Beyond Peace 4

I finished Richard Nixon’s 1994 book, Beyond Peace.  This book was published in the same year that Richard Nixon passed on.

Getting a handle on Richard Nixon’s political ideology is not an easy task.  He often talks like a conservative in this book, and he quotes favorably such conservative lions as Rush Limbaugh, Thomas Sowell, and Charles Krauthammer.  Nixon also expressed skepticism about global warming.  Yet, Nixon unapologetically takes certain positions that can be characterized as liberal, particularly on the issues of gun control and abortion.

I don’t have much of a problem with Nixon being his own man, for why should we require people to subscribe to the usual banal Left-Right polarization, where one either has to be a liberal or a conservative, as if either “side” has a corner on the truth?  But there were a couple of times when Nixon seemed to me to be contradicting himself.  For example, he waxed eloquent about the failure of rehabilitation when it came to criminals, advocating punishment instead.  Yet, in the very next paragraph, he referred to drug rehabilitation programs that were effective.  At times, I got the impression that Nixon opposed the Great Society because it entailed the government getting involved in areas that it had no business being in.  And yet, Nixon tries to make clear that he’s for a social safety net for the very poor—-those who cannot support themselves.  Nixon criticizes a progressive income tax that taxes people based on what they make, preferring instead a consumption tax.  Yet, when it comes to entitlements, he is for means-testing, which enables the poor to receive more benefits, while shifting the cost more to the middle and upper income people.

There are times when Nixon attempts to explain what may strike people as an inconsistency.  For example, Nixon is critical of Bill Clinton’s health care plan because it would require employers to provide health insurance to their employees, a heavy cost that could have bad economic consequences.  But did not Nixon have a health insurance mandate for employers within his own health care proposal, back when he was President?  Nixon acknowledges that he did, but he says that health insurance was not as financially burdensome back then as it is now.

There was one time when I wished that Nixon provided more detail, in an attempt to answer potential objections that one could raise to his position.  Nixon supports a consumption tax, since that could encourage saving, which would later be used for capital.  That makes sense to me.  In fact, reading Nixon has sensitized me more to why saving is important for the economy.  But I still have a question.  Let’s say that I’ve saved, and I then decide to use my savings to start a business.  How would I benefit, and how would I be able to benefit other by employing them, if there is a consumption tax discouraging people from buying my products?  I agree that saving is important for the economy, but so is consumption.

In addition to the importance of saving, there was something else that this book by Nixon further sensitized me to: on the need for a strong economy to support a social safety net.  Communism preached equality, but people living under it were not better off whenever its policies inhibited economic growth.  Granted, some of the countries that Nixon praises as capitalistic, such as Taiwan, came to adopt a single-payer health insurance system, the sort of system that Nixon criticizes.  (Whether it did so before or after Nixon died, I do not know.)  See this article.  And yet, Taiwan did so after it had become wealthy.  Then, it could afford a single-payer system.  I hope that there is some way to combine the free market with an adequate social safety net, or any government action that can provide people with a hand-up.  A while back, I was reading a New York Times article on the legacy of Hugo Chavez, and it noted that, while Chavez made things better for the poor, economic growth in Venezuela was not that great when he was its leader.  The article said that some are looking to Brazil as a better alternative: it is capitalistic, yet it has a strong social safety net.

Published in: on May 3, 2013 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Change, or Just Playing for Another Team?

Carson Clark of the blog “Musings of a Hardline Moderate” recently had an insightful post, Miniblog #137: How Did I Break from the Fundamentalist, Pentecostal Republican Mold?

