Do you remember learning about Thanksgiving in elementary school? The happy pictures of Native Americans and Pilgrims sharing a fall feast warmed my little heart. But as I grew older, my teachers gave me a very different history lesson than the one I learned as a child.
While I was shocked and saddened to hear about the injustices committed against the Native people, I was grateful to finally know the truth. Even though the truth isn’t always pretty, I’d take it over a lie any day.
Perhaps it’s my love of honest history which made it hard for me to swallow the lesson given by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.
Richards gave some advice tied in with a history lesson in a post-Election Day interview with the Huffington Post. It’s obvious that Cecile was excited that her choice for president won the election. Planned Parenthood invested lots of money in celebrity-endorsed videos and marketing campaigns to support Obama. After the Democrats won, Cecile thought she’d dispense some words for the Republican Party.
In essence, she urged Republicans to get back to our “roots” by supporting family planning. She told the Huffington Post:
Back in the olden days, the Republican Party was the party that supported people’s individual rights and keeping government out of personal health care decisions, so I think there’s a history they can go back to. A lot of Republicans used to support family planning, and Richard Nixon signed that first federal planning program into law. There’s a clear pathway to [win back women’s support], and it’s to listen to the middle of their party instead of the extreme fringe.
Since I like history, I thought I’d do some reading on the life of former Republican President Richard Nixon. I found out that Cecile was right about his strong stand for family planning.
The Huffington Post reports:
Indeed, back in the 1970s and 1980s, Republicans supported family planning initiatives and took a softer stance on abortion rights. Nixon was so enthusiastic about a federal family planning initiative for low-income women that he declared it a ‘national goal’ in 1969 before signing Title X into law.
Nixon was so enthusiastic about a federal family planning initiative that he declared it a national goal. Reading that alone could make some assume that Nixon was genuinely concerned about the plight of poor, and mostly that of minority women. Richards considers Nixon such an “inspiration” that she also mentioned him in a Feb 10, 2011 Huffington Post article titled, “Don’t Let Them Kill Family Planning!” In it Cecile shared these thoughts:
Richard Nixon may not be the first name most people associate with women’s health and reproductive rights. But as House Republicans ramp up their unprecedented assault on women this week, I’m starting to think of the Nixon era as an age of enlightenment. The Title X Family Planning program, which Nixon signed into law in 1970, is one of this country’s great achievements in public health and social justice. Clinics funded through Title X now prevent nearly a million unintended pregnancies every year. They save women’s lives through cancer screening, immunization and blood-pressure testing. Publicly supported family planning even saves the government money — $3.74 for every dollar invested.
While I don’t agree with her statement about Nixon’s era as an age of enlightenment, I will say my eyes were opened in a new way after reading about our former president.
In 1970, Nixon signed into law the Title X Family Planning Program. In 1973, Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court. Also in 1973, Nixon recorded audio tapes of conversations between him and members of his staff. The tapes, along with 140,000 pages of domestic records, 45 video oral histories, and 2,500 pages of once-classified national security materials, were later released.
As the Washington Post reports, the tapes revealed Nixon’s private feelings towards blacks, Jews, and other ethnic groups. In an excerpt from the article:
During another conversation with his personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, Nixon expresses doubt about the opinion of William P. Rogers, his secretary of state, about blacks.
‘Bill Rogers has got somewhat – and to his credit it’s a decent feeling – but somewhat, sort of, a sort of blind spot on the black thing because he’s been in New York,’ Nixon said. ‘He says, well, “They are coming along, and that after all, they are going to strengthen our country in the end because they are strong physically and some of them are smart.”‘
‘My own view is I think he’s right if you’re talking in terms of 500 years,’ Nixon said. ‘I think it’s wrong if you’re talking in terms of 50 years. What has to happen is they have to be, frankly, inbred. And, you just, that’s the only thing that’s going to do it, Rose.’
Nixon’s racist viewpoints heard through his audio recordings have now become public knowledge. The documentary Maafa 21 shares a series of conversations Nixon had in 1972-73 dealing with low-income minorities and their children. You can watch the clip on YouTube or read the words I transcribed.
White House tape 697/29 March 30, 1972
Nixon: A majority of people in Colorado voted for abortion, I think a majority of people in Michigan are for abortion, I think in both cases, well certainly in Michigan they will vote for it because they think that what’s going to be aborted are the little black bastards.
White House tape 700/10- April 3, 1972
Nixon: As I told you, we talked about it earlier – that a hell of a lot of people want to control the negro bastards.
White House tape 700/10- April 3, 1972
Nixon: And you know what we’re talking about – population control.
Unidentifed Staff: Sure.
Nixon: We’re talking really – and what John Rockefeller really realizes, look the people in what we call our class controls – their populations. Sometimes they’ll have a family of six, or seven, or eight or nine, but it’s the exception.
Unidentifed Staff: Sure.
Nixon: People who don’t control their families are people in – the people that shouldn’t have kids. Now that’s…
Unidentified Staff: The black population in the city of San Francisco has gone from 3,000 – right after World War II – to where they represent 30 percent of the population of San Francisco.
Unidentified Staff: Yes, sir.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Nixon, like Rockefeller, was part of a wealthy elitist group that bought into the lies of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. It seems that Nixon’s enthusiasm towards “family planning” was just a guise to further support the eugenics-driven agenda of Planned Parenthood. Nixon, like Supreme Court justice Ruth Badger Ginsberg, admitted that he saw abortion as a means to controlling a population whose growth he feared.
Ryan Bomberger, founder of Too Many Aborted, wrote about the Cecile/Nixon connection:
Richards was a history major at Brown University. Certainly she’s aware of the easily discoverable and irrefutable historical facts surrounding Nixon and his racist advocacy of Population Control. But like Sanger and hundreds of other eugenists, she willfully divorces herself from the truth in order to press forward in her crusade to exalt the culture of birth control. These public audio recordings (revealed in Maafa21 and online for all to hear) show the vile racism with which this disgraced former President viewed black people. His solution to the problem of the ‘negro black bastards’ was to systematically eliminate them through birth control/abortion. By signing the Population Research and Family Planning Act of 1970 into law, Nixon solidified the government’s embrace of the eugenics movement backed by billions of tax dollars since the Title-X funding legislation passed.
Is this the history Cecile believes Republicans should get back to? Is Nixon someone we should seek to emulate? I for one won’t be following in his footsteps. The truth is that this tragic history of eugenics-motivated family planning has continued to repeat itself for forty years. Nixon’s agenda and Richards’ are one and the same. Cover it with pink paint or spin it with celebrity endorsements if you will, but the agenda of Planned Parenthood hasn’t changed.
If I want to get back to the “roots” of the Republican Party, I’d much rather follow the example of leaders in the mid-1800s who championed the anti-slavery movement. The Republican Party was once known for its commitment to abolishing slavery and fighting for the dignity and rights of black Americans. If I’m looking to taking advice from someone, I’d rather it be leaders who fought to save the lives of my people rather than destroy them. If I’m looking for an accurate history lesson, it won’t be from Cecile Richards.