Pretend with me for a moment that the following events, some of which have already occurred and some of which are scheduled to occur this April 19, 2010, might have occurred during the Nixon Administration in the early 70’s. Then ask yourself this question: What Would Nixon Do?

Imagine for a moment it is 1970, not 2010. Imagine further (though as we know this never happened) a large group of radical protesters to the Nixon administration descended on a National Park just outside the District of Columbia, followed by a march on the Capitol. Imagine that these groups stated their intention to hold speeches and rallies to Restore the Constitution from the “tyranny” of the then current President, Richard M. Nixon.

Now imagine that the organizers of this group were encouraging every attendee to bring with them and openly carry their firearms as a signal to their government regarding the seriousness of their purpose. Imagine further that one of the main speakers at this event was to be the leader of a group of individuals dedicated to defying any order by the federal, state or local governments they consider, in their sole discretion, to be unconstitutional.

Imagine further, that this rally was scheduled to be held days after the FBI raided and arrested members of a heavily armed anti-government group which had plans to kill and murder thousands of law enforcement officers in an attempt to spark a civil war and overthrow the government.

Now imagine that the date of this rally was the same day a domestic terrorist opposed to Nixon’s policies and the policies of his administration, who was considered a hero to many of the individuals planning to attend these rallies, had killed over a hundred people, including children, and wounded hundreds more, by exploding a truck bomb outside a federal office building.<p.

What do you think President Nixon's response to this unprecedented show of force against the government he led would have been?

Well Nixon is dead, so we can’t ask him, but we do know what he did do to unarmed antiwar protesters in Washington in 1971. He called in 10,000 military reinforcements, canceled a permit the protesters had been granted to hold a rock concert in Washington Potomac Park and in the early morning of May 2, 1971 had police attack the sleeping protesters by knocking down their tents and firing with tear gas causing most of them to scatter and eventually leave Washington, Of those who stayed. some of whom participated in non-violent acts of civil disobedience such as shutting down streets and blocking intersections, the police conducted massive sweeps in which they arrested over 7000 people. Nixon also secretly told his staff that he supported the use of Teamster “thugs” to attack and beat up anti-war demonstrators.

Of course, this was not as horrific as the events of the May. 1970 Kent State and Jackson State massacres in which unarmed civilians had been gunned down by National Guard units at Kent State and by police at Jackson State.

Andn I suppose we don;t need to go as far back as the early 70’s to get an idea of how Republican officials might respond to protesters. All we need to do is recall the mass arrests of thousands of New Yorkers and others during the 2004 Republican National Convention at which President Bush was re-nominated.

His hair so long a police officer called him “Jesus,” Sebastian Licht said he set out Tuesday to celebrate his 22nd birthday, only to be swept up in one of the largest mass arrests in the nation’s history.

He emerged two days later from court – smelly, bleeding and determined to become the activist he says police feared he was.

One of more than 1,700 people arrested this week at demonstrations aimed at the Republican National Convention, Licht gained his freedom on on Thursday morning. A judge, frustrated at the city’s pace in moving protesters through the criminal justice system, ordered the immediate release of nearly 500 of them. […]

Wearing a Polo Sport Ralph Lauren shirt and khaki shorts, Licht described his 6 p.m. arrest Tuesday in Herald Square, where he said he approached a subway station that he learned was closed only to be caught in a police sweep of the area.

“Because I have long hair and a beard, they took me,” he said.

He recalled spotting another young man at the same time step outside his apartment building and get arrested even as he tried to explain that he too was not part of any rally. […]

Tim Kulik, 22, a photography student at the Rochester Institute of Technology who was transporting film for photographers at The Associated Press when he was arrested late Tuesday on his bicycle, was freed Thursday after 35 hours.

He said he was scraped on his face and bruised on his leg and neck when a police officer tackled him before other officers completed the arrest. The officer who tackled him later made his handcuffs tighter when he asked that they be loosened, he said.

