Letters to the Editor

Richard Oliver: Reactionary Reagan

The Nov. 3 Other Opinion piece “Reagan and the right” ought to have been titled “Reagan through rose-colored glasses.” Reagan’s rise in politics in California was propelled in no small part by his furious opposition to the Rumford Fair Housing Act of 1963, which outlawed racial discrimination in the sale or lease of housing. In reaction to this fair housing law, voters passed Proposition 14 to amend the state constitution to allow such discrimination

Reagan described himself as “an ardent supporter” of Prop 14. Reagan also opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and often made common cause with the likes of Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond. He also famously opposed Medicare, warning that it would usher in the death of “freedom.”

This reactionary rhetoric and stunted view of “freedom,” where the “right” of states to deny citizens their voice in their own government, or to full social equality in their communities, or to be free of the fear of an old age without adequate medical care, can be described as many things. But the idea that this is sunny optimism or a principled commitment to freedom is nonsense. It is a callous indifference to the actual conditions of life as experienced by millions of people.

Richard Oliver