While Carson’s post is about how he left his fundamentalist, Pentecostal, Republican mold, I think that his thoughts can apply to a number of “us vs. them” mentalities, not only those on the Right.  I’ll quote from this part of Carson’s post:

“Spanning the spectrum from politics to religion, so many conservatives and progressives seem fueled by sheer anger toward one another. It’s as though there’s something about them–something deep down in the recesses of their hearts, minds, and souls–that resonates with a spirit of opposition and is driven by a desire to defeat one another.  It’s this thirst for an intoxicating brew of power, control, and victory. When I was a fundamentalist I felt that elemental, competitive fire. Yet it was never a good fit. There was always something that felt innately amiss. It’s as though the perpetual conflict produced physical energy while simultaneously sapping my emotional, intellectual, and spiritual vitality.”

I can identify with what Carson is saying.  When I was right-wing, I was angry at liberals.  I felt that they were smug, condescending know-it-alls who looked down on everyone who disagreed with them, while assuming that they somehow spoke for most people.  And I wanted for them to be defeated, not just because I thought that their agenda for the country was dangerous, but also because I wanted them to feel the pain of knowing that most of America did not like them.  And so I rejoiced when George W. Bush won in 2004, or when anti-gay marriage measures passed in a bunch of states.  I was in-your-face about my conservatism, for I wanted the liberals I knew to realize that not everybody shared their views—-that there were other ways to see the issues.

To be honest, a lot of my ideological change occurred when I was away from actual liberals, when I did not have to be physically at my academic institution and could do a lot of my work at home.  During that time, I got to reflect more on issues, without bringing into consideration personalities, whom I liked, whom I disliked, etc.  I began to believe that winning elections is not so much a matter of telling off the “other side”, as it is of crafting policies that help the country, which includes people of different perspectives.  I especially felt this as I attempted to navigate my way through America’s health care system, with the health insurance premiums, the copays, and the fact that my health insurance company often left me with a lot of the bill.  I also was hearing and reading the horror stories of those who suffered at the hands of health insurance companies, or who struggled to pay off their student loans.  Moreover, in 2008, I was reading Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope, and, while I disagreed with Obama on a number of issues, I admired his thoughtfulness and his ability to acknowledge valuable points in conservatism.

What I often wonder, though, is this: Am I all that different now from how I was as a conservative, only I’m on another team?  There is currently a part of me that cannot stand conservatives and conservative Christianity.  I hate conservatives’ judgmental attitude towards those who receive government aid, as many conservatives claim that such people do not want to work, when there are actually a number of people who do work yet remain poor.  I have also resented the spiritual bullying that I and others have received from conservative Christians, and so, while I remain a person of faith, I tend to gravitate towards atheist blogs and the religious blogs of people who are critical of conservative Christianity (i.e., Rachel Held Evans) because I am elated when conservative Christianity is criticized.  When conservative Christians get on their high horse and say that everyone should believe and behave in a certain way, and set themselves up as people’s judge, I get a lot of satisfaction when an atheist says, “Yeah, says who?”  I’m hoping (perhaps in vain) that this will take the wind out of conservative Christians’ sails, the same way that I hoped as a conservative (equally in vain) that political defeats would knock arrogant liberals off of their high horse.

So I’m not entirely different now from when I was a conservative.  And yet, there are some differences.  Nowadays, I don’t dismiss every criticism of my side with “the other side does the same thing” (or at least I try not to do so—-it’s tempting to resort to that when the other side gets self-righteous).  I don’t assume that my side is perfect whereas the other side is utterly flawed.  I identify heroes in both sides, conservative and liberal, and I read stuff from both sides—-well, not everything, for both sides produce stuff that is malevolent, bitter, and sometimes just plain nutty, but I appreciate a thoughtful (preferably three-dimensional) analysis of policy and politics, regardless of whether the person doing the analysis is a liberal, a conservative, or something else. 

Moreover, while there is still a part of me that relishes competition and the other side being taken down a few notches, there are times when I need something more nourishing.  I learned that back when I was a conservative.  I was in a bitter mood one day, I turned on Rush Limbaugh, and he was ranting about the inconsistency of the Left in criticizing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s alleged indiscretions with women while giving Bill Clinton a free pass.  As much as I enjoyed listening to Rush, I found that I needed to turn him off at that time because he was not helping my mood.

