The “Evil Empire” Speech, Twenty-Nine Years Ago This Day

On March 8, 1983, Ronald Reagan warned the National Association of Evangelicals to beware the temptation

to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-ywpbfJsdwThe story of the speech, which–need I say it?–the senior staff, including David Gergen, attempted to squelch.

  1. Casey

    Reagan just grows larger with each passing year…  *sigh*

  2. Brian

    Yes, but does Reagan loom a little too large?  I am concerned that we are “waiting for superman” as we view the world through the Reagan colored glasses.  This adoration has created the litmus test that we are confronted with now.  I’ve read it several times now, but it doesn’t seem to matter, Reagan wasn’t even Reagan in the primaries!  I remember so very well election day when there was REAL nail biting over who would win, Reagan or Carter!

  3. Percival
    Virshu: I remember the reaction from the other side (I was freshman in Soviet university at the time). To put things in context, Brezhnev died a few months earlier. The new leader – Andropov – was former KGB chief. His emphasis was on the discipline at the factories. The foreign policy was dictated by events in Afghanistan (Orwellian brotherly assistance to new Afghan government after killing previous brother…) and “peace movement” in Europe. “Marx’s theory is eternal because it is correct” was the popular slogan – and it looked like the West concurred or at least acquiesced.

    Reagan’s speech showed clarity over Carter’s “convergence”. The positions are defined, and the lines in the sand were drawn. Those who hoped for the regime change saw Reagan and Thatcher as true believers – naive (or so we thought), but honest and clarifying.

    Compare that with 2009 events in Iran when Obama’s main concern seemed to be that opposition was not associated with USA. Reagan was never afraid to say that America supports Sakharov, Shcharansky, and all other political prisoners. · 5 hours ago

    Thanks, Virshu.

  4. katievs

    We are making a huge mistake, I fear, in thinking that we need to get behind the moderate who will appeal to independents, rather than the fighter who will tell the truth about what is happening before our eyes.

    The window of opportunity is closing fast.

  5. Fred Cole
    katievs: We are making a huge mistake, I fear, in thinking that we need to get behind the moderate who will appeal to independents, rather than the fighter who will tell the truth about what is happening before our eyes.

    The window of opportunity is closing fast. · 42 minutes ago

    You are absolutely right, Katie.  Ron Paul is that man.

    (Yes, Katie, I know RP is not who you were talking about.)

  6. The King Prawn

    So if we win, the next administration will be filled to the brim with pragmatists, and there won’t be a single true believer on staff, not even among the speech writers.

  7. Virshu

    1987? or 1983?

  8. Peter Robinson
    C
    Virshu: 1987? or 1983? · 2 minutes ago

    1983.  Astounding mistake.

    Now corrected. (Thanks.)

  9. Mel Foil

    To prevent great evils and great loses of freedom, scrupulously prevent the small evils and the small losses of freedom…like the HHS birth control mandate for example. It always starts small. It starts with a yellow star sewn on your sleeve. Accept that, and you’re lost.

  10. Douglas

     Richard Reeves’ bio made a point of showing how his senior advisors were always trying to squelch his best speeches and suppress his boldest actions.

  11. Douglas
    The King Prawn: So if we win, the next administration will be filled to the brim with pragmatists, and there won’t be a single true believer on staff, not even among the speech writers. · 3 hours ago

    I’m not all that worried about that, because, like George Will, I don’t think Romney’s going to win. It would take a catastrophic reversal in the economy to do that. Americans, by a slight majority, don’t approve of Obama’s performance, but they overwhelmingly like him. The friendly devil you know beats the cardboard magic underwear guy you don’t know.

  12. Virshu

    I remember the reaction from the other side (I was freshman in Soviet university at the time). To put things in context, Brezhnev died a few months earlier. The new leader – Andropov – was former KGB chief. His emphasis was on the discipline at the factories. The foreign policy was dictated by events in Afghanistan (Orwellian brotherly assistance to new Afghan government after killing previous brother…) and “peace movement” in Europe. “Marx’s theory is eternal because it is correct” was the popular slogan – and it looked like the West concurred or at least acquiesced.

    Reagan’s speech showed clarity over Carter’s “convergence”. The positions are defined, and the lines in the sand were drawn. Those who hoped for the regime change saw Reagan and Thatcher as true believers – naive (or so we thought), but honest and clarifying.

    Compare that with 2009 events in Iran when Obama’s main concern seemed to be that opposition was not associated with USA. Reagan was never afraid to say that America supports Sakharov, Shcharansky, and all other political prisoners.

  13. The King Prawn
    Douglas

    The friendly devil you know beats the cardboard magic underwear guy you don’t know. · 8 minutes ago

    Now there’s an effective campaign slogan: I’m just a socialist; that guy wears funny underpants!

  14. flownover

    Fitting that the man who sits in his office calls Putin to congratulate him on his election win. 

    For Obama , Putin is a real hero , a can-do guy. This follows Hillary’s call to the winner in the hotly contested Yemeni election. The LA Times, somewhat breathlessly, started their article thusly: “ The nation of Yemen went to the polls Tuesday in historic balloting that ended the 33-year rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, culminating one of the longest uprisings of the “Arab Spring.”" 

    There was only one name on the ballot.

    Democracy is about as passe as capitalism, you know.

  15. Severely Ltd.

    Peter, thanks for linking that article. Great stuff.