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Reagan Makes an Call of Duty Cameo Appearance

Former president Ronald Reagan speaks at the opening of his library in Simi, Calif., 1991. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

The Gipper makes an appearance in a new trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. Reagan’s presence in the promotional video prompted The Verge to claim that “Ronald Reagan sends you to do war crimes in the latest Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War trailer.” That Reagan never says anything about committing (or “doing”) war crimes in the trailer is of little importance to the author, who claims that the Reagan administration’s agenda “still has controversial effects on modern-day politics.” As Yamiche Alcindor would say, context: A 2002 Gallup poll showed that 73 percent of Americans approved of Reagan’s tenure.

What Reagan, a scene-stealer, says in the trailer is that the player-controlled character may engage in possibly illegal covert activities to stop a Russian spy because, as he explains “we’re talking about preventing an attack on the free men and women of the world.” The jump to “do war crimes” is typical of how those few Americans who do not look back fondly on the Reagan years smear him. Vague assertions of atrocities, some veiled pro-Sandinista propaganda, and a failure to grapple with the importance of countering Soviet aggression across the globe. As Reagan puts it in the trailer “Gentleman, you’ve been given a great task: protecting our very way of life from a great evil. There is no higher duty, there is no higher honor, and while few people will know of your struggles, rest assured the entire free world will benefit. I know you won’t fail us.” I’ll admit it: I gave an audible cheer.