Mitt Romney’s No Apology 9: Energy and Climate Change

In my latest reading of No Apology: Believe in America, Mitt Romney talked about energy and climate change.  In my opinion, Romney was all over the place in this chapter, as he went into different angles of the issue.  But my impression is that he’s for reducing dependency on oil, for our oil supplies will not last forever, and our dependence on foreign oil leads us into compromising situations internationally.  Romney thinks that we can drill safely in offshore areas and in ANWR, but he talks a lot about the need to reduce our dependency on oil, and he supports nuclear energy, coal (whose carbon can be removed and stored, he said), and natural gas.

Romney wants to incentivize fuel-efficient cars through the tax system, and he’s open to working on a proposal to impose a gas or carbon tax while balancing that off with some sort of tax cut—-such as a reduction of the payroll tax.  Romney states that “The higher energy prices would encourage energy efficiency across the full array of American businesses and citizens.”  Romney acknowledges that such a proposal could hurt people on fixed incomes, people who have to travel over sizeable distances, and people “in certain energy-intensive industries” (page 262), and so that’s why he believes that the plan needs work.  This discussion stood out to me because I remembered Rush Limbaugh criticizing President Obama’s energy secretary for reportedly saying that high gas prices are okay (see here).  Apparently, Romney and the conservatives who devised the plan see an upside to high energy prices.

Romney prefers alternative energy and incentivizing fuel-efficient cars to cap-and-trade and the government spending a lot of money to counter climate change.  According to Romney, cap-and-trade and government spending cost a lot of money that can be used for other things.  There are businesses that use a lot of carbon, and having to buy credits to do that would cost them a lot, and so they’d either pass on the cost to the consumers or locate to a country that does not have as many restrictions on carbon.  (Romney believes that cap-and-trade for other pollutants has been more workable and effective, yet he sees downsides to that as well, such as the unstable price of credits.)  And there are foreign regions that prefer to prioritize tackling other problems over climate change because it costs a lot to address climate change, and they feel that money can be better spent on other necessary causes.  Moreover, Romney does not believe that spending a lot of money to reverse climate change even succeeds in attaining its goal, at least not at the level that would justify the cost.

I did some online reading to see where we stand now on climate change.  Cap-and-trade was defeated.  The White House’s current policy on climate-change did not strike me as overly rigorous, for it appeared to focus on reducing carbon emissions by the government while not discussing the private sector so much (see here).  The White House’s web site does talk about clean energy, but I hope that we’re actually going somewhere with that, rather than merely investing in companies that fail.  The web site says here, though, that renewable energy generation has doubled in the U.S. since 2008. 

And, according to this article, U.S. carbon emissions are at a 20-year low, due to such factors as “a mild winter, reduced gasoline demand, and the scaling back of coal-fired power in favour of new gas capacity”, and those who support the gas industry contend that “America’s shale gas boom has delivered environmental benefits by replacing more carbon-intensive coal-fired power” (the article’s words).  But the article goes on to say that “climate scientists and green groups remain deeply concerned that while the switch to gas will deliver reductions in overall emissions it will fail to deliver the deep cuts necessary to curb climate change risks, arguing that new investment in gas infrastructure will lock the US into high levels of emissions for decades to come.”

Although Mitt Romney has a history of supporting fuel-efficient automobiles, I tend to trust Barack Obama to be more committed to the issue of combating climate change, since Romney seeks to appease the right-wing.  But, to be honest, I’m not sure if enough can be done to combat it, especially in the current political climate—-where so many people have to be appeased and radical measures are dismissed because they may have an adverse effect on the economy.  But, hopefully, something can be done—-to reduce emissions and to prepare for the consequences of climate change.

