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Goldwater Denounces Civil Rights Demonstrators

Apr. 23, 1964 - Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) denounced civil rights demonstrations tonight and asserted that “justice will not be served, nor justice won in the streets.”

Near the end of a speech at a Republican fundraising dinner at the Statler Hilton Hotel in Hartford, Conn., the Senator summed up his program for halting the demonstrations: “Let our people go — let them go away from violence and struggle, from divided citizenship, from declining responsibility and increasing regimentation. Let our people go, instead, ahead together in the great and moral works we have to do at home and in the world. Let our people — the people of your state and the people of all America — go in faith, in honesty, and in humility!”

Goldwater has often won applause from conservative audiences this spring with his stated opposition to the public accommodations and fair-employment sections of the pending civil rights bill. But this was the first time he carefully summed up his criticism of civil rights demonstrations.

He worked into it with a denunciation of the Johnson Administration for “weakness abroad and wheeling and dealing at home.”

“If a Republican President found a Bobby Baker in his closet — he would open the door and air it out, not slam the door and try to hide it,” Goldwater said.

“Who does Lyndon Johnson think he is? “he declared. “Who is he to tell the American people that they should see no evil, hear no evil, and speak of no evil when the shadow of that evil falls on the White House itself?”

After accusing the Administration of failure in South Vietnam, he turned to the demonstrations.

“We are faced with a grave moral question in our racial relations,” he said. “All the fine talk of settling it with new laws cannot obscure the brutal fact that it is being fought out — not settled — in the streets.”

The Senator said his conscience would not permit him to condone or support the breakdown of civil order. Leadership that takes its cause into the streets defames the nation, he said.

“I charge that an Administration that stands mute in the face of such violence and disorder is guilty of a cynical default in the exercise of its responsibilities,” Goldwater said. “The hearts of many men today are being hardened.”

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