Former poet laureate Robert Hass participated in the "Occupy Cal" campout at the University of California at Berkeley a couple of weeks ago – and in the latest example of knee-jerk left-wing Reagan-bashing in the Times Sunday Review: “Poet-Bashing Police.”
The former poet laureate and his wife come off rather naive about life, pompously lecturing their unlettered fellow humans (who are nearly "all white men") in the police force.
Once the cordon formed, the deputy sheriffs pointed their truncheons toward the crowd. It looked like the oldest of military maneuvers, a phalanx out of the Trojan War, but with billy clubs instead of spears. The students were wearing scarves for the first time that year, their cheeks rosy with the first bite of real cold after the long Californian Indian summer. The billy clubs were about the size of a boy’s Little League baseball bat. My wife was speaking to the young deputies about the importance of nonviolence and explaining why they should be at home reading to their children, when one of the deputies reached out, shoved my wife in the chest and knocked her down.
This police brutality? It’s all Reagan’s fault, naturally.
Another of the contingencies that came to my mind was a moment 30 years ago when Ronald Reagan’s administration made it a priority to see to it that people like themselves, the talented, hardworking people who ran the country, got to keep the money they earned. Roosevelt’s New Deal had to be undealt once and for all. A few years earlier, California voters had passed an amendment freezing the property taxes that finance public education and installing a rule that required a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature to raise tax revenues. My father-in-law said to me at the time, “It’s going to take them 50 years to really see the damage they’ve done.” But it took far fewer than 50 years.
Hass then segued not so smoothly back to vivid imagery of truncheon-wielding deputy sheriffs.