Published in: on September 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Schumer Could Have Been a Hero…

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York was on ABC This Week this morning (click here for the transcript).  One of the topics that he addressed was controversial left-wing comedian Bill Maher, who has donated a million dollars to Barack Obama’s super-PAC.  Many Republicans are saying that Obama should give back the money, since Maher has called Sarah Palin derogatory names.  This is currently an issue because right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has received flack (and even drops in advertisers) for calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute”, and Obama and others on the Left have criticized that as uncivil discourse.  Republicans are responding that Bill Maher is uncivil in his discourse, too, and so the Left should criticize him as well.

When asked if the Democrats should return Bill Maher’s donation, Charles Schumer said the following:

“Well, no. I mean, look, the bottom line is that Rush Limbaugh’s comments were just nasty and directed at a particular young woman who had a particular point of view and was expressing herself. Bill Maher is a comedian. It’s much different. Rush Limbaugh has tremendous weight in the Republican Party. No one will rebut him. Bill Maher’s a comedian who’s on at 11 o’clock at night but has very little influence on what’s happening here.”

Schumer’s response is understandable, but it’s sad.  It’s understandable because Schumer does not want to make headlines by openly demanding that the Democrats return Maher’s money, since that would place the Democrats in an awkward position.  (I’ve watched enough of The West Wing that I can picture Josh Lyman arriving at that conclusion!)  But it’s sad for a variety of reasons:

1.  Contrary to what Schumer says, Bill Maher does have political influence, for Maher is giving a million dollars to the Democrats.

2.  Schumer’s attempt to downplay Bill Maher as a mere comedian while he criticizes Rush Limbaugh is quite a stretch.  Both Rush and Bill Maher are comedians in that they try to be funny, but they also claim to be presenting legitimate points-of-view on politics and policy.  In my opinion, Rush and Bill Maher are in the same boat.

3.  Right is right and wrong is wrong, regardless of who is doing it.  Unfortunately, in U.S. politics, people tend to give a free pass to their own side while condemning the other side.  One result of that is Schumer’s poor logic (at least on the issue of Rush and Bill Maher) that he displayed this morning.

4.  Due to pressures on politicians to be team players, it’s rare to find a politician who stands for what’s right, even when it creates an awkward situation.  Chuck Schumer could have been a hero this morning by declaring that Democrats should support civility and thus return Bill Maher’s check.  Instead, he chose to be a team player and to engage in silly partisan games.

This is not to say that Schumer hasn’t done good things in the area of civility.  He has appeared on right-wing shows and has discussed issues in a respectful manner.  After the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, he and Republican Senator Tom Coburn sat next to one another to show their commitment to transcending political polarization.  I just wish Schumer was more of a hero this morning.

Two Perspectives on U.S. Energy Policy

I listened to two talk radio shows today.  The first was that of Rush Limbaugh, the controversial right-wing host.  And the second was that of Thom Hartmann, a progressive.

I was especially intrigued by their different points-of-view on energy policy, which they talked about today because President Barack Obama has released proposals on energy.

Rush said that Obama is against drilling for oil because he is anti-American and believes that the United States has exploited the world.  Rush also said that Obama desires to shift America to green energy (i.e., replacing oil with algae).  Rush referred to Energy Secretary Stephen Chu’s remark that the Administration is okay with high gas prices (see here), as well as Obama’s lament that the United States has two percent of the world’s oil reserves yet consumes twenty percent of the world’s oil.  For Rush, the United States has much more oil than that, but it has been untapped due to Obama’s anti-oil policies.  Rush also expressed doubt that anything can replace oil, for the success of oil in the marketplace is an example of the best product winning.  Moreover, Rush affirmed that the Keystone Pipeline (which Obama opposes) would create jobs in the United States.

