Dutch and Burghie: The Epitome of Color Blindness

In a day when race mongers profit from their race mongering, it is refreshing to have heroes who are not “conscious of race at all”. Ronald Reagan was such a person, one who loved and respected every man and woman because we are all children of God. How unfortunate that some current candidates for President of the United States would attempt to use their bully pulpits to divide and desecrate on the basis of race.

Have you ever had someone tell you over and over how bad you are and that something is your fault? Did it make you more or less disposed to try and fix the problem? I thought so. Me, too.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints often sing the song I Am a Child of God. The third verse says

I am a child of God
Rich blessings are in store
If I but learn to do His will
I’ll live with Him once more

An essential part of His will is that we love everyone else, because everyone else is a child of God, too. It doesn’t matter if they’re male or female, black, white, or some other skin color, or if they choose to worship differently than we do. They deserve our love and respect all the same.

I am a child of God
So are my fellowmen
If we respect our differences
We’ll live with God again

Hillary Clinton blames white people (except for herself and her friends) for the plight of HIV/AIDS in the black population. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have made a career of accentuating differences and manufacturing controversies that give unthinking people of various races the impetus to hate each other.

Hatred is a cancer whose cure cannot possibly be additional hatred. Yet these are often the positions and the attempts of the demagogues who would be our leaders. Fortunately there are true leaders who do not lower themselves to the gutter-level of race baiting propaganda in an effort to aggrandize themselves. One such man was Ronald Wilson Reagan, of whom it was said by a black friend, “”I don’t think he was conscious of race at all.” “Dutch” learned this quality from his parents. Of Ronald Reagan’s parents it was said:

Jack believed—really believed, didn’t just say it—that all men are created equal. He believed racial and religious bias cruel and un-American…

Nelle thought everyone was a child of God—literally His baby, literally made by Him. So by definition no one was better than anyone else and no one was worse.

--Peggy Noonan, When Character was King, p. 22

Jack once slept in his car in a blizzard rather than pay to stay in a hotel where the proprietor had told him that the hotel was “Jew-free”.

Burghie was a football teammate of Dutch Reagan at Eureka College. One night after an away game, when the team went to find a hotel, the desk clerk announced that Burghie and another black player would not be allowed to stay there. Reagan’s parents at the time lived near where the team had played, so he drove Burghie and the other black teammate to his home.

He couldn’t call to tell his parents they were coming…but he knew if he showed up all of a sudden with two black strangers his parents would say: Great to see you, come on in. Which is what they did.

Ron and Burghie remained friends until the day Burghie died.

Burghie died in 1981 and the last phone call he got before he went into the operating room was from his friend the president.

How refreshing it is that the United States can find a quintessential example of kindness in a President who respected everyone regardless of race, religion, and any other factors that make us different. With this kind of optimism, problems of race that have been exacerbated by snake oil salesmen can be cured despite the potion of quack political doctors. It is a sad state of affairs, though, that those who use race to divide and conquer appear to be in the ascendancy in the race for the 2008 presidency. There are very few good choices on the presidential slate of candidates this year, but we must hope above all that purveyors of racism do not prevail.


  1. Outrageous post. The former GOP President pursued policies that were so racist that to this day -- more than twenty years later -- African Americans vote against his party more than 90% of the time. His use of the mythical "welfare queen" was among the most hurtful and racist moments in a GOP political history that gives us support for Bob Jones University racial strictures against dating, support for Confederate flags -- the flag of the traitor, Willie Horton ads, the Playboy bunny ad against Congressman Ford, the macaca moment of Sen. Allen and lyniching nooses hanging in his office.

  2. I'm sorry you feel that way. Apparently you haven't read his biographies, and you especially are having a hard time separating the acts of the man from the acts of his party.

  3. So, you support the man, but not the party? And as a Simple Utah Mormon writing about race, I would be curious as to your opinion on the history of African Americans and the priesthood in the LDS church? Skin color did seem to matter quite a lot to that institution until a just few years before the more enlightened Ronald Reagan was elected. Is that at all troublesome?

  4. Frank:

    I've lurked off an on on your blogs for a while, and I am generally impressed with many of your insights.

    This particular post, I think it is an interesting observation regarding color blindness. Ronald Reagan certainly had his positive traits, but I found Reagan's reaction to the Aids crisis quite disconcerting. Gays as second class citizens, did not garner much concern from President Reagan and when you read about the response from his administration, it's hard not to have a certain antipathy for his legacy.

  5. Justin,

    Yes, I support Reagan's ideals and policies much more than I support the general policies of the Republican party, especially the party of 2007.

    You raise an excellent point about Mormons and blacks. I don't know the answer to that one, but I'm glad that all worthy males can hold the priesthood in the LDS church now, regardless of race.

    Obi Wan,

    Thanks for lurking!

    I don't know details about Reagan and the AIDS crisis, but I would be surprised that he felt that gays were second class citizens. From what I've read, Reagan didn't have a mean bone in his body when it came to love of fellowmen, regardless of what background they came from. If you have some specifics regarding his treatment of gays, I am open to a mind change on this issue, as I am on all issues if I'm either ignorant of the facts or just plain wrong about them.

    Thanks again.

  6. Frank:

    Thanks for your response. The book "The Coming Plague" has a couple of chapters on the AIDS crisis and Reagan's response to it. At that time, many conservatives felt that it was a gay disease that they brought upon themselves. The fact that it also decimated hemophiliacs seemed to have been lost on them, not that it mattered because I value gay people as much as anyone else.

    Best regards.

  7. I'll put "The Coming Plague" on my reading list. I'll admit, the 2 or 3 books I've read about Reagan so far have been from people who essentially idolized him.

    I need to get another perspective.


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