We Repudiate the Efforts of Irresponsible, Extremist Groups – Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller-1964

Speech delivered at the Republican National Convention at San Francisco, California on July 14, 1964

Mr. Chairman, fellow delegates, I move that the following language be inserted in the proposed 1964 Republican Platform as a new full paragraph between the present sixth and seventh paragraphs under the section headed “For a Free People.”

“The Republican Party fully respects the contribution of responsible criticism, and defends the right of dissent in the democratic process. But we repudiate the efforts of irresponsible, extremist groups, such as the Communists, the Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Society and others, to discredit our Party by their efforts to infiltrate positions of responsibility in the Party, or to attach themselves to its candidates.”

The time has come for the Republican party to face this issue realistically and take decisive action. It is essential that this Convention repudiate here and now any doctrinaire, militant minority, whether Communist, Ku Klux Klan or Bircher which would subvert this party to purposes alien to the very basic tenets which gave this party birth.

Precisely one year ago today on July 14, 1964 [sic], I issued a statement wherein I warned that:

“The Republican party is in real danger of subversion by a radical, well-financed and highly disciplined minority.”

At that time I pointed out that the purpose of this minority were “wholly alien to the sound and honest conservatism that has firmly based the Republican party in the best of a century’s traditions, wholly alien to the sound and honest Republican liberalism that has kept the party abreast of human needs in a changing world, wholly alien to the broad middle course that accommodates the mainstream of Republican principles.”

Our sole concern must be the future well-being of America, and of freedom and respect for human dignity – the preservation and enhancement of these principles upon which this nation has achieved its greatness.

During this year, I have criss-crossed this nation fighting for those principles, fighting to keep the Republican party of all the people – and warning of the extremist threat, its danger to the party and its danger to the nation.

The methods of these extremist elements I have experienced at first hand.

Their tactics have ranged from cancellation by coercion of a speaking engagement before a college audience to outright threats of personal violence.

These things have no place in America, but I can personally testify to their existence. And so can countless others who have also experienced: Anonymous midnight and early-morning telephone calls.

Unsigned threatening letters.

Smear and hate literature.

Strong arm and “goon” tactics.

Bomb threats and bombing.

Infiltration and take-over of established political organizations by Communist and Nazi methods.

These extremists feed on fear, hate and terror. They have no program for America – no program for the Republican party. They have no solution for our problems of chronic unemployment, of education of agriculture, or racial injustice or strife.

These extremists have no plan and no program to keep the peace and bring freedom to the world.

On the contrary – they spread distrust. They engender suspicion. They encourage disunity. And they operate from the dark shadows of secrecy.

They have called President Eisenhower “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.”

They have labeled a great Republican Secretary of State, the late John Foster Dulles, “a Communist agent.”

They have demanded that the United States get out of the United Nations and that the United Nations get out of the United States.

There is no place in this Republican party for such hawkers of hate, such purveyors of prejudice, such fabricators of fear, whether Communist, Ku Klux Klan or Bircher.

There is no place in this Republican party for those who would infiltrate its ranks, distort its aims, and convert it into a cloak of apparent respectability for a dangerous extremism.

And make no mistake about it – the hidden members of the John Birch Society and others like them are out to do just that!

These people have nothing in common with Republicanism.

These people have nothing in common with Americans.

The Republican party must repudiate these people.

I move the adoption of this resolution.

Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (1908–1979)

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