make a fool of yourself again. But hey, you win Matt, I can't compete with you!

Matthew Rozsa
‎1) I've read one of Lou Cannon's books.

2) This isn't a question of our comparative intellects; it is a question of who can build the best case based on objective facts. In my response to you, I cited several facts that I believed (and still think) can be built into a persuasive case that Ronald Reagan was a racist - I did nothing more and nothing less, which is exactly what my father taught me to do when debating (he, by the way, is considerably to the right of me on most issues).

On the other hand, in your response, you didn't cite a single fact, or for that matter even address the ones that I raised. All you did was attempt to pull rank on me while insulting my intelligence.

Your son, by the way, shares your ideological vantage point but knows how to conduct himself intelligently in a fact-based and unemotional manner. You could learn a thing or two from him.

3) I gather that the "socialist sickos" to whom you refer are my good friends and mother. Part of me wants to point out that only one of them is actually a socialist (and is still a great guy, by the way), although you're probably unwilling to understanding the distinction between "socialist" and "liberal"; part of me wants to refer to a great quote from Rousseau, who said "Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong."

Instead, I will simply say, on behalf of my mother and friends...

Fuck you.

Dan Reagan
‎1)my first response to you calling Reagan a racist was to reply with a well written article written by a black columnist who made more points then I could ever hope to make in a simple post on FB.
2) He rebutted every one of your points with the exception of maybe one.
3) The fact that he is Black seemed to be lost on you..not a surprise
4) He quoted Lou Cannon's book which you now claimed to have read
5) I never cursed at you nor would I
6) I had asked you to send you your email but you refused so thus we are DONE!
7) I pulled rank? Yes, I have that right...learn to respect your will serve you well in life!
You don't know what you don't know!!
8) Adios!'

Matthew Rozsa
‎1) You responded with a columnist whose arguments I then rebutted point-by-point. You didn't acknowledge any of those rebuttals but simply became angry that I was capable of providing them.

2) He actually didn't address any of what those three British authors wrote (and let me emphasize that the controversial article "I" wrote was actually an excerpt from a book written by others in 1969, a fact you keep overlooking).

3) I love it how you keep emphasizing that this conservative was black. Does that automatically mean that he is incapable of being a racist, or at least an apologist for racists? There have been self-hating blacks - take James Meredith, the man who broke segregation at Ole Miss in 1962 by being integrated (with the help of President Kennedy), and who later endorsed David Duke for Louisiana Governor and worked for Strom Thurmond. Equivalents exist among other oppressed groups too, from Jews (Bobby Fischer) to women (Phyllis Schlafly). While I'm not going to elaborate as to why certain intelligent individuals decide to engage in hatred against their own group, suffice to say that simply saying "He's black" does not automatically mean "He's credible on everything involving racial politics."

4) I did read Lou Cannon's book.

5) You didn't curse at me, but you referred to my mother and friends as "socialist sickos", which was far worse than my responding with one word of profanity.

6, 7, 8) Wow. Just... wow.

Two final thoughts:

1) The excerpts that I included in my blog article did not focus on race relations; they made a brief reference to them (albeit one that I highlighted) while discussing in general the cultural movements that fueled Reagan's candidacy and the manner in which his mind worked. It intrigues me that you placed such disproportionate emphasis on one aspect of that piece.

2) If your sole goal is to feel good about yourself, then the emotion-based jeremiads to which you have subjected me are fine. If, on the other hand, you want to persuade people, the best tactic is to confront the logical arguments that they make one-by-point, so that objective observers can conclude that your positions are more fact-based and rational. You may notice that this is what I have done both with the article you cited and with the various posts you have put up here. On the other hand, you haven't addressed even one of the five points that I cited as to why Reagan was a racist (from the Voting Rights Act of 1964 to his use of racially-charged code rhetoric in his speeches), or for that matter confronted the tiny matter of how these authors couldn't have been trying to retroactively smear Reagan and/or take attention away from Obama if they were writing this in 1969.

If you want people to respect your ideas, learn how to debate.

Christina Cruz
Ugh, like one black person writing or saying or just knowing you makes you not racist and absolves every racist stance or statement ever made. Exploiting someone's race to try and prove your point? God, thats that undercover ignorant racism that irks the shit out of me.

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