Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Wingnuts Make Good Neighbors?

When Gordon Liddy moved to Washington, D.C., he didn't much like his new neighbors (cough NEGROES and LIBERALS cough). As he tells it, he had a problem with vandals. So he threatened to go all "School of the Americas" on their asses; he really wanted those damn kids to get off his lawn.

He relates meeting with a neighbor whom he, at first, mistook for the vandals' parent:

A few minutes later a man came to the door, and [Mrs. Liddy] showed him into the living room. I came in through the dining room double door, the dining room table in plain view. My self-invited guest shied at the sight of the Bulgarian crown Lugars, the Colts, Smiths, Browning, and other firearms and I apologized for the gun oil I was wiping off my hand with a rag.

The man accused me of "terrorizing" the young people in the neighborhood. I told him about the vandalism and said I wasn't about to take any of that crap from a bunch of snotty-nosed teenagers. He acknowledged that there was no excuse for vandalism, said that was the first he had heard of it, but that the problem was one for the police, not individual initiative. I replied that theory was fine but the practical application nil in view of the District's crime problem and the shortage of police; that I didn't believe in worrying about enemies, preferring to let them worry about me.

My visitor was a career bureaucrat. He told me where he worked and at what. I told him that I worked at Treasury, and he made the unwarranted assumption that I, too, was a career bureaucrat and threatened to "go to your superiors in Treasury" if I didn't agree to discontinue defending myself and instead reply on the police. I though of Rossides, [Liddy's direct superior at Treasury, with whom he did not get on, and a hard-line lobbyist within the administration for the Greek junta, a connection worth remembering in light of Watergate] laughed, and told him to go ahead. His bluff called, my visitor proposed a compromise; he believed he knew the parents of the people I was complaining about. Would I give him the opportunity to go to them and try to resolve the problem that way?

I would, so long as the vandalism stopped. If it didn't, I was going hunting again. We shook on it.

The vandalism stopped for a while, then started again. I called my erstwhile visitor and told him I was going after them. He asked for one more chance and I gave it to him. The vandalism stopped and that was the end of it.

In August 1970 we moved to a new house between Forts Foote and Washington on the Potomac River in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Just two blocks from the river, it was a beautiful area, but even more beautiful were the people. Here were no bureaucrats; our neighbors were almost all military officers. Suddenly, the kids' crew cuts were right in style. My neighbors liked Richard Nixon, who was showing himself to be hard-nosed when it came to Vietnam and national defense. We loved it there and joined the nearby Tantallon Country Club.

As for the neighborhood he disliked and the dirty trick nature of the vandalism that so outraged Mr. Dish-it-out-but-can't-take-it Dirty Fucking Trickster? Well, lest you suspect I'm exaggerating in my characterization, here's Liddy's own words:

We leased a house on Legation Street just a few blocks south of Chevy Chase, and west of Connecticut Avenue. From our point of view it was a bad neighborhood. A few blocks away, hippies living communally in single-family houses would demonstrate their devotion to nature by such symbolic gestures as beating old Volkswagens to death at the curb with sledgehammers in a haze of marijuana smoke. The area was mixed black and white with the blacks sharing the strong antiwhite bias of the times. Closer to home the houses were occupied by career Democrat-liberal bureaucrats who hated Richard Nixon and had a laissez-faire attitude toward the raising of their children.

The trouble started in the local school. My three sons wore crew cuts and Nixon buttons. That led to some offensive remarks by some of the bigger boys, which led to the bigger boys' being beaten up by my two older sons... The schoolyard soon became generally respectful of my sons (and, if the truth be told, of my daughter... who is fearless and could hold her own in those days in a fight with her brothers). But when one more kid challenged [an older son] and went down under his fists, [Mrs. Liddy] and I were called in by the school authorities who informed us sniffily that, until our children had enrolled, there had never been a fight at Murch School. We were asked to tell our children to follow the school policy that if any one picked on them, they were to report that person to the authorities and "not resort to violence." I was having none of that.

To [Mrs. Liddy's] distress, I replied that in the late 1930s French children were taught that philosophy while German kids were taught to be fierce in battle. Given the destruction of the numerically superior French armies by the Wehrmacht in about thirty days, I preferred the German approach. Murch School would just have to live with it.

[Mrs. Liddy], who was a teacher in the same school system, was mortified by my decidedly undiplomatic way of expressing myself; but as word got around that my children remained free to defend themselves, the taunts pretty much ended -- few were willing to pay the price of swift, certain, and punishing retribution.

