Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Our Politicians "Think"

"Hours after 1,000 New York State troopers, sheriff’s deputies and correction officers stormed Attica prison to crush a four-day inmate revolt in 1971, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller telephoned President Richard M. Nixon to claim victory unambiguously" From Rockefeller on the Attica Raid, NY Times, September 13, 2011

“Tell me,” Nixon asked, “are these primarily blacks that you’re dealing with?”
“Oh, yes,” Rockefeller replied, “the whole thing was led by the blacks.”
Later that afternoon, Nixon asked H. R. Haldeman, his chief of staff, whether reports from the prison included “the fact that it’s basically a black thing.”
“That’s going to turn people off awful damn fast,” Nixon said, “that the guards were white.”

Blame it on the blacks and that works from a PR point of view. For Nixon, this action was what might be called "a teaching moment," that is, a moment when Rockefeller could teach other governors and the nation that there was a national conspiracy among blacks in prisons and that the way to deal with this conspiracy was deadly force. Nowhere in the reported tapes does anyone ask about the grievances that led to the riots and the take over of Attica. It is as if these grievances are irrelevant and, of course, once deadly force is used, that is what happens: The grievances become irrelevant and everyone, both supporters and critics, focus on the issue of whether deadly force should have been used. Sound familiar? It should.....

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