Friday, February 06, 2004

Speaking of the University of Infinite Evil...

Fellow Missourian Mark at Braving the Elements informs me that it has been suggested in the Missouri state senate that Southwest Missouri State University be renamed...are you ready for this? John Ashcroft University. (If you follow the link you have to scroll down a bit)

Now I wouldn't worry about this much if it weren't for, e.g., The Reagan Legacy Project, which, as you probably know, is working to get some kind of monument to Reagan in every county in the U.S., get his face on Mount Rushmore, the dime, the ten dollar bill, etc. I'm not sure what's behind this. At first I thought that it was just a cynical propaganda move, an attempt to manufacture a Great Leader for American conservatism. But then I started to worry that these people might really be deluded enough to think that Reagan was a good. President. Scratch that: I suppose they'd have to be deluded enough to think that Reagan was a great president. If you squint real hard at history, I think you might be able to make Reagan a mediocre president...but after that, you're fighting a losing battle against the facts. Iran-Contra alone is enough to relegate Reagan to the Presidential Hall of Shame. Although they had good motives, the Democrats, IMHO, made a huge mistake by not pushing to have Reagan impeached. I understand that the Democrats didn't want to put the country through such a thing again so soon after Nixon, but he did the crime and he should have done the time. I suspect that, by letting the Reagan administration's disrespect for the rule of law slide by unpunished, we prepared the ground for much of what is going on in the current administration.

Though, of course, if you think that Reagan was instrumental in winning the Cold War, that counts for a lot. I don't believe it, but I'm willing to listen to arguments on that score.

The right seems to have a serious problem with (anti-)hero worship and cults of personality. They've inflated the avuncular but unimpressive Reagan into a demi-god, they've not only tried to make Bush seem competent (a difficult enough task), but they even had a go at making him "Churchillian." Needless to say, that canis domesticus will not pursue prey... Even outright villians and--yes--traitors are not only spun into decent folk but into folk heroes. Ollie North. G. Gordon Liddy. What the heck is wrong with the right??? I don't see anything comparable among American liberals. Perhaps the heroification of Kennedy is comparable to that of Reagan? But the assassination accounts for a good bit of that I'd say...

So, anyway, I'm not sure I'd be too confident that the denizens of Springfield won't eventually find themselves driving past John Ashcroft U. some day... Or Ronald Reagan U...


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