New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a lightning rod for the conservative party and the centrist business class. She represents a lot of scary change for a lot of comfortable people. One of those people, who has made a career out of myth-making that Ronald Reagan was a complex and intelligent person who did good things for the country, is biographer Craig Shirley. Shirley got super stressed out upon seeing a clip of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez attacking his bread and butter in front of an audience. Shirley quickly tweeted out a post attacking Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s knowledge of former president Ronald Reagan.
There is no evidence of @AOC ever picked up a book on President Reagan. so she would not know he was the president who signed the order creating the Dr. Martin Luther King national holiday. pic.twitter.com/n6Z1Js4gxg
— Craig Shirley (@CraigSBPA) March 11, 2019
The clip he uses is one where Rep. Ocasio-Cortez calls out President Reagan’s direct attacks on the black and people of color communities in the 1970s and 1980s. Using the term “Welfare Queen” to promote the racist concept that black people were fraudulently using the system so as not to work,* Reagan helped to popularize this racist trope. It’s a trope used to this day by Republicans when trying to do away with social programs but also voting rights for people of color. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is 100 percent right about Ronald Reagan, and while Craig Shirley writes his intellectually dishonest puff pieces about Reagan and Newt Gingrich (yup, he did that), Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has been reading real history.
Ok great, now talk about Reagan and:
– Iran-Contra +
– The gutting of our mental health system +
– The explosion of homelessness under his watch +
– The crack epidemic
Maybe instead of insinuating I’ve never read a book, be open to the idea that we’ve read different ones. https://t.co/aP96oCCBwm
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 11, 2019
“Welfare Queen” wasn’t a term Ronald Reagan coined, but he used it so prolifically and effectively as he campaigned from 1976 on that he has been occasionally credited with coining the term. You can read all about Reagan’s use of a single welfare fraud case to paint a big broad bigot’s brush in Josh Levin’s piece on Slate from 2013. Shirley’s defense that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a piece of shit racist simply because he signed a law that created a national holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King is laughable. You know what Shirley forgot to mention? That law was written by the late Democratic Rep. Katie Hall—the first African American representative from Indiana. President Reagan DIDN’T DO SHIT for black people in America. Others very quickly came in to remind the Reagan hagiographer that just because he makes money off the devil doesn’t mean the devil isn’t the devil.
Not to mention, @CraigsBPA: Ronald Reagan notably opposed both the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, which he said was "humiliating" for the South. He also opposed MLK Day in '81 and '82 and insinuated Dr. King might have been a communist. Sooo… maybe @AOC is right here.
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) March 11, 2019
And let’s not forget Reagan and the AIDS epidemic.
And never, EVER forget Ronald Reagan's silence and inaction during the first several years of the #AIDS epidemic, when hundreds and then thousands of my gay brothers died alone, in agony, and his admin. laughed. Their blood is on his hands forever. #LGBTQ https://t.co/Iqd1KRbuCf
— (((John M. Becker))) (@freedom2marry) March 11, 2019
She’s young and she’s left. She represents a generation of people who didn’t grow up under the oppressive yolk of Reagan-era America. She hasn’t been brainwashed by politicians and media types into conflating Reagan’s “Morning in America” election campaigns with their sunrise horizons and farm country aw-shuckery, with his actual worth as a leader and president. Ronald Reagan’s legacy in our country is as a blah actor, a solid Screen Actors Guild union personality, a terrible governor, and finally the single worst president in the last 50 years. His reign brought deregulation to markets, massive cuts to social programs and government assistance, ushering in our modern version of boom and bust economics. It was under Reagan that the United States perfected waging never-ending war abroad (that we do not call “war”).
*Even though the extents to which racists like Ronald Reagan claimed people went to, in order to not work, seemed like a whole lot of work to do—not to work.