Mark Hemingway waxes indignant for National Review:
Krugman’s mentioned the Reagan/Nashoba incident four previous times over the last two years; Bob Herbert has mentioned it eight previous times going back to 1997. Enough already. Nobody believes Reagan is a bigot.
UPDATE: I’m getting a lot of emails pointing out that of course people believe Reagan was a bigot. Let me clarify what I meant — nobody who has seriously examined the man and his political career believes that Reagan is a bigot.
This is a dodge. For one thing, it would hardly be shocked for a white man born in 1911 to have held some prejudiced views about African-Americans at some point in his life. But more importantly, none of us can know what Reagan’s subjective feelings about black people were. But since he was consistently involved in public affairs throughout the second half of the twentieth century, we can evaluate his record — a record of opposition to the Voting Rights Act, of support for Barry Goldwater’s anti-civil rights presidential campaign, of hostility to fair housing legislation in California, of support for tax deductions for segregated universities, avowed advocacy of “states rights,” etc. Maybe Reagan had warm and friendly feelings about black people. Maybe he was consistently hostile to civil rights legislation because of sincere libertarian convictions. Maybe he didn’t involve himself in anti-segregation activism in the 1950s because he was greedy and only interested in causes that GE would pay him to espouse. Who knows?
But the issue is his record on civil rights issues, a record that I find deplorable, though no more deplorable than National Review‘s record on these same issues.