Thom Hartmann’s take on these issues was different.  First of all, Hartmann denied that Obama has been anti-oil in his policies or has supported high gas prices.  Hartmann played the part of Obama’s speech in which Obama lamented that Americans have paid so much at the pump.  Hartmann also stated that drilling for oil has dramatically increased during Obama’s Presidency.  Why, then, do we still have high gas prices?  Hartmann says this is because oil companies have exported the surplus oil, in an attempt to keep gasoline prices in the United States high and thereby maintain their high profits.  Regarding the Keystone pipeline, Hartmann stated that it would create jobs while it was being built, but afterwards those jobs would disappear.  Hartmann also said that the pipeline essentially exports oil to another country, meaning that the oil is not even for people in the United States.

Who’s right?  I agree with Rush that Obama is trying to weed us off of oil, since Obama is a strong proponent of green energy.  I am also interested in learning more about Secretary Chu’s comments.  But Hartmann makes sense when he says that the oil companies are trying to keep their prices high.  That’s why I doubt that giving tax breaks to oil companies will lift us out of our current state of high gas prices: we’ve been doing that, and it hasn’t worked.

That’s my opinion, and I’m far from being an expert.  I was pleased to listen to two sides on this issue.  What’s your view?

Kucinich and Kaptur; Rush and Hannity on Inconsistency

I have two political points for today:

1.  I read that Congressman Dennis Kucinich lost to Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur in the race for the Democratic nomination in Ohio’s ninth district.  I think it’s sad that redistricting put both of these fine leaders against each other, for I like them both.  For one, both are solidly committed to the middle class, and they’re not afraid to stand up to special interests.  And second, at least compared to other Democrats, they’re fairly pro-life on the abortion issue (though Kucinich has moved away from that).  Marcy Kaptur will go up against Joe the Plumber.  (Oh brother!)  I’ve written about Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich in the past on this blog.  See here and here.

2.  I listened to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity yesterday.  Essentially, they were arguing that the Left is hypocritical to lambaste Rush in the name of civility, when prominent figures on the Left are themselves uncivil.  Rush said that President Barack Obama laughed when Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. referred to Tea Partiers as “sons of bitches”, and when Wanda Sykes at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner expressed hope that Rush Limbaugh’s kidneys would fail.  And Hannity reported that Bill Maher—-who has used derogatory terms for Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann—-has donated a million dollars to Obama’s super-PAC.  Hannity asks if Obama will return the money.

I think that these points are legitimate.  My impression has been that, when many liberals and Democrats are confronted with this information, they give the obligatory response that Bill Maher is also wrong to be uncivil.  But do they then proceed to e-mail HBO and to tell it to take Bill Maher off of its programming, the same way that they have gone after Rush’s sponsors with a vengeance?  I don’t think so.  In my opinion, there is bias, and people tend to give a free pass to their own side for things that they condemn on the other side.

I said that I think that Rush and Hannity make a legitimate point.  But is it a valuable point?  And where exactly does it leave us?  All it does is encourage more squabbling and us vs. them.  Yes, life is unfair.  I may be criticized for things that others get a free pass for.  The people who criticize me may not even have the moral authority to do so, since their own lives are out of order.  But I’m still responsible for my own actions, and it is my responsibility to clean up my own side of the street and to try to be as civil as I can.

John Avlon on the Decline of Rush Limbaugh

John Avlon of The Daily Beast has an excellent article about the decline of Rush Limbaugh, both in terms of the number of his listeners and the quality of his program.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from Avlon’s piece:

“‘This controversy will no doubt give Rush a temporary ratings lift, but it won’t be worth the damage that’s been caused in terms of loss of revenue and advertiser confidence,’ says WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo, who previously directed Limbaugh’s flagship station, WABC. ‘It is perceived by many as an attack on young women who represent the holy grail for ratings. Women 25–54 is the prize demo for most advertisers. Rush’s remarks strike at the heart of the audience they’re trying to reach, hence the apology. This is an audience that’s already been in gradual decline on many right-wing radio stations, so Rush’s gaffe compounds the problem.’”

