Richard Nixon photo

Remarks at Phoenix, Arizona.

October 31, 1970

Governor Williams, Senator Fannin, Congressman Rhodes, Congressman Steiger, all of the distinguished guests on the platform, and all the distinguished members of this audience:

I appreciate very much your wonderful reception. I understand, incidentally, that traffic is backed up for 3 miles. We saw it as we came in. I hope, incidentally, that our friends in radio and television that they have this on the radio, so the people in the cars can hear on the radio, and my greetings to you.

I am very happy to be back in Arizona. I remember my very young years when I was in Prescott on three different summers. I have very warm feelings about this State. As Barry Goldwater says, too, I was raised on Arizona's water, so we share something in common.

I am particularly impressed by the size of this crowd when I realize what we are competing with today, the homecoming _at the University of Arizona at Tucson. I understand the Arizona State Fair--is that right?--it is going on now, and the opening of deer season.

And also, I am very appreciative of the fact that we have had some wonderful musical organizations that have been entertaining us and entertaining you before we were here. If I could just mention them briefly. I want all those who are listening on television and radio to hear it, too. I understand we have had from the choral groups--and let's give them all a hand--the Phoenix Boys' Club chorus, the Coronado High School choral group, The Phoenicians barbershop chorus, the Scottsdale High School Band, and the Arizona State University Band.

After that reception from that band, I can't resist just saying something to you that is going to get me in trouble someplace else. When I was in Texas a few days ago, they told me that Texas was number one. When I was in Ohio the other day, they told me that Ohio State was going to be number one. When I was in Indiana, they told me Notre Dame was going to be number one. When I was in northern California, they told me that Stanford was number one.

But, boy, when I am in Arizona, Arizona State is number one.

I am glad to be in the State of champions, a champion United States Senator and a man who belongs not only to Arizona but the whole Nation Barry Goldwater.

And a champion in the form of the man that I am proud here to endorse, a very great Governor, one who has served this State and one who is among the top ranks among the Governors of the Nation, Governor Williams, of Arizona.

And champion Congressman, too, Johnny Rhodes, who serves in the leadership with me, and Congressman Steiger. Let me say for our congressional candidates, let's give them the hand that they deserve, too.

And finally, your United States Senator, the man who is up for reelection, the man who is among those for whom I am particularly campaigning across this country, because what happens in the Senate this year is perhaps the most important Senate race in the 190-year history of this country.

I simply want to say this about Paul Fannin: I have known him as you have known him for a number of years. I have known him as a fine Senator and as a fine man.

I also know this: that he is a man on whom I depend. I value his advice. I know that he fights for Arizona, but I also know that he fights for the defense of the United States of America, and we need that, too, in the United States Senate.

I am proud to endorse him. I don't know what I would do without him. Give him back, will you? How about it? We want him back.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, you are all standing here and I know you have been standing for a long time, jammed up, and I don't want you to get tired. But I have selected this particular occasion for a major statement. A major statement that needs to be made, needs to be made now, not because it is the end of a political campaign, but because this problem has been building up in America.

It is time for the President of the United States to speak out clearly to the American people, not because he personally has been affected by it but because all of America is affected by what happened a couple of days ago in my home State of California, in San Jose.

You saw some of it on television. You saw the crowd inside, a crowd like this, 3,000 people, listening, cheering, indicating their interest in who might be the Governor, who might be the Senator, and, of course, showing respect for the office of the President of the United States. You saw also the crowd outside.

The crowd inside were exercising their right to peaceable assembly, as you are today. They were listening to political speakers. They were weighing the issues in the campaign of 1970.

And outside the hall there was a mob of about 1,000, maybe a few more. We could see the hate in their faces as we drove into the hall, and the obscene signs they waved. We could hear the hate in their voices as they chanted their obscenities.

And inside the hall, we could hear them pounding on the doors as if they could not bear the thought of people listening respectfully to the Governor of the State of California, the senior Senator, and the President of the United States.

Along the campaign trail we have seen and heard demonstrators, but never before in this campaign was there such an atmosphere of hatred. As we came out of the hall and entered the motorcade, the haters surged past the barricades.

They began throwing rocks. These were not small stones; they were large rocks. They were heavy enough to smash windows, windows in the press bus, windows in the staff cars. They weren't directed at me, though some did hit the Presidential car. Most of the rocks hit the buses and the other cars behind.

What is the reaction of the people who came--people like you? They are at a rally, peaceably at a rally. Many who brought their children were terrified. Others were incensed at the insult to their elected leaders. And all were repelled by the atmosphere of violence and hatred that marred the event. And they thought to themselves, "Is this America? Is this the land where reason and peaceful discussion is the hallmark of a free society?"