But certain older children, teenagers in nearby high schools, many of them larger than I, took to clandestine warfare. Eggs were tossed at the house or broken over the roof of [Mrs. Liddy's] convertible to bake on in the sun; tires were deflated at night and the grounds of the house damaged; we'd be awakened by firecracker attacks late in the evenings. I was aware that with the amount of serious crime in the District of Columbia the police would have no time to worry about who was throwing eggs at my house. I don't believe in being a victim, and I do not suffer fools gladly. I decided to do something about it.

My first move was to observe the pattern of attack. I noticed that the vandals took advantage of the cover offered by the alley in the rear of our house. It was seven feet below the grade of the backyard, so deep that the garage was cut into the rear of the yard, its roof on a level with the grade of the yard. The attackers roamed the alleys in search of "fun," smashing and overturning garbage cans, throwing firecrackers into yards, and so forth. If one listened carefully, one could hear them coming; they made no effort at stealth, it never occurred to them that the tables might be turned.

When I was ready I waited until I heard them a distance away in the alley and moved into concealment in the shrubs of the backyard. As they approached they discussed their plans. They would halt below the garage and, on the count of three, let fly with the eggs. As they approached the garage I slipped toward it and, as they reached the count of "two" jumped off the garage roof into their midst. Panicked, eggs dropping all over the place, they fled up the alley. I ran far enough after them to see which way they went and planned an ambush of my own. Across the street was another alley they frequented. There I waited in the shadow of another garage until one of the egg throwers came along. I grabbed him in a restraining hold I had learned years before in the FBI. He was about my size and struggle as me might, he wasn't going anywhere. The others swarmed around, offering my captive encouragement. It didn't help. I held him immobile and demanded his name and address, informing him that the only way he was going to get home was for me to take him there to speak to his father.

The young man refused to give his name. Another said he had a knife and I'd better let his friend go. I told him that he'd better not produce a knife or I would let his friend go -- then take the knife from him the hard way, break it, and take him and the pieces to his father. At that my captive yielded and I took him home, explained to his incredulous parent what had happened and that I intended to defend my property from vandalism and wouldn't hesitate to use reasonable force to do so.

But the vandals didn't believe me. About a week later another egg hit the house, so I took to patrolling the alleys on my own. Now I was hunting them...

Right, because not standing up to the teenage menace would be Munich, appeasement, faggoty Frenchification, blah blah blah; just like ol' G. Gordon told that liberal school teacher, these are the fascist facts of life. Liddy's kids seem like a bunch of thugs, but then look how they were raised. No wonder their house got egged. At any rate, the neighborhood must have collectively exhaled with relief when the Liddys moved and Liddy himself began to devote his uniquely batshit brand of "law & order" vigilantism to other, grander, contexts.

Incidentally, there were apparently exceptions to Liddy's general distaste for blacks. Like many wingnuts after him, Liddy was sympathetic to blacks he saw as sympathetic to his own philosophy. In other words, there's always a place at the table for an Uncle Tom or a Brother Clarence Thomas. As I mentioned before, Liddy did not get along with his boss at Treasury, Eugene Rossides. Liddy had hoped for promotion when he learned that John Connally, who'd been head of "Democrats for Nixon," had been named as the new Secretary of the Treasury, Liddy reasonably thinking that as a Texan, Connally would be receptive to G. Gordon's concentrated wingnuttery on the subjects of the drug war and gun rights in particular. Alas, ..

[Rossides cancelled my meeting with Connally and] was going to take advantage of the change in Cabinet officers to ease me out of Treasury. I was, he said, to be made Enforcement Legislative Counsel of the Treasury and... I would report through the General Counsel, Judge Samuel Pierce. I was to understand, however, that this appointment was just to enable me to find a different place in the administration or private life, whichever I chose, from a position of strength. I could take as long as I reasonably wished to find something new, but I was finished at Treasury; there just wasn't room there for both Rossides and me.


I accepted... and conferred with Judge Pierce. He was a big, smart, good-looking black man who had come from the same New York law firm in which my father had clerked so many years ago... I told Pierce frankly of the situation concerning Rossides... and me, and he said not to worry. He took people as he found them, and all he cared about was how I performed my job under him.

It was a pleasure to work with Pierce. Not only was he intelligent, he had the ability to get things done in remarkably quick time. He was especially good with White House staff. We got on very well.

Through Judge Pierce, I was able to keep my hand on the firearms issue and that infuriated Rossides, who would complain... But Pierce was not the kind of man to be intimidated. Anyone who has been able to overcome what a black man has to to rise as high as Judge Pierce isn't about to be pushed around.

But Pierce was the kind of man to be a (typically) corrupt Republican cabinet officer, as he was when he bore the title of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Reagan Administration. Anyway, take Liddy's fawning appraisal of Pierce and compare it to what he said about Dr. King and his followers and you'll have a better standing on exactly how (not very) sincerely Gordon Liddy sympathized with black folks.