Monday, June 7, 2004

Much of the world remembers Ronald Reagan as a friend and a historic president, but some writers and activists are vilifying the late president.

Hollywood actor Danny Glover said Mr. Reagan would be remembered most for the Iran-Contra scandal, in which he approved the sales of weapons to Iran and funneled proceeds to guerrillas in Nicaragua.

“We all know Reagan’s legacy, from the Iran-Contra affair to the funding of the Nicaraguan military, in which over 200,000 people died,” Mr. Glover said at a Sunday rally in Los Angeles to protest U.S. involvement in Iraq. “The groundwork for the move steadily to the right happened with the Reagan administration. People want to elevate him to some mythic level. They have their own reason for doing that.”

Christopher Hitchens, in a column for the online journal Slate (, said Mr. Reagan was “dumb as a stump” and “a cruel and stupid lizard.”

Liberal author Greg Palast begins a column on his Web site ( with, “You’re not going to like this. You shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone’s got to.”

Mr. Palast blamed Mr. Reagan for the 1983 terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon. “Killer, coward, conman. Ronald Reagan, good-bye and good riddance,” the column ends.

On his Web site (, cartoonist Ted Rall said of Mr. Reagan: “I’m sure he’s turning crispy brown right about now.”

“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,” wrote Mr. Rall, author of “Wake Up, You’re Liberal: How We Can Take America Back From the Right.”

In a column on the Web site of Black Entertainment Television (, Joe Davidson praised Mr. Reagan for signing the legislation for Martin Luther King Day and said “he liked horses.”

But the columnist called Mr. Reagan’s two terms “a long and dreary night for African Americans” and said Mr. Reagan “supported racism with remarks like those that characterized poor, black women as ‘welfare queens’” and “appointed conservative judges, like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who continue to issue rulings to the detriment of African Americans.”

In a column yesterday, Editor and Publisher senior editor Joe Strupp scolded newspapers for treating Mr. Reagan softly in their remembrances.

“The overwhelming praise for a president who plunged the nation into its worst deficit ever, ignored and cut public money for the poor while also ignoring the AIDS crisis, is a bit tough to take,” he wrote.

Activists for homosexuals also criticized Mr. Reagan, whom they blamed for being slow to respond to the AIDS epidemic.

“Ronnie will spend eternity in hell for his treachery,” wrote Robert Kunst, a Florida-based activist.

“Reagan was one of the most despicable presidents,” wrote Mr. Kunst, adding that Mr. Reagan was “responsible for 500,000 American AIDS deaths and 10 million worldwide, while he catered to the right wing in this country, and then also disgraced America by going to Bitburg, Germany, in August 1985, to honor the SS. Nazis murderers buried there.”

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