Some say that .the violent dissent is caused by the war in Vietnam. Well, ladies and gentlemen, my fellow Americans, it is about time we branded this line of thinking, this alibi for violence, for what it is: pure nonsense.

Those who carry a "peace" sign in one hand and throw a bomb or a brick with the other are the super hypocrites of our time.

My friends, the war is ending. Instead of sending men to Vietnam, we are bringing them home. Instead of casualties going up, they are coming down. A peace plan is on the table. And we are ending the war in a way that will discourage aggressors so that we can have not just peace for the next election, but peace for the next generation. That is what is happening, and that is what Americans are for.

And yet, as the war ends, the violence continues, and this is proof that these alibis are worthless.

Others say that the cause of violence is repression, but the people who came peaceably to the rally in San Jose-they were not repressing the haters outside. There is more freedom in the United States than anywhere else in the world, and it is about time that we cut out the nonsense--it is simply pure nonsense that repression is the cause of violence in the United States of America.

Violence in America today is not caused by the war; it is not caused by repression. There is no romantic ideal involved. Let's recognize these people for what they are. They are not romantic revolutionaries. They are the same thugs and hoodlums that have always plagued the good people.

And now the reason, a major reason, that they have gained such prominence in our national life, the major reason they dominate our television screens as they do night after night, the reason that they increasingly terrorize decent citizens, can be summed up in a single word: appeasement. When you permit an imbalance to exist that favors the accused over the victim, you are inviting more violence and breeding more bullies.

For too long, and this needs to be said and said now and here, the strength of freedom in our society has been eroded by a creeping permissiveness in our legislatures, in our courts, in our family life, and in our colleges and universities.

For too long, we have appeased aggression here at home, and, as with all appeasement, the result has been more aggression and more violence. The time has come to draw the line. The time has come for the great silent majority of Americans of all ages, of every political persuasion, to stand up and be counted against appeasement of the rock throwers and the obscenity shouters in America.

My fellow Americans, let us understand this is not a partisan issue. There is no candidate of either party that is for crime, that is for violence. The choice before the American people next week is not so simple as picking between the proviolent and the antiviolent. Everyone denounces violence.

The choice is between approaches to the same goal. One approach holds that violence will end as we end the war; that violence will end as we give more power to those who demand more power; that violence will end as we end hunger and poverty in America.

The people who believe in this approach are sincere Americans. They have every right to this point of view. But I believe that their approach has led us down a path of appeasement that has resulted in the very thing that they abhor most: the increase in violence, the limiting of personal freedom.

For years now, it has been fashionable to portray ours, this great country of America, as a sick society; to belittle its successes and breastbeat about its shortcomings; to make automatic heroes out of those who protest as if the act of protest--regardless of what was being protested, or how it was done, or whose rights were being infringed, or even whether the protesters had anything better to offer-as if this act itself were the mark of some higher virtue, and when rituals of protest began establishing a tyranny of their own, there were many who somehow forgot that tyranny is wrong, whatever its form-whether the tyranny of government, or the tyranny of terrorists, or the tyranny of those who shout down speakers, or the tyranny of those who would shut down colleges or blockade streets in an effort to impose their own views on others.

That way is not the American way and that way will not be the American way as long as those who care about freedom and decency and respect for the rights of one another stand up and be counted.

For a decade, now, this approach dominated America. It has obviously failed. The time has come to try a new approach.

Let me first point out what this new approach, our approach, is not. The answer to bluster is not more bluster. The answer to bluster is firmness. The answer to a wave of violence is not a wave of repression. That is exactly what the violent few want so that they can enlist the sympathies of the moderates.

The answer to violence is the strong application of fair American justice.

And the answer to violent dissent is not oppression of legitimate dissent. The great danger to dissent today comes not from the forces of law, but from the organized tyranny of some dissenters.

Now, let me spell out what the new approach, our approach, is:

First, the new approach to violence calls for new and strong laws that will give the peace forces new muscle to deal with the criminal forces in the United States of America. And in the United States Senate, Paul Fannin, and in the House of Representatives, Johnny Rhodes and Sam Steiger, have stood firmly with the President for that proposition and we need them back.

I have called for a whole series of laws. But because we have not had enough support in the House and the Senate, Congress has dillydallied; Congress has bottled them up in committee; Congress has passed only part of a program I asked for; and then they waited until just before the election.

The new approach to violence requires men in Congress who will work for and fight for laws that will put the terrorists where they belong--not roaming around civil society, but behind bars. That is where they belong.

