A popular adage goes: "Never say anything but good about the dead."
Ronald Reagan is dead.
While I realize that such a sentiment can be anathema in a milieu where America's neo-fascist, corporate-controlled media, corrupted by a plethora of sycophantic, propaganda-driven pseudo-journalists, have spent days endeavoring to transform Reagan into a demigod, I take succor in the fact that these are the same media that, for the sake of ratings and profits, zealously disseminated the lies of the Bush dictatorship to promote the war against Iraq, and who censored (and continue to censor) voices of dissent, including, not uncoincidentally, a made-for-television movie about the Reagans.
Although Reagan's long overdue demise made me reflect upon the finality of death, it was the deaths that Reagan and those of his ilk instigated through their policies, their racism, their avarice and their callous lack of concern for anybody not rich enough to be considered "human" that I mourned.
In the myopic world of Ronald Reagan, exploiting human and natural resources in poorer countries, and fueling the lust for wealth and material possessions in America, regardless of the social or economic costs, were more important than compassion or social justice.
Many forget that Reagan destroyed the careers of many actors, directors and writers by becoming a government informant during the McCarthy era's "red scare" of the 1950s. In turn, Hollywood's fear of making movies of substance during this period aided Reagan's "B" movie career with films like BEDTIME FOR BONZO. Informant Reagan even had the audacity to star in a 1957 movie called HELLCATS OF THE NAVY, which had been co-written by a McCarthy era blacklisting victim named Bernard Gordon, who had to write the film under the pseudonym Raymond T. Marcus.
During his tenure as governor of California during the 1960s, Reagan and his supporters endorsed the brutal suppression of protests. After a student named James Rector was killed by police during a clash over an area of land known as the "People's Park" in Berkeley, a Reagan crony, Edwin Meese, was quoted as saying that Rector "deserved to die." Reagan would later appoint Meese to the office of United States Attorney-General, the highest law enforcement position in the land. While Meese's efforts to dismantle The Bill of Rights while Attorney-General met with limited success, they are earnestly being carried out today by an equally contemptible Attorney-General named John Ashcroft.
Reagan's racism was clearly in evidence when he, along with his hand puppet, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Tony Blair was not the first British leader to serve as an American dupe), opposed sanctions against the apartheid regime of South Africa, even though the torture and deaths of activists like Stephen Biko had resulted in protests and outrage throughout the world.
And, while remembering Reagan to predictable exorbitance, the corporate- controlled media seem to have forgotten the deaths of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador, and four church workers named Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, who were all murdered by Salvadoran death squads-- death squads that the Reagan regime came to embrace.
And Americans may never know the names and faces of others throughout the world who were murdered with the blessings and/or covert support of Ronald Reagan and his cronies.
When the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) needed funds to support and arm these death squads, the Reagan regime turned the agency into the biggest drug cartel in the world. Although the resulting "Iran-Contra scandal" supposedly put a halt to using drug proceeds to fund "black ops" and other illegal activities, subsequent events have proven otherwise. When Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was diminishing CIA drug profits by engaging in drug trafficking himself, he quickly went from American ally to American enemy.
Currently, American troops in Afghanistan and Columbia are busily eradicating the competition so the heroin and cocaine resources in both countries can come under exclusive CIA control.
On the domestic front, Reagan's policies helped to widen the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots," and this gap has been widening ever since. He deregulated the banking industry so his friends and supporters could corruptly enrich themselves, ultimately forcing American taxpayers to spend billions of dollars "bailing out" plundered and defunct Savings and Loans companies.
But perhaps the main reason for the worship of Ronald Reagan by conservatives and profit-driven media is because he destroyed the "Spirit of the 1960s." During this decade, America metamorphosed from the optimistic idealism of the Kennedy years to the angry militancy and subsequent repression of the Nixon years. While there is no doubt that excesses resulted as frustration mounted, and as the assassinations of people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy diminished hope for the future, at least people, particularly young people, were informed, involved and cognizant of world events.
These excesses, however, were not limited to militant movements, and some of the worst were committedby the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)under the auspices of its now infamous "COINTELPRO" operation. Yet, when it came time to, as Reagan stated, "Forgive those who engaged in such excesses," his so-called "compassion" consisted of pardoning two FBI agents who had been convicted of violating the civil rights of political activists. While neither one of these agents ever served a day in prison for their crimes, many radicals convicted through the illegal machinations of COINTELPRO still remain in prison. And despite pronouncements that COINTELPRO had been phased out after its abuses were revealed during the "Church Committee" hearings of the mid-1970s, COINTELPRO tactics continued to be used during Reagan's presidency, particularly against The Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES).
Reagan's legacy also helped to establish (as I recently stated in BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, Pravda 5/28/04) the two sets of laws that exist in America: one for those whose serve America's plutocracy and thus can commit crimes with impunity; another for those who dare to challenge or even question this plutocracy, and thus are harassed, charged with bogus crimes and often wrongfully imprisoned or killed. America's blind acceptance of the lies that lead to the Iraqi war, and the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, graphically illustrate how Reagan's example continues to plague America's institutions, America's legal system, and America's policies.
So it is not difficult to see why a capitalist society, where human worth is based almost exclusively upon the amount of wealth and material possessions one acquires, would deify Ronald Reagan. America, after all, is a schizophrenic land that demands truth, yet is always satisfied with illusion. Ronald Reagan personified that illusion, always performing his lines on cue, and posing for the cameras. But as I suffered through over four days of fawning and genuflections lavished upon a man who deserved neither, I realized that no amount of human tributes or syrupy eulogies will ever wash the blood from Ronald Reagan's hands.
I also realized how vacuous human praise really is. History has proven, time and again, that people who are truly great are those who do not lust for mortal power nor seek adulation from the masses. Lao Tse, the Founder of Taoism, was so unconcerned about fame and recognition that His classic TAO TE CHING might never have been written, except for the entreaties of a gatekeeper; the Founder of Christianity died a torturous death, betrayed and denied by some of his closest followers; and the Founder of Buddhism rejected a life of luxury and privilege to search for enlightenment and truth.
Ronald Reagan had his mortal power. And Ronald Reagan received his mortal praise. But the media and the masses may genuflect all they want, because Reagan's ultimate fate will not reside in their hands. What tells the tale of any life is whether one's passing made the heavens weep and the angels mourn. If there is any truth and justice in the universe, then the commitment, courage and sacrifice of people like James Rector, Oscar Romero, Stephen Biko, Jean Donovan and her colleagues, and countless other martyrs, who never got the chance to live to the age of ninety-three, will mean more than all the illusory praise given to people like Ronald Reagan.
David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of PRAVDa.Ru