FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Richard Nixon Was a Pig

August 9, 1974 is one of my favorite days in history. On that day, Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency of the United States. He only did so because he knew he was facing certain impeachment and a probable conviction on at least some of the charges he was facing. The look of despair obvious on his face during his last speech from the White House was enough to make anyone who had opposed his rule almost believe that there was such a thing as earthly justice. Of course, Nixon never had to answer for his crimes. Indeed, when he died in April 1994, anyone listening to the speeches at his funeral would have thought he was an honorable man, a great world leader and a statesman.

Richard Nixon was a crook. He was also a war criminal and mass murderer. He surrounded himself with other men who shared a similar worldview as he did. In other words, he surrounded himself with men who did not believe in democracy but understood what compromise might be required to maintain and consolidate power. His circle of cronies were, like Nixon himself, paranoid, often petty and infinitely capable of surprising the somewhat naïve population of the United States with the callousness of their words and the Machiavellian nature of their deeds. Among those deeds was the manipulation of white America’s racial fears to get elected not once but twice. Another highlight on this list would have to be the creation of the secret police-like Plumbers unit whose work it was to bring down Nixon’s political enemies by any means necessary (legal and otherwise). Yet another was the invasion of Cambodia in spring 1970; an action that was followed by a nationwide rebellion that resulted in the murders of six college students by the forces of law and order and remarks by Nixon that essentially blamed the students for their own deaths. A couple more highlights on this list are the Christmas bombing of 1972 and the 1973 CIA-ITT-Anaconda Copper military coup in Chile.

I could go on, but the point, I believe, is made.

There is an opinion that occasionally pops up among today’s liberals, progressives and even leftists that Richard Nixon was more progressive than Barack Obama. As proof, this argument cites Nixon’s creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, support of Clean Water legislation, his establishment of OSHA, his support of federal affirmative action and his endorsement of the Equal Rights Amendment as a constitutional amendment. These things happened in spite of Nixon and his crew of megalomaniacs, not because of them. On top of that, argue those with a truly warped grip on history, he ended the US war on Vietnam. This opinion is nonsense and historically ignorant. The way Nixon ended the war was by killing hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, at least 20,000 more US troops, and having his henchman Henry Kissinger ultimately sign a peace agreement with conditions almost exactly the same as those that could have been reached with the North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front of Vietnam in 1969 when he was inaugurated. In other words, close to a million more people died before Nixon realized that the US would not win the war. As far as the environmental, affirmative action and women’s policies are concerned, Nixon was just reacting to the groundswell of almost universal support for this legislation. Indeed, the underlying reason Nixon did anything progressive was because there was a popular and militant leftist movement in the United States at the time that constantly pushed the political conversation leftward. Nixon, being a shrewd politician and determined to save capital for his masters in the war industry and on Wall Street, used his immense power to push through certain aspects of the liberal/progressive agenda as a means to placate the more moderate populace and to insure capital’s continued hegemony.

This is not to defend Barack Obama. He has been anything but progressive, despite the fact that he campaigned as if he would be. I believe this is why he provokes the angry response that he does from so many of those who voted for him. These voters actually believed that Obama would change the system that he rules over. I had thought Richard Nixon and his successors would have removed such naiveté from the US voting booth forever. After all, Richard Nixon certainly made a good part of my generation very cynical about politics, politicians, and government in general. Perhaps that will be Obama’s legacy for this generation.

Richard Nixon expanded the police state. Despite the investigations by the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church in 1975 (The Church Committee) and others in and out of Congress, that police state never really went away. In fact, it has continued to expand to the point it is today. The National Security Agency was spying on US citizens in the 1970s and it’s spying on them now. The FBI and numerous other police agencies were waging counterinsurgency operations against leftist, third world, and anarchist organizations then and they are now. It was under Nixon that these and numerous other authoritarian tactics intensified and became common practice. Obama is just continuing the tradition. It was also Richard Nixon who established the Drug Enforcement Agency, the most draconian, paramilitary and covert of all police agencies funded by US taxpayers. He started the destruction of our civil liberties and civil rights known as the War on Drugs and made the use of racial code words to hide what were blatantly racist policies when put into practice in this and other government programs.

One of my favorite moments in television history remains the few minutes that were shown live the morning after Nixon resigned. Unfortunately, when he waved goodbye, it wasn’t forever. Even worse, the mess he left behind is now business as usual. We are not better off because of that.

Ron Jacobs is the author of the just released novel All the Sinners, Saints. He is also the author of  The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.  His third novel All the Sinners Saints is a companion to the previous two and is due out in April 2013.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press.  He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail