Activist and all around divisive figure Earl Ofari Hutchinson offers readers his latest tirade at the HuffPo:
On the campaign trail in 1968, Nixon lambasted his Democratic opponent, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, for the failed Great Society programs and big government spending. Nixon told reporters that he resented anyone who said that law and order was a code word for racism. The majority of Americans, he explained, were decent, hard working, law abiding citizens. They were sick of the lawlessness and violence in the cities. They were furious at the courts for the perceived cuddling of (black) lawbreakers. Nixon claimed he was the candidate who spoke for white ethnics and blue-collar workers.
He accurately gauged the mood of the “silent majority.” The urban riots convinced many whites in the south and the northern suburbs that the ghettos were out of control and that their lives and property were threatened by the menace of black violence. In speeches to northern suburban audiences, Nixon hammered on the twin themes of law and order, and Great Society permissiveness.
Hutchinson’s tone indicates that he is well short on the facts and that he hopes we rely on his translation of “code word” to fill the void for his inability to provide any cogency to his argument.
According to historian Joan Hoff in her book Nixon Reconsidered, RN had a stronger legacy on racial issues than his predecessors and the effects of his policies serve as the bedrock for his successors.
In 1969, RN instituted a revised version of President Johnson’s Philadelphia Plan, requiring federal contractors to hire minority workers for construction related jobs.
In 1972, he expanded the power of the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Also in 1972, he signed an extension of the Voting Rights Act, legislation that effectively banned literacy tests and created a uniform protocol for residency requirements that ALL states had to abide by.
According to Hoff, African Americans also benefited from the administration’s small business initiatives which RN tailored for minorities so that they would have “a profitable role in our economic system.” The results: “56 of the top 100 black firms” were started between 1969 and 1971.
And by the end of his first term, less than 12 percent of African American children attended segregated schools nationwide, down from 40 percent in 1968.
These are just the facts. Then again, we can always rely on Mr. Hutchinson’s interpretations.