Thursday, June 30, 2005
The Greatest American?Are you as embarrassed by this charade put on by the Discovery Channel as I am? Ronald Reagan was the greatest American ever? George W. Bush made it to number six? Is this a joke? Hell, even Oprah Winfrey made it in the top 10. She just got beat out by Elvis. But let's get back to Reagan. The fact that he was voted the Greatest American says a lot about our culture--none of it good.
Let's take a look at the Greatest American. In his bio on the Discovery Channel site it mentions that Ronald Reagan was the
...only president who had headed a labor union...
As a union carpenter I suppose I should get a warm feeling in my tummy at the thought of a great labor organizer like Ronald Reagan occupying the White House. Unfortunately, I have a memory. Reagan was fiercely anti-labor. He waged a long and brutal war against unions and the labor movement throughout his time in office, launching the first salvo in the summer of 1981, firing 13,000 striking air traffic controllers.
If you'd like to understand the real Reagan legacy one need look no further than the plight of the labor movement here in this country. Feast your eyes on this gem from the Bureau of Labor Statistics :
In 2003, 12.9 percent of wage and salary workers were union members, down from 13.3 percent in 2002. The union membership rate has steadily declined from a high of 20.1 percent in 1983, the first year for which comparable union data
Reagan is usually remembered for his war on drugs, but people seem to forget his war on labor. One should keep in mind also that the above figure of 13.3 includes both private and public workers. Only 7.9 % of workers in the private sector are organized or represented by any union in this country.
And let us not forget his war crimes. Do we even have time to go through them all? Probably not. A quick review. Reagan was responsible for waging a terrorist war against Nicaragua. In fact, the United States was found guilty of international terrorism by the world's highest legal body the International Court of Justice. What did the great communicator do? He escelated the brutal campaign against Nicaragua, of course. Death squads and proxy armies reigned in terror throughout central America under the watchful eye of Ronald Reagan, killing tens of thousands of people, and making certain that popular movements and democracy would be stopped at all cost.
For a closer examination of the many crimes committed by Ronald Reagan check out the Conclusions and Judgment of Brussels Tribunal on Reagan’s Foreign Policy where you'll find a pretty detailed list of Reagan's numerous war crimes including this one:
Mining Nicaraguan Harbors. The Reagan administration’s mining of Nicaraguan harbors violates the rules of international law set forth in the 1907 Hague Convention on the laying of Submarine Mines, to which both Nicaragua and the United States are parties.
Of course people don't care about Reagan killing people in Central America or kicking a little labor ass, right? After all, this is the guy who ended the Cold War! He brought down the Evil Empire, right? Wrong. This ridiculous notion has been repeated so much in this country that it's a wonder anybody remembers that it's a complete lie. William Blum, in his article Reagan Didn't End the Cold War, quotes former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, George F. Kennan, who sums it up nicely:
The suggestion that any United States administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish.
If anything, Reagan's superflous rhetoric hindered rather than helped end the Cold War. And if any credit should be given, it should be given to Gorbechev and the activists within the Soviet Union that had been pushing for change for a long, long time.
Reagan was a lunatic. He strongly believed that his administration was on the verge of fighting a nuclear battle with the Soviet Union. Moreover, he believed that in accordance with biblical prophecy, the "Evil Empire" would invade Israel, that Americans and the Soviets would nuke it out and that Jesus would come down from heaven. So keep in mind that while Gorbechev was actually intent on eliminating these horrible weapons, Reagan thought they were a good thing, something needed to bring about biblical prophecy.
How the imbecile ever attained the title "The Great Communicator" is lost on me. His public ramblings were so incoherant that newspapers could seldom ever quote him verbatim. We're all familiar with Bushisms, well here is one from Reagan:
When asked whether a U.S./Soviet nuclear confrontation could be limited, Reagan replied (remember this quote is verbatim now), "I don't honestly know. I think, again, untilsomeplace--all over the world this is being, research going on, to try and find the defensive weapon. There never has been a weapon thatThat's the Greatest American? The fact that he was chosen in this contest says so much about anti-intellectualism in this country. It's a complete indictment of our media. How on earth could a raving imbecile like Reagan be thought of so highly unless the media failed us? And it illustrates quite clearly why we have a Reagan replica sitting in the White House now, with most of the players that helped committ the war crimes from the Reagan days back in top positions committing more crimes.
Of course this is just a silly little popularity contest. But of all the great men and women that have strived to make this country better it is a shame that Ronald Reagan should even make the list, let alone be first on it. For some reason I imagine aliens coming down to us and asking us, "Give us an example of your greatest American." We show them Ronald Reagan. They smile and say, "No, no, no, you're best and shining example of what Americans are, someone who made your country great." We just stare at them with this glazed look and say, "Yep, that's him." They look at each other in puzzlement and then jump in their spaceships and head home without another word!
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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