Wednesday, July 31, 2019


I was in an online conversation about the disparaging comments about African delegates to the United Nations that then-Governor of California Ronald Reagan made to President Nixon. One of the interesting pieces of the conversation touched on the fact that, so far as has been revealed, Mr. Reagan never repeated those sorts of comments. There are no other recordings of him making them to anyone else, and no such comments in his personal papers.

So... Was Governor Reagan making these comments to President Nixon because he understood that the President would approve of them?

I suspect that this defense is going to be employed sooner or later, and, given what we know right now, it's plausible. Assuming, that is, that anyone who wasn't genuinely a bigot, but might reasonably be one, would ever knowingly falsely signal that they were one. Or, perhaps to be more precise, would they do this in the late 1960s?

I know a number of people for whom the answer is "no." I, for my part, am not so sure, because it seems that there could be a worthwhile advantage in convincing someone, especially in a presumably private conversation, that one agrees with them, regardless of what one actually thinks of their position.

Not, I believe, that it will make much of a difference. The battle lines in this are likely to be ideological, rather than factual, as is often the case.

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