How Reagan subverted the meaning of D-Day & the New Deal of the Greatest Generation

Ronald Reagan, D-Day Anniversaries and the Suppression of Memory (via Moyers & Company)

The following is an excerpt from Harvey J. Kaye’s The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great (Simon & Schuster, 2014). On June 6, 1984, President Ronald Reagan went to Normandy, France, to speak at events…



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Related Video:

Thom Hartmann: “D-Day and the Four Freedoms”

8 Responses

  1. Reagan a veteran? He made effing training and propaganda films from Hollywood. As an ” automatic officer.” Please DO NOT exa!t him, or even John Wayne, as a “veteran.” And ask his first wife about his ” family values,” or ask his kids…

  2. Being a Vietnam veteran, I never got Ronald Reagan. He was a decent man. But I felt I was living in a parallel universe during his tenure at the White House. And I never got all the working class Democrats who voted for him. But before we condemn Reagan, let’s at least acknowledge how the Democrats lost the trust and goodwill of the American people when LBJ passed his specious Gulf of Tonkin resolution, escalated the Vietnam War and clearly crossed his own constitutional Rubicon in the Mekong Delta as an imperial president. It was the worst foreign policy debacle in our nation’s history. It left a bitter taste in the mouth and a hangover of disillusionment which Reagan exploited so deftly and astutely. It was all downhill from there with the start of the hollowing out of good-paying union jobs being shipped overseas and the other crucial events you mention in this excerpt about President Jimmy Carter who was quite inept though sincere and well-meaning. Reagan used all these historical turning points against the Democrat Party. He wasn’t called “the Great Communicator” for nothing. He was our first evangelical orator in the White House who so fondly loved to invoke that shining city on the hill at the end of his speeches. It was his greatest role as an actor. The American people bought it. And he was tough taking a round to,the chest when Hickley tried to assassinate him. Of course, it was ironic he spent the Second World War back on the home front in Tinseltown dressed up in his military uniform touring the country and selling war bonds for FDR. He’s probably the most influential president in a cultural sense to occupy the Oval Office. I must concede him that though I am far to left of his politics. But Americans view the Second World War through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. And they call it the last “good war” that was fought by the “Greatest Generation.” I put those phrases in quotation marks, because from what I saw in Vietnam there are no good wars but only necessary wars; and how could the Greatest Generation allow FDR to take away the civil rights of around 110,000 Japanese Americans, confiscate their property and imprison them in concentration camps? Despite the cards life has dealt, and despite how poorly I played my hand sometimes, I love this country as much as Reagan did and feel blessed having been born here. So I’m going to take a trip down memory lane this weekend. I rented Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket from the local video store across the street from my apartment. It’s not a D-Day celebration but it’s the best I can do.

  3. Bush and Cheney, George Will and Tommie Friedman, Rush and tough guy O’Reilly, who skipped out on Vietnam by becoming a teacher at Saint Bendovers Catholic Boys school.
    The decedents of Ronnie.
    Ronnie Ragan was a horrible human being who couldn’t tell a lie from the truth and didn’t care.
    He truly is the Father of the Neocons

  4. RR was a despicable human being, “a deceiver of the public and, one suspects, himself” as one astute observer once put it. Remember this is the man who mocked the hungry of this country as being “on a diet”. Vile. But much worse than that, he and his minions started the slow motion coup of the GOP by the Birchites, Larouchians, Randians, and yes, frankly, the Boothians (who still can’t accept the Union’s defeat of the Confederacy and are hell bent on exacting some sort of amorphous revenge). Systematic war against the poor, minorities, intellectuals, and impoverished, weaker countries whose resources we covet will, in the long run, likely prove the least malicious of Reagan’s and the GOP’s legacies. Far greater mischief will dog their legacy as deltas are flooded, storms inundate our cities, and food production suffers as climate becomes less stable: simply put, under Reagan anti-environmentalism became a key aspect of GOP identity. Reaganism is in no small part single-handedly responsible for the environmental disaster that is human driven climate change. How ironic that Reagan spoke at the Normandy Beaches, a historic site that his party is now determined to visit with flood and ruin.

  5. I respectfully suggest you adjust your publishing mechanism so that, for example, this article by Harvey J. Kaye doesn’t say “by Juan Cole” under the headline.

  6. Conservatives use “history” to tyrannize those who demand a more equitable society, but their history is put together at a cafeteria, where they pick and choose highlights to claim for themselves. Because they didn’t get called on that by the media, they now feel entitled to claim Hitler was a leftist and Martin Luther King a Republican. Or that the Founding Fathers dictated that Christians have a monopoly on power. Their most impressive tricks involve America’s two biggest wars, the Civil War and WW2, where the US was obviously on the left-wing, pro-egalitarian side. Northern conservatives simply take it as a given that all conservatives hate slavery and that it was all a “misunderstanding” or fluke, and Lincoln was just a conservative protecting law ‘n’ order – yet at the SAME TIME southern conservatives hate Lincoln, denounce every position he actually took, and still claim the right to the same principles Jeff Davis claimed. Yet the northern & southern conservatives never seem to have a disagreement over their utterly incompatible views on Lincoln.

    And then we have the matter in this article about FDR – who by some Heisenbergian slight of hand both IS and IS NOT the main driver of the US during its biggest victory. Somehow he’s become two people, the devil of the New Deal and the smiling patriot of the War, but only one can exist in the mind of a conservative at the same time, switching back & forth depending on what argument he needs to win. The Four Freedoms prove there was only one FDR, just as there was only one Lincoln. They were both radical egalitarians who refused to accept the Founding Fathers as Moses setting commandments in immutable stone.

  7. To me Reagan was what Americans love most ie bullshit delivered with promises of an infinite future. The guy didn’t have an opinion and was simply another paid for politician spouting what he’d been paid so spout. Hollow shell of a man.

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