Today, February 6 is Ronald Reagan Day and to be quite frank, I’m happy to celebrate. As folks gear up to pull out all the stops and all the bells and whistles to commemorate what would’ve been the Big Gipper’s 100th birthday, (today in 2012 with the re-issue of this article..its his 101st) I too wanna leave no stone unturned. People all over the world especially our children deserve to know the truth about the man who was nick named ‘The Great Communicator‘.
First let’s start by noting that it’s been fascinating to watch as many in power in particular corporate interest who greatly benefitted from his 8 year reign have been hard at work re-writing history and making one of the most detestable figures to ever reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave seem down right angelic.
Heck while these folks are busy constructing this revisionist make over of Ronald Reagan why not to make overs and put a smiley face on Idi Amin Dada, Saddam Huessin, Augusto Pinochet, François ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, Benito Mussolini and maybe white slave owners here in the US…Oops sorry, I went too far.. We are doing revisionist make overs of slavery, thank to the Texas State Board of Education who want to refer to ‘slavery‘ as ‘Atlantic Triangular Trade’.
Thank you Kentucky Tea Party which is home to freshman Senator Rand Paul. These nut cases want to disassociate the fact that our founding fathers were slave owners. Certainly we won’t dwell on the fact that today’s congressional lawmakers after insisting on the Constitution be read during the swearing-in of the 112th congress decided to skip over the parts where it was declared that Black people are 3/5th human.
So in short revisionism here in the US is on par to the revisionism that notable figures like Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are undertaking. We are completely white washing important facts and the legacy of Ronald Reagan is a prime example.
So today as we celebrate Ronald Reagan Day lets remind the kids what this man was all about.
Should we start be reminding folks that Ronald Reagan was the ultimate corporate pitchman? Should we tell how he started out working for General Electric which as you know is one of the world’s largest weapons makers and that he modeled himself to be the ultimate peddler of corporate interests. He was one of the first indicators that the presidency was no longer for the people but for the corporation. Reagan was the personification. In their new documentary Rendezvous with Destiny, GE lays out how Reagan selling skills laid the groundwork for his assent to being the nation’s 40th president.
Should we remind the kids that Reagan was a union buster? We should dig deep into the archives and look at the Air Traffic Controllers strike of 1981 where Reagan fired 11,ooo workers and ultimately got the union Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) decertified. Reagan’s mass firing was a major line drawn in the sand. The demonizing and attacks on unions especially those within the federal government have been going ever since.
Should we remind the kids how Reagan ignored the AIDs epidemic that sprung up during his two terms? People were dying all over and good ole Ronnie was steadfast in not talking about the dreaded disease in any form or fashion. The sad joke at the time was he cared more about UFO’s than he did victims of AIDs. Ronnie was out to lunch on that crises.
Speaking of lunch, maybe we should teach the kids about how Ronald Reagan insisted that ketchup and relish were vegetables as he aggressively fought to push inner city school lunch programs to cut cooked and fresh vegetables from their menus. 30 years later we have a major health problems especially in the area of obesity amongst our youth.. Thanks Ronnie you did good.
I could always teach the kids about Reagan’s trickle down economic theory where he fought to allow rich corporations and businesses to cut taxes which would allow them to create new jobs thus benefitting the masses. I guess I should also teach the kids how many of those rich folks who got those tax breaks promptly took their American jobs overseas where they continued to enjoy tax breaks while our economy was turned upside down..
I’ll be sure to teach the kids how Reagan opposed the Equal Rights Amendment even though women at that time and even today still make less than men. we’ll also remind the kids about Reagan’s tricknology. he promised to name a woman to the supreme court (Sandra Day O’Connor) if the ERA was defeated. The end result is as we celebrate Reagan’s100th birthday he gets props for opening up the supreme court while forgetting that he threw the average everyday working woman under the bus.
The Father of Crack
I guess because so many kids are enamored with rap star Rick Ross, perhaps I could use his popularity as a teachable moment. I could start by letting kids know that Ross the rapper from Miami derived his name from Freeway Rick the drug dealer out of Los Angeles.
Freeway Rick who has been touring the country lecturing against the harmful impact of drugs is erroneously called the Father of Crack. His South Central LA operations is legendary as he’s reported to have moved up to 3 million dollars worth of product a week, but that’s only part of the story. Freeway Rick was not the Father but the proverbial God son.. The real Father of Crack was Ronald Reagan. It’s a sore point of contention to Reagan revisionists who bristle at the notion, but we know better.
You see Freeway Rick was allowed to flourish because our government at the time had some dirty war business they wanted to conduct and found it difficult to circumvent the law and limits set up by Congress. Freeway Rick was able to lavish the hood with tons of crack cocaine because of little scheme we came to know as the Iran Contra Scandal . It was the biggest scandal this country had ever known. Even bigger than Richard Nixon’s Watergate.
