Dr. King, whose life was spent preaching unconditional love and nonviolent redemptive good, continues to inspire people the world over who are helping to shape his vision of an “arc of the moral universe” that is long but bends toward justice. Gandhi, King, Mandela—there are precious few whose legacies resonate with those who are risking their lives today, in a nonviolent fashion, to eliminate the evils of racism, poverty, militarism and environmental destruction. King’s tribute to global peacemakers should have reached out to them as the legitimate heirs of the King legacy, not the monied interests who helped pay for the piece of carved granite that bears his image.
The general acceptance of the ideas behind Reagan, and the movement of those ideas from the radical fringe into the mainstream of American politics, has shaped a world in which fantasies are accepted as givens; a world in which positions that are not only unproved, but disproved, are seen as foundations to build on. These ideas have destabilized our economy, accelerated the destruction of our environment, and set back the advancement of human rights. They, and the man who delivered them into our living rooms, are now so coated in mythology and media adoration that we accept them not just as American, but as America, despite the fact that these ideas – the conservative daydream — represent the single greatest threat to the continued progress of our nation and our world.
Amazon.com: And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (9780312241353): Randy Shilts, William Greider: Books
To me, no consideration of the Reagan legacy is complete without noting his neglect of what is now a global pandemic.
In the first major book on AIDS, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Randy Shilts examines the making of an epidemic. Shilts researched and reported the book exhaustively, chronicling almost day-by-day the first five years of AIDS. His work is critical of the medical and scientific communities’ initial response and particularly harsh on the Reagan Administration, who he claims cut funding, ignored calls for action and deliberately misled Congress. Shilts doesn’t stop there, wondering why more people in the gay community, the mass media and the country at large didn’t stand up in anger more quickly. The AIDS pandemic is one of the most striking developments of the late 20th century and this is the definitive story of its beginnings. —This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.”
…Well, this is one of the most surprising and astonishing episodes of recent history that I know of, because it turned out that Ronald Reagan, of all people, was a fervent nuclear abolitionist. His route to that was a strange one. It was through his advocacy of the Strategic Defense Initiative, otherwise known as Star Wars. And his idea was that first you defend your country, and then you could get rid of your nuclear weapons. Well, he backed off that and decided that you didn’t first have to actually have a foolproof defense, that the defenses would be useful after you mutually got rid of nuclear weapons.
Well, it so happened that Gorbachev was another nuclear abolitionist, which was almost as surprising in the context of the Soviet Union, not quite perhaps as Reagan’s abolitionism in the context of the United States. So when they got to Reykjavik, they were both in favor of this, and at a certain point in the negotiations, they actually seemed to have been arriving at the deal. And this is at the moment when Ronald Reagan said, in the quote you mentioned, “Well, Mikhail, we’ll come back in ten years, and we’ll each bring the last missile with us, and we’ll destroy them, and then we’ll throw a tremendous party for the whole world,” which I make the title of the third part of this book, yeah.
…I think the fact that you no longer see such attacks on King, and that Beck and the Pentagon will go to extreme lengths to align themselves with the civil rights movement leader, is a good thing. It is a testament to King’s unimpeachable credibility as a national hero. And having someone who was a social democrat, bold anti-militarist, thoroughgoing critic of American racism, and firm advocate of nonviolent civil resistance ranking up there with the founding fathers in our national pantheon is a wonderful thing for progressives, even if it requires regularly setting the record straight.