The following is the text of a letter I recently sent to Michael Reagan, son of the late former President:
Thursday June 17, 2004
To: Michael Reagan
Dear Michael Reagan,
First of all, let me pray that God may bless and comfort you and the entire Reagan family. I join you in mourning and sadness. I also owe your father an apology, and I hope you will accept it, even though it is late in coming.
I'm a Christian now, and have been for almost a decade. But I was no Christian when your father was President -- I was a radical anti-government activist, an opponent of patriotism, and an open supporter of communism and revolution. You can imagine that I was no fan of President Reagan.
In 1982, I appeared as a guest on the Barry Farber radio program in New York City. I was a supporter of the Socialist Workers Party, but did not so identify myself. Rather, I spoke as a representative of a government employees union, complaining about the government's labor relations. Other guests on the panel had contrary views. During the course of the program's heated debate, I called President Reagan a racist, accusing him of deliberately promoting racism against minority employees in government.
The talk show host, Barry Farber (a true gentleman), tried to calm things down, and quickly went to a commercial. During the break, he said to me that what I said probably came out wrong, and he said that after the break he would go to me first so I could clarify that I meant to say I simply disagreed with the President's policies, and didn't mean to call him a racist. But when the commercial ended and he resumed the discussion, I arrogantly and sarcastically repeated the exact same mean-spirited accusation.
Years later, I became a Christian and a patriot. I regret many things, and I owe many apologies. Last week, during the national mourning for your father, a strong feeling of guilt struck me. That guilt was appropriate, because I was guilty of falsely accusing and insulting your father. I apologize, now, to you on his behalf, and I hope that you can accept my apology and forgive me.
I no longer hold the extremist views I held back then. I've learned a great deal since then, and I realize now that when you disagree with someone, you should say "I disagree with you," and not exaggerate and slander them.
Your father was a good man, and he played a major role in defeating communism. God bless his memory.
Steve Beren, Seattle, Washington