To sum it up what you had was in the early 80s, the US was beefing with Iran and the US was beefing with left leaning factions in Nicaragua called the Sandinistas. Reagan and his boys wanted to knock off the Sandinistas because they didn’t like their politics and the populus movement they represented. Latin America was on the rise and overthrowing dictators who were backed by the US. Reagan wanted to overthrow the Sandinistas by arming a bunch of CIA backed rebels called the Contras. Since we’re supposed to be a freedom loving country we couldn’t do our bidding publicly, and as I noted Congress wasnt with the program, so Reagan’s senior advisors launched a secret war.
What they did was covertly sell arms to Iran and take the money and use it to fund Contra operations in Nicaragua. Additional money was netted for the Contras through the sale of crack cocaine which suddenly overnight gained huge popularity in hoods throughout the country. Freeway Rick and South Central, LA was ground zero.
LAs notorious gangs became the main traffickers who spread all out the country with Freeway Rick being the kingpen. Some of this is outlined in Ice Cube’s song ‘Summer Vacation‘.
Freeway Rick’s connection to all the cocaine was a notorious drug supplier named Oscar Danilo Blandón who worked with the CIA and was a key link to the Contras. This is where the whole CIA-Crack connection story emerged . They were outlined in the explosive 1996 San Jose Mercury expose and book called Dark Alliances written by the late Gary Webb.
When all was said and done damn near all of Reagan’s senior advisors were convicted, like National Security Council member Oliver North who played a central role and was later pardoned. Reagan the Great Communicator was protected with folks saying he had no idea all this was happening on his watch. The exact term used was Reagan was ‘disengaged’
Supporter of Apartheid
The term disengaged is an interesting one because it’s in opposition to what Ronald Reagan prided himself. Here was a guy who supported South Africa’s Apartheid Regime. He aggressively opposed Nelson Mandela who was in jail as a political prisoner during Reagan’s presidency. Reagan called Mandela and his and the African National Congress a ‘terrorist organization‘.
During the early 80s, worldwide resistance to South Africa emerged including a call from the UN to have an embargo. Recording artists all over the world launched a boycott to Sun City which was a popular resort in South Africa where some of the Apartheid laws were relaxed.
Ronald Reagan along with Israel and Great Britain opposed all of it. Reagan said he supported South Africa because they stood alongside us during all our wars.. He said the best way to get rid of Apartheid was not through embargos but through this term he coined called ‘Constructive engagement‘. When he first used it left everyone stunned and asking WTF? There was nothing to engage. People were calling for an end to the brutal Apartheid regime and Reagan was opposing it. It was so bad that after he vetoed sanctions, Congress did a rare thing and over rode his veto. This man who supposedly loved freedom was on the wrong side of history when it came to making sure it was a reality for Black South Africans. It’s no wonder Nelson Mandela didn’t attend his funeral in 2004.
We can go on and on when talking about Ronald Reagan. He was a hero for those who yearned for the days when many people in marginalized communities were behind the 8 ball not in front of it. Yes when February 6th rolls around.. I will say Happy Ronald Reagan Day and commence to undo the revisionist history the power elite in this country have spent years constructing. I’ll leave with two musical heros who went in hard on Reagan back in the days. Gil Scott Heron with the song B-Movie and Melle-Mel with his song Jesse.
In the song Jesse, Mele-Mel goes in on Reagan with this classic verses.
See Ronald Reagan speaking on TV, smiling like everything’s fine and dandy
Sounded real good when he tried to give a pep talk to over 30 million poor people like me
How can we say we got to stick it out when his belly is full and his future is sunny?
I don’t need his jive advice but I sure do need his jive time money
The dream is a nightmare in disguise (Let’s talk about Jesse)
Red tape and lies fill your for spacious skies (Let’s talk about Jesse)
But don’t think that DC just did it first (Let’s talk about Jesse)
There’s a lot of DC’s all over this universe (His name is Jesse)
He started on the bottom, now he’s on the top
He proved that he could make it, so don’t ever stop
Brothers stand together and let the whole world see
Our brother Jesse Jackson go down in history
The 30th day that’s in December is a day that everyone’s gonna remember
Because on that day a righteous man, thought about taking a brand new stand
The name of the man is Jesse Jackson and his call is for peace without an action
‘Cause now is the time to change the nation without just another negotiation
He went to the East for human rights to free a lieutenant shot down in flight
Just another statistic and the government knew it, they didn’t even want the man to go do it
Before he left, he called the president’s home and Reagan didn’t even answer the phone
But I tell you one thing and that’s a natural fact, you can bet he calls Jesse when Jesse got back
As we conclude.. lets celebrate Ronald Reagan Day with enthusiasm.. He was a piece of work that has been handsomely made over. If they can do it for him, they can do it for you. That means there’s hope for the most vile among us..