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PRESIDENT NIXON has given the American people another lesson in the misuse of power. In a series of mighty insinuations, well-orchestrated for press impact, the Administration has tried to obscure the issue behind Saturday's march on Washington by pounding on the themes of violence and ?anarchy. Individuals can help counter this insidious campaign by going to Washington themselves and making the march a huge, peaceful demonstration of indignation and anger over what has become " Nixon's war."
This is not the first time Americans have seen their President respond to dissent by ignoring the issues and seeking to discredit dissenters themselves. But the Nixon scenario has a new and dangerous twist. By initiating unnecessary and arbitrary "safety" measures, the Administration has generated a threat of violence where none had existed before.
Nixon began by imposing a gratuitous restriction on the course of the march, refusing to permit the protestors to travel up Pennsylvania. Avenue and so refusing them a symbolic exposure to the White House.
Though he has made a limited concession on the permit question, the aura of manufactured crisis still hangs over the demonstrations. Having created the possibility of conflict, the Administration began marshalling a virtual army of police. national guard and regular troops (28,000 from the Washington area. with unspecified numbers on call from beyond a 100-mile radius) to protect the city from a mythical siege. As the government poured out its information about the "violent groups" coming to Washington, it kept the nation abundantly informed of the rising numbers of troops it is holding in the wings.
If Nixon had wanted to provoke violence he could not have planned the preliminaries more cleverly. And it is easy to see how an eruption of violence would serve Nixon's purposes. Flickering T.V. images of students bailing police a mile from the White House would drive those celebrated "middle Americans" right into the President's arms, giving him the unthinking support he begged for on November 8.
This is one reason why demonstrators should avoid initiating violence during the course of Saturday's march. Violence will not help efforts at organizing uncommitted demonstrators for further actions, but may give Nixon's policies the massive backing they have been unable to win on their own merits.
It is also crucial that everyone opposing the war go to Washington this Saturday. If unprecedented numbers of people are willing to travel to Washington to show their disgust at America's destruction of South Vietnam, this will demonstrate that the peace movement has reached a new level in size and commitment. But the march can be effective only if huge numbers participate.
President Nixon has met the voice of dissent with a vicious campaign of threat and insinuation. Americans should not permit his twists and turns to blunt the edge of their anger.
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