Andrew Magrath (biggrumpy) wrote,
Andrew Magrath

MLK Day & An Oddity of Politics

I find in odd that when Hillary Clinton (whom I have no fondness for whatsoever) pointed out that the civil rights movement needed both the charismatic grassroots movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. AND the political actualization of the Civil Rights Act signed by LBJ, she was strongly criticized. Though she said it in a flippant way that seemed to downplay the role of Dr. King, she was speaking of a basic democratic truth. The civil rights movement required a fundamental change to the government itself that could have only happened through internal reform or drastic overthrow. I am of the belief that the grassroots movement forced the government to sign the Civil Rights Act, but, regardless of which influenced which more, both sides were needed. I believe that is what Mrs Clinton was suggesting.

So I was particularly surprised and disappointed with our media when Barak Obama spoke favorably about Ronald Reagan. I realize Obama (whom I also have no fondness for whatsoever) was stating a fact that Reagan fundamentally changed our country. This is true, of course. Reagan took us off the noble course laid out for us by FDR and Kennedy. Reagan did his best to ruin the nation (there'd be no G.W. Bush without Ronald Reagan). But I digress. Obama spoke of Reagan with a kind of breathless enthusiasm that the Giper unified the country because people were desperate for change as if Reagan was a great president who enacted glorious revolution. This "interpretation" of Reagan is delusional and upsetting in itself, but what really irks me about this whole thing is this, while signing the bill creating Martin Luther King Day (a bill he opposed), a reporter asked Reagan if Dr. King was a communist. Reagan, in his typical lovably 'ohhh grampa!' racist way, responded, "we'll know in 50 years when his FBI file is opened." Reagan also described King as a "near-communist". In a time when calling someone a communist was akin to calling them a terrorist today. So where was the outrage with Obama's choice of heroes that we saw with Clinton? Anybody? Anybody?

I'm not suggesting that the media went after Clinton because she was white and Obama is black, I think it has more to do with the fact that we are well on our way to making Reagan a saint. And talking about how he called Martin Luther King Jr. a COMMUNIST doesn't jive with our image of St. Reagan. This frightens me to no end. I have a friend who was talking about how great Reagan was so I laid out an outline of why he wasn't: debt, trickle down economics, illegal breaking of unions, blatant ignorance, fear peddling, war hawking, Iran Contra, radical conservatism, the whole forests produce more CO2 than a factory, etc. My friend listened closely nodding his head that all of this was pretty bad, and then responded, "Yeah, but he was a good president!" I suppose the deification of Reagan is inevitable and in our current political climate makes sense, after all, Ambrose Bierce defined a saint as, "A dead sinner revised and edited."

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