RONALD WILSON REAGAN
Against The Grain
The treacly encomia, bordering on hagiography, that
greeted the death of Ronald Reagan left some of us bemused, some
of us angry, some of us feeling like strangers in our own country
Why is this the case? In the words of one eminent
black scholar, "Reagan was so genial that
no one could possibly believe his policies were as mean-spirited
as they were." But the truth is they were mean-spirited, a fact
no one is better equipped to appreciate than disabled Americans
and gay Americans, whose rights Ronald Reagan ignored or abrogated
with avuncular charm, but abrogated nonetheless.
Hendrik Hertzberg's litany of
domestic abuses (below) is no more than a summary reminder of Reagan's
domestic "achievements." The editorial that follows was
brought to our attention by a BENT reader abroad. Let the Philippines
stand in for a handful of other countries where Ronald Reagan's
policies brought forth a harvest of rotten fruit.
George Bush used Ronald Reagan's
death to draw parallels between his own administration and Reagan's.
Nothing could be more accurate politically. Nothing could be more
telling morally. Remember that in November.
"He Made Callousness Respectable"
Reagan's domestic policies, like those of the current incumbent,
were almost uniformly appalling. He shifted the tax burden downward,
exacerbated economic inequality; created gigantic deficits, undermined
environmental, civil-rights, and labor protections, neglected the
AIDS epidemic, and packed the courts with reactionary mediocrities.
He made callousness respectable.
The New Yorker
June June 28, 2004
" Reagan Was No Friend To The Philippines"
MANILA - The "Palace in the Sky," the hilltop mansion that Ferdinand
Marcos built in Tagaytay City, outside Manila, is Ronald Reagan's
monument in the Philippines. It is a monument to the cynicism and
extravagance his leadership inspired in Filipino politicians.
all his sense of vision, his devotion to the American brand of democracy
and his conservatism that changed the political landscape of America,
Reagan's influence on the Philippines and Latin America represented
nothing new, and in fact, represented a darker more sinister permutation
of American policy. Democracy was something to be insisted upon
in Europe, but was something unnecessary, and even inconvenient,
in Asia and Latin America. Democracy in the Philippines was inconvenient
and unnecessary in Ronald Reagan's worldview. Having a loyal lackey
in Manila was, however, essential.
can never forget Reagan sending his vice president, George Bush,
to proclaim their "love" for Marcos' "devotion to the democratic
process." We can never forget, nor forgive, Reagan's public statements
that in a country where Filipinos were chaining themselves to ballot
boxes and dying at the hands of Marcos' goons, "there was cheating
on both sides". We can neither gloss over nor understand, then,
as now, Reagan's last-ditch efforts to try to form a government
composed of Marcos and the opposition. When Reagan began to suffer
from Alzheimer's disease, he engineered a bowing out from the public
eye, all the better to preserve his image and his legacy. Undeniably,
he was and remains a beloved American president. We are not, however,
America, and we are not Americans. At the bier of Reagan must be
laid, posthumously, the eradication of a bond of trust nurtured
by World War II, and dissipated by martial law. We cannot be kind
to him in death, because every day of our lives, our country continues
to suffer from the manner in which Reagan confused his friendship
with the Marcoses with the broader interests of his country and
may be that everything Reagan did was less due to affection for
the Marcoses, and more along the lines of American interests in
our region. This only goes to show how those interests are so widely
divergent from the interests of our own country.
billions of pesos stolen; the thousands of people dead and maimed;
the lives crushed and wasted; the ideals ground in the dust: all
these are factors in the delicate democracy we are still so hard
pressed to sustain. Ronald Reagan turned a blind eye to all these
sufferings. As he rests in peace, this country must remember its
uneasiness will long outlive the man. That he is a great man by
American standards only goes to show how different American ideals
can be from our own.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
June 10, 2004
Let us know what you think
of this BENT feature.
BENT: A Journal of CripGay