Ronald Reagan: An Introspective

by Sylvester Fadal

He is perceived as one of the greatest presidents and has been credited with helping to end the “Cold War.” Every individual has a right to their vantage points and the higher their knowledge and intellectual curiosity, the less likely they will accept the term “greatest” and “cold war” in relationship to Ronald Reagan without conducting more research on him. He may have acted in true spirit in some cases, but in most others, his actions were questionable. To be called greatest, is to be impeccable in some specific ways and I don’t exactly see that in Reagan. He may have contributed to the end of the cold war but records shows that the Soviet Union was borderline bankrupt and that the cold war would have ended sooner or later though Reagan, through his arms race competition with the Soviet Union, brought a quicker end to their survival. To give him full credit for ending the cold war is not exactly accurate.

Due to the high level of housing racism against blacks in California, Byron Rumford, a pharmacist/Assemblyman out of Oakland/Berkeley, orchestrated the Rumford Act to ban discrimination against black, essentially making it illegal for landlords to discriminate against black as they so wished. The Rumford Act passed in 1963 with Democrats and only three republicans voting for it. When Reagan ran in 1967 for the governorship of California, he campaigned as a right winger and one of his key slogans was “Repeal the Rumford Act” which, he called “A terrible thing to do” in that landlords should have the rights to discriminate if they so wished. In 1967, when the SB 1, Senate Bill 1, to repeal the fair housing in California got to the Assembly, it was a moderate Republican named William Bagley, who worked well with democrats in efforts to block the repeal. Bagley pushed for a Conference Committee to oversee the repeal process and intelligently, alongside the support of other democrats, never called a committee meeting and the bill could not be repealed.

Upon failing to get it repealed in the Assembly, it was placed on the ballot and it passed overwhelmingly recognizing that most minorities didn’t vote and were too few to make much impact at the time. Also, the overwhelming financiers presented a publicity bent to help it gain the support it needed. The only city that voted against it was the City of Oakland/Berkeley where Byron Rumford was from. Though the act was eventually found constitutional by the court of law and is currently applicable, my point is to indicate that Ronald Reagan was once against the prohibition of racial discrimination in housing in the State of California.

Reagan might have been an honorable man and as with the realities of life, we all have our mistakes. December 18, 1966, Reagan filled out a personal security questionnaire for an FBI comprehensive background check and he was noted for falsely answering two questions though his application was cleared (SSFC, 6/9/02, p. F7). He is noted for having condoned one of the worst deficits in American history while at the same time proclaiming that he was for fiscal conservatism and an advocate for less government. Some believe today, that his actions made Europe and America scary places to live in by his worldview that deemed some people evil and some people good and that God is on the side of the good people and as such alienated a significant majority of countries by claiming God is only on our side. Without blaming Reagan, let’s look at the situation today.

I, as with other millions, mourn the death of President Ronald Reagan like I would the death of anyone else that I know relatively well like I know Ronald Reagan. He was a charismatic leader to a point and obviously, he made some mistakes based on his hard-line views and as we mourn his death, the focus should not be on only what he did right but perhaps most importantly, what he could have done differently. That is the only way towards progress. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

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Anonymous June 21, 2005 - 10:53 am

The truth is always better than the spin.

Anonymous June 7, 2005 - 6:07 am

some misspeled words and if the intend was to expose Reagan's political bigotry then, in light of all that we now know, it is not hard hitting enough. There is NO need to speak so kinly of the dead if they are not deserving – American Heritage Magazine recent listed Reagan to be the most OVERRATED PRESIDENT of the 20th century and with very good reason his policies were horrific, his adminstration one [ if not the most ] corrupt in this nation's history. He stood by inert while the Saving and Loans were looted, funded and trained the Taliban, armed the drug runnning Contra Thugs, violated international law by illegally minning the harbors of a Central American which was not at war with the U.S., and was a stauch supporter of 'States Rights' [ i.e. anti-civil rights ], supported the crakdown of civil protest and personally approved of the gunning down of the unarmed students at Kent State by the National Gaurd. No may Reagan not 'REST IN PEACE' he must be exsposed for what he truly was so that his ghost may be banished from the body politic of mordern American Policies – B. Tanner, Jr.

Student April 6, 2005 - 2:18 pm

Nice article. I understand the significance of the president’s passing, and I extend my sympathy to his family and friends and may his soul rest in peace, but no one in the popular mass media seems to remember or recognize both sides of his legacy which you approriately addressed. Good Job!!!


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