Ask any politically active liberal about their icons, and you’re bound to hear the name of Noam Chomsky. The retired MIT linguistics professor has long skirted the line between extraordinary liberalism and outright anti-Americanism, and he’s always good for a shocking statement about the history of the United States.
Speaking to a program called GRITtv about the furor over Michael Brown, Chomsky said, “This is a very racist society…by the 1970s and 1980s, it’s going back to criminalization of black life. It’s called the drug war, which is a racist war. Ronald Reagan was an extreme racist.”
It pains me to give any further publicity to statements like that, but it’s important for conservatives to understand where liberals get their talking points. Too often, I see Republicans put compromise before conviction. Too many times in the past year, I’ve seen voters claim they want to see an end to gridlock more than anything else. But when you’re faced with this kind of warped view of the world, what hope is there for a Washington that gets along? Why would we even want that?
Bringing Down an American Hero
In 1984, Reagan won re-election by the 4th largest margin of victory in history. He has earned his place, some say, as the father of modern conservatism. Bringing the country back from the brink of Jimmy Carter’s nightmarish economy, Regan slashed inflation, destroyed unemployment, and improved the median family income for eight years straight. Oh, and he was largely responsible for putting an end to the Cold War that threatened the security of the entire world.
With that kind of legacy, it’s only natural that liberals would try to hack away at his reputation. Their nearest president of comparison is FDR, and Roosevelt last held office in 1945. They’ve tried, occasionally, to lift Bill Clinton up to Reaganesque heights, but there’s too little substance in the record books to allow it. Clinton has done more good for the world post-presidency than he did while in office. Since Democrat supporters can’t point to a legitimate presidential hero of their own, they have to attack the one across the aisle. And since they can’t very well attack his record – he wasn’t perfect, but he was a damn sight better than anyone else we’ve had in the last thirty years – they have to resort to these accusations of racism.
Odd Form of Racism
Chomsky isn’t alone is his charge. Last year’s Oscar-bait The Butler painted him as a closet racist, opposed to sanctions against South Africa for ideological reasons. In reality, Reagan opposed the sanctions because he believed they would only harm the millions of South African blacks who lived in conditions of terrible poverty. Never once did he express anything but condemnation for the apartheid government.
Still, the left isn’t to be mollified by the facts. Never mind that in 1952, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan took a bold stance for the times, calling for Hollywood to provide more jobs for black actors. Forget that in 1983, he specifically called out “the resurgence of some hate groups preaching bigotry and prejudice.” Later that same year, he spoke again on the same subject: “I’ve lived a long time, but I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t believe that prejudice and bigotry were the worst of sins.”
Okay, but what about his policies? Reagan may have talked a good game, but was his presidency responsible for “the criminalization of black life?” Well, let’s take a look. He pushed for increased funding for the enforcement of civil rights violations, he presided over a Justice Department that filed many suits against minority voter discrimination, and he made Martin Luther King Day a national holiday. Does this sound like the work of an “extreme racist?” There are arguments to be made about the failure of the War on Drugs, but you would have to drink some mighty strong Kool-Aid to believe it was driven by white supremacy.
When liberals are let off the leash, there is no Republican safe from charges of racism. At a time like today when these accusations are thrown around without the slightest scrutiny, we would do well to remember that it’s just business as usual for the nation’s dividers.