Monday 7 June 2004

The Reagan Legacy

The glorification of Reagan makes me utterly sick, here's why.

Usually, I am very reluctant to criticize the dead. However, since the corporate media seems so fervent in their desire to glorify Ronald Reagan and will undoubtedly spend weeks, if not months, in this effort, I think an alternative perspective is only fair.

Anyone who thinks that former President Ronald Reagan deserves to be put on a dime or have his face chiseled into Mt. Rushmore needs to read a book called Lost History by Robert Parry. Robert Parry was an AP and subsequent Newsweek reporter who caught a considerable amount of flak from his editors and Reagan officials like Oliver North and Elliott Abrams for his efforts to tell the truth about Reagan's policies in Central America.

Robert Parry was far from the only reporter to suffer this fate. Raymond Bonner of the New York Times and Alma Guillermoprieto of the Washington Post received enormous criticism for their coverage of the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador in 1982. They were accused of lying or at least greatly exaggerating the extent of the atrocities at El Mozote, where over 900 men, women and children were slaughtered by the US-trained Atlacatl battalion. Many years later, when US goals in defeating the insurgency in El Salvador had been accomplished, forensic scientists dug up the bones at El Mozote, noticing the skeletons of men, women and children and the bullet holes in the skulls and machete marks on the bones. Raymond Bonner and Alma Guillermoprieto had been right all along. Only this new information was buried on the back pages of newspapers and ignored by the television networks, so few people would notice.

A similar thing happened when Reagan first took office in 1981. Four American churchwomen had been raped and murdered by the military in El Salvador. Reagan's ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick excused the murders by saying that the nuns had been political activists involved in leftist causes and insinuating that this justified their fate. Reagan's first Secretary of State Alexander Haig went even further, suggesting that the nuns had been carrying guns and may have run a roadblock, leading to an exchange of gunfire. Nuns packing heat-certainly not a very likely scenario.

Reagan knew on coming into office that his administration was going to wage an unrelenting war against leftists all over the planet. After all, he considered them to be part of the "Evil Empire." I guess those people who want to redistribute land to poor, starving peasants so they can grow food or want unions so people don't need to work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for wages that wouldn't keep a bird alive are by definition evil devils that require elimination. The Reagan administration wanted to limit public knowledge of the more unsavory aspects of this war against leftists. They even had a euphemism for it - perception management. When the North Koreans did it, it was called brainwashing. Of course, when done by the United States, it is known as perception management. Just like napalming Vietnamese villages was called "pacification" and now the terminology for civilian casualties from US bombing is "collateral damage." The Nazis called their mass slaughter of the Polish intelligentsia "Extraordinary Pacification Action" or shooting people on the spot as being "summarily sentenced." It seems that fascists love euphemisms to disguise their atrocities.

Reagan created something called Project Truth run by a CIA agent named Walter Raymond. The purpose of Project Truth was to influence the large foundations, think tanks, political publications and human rights organizations to move in a rightward direction. The success of this particular operation can be seen in the fact that the New Republic magazine went from a liberal to a conservative publication. Ronald Reagan also created the Office of Public Diplomacy headed by Cuban exile Otto Reich. Otto Reich traveled all over the United States and browbeat editors and journalists of major newspapers if they made any remarks critical of US operations in Central America. Robert Parry maintains that this constant intimidation of journalists, criticism of dissenting viewpoints and massive government propaganda made the Watergate press corps of the 1970s into the Monica Lewinsky press corps of the 1990s.

Full story...

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