Grateful Dread on the Web (January 2003)
On Grace and RWR
Are you sick of the seemingly nonstop coverage of "national mourning?" Yeah, me too. Thank the goddess for "Elimidate." Funeral? Procession? Watching the plane carrying his remains fly into DeeCee? No thanks, I pass.
As previously stated, I am all for folks injecting truth about Ronald Reagan into the ongoing one-sided lovefest. An accurate portrayal of the man must include good and bad, and if there are those who see more bad than good, well, they have the right and duty to speak their truth.
Into this arena comes commentator and cartoonist Ted Rall. I like much of Rall's work - his published opinions are sometimes incendiary (which is not necessarily a bad thing), and more often than not (such as in the case of his controversial and harsh May 3 take on the granting of "hero" status to football star-turned-friendly-fire-casualty Pat Tillman), he is dead right. Most of the positions in Rall's take on Mr. Iran-Contra are in line with mine. Check out this excerpt from his June 9 commentary, "Reagan's Shameful Legacy":
Reagan's defenders, people who don't know the facts or choose to ignore them, claim that "everybody" admired Reagan's ebullient personality even if some disagreed with his politics. That, like the Gipper's tall tales about welfare queens and "homeless by choice" urban campers, is a lie. Millions of Americans cringed at Reagan's simplistic rhetoric, were terrified that his anti-Soviet "evil empire" posturing would provoke World War III, and thought that his appeal to selfishness and greed - a bastardized blend of Adam Smith and Ayn Rand - brought out the worst in us. We rolled our eyes when Reagan quipped "There you go again"; what the hell did that mean? Given that he made flying a living hell (by firing the air traffic controllers and regulating the airlines), I'm not the only one who refuses to call Washington National Airport by its new name. His clown-like dyed hair and rouged cheeks disgusted us. We hated him during the dark days he made so hideous, and, with all due respect, we hate him still.
Rall had me until the last sentence. While I can't say I liked the man and I certainly didn't admire him or find inspiration or optimism in him, I emphatically do not hate Reagan. Then again, I don't hate any person. Rall, here, is expressing his emotions truthfully; he has that right. But it is important for folks on the Left to stand against hate in any form - trust me, the Right will hold all libs accountable for the publicly expressed hatred of a few, so we must speak against hate.
Listen to O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Carlson, Coulter et al, if you can stomach them: They insist that the Left is all about hatred. Not so. Some so-called progressives indeed hate, but not all do. This lib may hate right-wing policies and actions (and some Democratic ones as well), but that doesn't mean personally hating the Shrub or Rummy or John Effin' Kerry or Ronnie Ray-gun.
If you are opposed to hate, you should oppose it when it comes from the Right and the Left. After all, progressivism is supposed to be about peace and love - the antithesis of hate - isn't it?
Rall defends his criticism of Reagan, and I do not disagree with him a bit on it. As he notes for Conspiracy Planet, "Imagine what would happen when Clinton dies, and they gloss over the fact that he lied under oath. I bet there will be conservative writers there to point that out and say something similar to what I said. And I think it is completely appropriate."
Absolutely right, and not just because I am no fan of Slick Willie. I can deal with folks praising Reagan, but without telling the full story of the man and his deeds, it amounts to nothing more than inane sycophancy. We need the counterpoints.
Still, there is a huge difference between pointing out a dead president's sins and envisioning him burning in Hell.
In a June 6 rant on his blog, Rall really showed the lengths of his hatred:
...that Ronald Reagan didn't die in prison, where he belonged for starting an illegal, laughably unjustifiable war against Grenada under false pretenses (the "besieged" medical students later said they were nothing of the sort) and funneling arms to hostages during Iran-Contra.
Oh, and 9/11? That was his. Osama bin Laden and his fellow Afghan "freedom fighters" got their funding, and nasty weapons, from Reagan.
A real piece of work, Reagan ruined the federal budget, trashed education, alienated our friends and allies and made us a laughing stock around the world.
Anyway, I'm sure he's turning crispy brown right about now.
Again, I'm with him until the very last sentence. Perhaps a lot of libs are saying that sort of thing in private (I'm praying for them). And honesty is indeed the best policy. But speaking for myself, I believe the Creator is a merciful deity. Avoiding hell is based on favor and God's grace, not merit. (If not for this, I trust most of us would end up a crispy brown.) Meaning, if I have a shot of getting into heaven, so should Ronnie Ray-gun. And I have to wish for that, even as I criticize what the 40th president did throughout his hellish reign.
So, please forgive me if I borrow a question from - of all people - El Rushbo: Where's the love, Ted?