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May 8, 2008 - 6:25pm ET
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I'll be writing more in weeks to come on the conservative response to my book. Briefly, I'm fascinated by how many conservatives have been defending Watergate and arguing that America was lucky to escape the Sixties with no worse than Watergate—that Richard Nixon, in other words, wasn't that much of an authoritarian anyway as these things go, so what's all the fuss about?
But here's a new one on me: a conservative blogger from Canada who uses the occasion of my book to flippantly suggest (lighten up!) that the "hard hat riot" of May 8, 1970—Happy Hard Hat Riot Day, everybody!—was kind of nifty, or at least nothing worse than what the left was typically responsible for. And here is the NIXONLAND excerpt by which she affects to support her "argument."
‘These hippies are getting what they deserve,' said John Halloran, one of the construction workers, while the mêlée was still going on. As he talked a coworker standing with him yelled, ‘Damn straight,' and punched a young man in a business suit who said he disagreed."
The mob moved on to nearby Pace University, setting fire to a banner reading VIETNAM, LAOS, CAMBODIA, KENT. The glass doors to the building were chained shut from the inside against attack. Hard hats crashed through them and chased down unkempt students, joined by conservative students angry at strikers interfering with their education. Some longhairs were beaten with lead pipes wrapped in American flags. Trinity Church became a makeshift field hospital (the mob ripped down the Red Cross banner). The New York Times ran a picture the next day of a construction worker and a man in a tie charging down a cobblestone street to beat someone with an American flag. Pete Hamill, who had only the previous year offered his solidarity to "The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class," now withdrew his endorsement in horror: "The police collaborated with the construction workers in the same way that Southern sheriffs used to collaborate with the rednecks when the rednecks were beating up freedom riders."
Police made only six arrests. Perhaps they agreed with the construction worker who told The Wall Street Journal, "I'm doing this because my brother got wounded in Vietnam, and I think this will help our boys over there by pulling this country together."
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