"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, May 26, 2016

When Historians Attack

[One in a recurring series.]


Per Messiah College's John Fea,

Historian Rick Perlstein recently turned up a gem from the November 3, 1978 issue of the Spokane Daily Chronicle (I assume it was syndicated) and linked to it on his Facebook page.  In this article Ronald Reagan, two years before he became President of the United States, opposed a California ban on smoking and a ban on teachers who advocate homosexuality.
Liberals will use this article, as they should, to show that Reagan was more willing to defend the rights of homosexuals than many of the Republicans who claim his legacy today.


Shall we file this in the Strange New Respect Department, where Republicans are only of value as cudgels against other Republicans?

Reagan's opposition to the homosexuality part of the proposed law was against its broadness--the part that would be relevant to "many of the Republicans who claim his legacy today" was about a teacher using his position of trust to advocate homosexuality, which as Reagan notes, was already prohibited by law, thus making a broader statutory ban unnecessary and open to abuse in bringing in teachers' private lives into a legitimate public concern.

Now that advocacy of homosexuality is mandatory in California schools it's rather moot what Ronald Reagan thought of Proposition 6 in 1978, since the government has gone far past plausible neutrality or 'libertarianism' on the issue.

As for smoking, Reagan was quite prescient about where government power would go with that too. The slippery slope he warned about is now reality.

As for Donald Trump, I see little evidence he cares about these things one way or the other. On government intervention in the 'transsexualism' issue, he's on record as favoring leaving it to the states and leaving the federal government out of the whole thing, a position that most "Republicans who claim [Reagan's] legacy today" are obliged to honor, since it's also their federalism position on abortion and gay marriage.


[As for the "historian" Mr. Perlstein, author of Nixonland and other assorted leftist follies, I'm forced to question Dr. Fea's characterization of him as such.]

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