“‘There’s been a lot of research done on women and talk radio and while women are keenly interested in issues and politics, women tend to reject the in-your-face conflict and combativeness of politics. That’s just not how women are wired,’ says Cantillo. ‘We prefer more civil discourse on the issues. And that’s why all news and talk programming that’s more even-handed are gaining popularity.’  While Rush is still a giant of the talk-radio industry, there are signs of erosion. Right-wing talk-radio ratings have been declining, at least in part because of PPMs, a new, more accurate way of measuring listenership. In Chicago, Boston, and Minneapolis, local talk-radio stations outperform the station that airs Rush and his national conservative-talk cohort. In San Diego, Philadelphia, and Washington, the local NPR station outranks the Rush affiliates.”

“In what might be another ominous sign for Rush & Co., Mike Huckabee will be starting a nationally syndicated radio show in April for the Cumulus network, which could be positioned to displace Rush in some markets. A former preacher, governor, and presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee is highly conservative, but he is also unfailingly civil.”

“There is an irony in the spot Rush has put himself. His career first took off when he was hired as a replacement for the professionally offensive Morton Downey Jr. at Sacramento’s KFBK. ‘Rush was hired because he was passionate but polite—a nice Midwest guy. The agreement was that he would not be rude or cruel,’ says Valerie Geller, his former program director at WABC, director of Geller Media International and author of Beyond Powerful Radio.”

Some will probably doubt that there was ever a time when Rush was civil and polite!  After all, he used the terms “feminazis” and “environmental wackos” even in his early days.  But, in my opinion, whenever Rush focuses on discussing and debating the issues rather than calling people names, he can be quite effective, even logical at times.  And there was a time when he was more willing to dialogue with people about the issues in public, for he appeared on news programs and talk shows (i.e., Donahue) and debated people who disagreed with him.  He still does that sort of thing on his radio program, on some level, but I remember when he had more of a public profile in terms of discussing issues.

I’m pleased that there is a growing number of people desiring a civil discussion of issues—-an exploration of differences and policies as opposed to name-calling and “us vs. them.”

It’s Not Censorship (Technically-Speaking), But It Still Stinks

This will be a rambling post.

In a sense, I can identify with the companies that have pulled their sponsorship from Rush Limbaugh’s radio program.  These companies support such values as civility and respect for people, and they do not feel that Rush practices those values.  Consequently, they choose not to support Rush.  I understand and I respect that.

But I myself have no intention of trying to get Rush kicked off the air.  In fact, I’m getting sick of conservatives getting kicked off of programs, period.  I think of Pat Buchanan being fired from MSNBC due to pressure from a left-wing group.  In my opinion, we lose out when voices are silenced.  And, while we may think that society would be better off if certain voices were simply not heard, I believe that those voices should be addressed and countered through debate, not silencing them.  (I’m refraining from using the word “censorship” here because the government did not remove Pat Buchanan from MSNBC, and I define censorship as the government repressing freedom of speech.)

“But you’re a right-winger, James.”  Well, I’m more middle-of-the-road nowadays, maybe even center-left.  But let me say this: I’m not going to join right-wingers to get things kicked off the air, either!  The conservative American Family Association has long liked to target sponsors to get certain programs kicked off.  I have not joined them, for I happen to like the shows that the religious right dislikes (i.e., Desperate Housewives, Picket Fences, Brothers and Sisters, etc.).  L. Brent Bozell (nephew of William F. Buckley, Jr.) has for years sought to remove Family Guy from television.  I happen to like Family Guy.  I think it’s funny.  It goes too far at times, but I’m not going to support getting it kicked off the air.

Another pet-peeve I have: When someone expresses an opinion, people act surprised and outraged that he has expressed that opinion.  I have in mind Kirk Cameron’s recent comments on homosexuality, which GLAAD has criticized.  Look, criticize away, for this country is all about debate!  But should we really be surprised that Kirk Cameron made those comments?  He’s a conservative Christian!  Of course he feels that way!  There are many people in the United States who still believe that way!  I hope Kirk Cameron is not pressured to contrive some phony apology.  People are still entitled to their opinion, even if that opinion is wrong and (in the eyes of some, such as GLAAD) outdated.

