Reagan's legacy & gay marriage
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Mostly I'll remember President Ron as the man who began the deepening of ties between American fundagelicals and the Republican Party. A boost in ignorant office holders who believe the Genesis account of the creation of life on earth. And political job seekers willing to cuddle up to them and the moral bigots.
Extracted from a short note I wrote about Reagan's passing in my anti-theism weblog.
"We wonder today how far we would be in solving the AIDS crisis if Reagan had both recognized the scope of the tragedy and had more respect for the plight of gay men who were dying by the thousands from AIDS," he said.*
I was living with a woman during a chunk of Reagan's presidency. While AIDS was spreading I was far away from things gay. Later via the web I'd learn that AIDS had killed a couple of former lovers that I will always hold in tender regard. I'd forgotten that how unwilling Reagan was to help fight HIV.
"I have a feeling that an awful lot of gay people are going to be cheering, that 'Ding-dong! The wicked witch is dead,'" he said.*
Oddly I don't go that far. Nature may abhor a vacuum but political power adores vacuity. For me Ronald Reagan was never much more than a vacuous old actor who wielded power by making silly speeches that played on the self-flattering images many Americans have of themselves, their culture and this country.
Mostly I'm irked by the reflexive granting to American presidents grandiose virtues, superhuman qualities they never had. They are just ordinary people who through happenstance more than shrewdness find themselves able to shape the destinies of billions of other people. If that is a measure of human worth then few men can be more estimable than Stalin. Not that Reagan or any American president (yet) has had a chance to be so massively horrifying.
I'll credit Reagan with beginning the alignment of the Christian Right and the Republican Party that is expressing itself now in the current White House wonder's exploitation of the desire of gay men and women for legal and sacramental marriage.
I pay little attention to the popular media so I'm missing all the silly eulogies. More detached accounts will emerge decades from now when many people with investments in a particular image of Ronald Reagan are dead as well.