Reagan Was No Bigot-in-Chief
He treated women, blacks, and gays as well as he treated everyone else.

President Reagan signs the MLK national holiday into law on November 2, 1983, as Coretta Scott King looks on.


Deroy Murdock

Sexist, racist, homophobe.

Ronald Reagan was so busy hammering the victims of his prejudice, one wonders when he managed to reverse America’s Carter-era malaise, turbocharge the stalled U.S. economy, and catapult Communism onto the ash heap of history.

Bigot-in-Chief: That’s the lie Reagan’s liberal enemies peddle. The facts, of course, consistently defeat their deceit.

According to Karen K. Kirst-Ashman’s Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare, Reagan “ascribed to women ‘primarily domestic functions’ and failed to appoint many women to positions of power during his presidency.” This passage appears beneath the heading “Conservative Extremes in the 1980s and Early 1990s.” Anna Chapman, a University of South Carolina sophomore, complained ​to about this semester’s mandatory text.

Reagan employed an unusual technique for oppressing females: He appointed 1,400 of them to policy-making positions, the National Federation of Republican Women estimates. In 1983, for the first time, three women enjoyed simultaneous service as cabinet members: Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole, Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler, and United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

President Ronald Reagan confers in the Oval Office with United Nations
ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

And thanks primarily to Reagan’s nomination, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reagan also loathed minorities — or so the Left relentlessly claims. They also contend that Reagan used ethnic scaremongering to harvest white votes.

Reagan possessed “his own intuitive grasp of the power of racial provocation,” Ian Haney-Lopez writes in his forthcoming Dog Whistle Politics: How Fifty Years of Coded Racial Appeals Wrecked the Middle Class. “For Reagan, conservatism and racial resentment were inextricably fused.”

But Reagan’s dog whistle seemed out of tune. His secret messages surely baffled bigots.

President Reagan, in 1982, signs a 25-year extension of the
Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Reagan signed into law the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. He extended the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for 25 years and said in June 1982, “The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.” He also named Colin Powell America’s first black national-security adviser.

Louis Jordan and Ronald Reagan at the Apollo Theater, 1960.

Through the modern miracle of YouTube, a vintage kinescope now confirms online that Ronald Reagan once broadcast from Harlem’s storied Apollo Theater. As he guest-hosted an episode of NBC TV’s Ford Startime titled “The Swingin’, Singin’ Years,” Reagan interviewed jazz great Louis Jordan backstage on March 8, 1960. Moments later, the bandleader conducted the Tympany Five in “What a Difference a Day Makes.” The phenomenal Dinah Washington, Queen of the Blues, lent her voice, as only she could.

Ella Fitzgerald, the finest female vocalist of the 20th century, began her career by winning a talent contest at the Apollo in 1934. President Reagan awarded her the National Medal of Arts in 1987. He said, “Ella Fitzgerald is indeed our First Lady of Song.”