“The past is never dead. … Actually, it’s not even past. – William Faulkner
After carefully researching the issue I cannot deny that the President is a racist.
No, not Donald Trump. He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. I’m talking about a real racist.
Lyndon Johnson said the word “nigger” a lot.
In Senate cloakrooms and staff meetings, Johnson was practically a connoisseur of the word. According to Johnson biographer Robert Caro, Johnson would calibrate his pronunciations by region, using “nigra” with some southern legislators and “negra” with others. Discussing civil rights legislation with men like Mississippi Democrat James Eastland, who committed most of his life to defending white supremacy, he’d simply call it “the nigger bill.”
Johnson was a man of his time, and bore those flaws as surely as he sought to lead the country past them. For two decades in Congress he was a reliable member of the Southern bloc, helping to stonewall civil rights legislation. As Caro recalls, Johnson spent the late 1940s railing against the “hordes of barbaric yellow dwarves” in East Asia. Buying into the stereotype that blacks were afraid of snakes (who isn’t afraid of snakes?) he’d drive to gas stations with one in his trunk and try to trick black attendants into opening it. Once, Caro writes, the stunt nearly ended with him being beaten with a tire iron.
Nor was it the kind of immature, frat-boy racism that Johnson eventually jettisoned. Even as president, Johnson’s interpersonal relationships with blacks were marred by his prejudice. As longtime Jet correspondent Simeon Booker wrote in his memoir Shocks the Conscience, early in his presidency, Johnson once lectured Booker after he authored a critical article for Jet Magazine, telling Booker he should “thank” Johnson for all he’d done for black people. In Flawed Giant, Johnson biographer Robert Dallek writes that Johnson explained his decision to nominate Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court rather than a less famous black judge by saying, “when I appoint a nigger to the bench, I want everybody to know he’s a nigger.”
Well, there it is. I hate that word. To the best of my knowledge that is the first time that word has appeared on this blog in 9 years. In fact, that word has been banned, so if you put that word in a comment the comment will disappear into the ether and reappear in the spam filter.
Yesterday morning I was sitting on the throne and reading the Merced Sun-Star when I found the editorial quoted below. It originally appeared in the Sac Bee. It’s a good thing I was seated on the toilet when I read it.
“It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation,” Will Rogers once said, “but you can lose it in a minute.”
This certainly seems to be the case with former President Ronald Reagan, who served as California’s governor from 1967 to 1975. Just a few awful seconds of a 1971 conversation, secretly recorded by then-President Richard Nixon, is all it has taken to indisputably recast Reagan as an unabashed racist.
Unabashed? Ronald Reagan was unashamed to be a racist?
President Donald Trump’s increasingly racist rhetoric has stunned political observers, yet he’s simply playing to a constituency that was cultivated over decades by people like Nixon and Reagan. They may have operated on a more subtle level, saving the worst of their bigotry for private conversations instead of declaring it in tweets. Yet the core principle remains the same: racism.
Increasingly racist rhetoric?
Did I lose a few days again? Did Trump call somebody the N-word? Because I have never seen Trump say anything racist. I’ve seen him deliver plenty of insults and some epic put-downs, but most of his targets were white people, and he almost always lets them take the first shot.
Why are we talking about Trump anyway? This is supposed to be about Reagan.
While some political observers wish to cast Trump as an anomaly of history, the truth is that he’s a logical heir to the bigoted lineage of his predecessors. In 1964, the Republican Party began using the “southern strategy,” a ploy to win over white voters in the south by stoking racial anxiety. In 1969, President Nixon launched the drug war as a way to lock up black people, according to one of his top aides.
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” said former Nixon domestic policy chief John Erlichmann in a 1994 interview with journalist Dan Baum. “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.”
Yeah, hippies didn’t really smoke pot, and heroin was not a scourge of the black community. Nixon made that all up. Heroin and weed were both legal until Nixon came along.
Why are we talking about Nixon? I thought this was about Reagan?
Reagan’s critics have long pointed out both the implicit and explicit racism in his statements and policies.
“If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so,” said Reagan during his 1966 campaign for governor.
Now we’re getting to it. This is just pure racism. There is no other explanation. It’s not like Reagan had some conservative ideology that viewed individual liberty and property rights as almost sacred or anything. The idea that in a free country a person has a right to be a racist is loony tunes. If that was true the ACLU would be defending the right of Nazis to march through a Jewish community.
Yes, Reagan’s racism was there all along, in plain sight, for everyone to see. Yet, for decades, it was also easy for him to get away with it. Not anymore. Times have changed, and the taped conversation with Nixon lays bare Reagan’s unadulterated racism.
I used to think that “unadulterated” meant kids playing without parental supervision. But I know what “plain sight” means. Which is weird, because for years the Democrats have been saying that Reagan was a racist but he kept it hidden.
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.
Great googley moogley!
I thought that what LBJ said was bad, but this is just beyond the pale. Oh, . . wait . . . is “beyond the pale” racist?
This post has growed like Topsy so I’m not going to defend Reagan’s comment other than to say that it is hardly the worst example of racism I’ve ever seen. Here is an article by Jay Nordlinger that explains in detail why calling Reagan a racist is bullshit. Here is another by Paul Kengor at American Spectator.
I have two points I want to make:
1. We should judge people on the totality of their lives, and not on a single comment or incident. And not all racism is created equal. At one end of the scale, you have guys wearing white robes and hoods burning crosses and lynching black men and blowing up black churches. At the other end you have a racial comment that was made in private and that hurt no one. There needs to be a single standard that covers everyone, not one standard for Republicans and another for the Democrats.
2. It should come as no surprise that 2 1/2 years after the election the Democrats still have not accepted that Hillary lost. They still haven’t made their peace with the results of the elections in 1968 and 1980. The comment they uncovered was made almost 50 years ago, and both participants in the conversation are dead. They won’t let Reagan and Nixon rest in peace.
The things that Nixon nearly got impeached and had to resign over are mere infractions compared to what Obama’s Deep Staters were doing. Ronald Reagan left office 30 years ago. He died and was buried 15 years ago. Nonetheless, the Democrats want to disinter his bones and trash his life and his legacy.
There is an old saying that “winners write history.” Not if the Democrats have anything to say about it. If the GOP doesn’t stop them they will write the textbooks that will say that Donald J. Trump was an open and notorious racist who colluded with Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton.
If the Republicans stop them from turning fake news into fake history 20 years from now they will try again in 30 years. If they are stopped in 30 years they will try again in 40 years.
Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Democrats say, “It ain’t over ’til we win.”