I Write Letters

Dear President Obama:

I know everybody's writing barfmessages for Ronald Reagan because February 6 would have been his 100th barfday, so you were obliged to write some barfatorial saying something nice, and it is totally understandable that you would choose to highlight his alleged love of barfpartisanship, since that's your favoritest thing ever.

But was it really not possible to do it without LYING?

President Reagan did not, in fact, put the US "on a bold new path toward" accountability. See: Iran-Contra.

President Reagan also did not "work with leaders of all political persuasions," except by the very narrow definition of "conservative" and "less conservative," because he had no time for actual progressives, anywhere in the world.

President Reagan was not so much a believer "in the importance of reaffirming values like hard work and personal responsibility" as much as he was an unapologetic social Darwinist.

And this? "But perhaps even more important than any single accomplishment was the sense of confidence and optimism President Reagan never failed to communicate to the American people." That's just bullshit, right there.

When I hear the name Reagan, I think of two things—neither of which are "confidence" or "optimism." I am reminded that his sunny fucking optimism didn't do much good for the thousands of people who died of AIDS while he ignored its fucking existence. His indifference to a grave health crisis left an entire community in a state of panic, abandoned by their government.

And I am reminded of the abject terror I used to feel when I was 10 years old and scared out of my mind that I was going to be killed by a nuke, because my president was a wanton fearmonger, just like the son of his veep/successor was. The Enemy was different then, but the game was the same.

In Northwest Indiana, even the children knew we were a "Soviet target" because we were—were, also thanks to Ronald Reagan—one of the epicenters of US steel production. "If they launch them," I remember my father saying, "at least we'll be dead right away." The thin plywood of my desktop that was meant to save me in case of attack would not. I knew that. And that attack always felt imminent—because I listened to my president. I saw him on the television, solemnly intoning grave threat. Two decades later, I understand he needed money for his ridiculous space weapon. Then, I was petrified.

I associate the name Ronald Reagan with deadly indifference and fear.

And reflexively citing Reagan's cheery, rouge-cheeked mask of optimism to obfuscate the reality of his grim, corrupt, militaristic, corporate-serving, middle class-dismantling, social safety net-destroying tenure is a conservative trick in which I cannot believe I must see a Democratic president engaging, even if it is in a polite memorial.

That is a dangerous whitewashing of history, for the sake of honoring a man n the basis that he could be friends with a Democrat after 6:00—which really isn't all that impressive when you consider he didn't say the word "AIDS" publicly until 1986.

It's not difficult to be friends with someone who's like you in virtually every way. It's tragic to pretend people not like you don't even exist. Especially when you're a democratically-elected representative of those people, too.

I don't know what it is that compels you to sing Reagan's praises, Mr. President, but I really hope, for all our sakes, you let go of it.


P.S. Barf.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus