Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents

By Rick Perlstein; Richard Nixon | Go to book overview

16.
“The first civil right of every American
is to be free from domestic violence”
(August 8, 1968)

Rhetorically, Nixon's speech accepting the Republican
presidential nomination neatly cleaved the nation in
two. On the one hand were the “shouters.” They were
responsible for “cities enveloped in smoke and flame,”
“sirens in the night,” “Americans hating each other;
fighting each other; killing each other at home.” The
other half were the victims of the first: “forgotten
Americans,” who “give steel to the backbone of
America,” who “work,” “save,” “pay their taxes,” and
“care.” They were “the real voice of America”—a sug-
gestion that America's growing population of protest-
ers weren't real Americans at all.

For a few moments, let us look at America, let us listen to America. …

As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame.

We hear sirens in the night.

We see Americans dying on distant battlefields abroad.

We see Americans hating each other; fighting each other; killing each other at home.

-145-

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