And our new approach calls for a new approach to the interpretation of the laws we already have. I will continue to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and to all the courts who have an awareness of the rights of the victim as well as the rights of the accused.

And I need men in the United States Senate like Paul Fannin who will back me up when I send those recommendations for such judges to the United States Senate.

Third, our new approach to violence calls for a new attitude on the part of the American people---on your part, all of us. "Law and order" are not code words for racism or repression. "Law and order" are code words for freedom from fear in America.

This new attitude means that parents must exercise their responsibility for moral guidance. It means that college administrators and college faculties must stop caving in to the demands of a radical few. It means that moderate students must take a position that says to the violent: "Hit the books or hit the road."

This new attitude means that all Americans should stand with the men who are assigned to carry out the laws. After all, my friends, the first step toward respect for law is respect for the lawman. Let's give him the respect that he deserves.

Today I have been describing two approaches to violence in America. While the goal of ending violence is the same, the two approaches are very different. But don't let anybody tell you everybody is against violence, it is not an issue. The two approaches are deeply different. It is an issue, one of the central issues in America today.

If we do not act now to protect our freedom, we will lose our freedom. If we do not choose the tough-minded approach to violence, we will allow violence to gain a terrible momentum. If a man chooses to dress differently, to wear his hair differently--if he has any---or to talk in a way that repels decent people, that is his business. But when he picks up a rock, then it becomes your business and my business to stop him. Because, you see, that is what American freedom is all about.

When a man cannot bring his child-and I see so many wonderful children here today--when he can't bring his child to a political rally for fear that the person in the next seat is going to start yelling some filthy obscenity; when a man can't bring his wife to a rally for fear she is going to be pushed around by an unruly mob; and when any American faces the risk of a rock being thrown at him when he rises to speak, then I say appeasement has gone too far and it is time to draw the line.

Since 1776, this great Nation of ours has never knuckled under to the tactics of terror, abroad or at home, and we are not about to start in the year 1970.

And now could I add a personal note? The terrorists, the far left, would like nothing better than to make the President of the United States a prisoner in the White House. Well, let me just set them straight. As long as I am President, no band of violent thugs is going to keep me from going out and speaking with the American people wherever they want to hear me and wherever I want to go-. This is a free country, and I fully intend to share that freedom with my fellow Americans. This President is not going to be cooped up in the White House.

To keep this country free, to adopt the new approach to violence, to answer those who shout their four-letter words and abuse the right of free speech, what can you do, particularly you of voting age, as an individual? I will tell you what.

You don't have to shout back the same obscenities. You don't have to pick up a rock or a stone or a bomb. You have your vote. That is more powerful than any obscenity, any word; more powerful than a bomb. That vote of yours is what makes this Government respond. That vote of yours can bring about the new tough-minded approach to violence that threatens freedom.

Many people have asked me why I have been campaigning so hard in the past few weeks when my own name isn't on the ballot. "You are risking your prestige," they say. "After all, if some of the people you campaign for lose, you are going to be hurt." I am a lot less interested in my prestige than I am in the future of this country that we all love.

The American people, and the people of Arizona joined with them, elected me 2 years ago to do a job. I am trying to do that job, and I need help. I need help in the Congress to put across the programs that wall make America strong enough to bring a full generation of peace abroad and strong enough to turn back the threat to peace and order at home.

My fellow Americans, America is a great country. Americans are a great people. And Americans together share a great future. I have seen this. I have felt this from an airplane hangar in Vermont to the warmth and good will of that vast majority of the people in San Jose.

I want to say, too, to young Americans, as I said last night and I repeat it here with so many young Americans: Night after night on the television screen you get an inaccurate picture of young Americans. You see the bomb throwers, the rock throwers, those shouting out the filthy words, trying to shout down speakers. And you get the impression that they are a majority of young Americans or maybe the leaders of the future.

Well, I have news for you. I have seen young Americans all over the country and those that appear on the television screens night after night, they are not a majority of young Americans today and they will not be the leaders of America tomorrow.

My fellow Americans, the message in the campaign of 1970 is very simple. It is this: Have faith in this great country. Have faith in your ability to improve this country with your vote. And have faith in a system that has resisted attack from the violent few for almost two centuries.

Nobody is going to tear this country down as long as you are ready to cast your vote to build this country up.

Note: The President spoke at 11:54 a.m. at Sky Harbor Airport. His remarks were videotaped and portions were broadcast on television on the evening of November 2, 1970, on time purchased by the Republican National Committee. An advance text was released on October 31.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at Phoenix, Arizona. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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