Or what about the response to the pro-immigration rally in Los Angeles in where police conducted what can only be described as a violent and over the top military response to mostly peaceful demonstrators:

AMY GOODMAN: Angelica Salas rejoins us from Los Angeles, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights there. In the protest that the police opened fire with rubber bullets on last night, where exactly were you, Angelica, and who were the people that were affected?

ANGELICA SALAS: Yes, I was actually the main MC of the event, and I started seeing the police rush into the park, and we voluntarily—we started seeing people running. We voluntarily cut our program at 6:30. We had our permit that would go until 9:00. We cut it. We made sure that people—we told people to start leaving the park slowly, not to run, with their children.

I stayed towards the end, and what I saw was, instead of isolating a problem group, they pushed them into the crowd. They started shooting rubber bullets into a crowd of just innocent people. I was caught in the middle of all of this, as we were trying to send people out, had to cover a mother with some children. So I am just indignant. I am outraged at the manner in which the police dealt with a family event. We have had millions and millions of people in the streets of Los Angeles. We have worked daily with the police, and for them to actually engage in this kind of action is ludicrous. And I just want to once more say, the majority of the people that were there were assembled in peace, and they were demanding their rights. They were demanding an opportunity for legalization. And to have our police act in this manner is completely outrageous.

Let’s roll the tape shall we:

Suffice it to say that Republican officials’ response in the past to non-violent protest was to use overwhelming force and not to pay much attention to the civil liberties of the individuals they arrested and assaulted. What would they have done to armed protesters? We can only speculate, but based on their past history it’s clear that tear gas and rubber bullets likely would not have been a major part of they tactics they employed.

Yet, for all their cries of leftist traitors and agitators, during the Bush years there was no incident of any protest against the Bush administration in which liberals, Democrats and anti-war organizers advocated violence or the carrying of firearms. This despite the numerous abuses of our civil rights such as the use of torture on US civilians, indefinite detentions of “terror suspects” in concentration camps, the massive, illegal and warrantless electronic surveillance of Americans by their government, the rifling through library files to see what books you may have checked out to read, etc.

I went to the 2005 anti-war protest in Washington D.C. I saw protest signs, American flags and heard many speakers condemn the actions of President Bush. Actions that have come to light and are well documented.

Yet I saw no guns being carried by my fellow protesters. There were no “liberal” media calling for a “revolution” or suggesting we “reload” or use our “ammo boxes” or claiming Armageddon was at hand because of the illegal and immoral actions of our government. No one shouted “Death to Bush!” or Death to the Tyrant!” No one argued that the “tree of liberty needs to be watered periodically with the blood of patriots.”

Yet based on inchoate fears of “socialism” and “fascism” and “a secret Obama police force” and the “planned confiscation of their guns by Democrats” and so many other lies and falsehoods spread by Fox News, right wing talk radio and Republican politicians there are large numbers of people in this country who unreasonably fearful of their government. People who believe that they must arm themselves and display those firearms openly in order to intimidate their government and their fellow citizens.

What would Nixon do if faced with such a vast network of sedition, insurrection and gun toting extremists on the left? He’s have likely already declared martial law and arrested thousands of political opponents, innocent ordinary citizens and members of the media on suspicion of inciting violence and the overthrow of our government.

If Nixon were President, and Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh were leftist critics making the same extreme statements against his administration they routinely make against Obama they’d be in jail. If Nixon was President facing the daily lies and slanders of Fox News they already would have been shut down. Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin and god knows how many others would be under arrest for sedition if they were leftist extremists.

Anyone bringing a gun to a protest of President Nixon would be in some dark, dank cell in Guantanamo Bay being subjected to torture.

That’s what Nixon would have done if faced with the same level of extreme level of dissent, thinly veiled calls for violent resistance to his rule and revolution, the rapid growth of extreme anti-government militias and the levels of actual violence and death threats that have been directed against liberals, President Obama and Democrats over the last year.

These tea party crazies have no idea what real tyranny would look like. If Obama was Nixon they’d have learned pretty quickly however just what jack boots grinding their faces into the dirt really felt like. Lucky for them we have a President that believes in the Rule of Law. If he didn’t their worst nightmarish fantasies would have already occurred.

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