Thursday, April 16, 2009

king out, reagan in

A California delegation has decided to remove the statue of Unitarian Minister, Thomas Starr King, from congress and replace it with a statue of Ronald Reagan: California Governor, and 40th President of the United States. I find the action disgraceful. LA Times reports here.

As a gay man in my twenties during Reagan's presidency, and as an employee of AIDS Project Los Angeles during the end of his presidency, I remember with disgust Reagan's non-response to the AIDS epidemic. At a time when swift action and funding and compassionate words from our nation's leader could have saved countless lives and made a significant change in the direction of the disaster, President Reagan did nothing. Under the thrall of the then nascent religious right the so-called "Great Communicator," Reagan, said nothing about AIDS, while letting his Communications Director, Pat Buchanan preach to the nation that AIDS was "nature's revenge on gay men." Reagan kept his silence about AIDS until 1987 as his second term was coming to a close. Shameful.

Reagan's policies of low taxes, high debt, and deregulation provided the basis for the current economic crisis now destroying our country.

On the other hand, Thomas Starr King, is known as the man who "saved the union" for his efforts during the civil war to keep California as a free state. Starr King also used his position as Unitarian minister in San Francisco and esteemed orator throughout the state to fund raise for the United States Sanitary Commission, the organization that provided medical services to the US army. Through his efforts, California donated one-quarter of the commission's total funding.

Every state is allowed to display two statues in Congress. California's other statue is Junipero Serra, the creator of the early network of missions. Reagan hardly needs the honor. The DC airport is named for him. There's a freeway in the north part of Los Angeles named for him, among countless others memorials.

The Starr King statue will be returned to California. Hopefully it will be displayed with honor.


Alex said...

I remember hearing about this a couple of years ago...are they just getting the Regan statue made?

Robin Edgar said...

Yes it is indeed quite shameful for people to keep silence and do nothing about things they really should do something about. . .