“To destroy Ronald Reagan is to destroy American conservatism, and that’s what this is all about,” determined Craig Shirley, biographer of Ronald Reagan, regarding recently published audio of the 40th president deriding United Nations delegates from African states as “monkeys” in 1971. He offered his remarks on Wednesday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight in an interview with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host John Hayward.
Shirley recalled the Cold War context of Reagan’s aforementioned remarks, in which African states aligned with the Soviet Union in the UN General Assembly in a vote to expel Taiwan from the organization as per China’s demand. Reagan — as well as the broader “conservative and anti-communist” movement — was “rightly upset” with African states’ positioning with communism.
“When the vote came down to expel Taiwan, it was mayhem on the floor of the General Assembly,” recalled Shirley. “People were dancing on desks, including the ambassador of Tanzania. They were so delighted to evict Taiwan and to admit Red China, so everybody was upset, including, obviously, Ronald Reagan. … A lot of these African nations were run by pro-communist dictators [and] got funding and support from the Soviet Union [and] China. … It was corrupt. It was untoward. It was a low point in the history of human relations and human freedom around the world, where we evicted a free country in favor of admitting a communist country which enslaved its people, which forced abortions on women — millions of abortions every year — and which exported terrorism and war, [and] supplied the North Vietnamese against the United States.”
“This was a real flashpoint, a real hot part of what was called the Cold War, but it was anything but cold,” Shirley stated. “If you consider that 58,000 American boys died in South Vietnam, and 38,000 boys died in South Korea, it was not a cold war, it was a hot war.”
Shirley continued, “I don’t think the United Nations has ever recovered its reputation since that vote. It’s regarded as an international joke, now. Nobody takes the United Nations as a serious body. It’s rife with corruption and malfeasance. It spawned a lot of people saying, ‘Get the UN out of the United States,’ and it was justifiable, because the United Nations was primarily funded by the United States — as were many of these countries around the world that were getting aid from the United States — and a lot of Americans, including Ronald Reagan, felt like we’d been slapped in the face.”
“Take it in its totality,” advised Shirley of assessing Reagan’s aforementioned comments. “He shouldn’t have said it. If Reagan was alive today, he’d be ashamed and he’d apologize for it. He said it in a fit of fury, but you don’t judge a man, or any of us, all of us have said things in private, thought things in private, that in the light of day and judged by other people wouldn’t look so good. None of us is perfect. There was only one perfect man in the history of the world. But [we should] look at his life on balance [and] at the things that he did, for all Americans.”
Shirley contrasted Reagan’s approach to Apartheid in South Africa with that of his presidential predecessors.
“Apartheid existed in South Africa from the time of Woodrow Wilson, right through Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, jimmy Carter, and not one of them ever lifted a finger to break the back of white minority rule in South Africa,” Shirley said. “It was Reagan who came up with what was called ‘constructive engagement,’ which was a policy to ease the white minority rule out of power and create black majority rule and a democracy, and it was successful.”
When he was a football player at [Eureka College], he had two African-American teammates. The team was making a road trip. The black teammates weren’t allowed to stay at the local hotel because it had a whites-only policy, so he took them home to his family in Dixon, and there his parents warmly took them in. He appointed more African-Americans as governor of California than any other governor to positions of authority. He signed the Martin Luther King holiday. He resigned the Civil Rights Act of 1985 [when] it came up for renewal.
Shirley remarked, “I can cite chapter and verse, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, as president, as a boy, as a man, as a governor, as a governor, in which [Ronald Reagan] not only hated and denounced racism, but did everything he could to lift up African-Americans.”
“For eight years, [Ronald Reagan] wanted enterprise zones,” explained Shirley. “He got the idea from Jack Kemp, which was to cut taxes and regulations for the inner cities to bing in industry to the inner cities and economic growth so that these cities could get on their feet as prosperous democracies, and the Democratic Congress — with Tip O’Neill — blocked it for the eight years of his presidency. He could never get to introduced in the House, because Tip O’Neill knew it would be politically advantageous for Reagan and the Republican Party, so they wouldn’t allow it.”
“JFK also paid the black wait staff in the White House peanuts,” added Shirley. “The whites were paid more than the blacks were. … [Ronald Reagan] changed that policy.”
“I can go down through [Democrat presidents],” continued Shirley. “Woodrow Wilson loved Birth of a Nation, the racist movie. Woodrow Wilson signed the executive order creating ‘separate but equal’ in the federal government, meaning from the time of the Emancipation Proclamation up until Woodrow Wilson, that blacks and whites equally used bathrooms and water fountains and eating facilities. It was Woodrow Wilson who signed the executive order creating two separate bathrooms, separate drinking fountains, separate dining facilities , separate workplaces between blacks and whites.”
Shirley went on, “Franklin Roosevelt famously snubbed Jesse Owens. Jesse Owens came back from Berlin in 1936 bitter, and he said he went to his deathbed cursing Franklin Roosevelt who would never meet with him, never greet him, and never even sent him a telegram. He said, ‘Adolf Hitler shook my hand, but Franklin Roosevelt never shook my hand.'”
Shirley continued, “Lyndon Johnson was a part of massive resistance in the 1950s to stop desegregation of schools in the south. Right here today in Virginia we have a racist Democrat governor and a racist Democrat attorney general, and nobody bats an eye at that.”
Tim Naftali, who authored the recently-published article highlighting Reagan’s aforementioned comments, is “a Reagan-hater,” declared Shirley. “He’s a political operator.”
Naftali’s inked Reagan’s aforementioned comments to what he claimed is President Donald Trump’s “presidential racism.”
“Time and time again, the left comes up with something to charge Reagan with, making up half-truths or just selective truths in order to destroy him,” assessed Shirley. “We know what they’re doing. They know that to destroy Ronald Reagan is to destroy American conservatism, and that’s what this is all about.”
Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125 weeknights from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern or 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.