I tend to admire people—-on both the Left and also the Right—-who acknowledge and respect that there are people with different points-of-view, whether or not they agree with those viewpoints.  Let’s go a step further.  I admire those who also try to understand why other points-of-view exist.

The Rush-Sandra Fluke Debate

Here are some links regarding the Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh controversy:

Sandra Fluke’s submitted testimony: here.

Rush Limbaugh’s explanation of his position and defense of his controversial remarks: here and here.  (On the first Rush link, there is a video of Sandra Fluke’s testimony.)

Both are worth taking a look at, in my opinion.  For one, Sandra Fluke and Rush disagree about whether or not contraception is affordable and accessible.  Rush argues that condoms are cheap and that Planned Parenthood’s own figures demonstrate that contraception is not as expensive as Sandra Fluke says.  Fluke, however, responds to this sort of argument and provides reasons that contraception is so expensive.

Second, Rush sees the debate primarily in terms of sex.  He asks why women can’t limit when they have sex, rather than demanding that society pay for their contraception (either through taxes or premiums).  Fluke, however, argues that there is much more to the issue than that.  There are women with problems that can only be redressed with contraception.  She refers to a 32 year-old friend who had “to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries” (Fluke’s words). Because her insurance would not cover this medication, it got to the point where the doctor had to remove her ovary.  Now, she experiences early menopause, which can lead to “increased risk of cancer, heart disease [and] osteoporosis” (Fluke’s words).  Plus, she can no longer have children.

As many of my readers know, there is more to the debate than this: Rush calling Sandra a “slut”, people trying to get Rush kicked off the air, etc.  But I’m choosing to focus on the parts of their arguments that have a degree of substance.

Published in: on March 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Nixon’s Civil Rights 18

In my reading of Dean Kotlowski’s Nixon’s Civil Rights right now, I am in Chapter 6, “A Cold War: Nixon and Civil Rights Leaders”.  The chapter is about how President Richard Nixon had a tense relationship with civil rights leaders.  Part of this was because civil rights leaders disliked Nixon’s focus on providing African-Americans with economic opportunity rather than integration, and they criticized Nixon for favoring a slow approach to the desegregation of Southern schools.  Moreover, Nixon’s continuation of the Philadelphia Plan to empower minority businesses took a bit of time to produce results, and so civil rights leaders labeled it a failure.  On Nixon’s side, Nixon did not care for Ralph Abernathy preaching to him.  Nixon preferred to reach out to the African-American silent majority, which actually was not a majority of African-Americans at the time, but which consisted of African-American ministers and businessmen.

Something that stood out to me was what Kotlowski narrated on page 173.  Nixon adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan suggested in a memo that the “issue of race could benefit from a period of ‘benign neglect’” (Moynihan’s words).  Kotlowski states: “Moynihan protested that the phrase ‘benign neglect’ was neutral, coming from a 130-year-old report on British policy toward Canada.  In Nixon’s opinion, reporters had given Moynihan a ‘bad rap.’  Neither Moynihan nor the president realized that they implicitly had compared civil rights policy to British colonialism.”

This makes me wonder if the controversial things that public figures say necessarily mean what people think that they mean.  When Rush Limbaugh said that the Obamas were “uppity”, for example, did he really mean that they were not acting in a manner that was fitting for their race, as people claimed when they looked at the history of the use of “uppity”?  Or did Rush simply mean that the Obamas think and act like they are superior to others?  I’m not saying that I agree that the Obamas think they’re superior, but it does seem to me as if many project onto people’s words things that the people may not have meant.

Published in: on February 18, 2012 at 11:50 am  Leave a Comment  

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