Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thoughts That Shaped A Nation

Nixon Leaving The White House After
Resignation From Office
I always had an affinity for former President Richard M. Nixon. I'm not sure if it was because he was one of the first political figures I came to know or become aware of when I was young, or whether it was because I felt that he had done something of some significance for me and or my family. It could have been that I just felt sorry for him because it appeared that he had been thrown out of office and treated unfairly.  I guess I should have know something from his nickname "Tricky Dick"...

Scandal & Exposure

It seems that the former President was fixated on recording certain conversations. These particular recordings were the back-breaker for his claimed innocence in what was called the "Water Gate Scandal". In this scandal, the President had evidently been involved in covering up a break in at the DNC headquarters at the Water Gate Hotel. The revelation that he had funnelled millions to cover up the incident, eventually led to not only his impeachment as President, but also his resignation from the position as the leader of the free world. While doing some research on another subject, I came across some statements that the dreaded and infamous White House tapes revealed and thought they were quite interesting for discussion as many of the sentiments from 1971 still linger today.

Although I don't suggest that these thoughts are a sum total of what the President and his advisers thought on the subject, but for a minute let's look at what the former leader of our nation thought about blacks, gays and immigrants. Please keep in mind that this was the same conversation one day.

Title Section Of Tapes:
(President Richard Nixon, John D. Ehrlichman, and H. R. Haldeman)
(Brief Article) Harper's Magazine, Feb, 2000, by James Warren

Date & Situation:
From a May 13, 1971, conversation among President Richard Nixon, John D. Ehrlichman, and H. R. Haldeman.

On October 5, 1999, the National Archives made available to the public 445 hours of previously unreleased Oval Office tapes.

The following dialogue was transcribed by Chicago Tribune reporter James Warren.

Oval Office Thoughts On Blacks
RICHARD NIXON: We're going to [put] more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 a family--let people like Pat Moynihan and [special consultant] Leonard Garment and others believe in all that crap. But I don't believe in it. Work, work--throw 'em off the rolls. That's the key.

JOHN D. EHRLICHMAN: The key is Reagan's neutrality. If Reagan blasts this thing and says it's not strong enough on the work-requirement end, that will be very bad.

NIXON: I have the greatest affection for them [blacks], but I know they're not going to make it for 500 years. They aren't. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they're dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don't live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.

Oval Office Thoughts On Immigrants & Mexicans
EHRLICHMAN: The Mexican American is not as good as the Mexican. You go down to Mexico--they're clean, they're honest, they're moral.

President Nixon & J.D. Ehrlichman

NIXON: Mexico is a much more moral country.

EHRLICHMAN: Monterrey, Cuernavaca. Go into slum areas, and by God they come out with clean shirts on a Sunday morning.

NIXON: The church. You find a helluva lot less marijuana use in Mexico than the United States.

EHRLICHMAN: The unions are actually a stronger force down there than the church.

NIXON: For what?

EHRLICHMAN: For conduct and social policy.
Oval Office Thoughts On Homosexuality & Media (Archie Bunker & News)
NIXON: ... CBS ... glorifying homosexuality.

EHRLICHMAN: A panel show?

President Nixon & H.R. Haldeman
 H. R. HALDEMAN: No, it's a regular show. It's on every week. It's usually just done in the guy's home. It's usually just that guy, who's a hard hat.

NIXON: That's right; he's a hard hat.

EHRLICHMAN: He always looks like a slob.

NIXON: Looks like Jackie Gleason.

HALDEMAN: He has this hippie son-in-law, and usually the general trend is to downgrade him and upgrade the son-in-law--make the square hard hat out to be bad. But a few weeks ago, they had one in which the guy, the son-in-law, wrote a letter to you, President Nixon, to raise hell about something. And the guy said, "You will not write that letter from my home!" Then said, "I'm going to write President Nixon," took off all those sloppy clothes, shaved, and went to his desk and got ready to write his letter to President Nixon. And apparently it was a good episode.

EHRLICHMAN: What's it called?
Oval Office Thoughts On The Homosexual Destruction Of A Free Society
NIXON: "Archie's Guys." Archie is sitting here with his hippie son-in-law, married to the screwball daughter. The son-in-law apparently goes both ways. This guy. He's obviously queer--wears an ascot--but not offensively so. Very clever. Uses nice language. Shows pictures of his parents. And so Arch goes down to the bar. Sees his best friend, who used to play professional football. Virile, strong, this and that. Then the fairy comes into the bar.

I don't mind the homosexuality. I understand it. Nevertheless, goddamn, I don't think you glorify it on public television, homosexuality, even more than you glorify whores. We all know we have weaknesses. But, goddammit, what do you think that does to kids? You know what happened to the Greeks! Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo. We all know that. So was Socrates.

EHRLICHMAN: But he never had the influence television had.

NIXON: You know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. Neither in a public way. You know what happened to the popes? They were layin' the nuns; that's been goin' on for years, centuries. But the Catholic Church went to hell three or four centuries ago. It was homosexual, and it had to be cleaned out. That's what's happened to Britain. It happened earlier to France.

Let's look at the strong societies. The Russians. Goddamn, they root 'em out. They don't let 'em around at all. I don't know what they do with them. Look at this country. You think the Russians allow dope? Homosexuality, dope, immorality, are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the Communists and left-wingers are clinging to one another. They're trying to destroy us. I know Moynihan will disagree with this, [Attorney General John] Mitchell will, and Garment will. But, goddamn, we have to stand up to this.

EHRLICHMAN: It's fatal liberality.


EHRLICHMAN: It's fatal liberality. And with its use on television, it has such leverage.
Certainly these statements were offensive and very stereotypical. The republicans sometimes wonder why they haven't gained more sentiments from minorities within American politics. The nation distanced itself from Nixon over things totally unrelated to these views. Nonetheless, this man was elected by the country to serve as it's top leader 2 times...That is telling. I don't think I'll ever have quite the same view for President Nixon's past as I once had...there's just something that stinks about it.


Resignation Video:

1 comment:

  1. One thing that should be noted regarding this post:

    I believe that history can be a good teacher. I have presented this information in effort to educate, not add to stereotype or incite anger.

    This is where the country was and what was thought at the most high levels of leadership. We can all be sure that there have been many conversations since which we will never know. However, these thoughts do given an insight into many important things.

    1- The concept of heritage...The President linked heritage with success of a community. One thing I am convinced of is that over the years Black Heritage has been reduced. I believe that reduction is in line with what we see among out black youth and violence within our community.

    2- Does homosexuality weaken a nation. President Nixon was a historian. Is his argument valid and is what he was saying a myth, or is it factual?

    3- Immigration, in light of the commentary in 1971, could these sentiments be an impediment to immigration?

    I don't know, but hopefully we could foster conversation or at least individuals could take a look at issues we're dealing with now from a 40 year removed historical perspective and evaluate it for themselves.

    That's the aim here.


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