Wednesday, November 20, 2013

President Nixon: Alone in the White House 6

On page 196 of President Nixon: Alone in the White House, Richard Reeves quotes a memo from President Richard Nixon, in which Nixon proposes a way to move young people away from the V-sign, long hair, and marijuana:

"One thing you might lean on is the utter silliness of youth using the V signal.  Point out this is old hat.  After all, this is a relic of Churchill and World War 2....As far as haircuts are concerned, you can really demolish them on this.  Point out that they are 25 to 50 years behind the time.  Old Tom Connally, Mendel Rivers, Senator Clyde Hoey of North Carolina and conservatives like Les Arends today have worn their hair long for the last half a century.  Make it 'out' to wear long hair, smoke pot and go on the needle.  Make it 'in' to indulge in lesser vices, smoking (cigars, preferably non-Castro!) and alcohol in reasonable quantities...."

The stereotype that I get when watching TV shows about the 1970's is that the counterculture wore long hair and smoked marijuana, whereas the Nixon supporters (young and old) wore short hair.  There was probably some truth to this, for Nixon obviously was trying to move more young people in the latter direction!  But what's interesting to me is that Nixon mentions a conservative who wore his hair long.  I don't see that in this picture of Les Arends, but this passage from the book Soldiers Back Home says that Arends wore his hair long, as Arends "moved with the grace and panache of a proud Indian chief."  Why did Arends wear his hair long?  To be like a Native American chief?  Out of a libertarian-like desire to be free and to do his own thing?

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