February 1, 1996
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
"Nixon", the latest film of the controversial American film-director, Oliver Stone, is interesting but confusing. Richard Nixon, President of the United States from 1968 to 1974, was a decent man, but like many decent men today, he built on sand and then could not understand why everything collapsed around him. At the risk of seeming to be Stoned, let me attempt to cast some Catholic light on recent history.
Let us see, in turn, firstly the basic facts of Nixon's career; secondly, the prevailing liberal view of those facts; thirdly, Oliver Stone's view in "Nixon", and finally a Catholic view.
We begin with the bare outlines of Richard Nixon's career. Born of a Quaker family in backwoods California in 1913, and making his career in the law, he rose to national prominence in the U.S.A. by the part he took in the famous trial of the late 1940's, incriminating the eminent U.S. Government official, Alger Hiss, as a Soviet spy and perjurer. This prominence made of Nixon, when the Republicans re-captured the White House in 1952, President Eisenhower's Vice-President for eight years, until 1960, when he ran himself, for President, and was narrowly defeated by J.F. Kennedy.
For a while he retired from public life, but in 1968 he made a comeback, ran for President again and was elected, thus inheriting from President Lyndon Johnson the major problem of the Vietnam War. This war Nixon prosecuted with vigour. He was re-elected for a second term in 1972, but around the election campaign he came to learn of a secret raid that had taken place on Democrat election headquarters in Watergate, D.C., and over 1973 the Democrats with the help of the media so succeeded in implicating him, despite his denials, in the Watergate break-in, that in 1974 he was forced to resign as President. For his remaining 20 years of life he played honourably the part of elder statesman.
As for the liberals, secondly, they hated Nixon with a passion. Alger Hiss was a darling of theirs, because he was for instance one of the architects of their United Nations Organization, a key piece in their Brave New World Order, and so they never forgave the backwoods Quaker for his valiant contribution to the unmasking of Alger Hiss as a traitor. Really, they did not believe collaboration with the Soviets to be treachery. To this day, they believe it to be the only way forward .... Hence when Nixon came back from defeat at the Presidential polls in 1960 to victory in 1968 and again in 1972, the liberals turned on him the full force of their vile media to make him into one of the United States' most unpopular politicians of modem times, especially by their harnessing — or creating — of popular revolt against the Vietnam War.
Truth to tell, Nixon as President had carried out a number of their policies, notably the fraternisation with Mao and Communist China, and with Brezhnev's Russia, but no doubt Nixon did not bend enough to their will. Their crusade brooks no resistance. Now whatever happened at the Watergate break-in was no crime at all when compared with the Presidential delinquencies currently being hidden or glossed over by the media, but these same media so hammered and hammered and hammered at Watergate that Nixon was hounded out of office. Yet when Nixon died, the liberals pretended they had loved him all along!
Now. Oliver Stone, thirdly, does not accept this liberal vision of Nixon as being the inadequate instrument of a wonderful system. True, Stone does not seem to appreciate Nixon's anti-communism, but to Stone's credit, he does know there is something deeply wrong with the system. In his film "JFK" he blamed President Kennedy's assassination on "the industrial military complex". In "Natural Born Killers" he scourged the media in particular as promoters of society's disintegration. In "Nixon" Stone evokes a shadowy "Beast" controlling the United States from behind the scenes through the CIA, the Mafia, Wall Street, etc. .
For while Stone presents Nixon's downfall as being at least partly the result of a lack of honesty which had become habitual in his climb to the top of the system, nevertheless the main cause is the system itself. Thus Nixon is shown as having been driven by ambition to climb from humble and honest origins to the highest office in the land he loves, only to find at the top that the system is not under his control, and so the land slips out from under him. In a climactic scene (which did happen in real life), Nixon is shown going to meet a group of young Vietnam War protesters in, significantly, the Lincoln Memorial, shrine of the President of national unity — there Nixon and the youngsters share their belief in Lincoln's ideals, so why should the Vietnam War be tearing them, and Lincoln's land, apart? Answer of Stone, "the Beast", which controls the United States and was insisting that the war continue.
But is the "Beast" the real problem? No doubt the "Beast" exists. For the liberals may be past-masters at ridiculing as "conspiracy nuts" people who believe that the modern world is run by a conspiracy - after all, who wants to admit that they are being led by the nose by secret masters? But the fact remains that only an idiot believes that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy, and when Oliver Stone says there is a Power Behind the Scenes, he is only saying what several U.S. presidents themselves have said, e.g. Woodrow Wilson.
But is the "Beast" the real problem? Supposing Oliver Stone or whoever could pull it out of its lair into the light of day and kill it off, would our problems be over? Rather, is it not true that if the people then still clung to their liberalism, preferring illusion to reality, they would perpetuate all the conditions necessary for the "Beast" to come back to life in the same shadows? "Please deceive us! We love the rotten way of life you give us! Please pretend you are not there, and we will pretend also!" Ultimately, the "Beast" is product, and not producer, of the people's turning away from God. Let us return to the Lincoln Memorial.
For, fourthly, from a Catholic point of view, is not the good President Lincoln the problem rather than the solution of the clash between the anti-Communist Nixon and the anti-Vietnam War youngsters? Lincoln, alternately praised as Saviour of the Union and Saviour of the American Revolution, was indeed saviour of a revolutionary union, which is, if Catholics think about it, such a contradiction in terms as only Protestants could found and only Freemasons could Constitute. No doubt Abraham Lincoln personally was in many ways a wise and venerable man. But did he ever discover the contradiction on which he was building? Might that partly explain his deep melancholy? He was not a shallow man.
Poor non-Catholics! The better they are as men, the more they strive to build up good on their false principles, the more sad is the collapse of their efforts. For love of his land, dear Nixon lashed out at its communist enemies, but then that revolutionary land mutated beneath him, revolted against his anti-communism, and hung him out to dry. He fought his way to the top only to find when he got there that the country for which he had done it no longer existed. As for the youngsters, they were proud of their achievement in discarding Nixon and his like, but where did their brave revolution get them? — the nirvana of grange, abortion, drive-by shootings! Those youngsters look back with nostalgia on the 1960's, when they actually still believed in revolution .... God is just, and He is not mocked.
But if Catholic principles matter, and matter like crazy, then where was the worst betrayal of those 1960's? Was it not from inside the Catholic Church, where, from the top downwards, the humanist Revolution, instead of being denounced as darkness, began, with Vatican II, to be glorified as light? If Catholic priests took prominent part in the anti-Vietnam War parades, and if their superiors did not efficaciously forbid them to do so, how could a poor Richard Nixon keep his head on straight? Nixon and Lincoln were, typically, destroyed by the Revolution they did so much to serve.
Dear Catholics, let us think, let us think hard, let us think clearly, and then for our own souls, for our families and for this beloved land of the United Sates, let us pray the Rosary to obtain light, and let us in no shape, size or form praise darkness! And men, if you think that what the SSPX teaches on these questions is not what the Catholic Church teaches, then come on the Doctrinal Session this summer, Winona, July 16 to 20. You might be surprised!
Also this summer: a pilgrimage to Germany, Prague, Austria, from July I to 10, organized by friends of ours for friends of ours - ring (203) 261-1133, or fax (203) 261-3355. And ladies' retreat at the Seminary July 1 to 6; men's retreats June 26 to 29 and July 8 to 13.
May Our Lord grant to all of you light, strength and grace for our difficult times.
Most sincerely yours in his Sacred Heart,