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Policies that Reagan put in place are unforgivable

Taymullah Abdur-Rahman’s op-ed in Friday’s Globe (“It’s actions, not words, that made Reagan a racist,” Aug 2) stood in stark contrast to the column published just the day before by Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, for The Washington Post. Stunningly stark contrast, actually.

I can hardly be critical of Davis for remembering her father as she does (don’t most of us want to remember our parents fondly?), and saying that he would have asked for forgiveness for the remark he made in conversation with Richard Nixon in 1971.

But what cannot be forgiven, ever, as Imam Abdur-Rahman enumerates, is what Reagan launched: the demonization of government and the summary and deliberate dismantling of the American social safety net — strategies that, for generations now, have disproportionately affected families and individuals of color. Sadly, we have Davis’s father to thank for the crisis in our democracy today. It has been building for a long time, and it began with Reagan.

Maia Farish

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Providence

In East Africa in ’71, good works and good will were answer to bad leaders

In October 1971, when Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon had their little racist chat, several members of Teachers for East Africa and Teacher Education in East Africa were in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda for the US Agency for International Development, teaching their students, who (notwithstanding Reagan’s remark about footwear) were delightfully shoe-shod. Participants in the Peace Corps and other institutions whose social relevance far exceeded that of both Reagan and Nixon were doing the same. While they and their fellow teachers had gone into the field on the wings of John F. Kennedy’s idealism, they labored on, not giving a hoot about Nixon and Reagan. We learned at the time, and then on repeated visits, that the legacies of JFK and Barack Obama are the only presidential legacies that linger.

E. Brooks Goddard

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President

Teachers for East Africa Alumni/TEAA

Needham