Exit Strategies

Nixon As I Knew Him

I fully agree with Richard’s assessment of Richard Nixon’s legacy. And as someone who actually knew the former president, my opinion may count for something in this discussion. Despite his uniformly leftist conduct of domestic affairs, Nixon, as Richard notes, showed a refreshing realism in foreign policy. The attacks on him from neoconservative quarters had nothing to do with “conservative” thinking. They were motivated by globalist vapors and by an obsession with getting Russian Jews out of the Soviet Union.

Kissinger’s remark to Nixon, which got the usual suspects going, that the U.S. shouldn’t risk nuclear war with the Soviets even if the Soviet regime were killing Jews, had a less than earth-shaking context. What the two were discussing was the pressure being put on the administration to help Jewish refuseniks leave the Soviet Union. Needless to say, the situation of these would-be emigrants was anything but desperate; and one of the effects of their agitation in the U.S. that I noticed was the mobilization of anti-Soviet protestors who had never given a damn about Soviet atrocities in the past. My Jewish liberal and leftist Christian acquaintances were suddenly up in arms circulating petitions against a government whose evil they had never before condemned. The professional anti-Cold Warriors had become violently anti-Soviet over what seemed to be small beer.  It was enough to turn my stomach.

On the more publicized matter of Nixon’s insensitive comments about ethnic groups, it is all too stupidly opportunistic even to comment on. Was Nixon unusual in noticing that Jews are pushy, that the Irish have a tendency to imbibe too much, that Italians can be intemperate, or that Blacks generally don’t excel at intellectually demanding activities? All of these commonplaces were widely heard until PC replaced long ingrained stereotypes. It would be relevant to observe that Nixon’s implacable journalistic foes, like Daniel Shorr and the Kalb brothers, were disproportionately Jewish. On the other hand, so were Nixon’s advisors, like Murray Chotiner, Herbert Stein, and Henry Kissinger. Even more important, the Israeli government, which didn’t take its lead from CBS or the New York Times, praised Nixon profusely as a friend of the Jewish state. Both David Ben Gurion and Golda Meier were quite eloquent in discussing their warm friendship with the American president.

I recall being told as a young assistant professor that it was no longer acceptable to utter the word “Negro.” The approved term had changed to “black.” One was also not supposed to refer to someone as a “Jew” but with some mush term presumably approved by a combined meeting of the SPLC and the ADL. At the same time, it became de rigueur for feminists to insult men, for Jews to blame Christians for the Holocaust, and for the congressional black caucus to excoriate white devils for collective, inveterate racism. Soon afterwards, Harvard professors began writing tracts on the evil White race and about how it was necessary to destroy this race, or else to recode it through political coercion. How delightful to live in a post-racist, post-sexist, and post-homophobic society, in which we longer repeat the old stereotypes, however true they may have been. We’re too busy learning the imposed PC slanders while encouraging designated minorities to express them.