Sunday, September 22, 2013

50th Anniversary of JFK’s Courageous Defense of Civil Rights

This month commemorates the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s valiant defense of civil rights, which as many biographers (e.g. Kenny O'Donnell), historians, (e.g. Arthur Schlesinger) and others have noted came with a stiff political price for his party.

I am writing, of course, of his ballsy federalization of the Alabama National Guard, 17,000 strong, in September of 1963 to ensure integration in Gov. George Wallace’s state. Wallace, recall, was memorialized in Southern Secessionists’ lore by his infamous remark: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!”

To be sure, JFK was reluctant to take such a radical step, since he could foresee the effects which would lead to the now dominant GOP "southern strategy". In other words, by that federalization of southern troops, he essentially ceded the South to the Republicans in perpetuity. And he knew this would transpire. But he nevertheless federalized the AL national guard to protect black students trying to attend academic institutions.

Make no mistake that after that seminal executive act, JFK was regarded by a “race traitor” by most Southerners –and many deep politics researchers believe it contributed to one more “nail” in his coffin, along with his NSAM (263) to pull out of Vietnam, his refusal to invade Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his circulation of U.S. Notes outside the Federal Reserve system.

Historian Arthur Schlesinger, in his book A Thousand Days, pulls no punches on how Kennedy was vilified after his courageous act: “…in the domain of the radical right it all became much sicker and nastier. Not since the high point of the hate-Roosevelt enthusiasm of the mid-thirties had any President been the target of such systematic and foul vilification. Everything about Kennedy fed resentment: his appearance, his religion, his wealth, his intelligence, his university, his section of the country, is wife, his brothers, his advisers, his support of the Negroes, his refusal to drop the bomb.”

Indeed, in Dallas and many other southern cities disgusting and vile images of Kennedy as well as Jackie were put up, as well as despicable racist descriptions. This offal has continued to this day – in many cases by vile historical revisionists seeking to detract from the fact HE laid the foundations for he Civil Rights Act that was passed by LBJ – after his assassination.

Fortunately, after his assassination, many media columnists were not led astray by the lone left nut version of events – they knew who likely had a hand in the killing and the reasons. One of the best, which I still have, is: ‘The Enemies He Made’ in Newsweek, Dec. 2, 1963, p. 35, by Kenneth Crawford. Crawford singles out the degenerate Southern bigots, racists as well as other extremist groups that had it in for Kennedy. He even pointedly noted the ”suspicious irony inherent in a lone-pro-Castro gunman being fingered in a city (Dallas) regarded as a ‘citadel of right wing strength’.. The referencing the town’s right wing groups as well as the racists latent within it. Including the ones who put up the ‘Wanted for Treason’ posters on the day of the assassination.

Rife in Big D were a number of fringe right extremist groups, including: The American Political Forum, The Ku Klux Klan, The John Birch Society, The Dallas Committee for Full Citizenship, The Texas White Citizens’ Council, The National States Rights Party and The Dallas White Citizens’ Council.

The racist reaction to Kennedy’s courage even extended to the Secret Service in his own White House detail, as documented by former agent Abraham Boldin in his book, 'The Echo from Dealey Plaza' and described at length in my April 15, 2012 blog post. Boldin noted that after JFK federalized the National Guard in both Mississippi and Alabama, several agents referred to Kennedy as a "nigger lover".

Author James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, notes in regard to Bolden, JFK and the White House Secret Service detail at the time (p. 103):

”Abraham Bolden joined the White House secret Service detail in June, 1961. He experienced personally John Kennedy's concern for people. Kennedy never passed Bolden without speaking to him. He asked about him and his family in such a way that he knew he meant it.. Abraham Bolden saw increasing evidence, however, of the president's isolation and danger from the standpoint of security. Most of the Secret Service agents seemed to hate John Kennedy. They joked among themselves that if someone shot at him, they'd get out of the way. The agents' drunken after-hours behavior carried over into lax security for the president. The other agents remarked about 'niggers' in his presence."

Obviously, if JFK was truly the “racist” the real racists portray him as, he’d not have been so odiously dismissed by his S.S. detail. Hell, they’d have been singing his praises not joking about ducking if someone shot at him!

All of this is a cautionary note sounded in this 50th year after the assassination, that we must not only be wary of the disinformationists who would lie about the fact a conspiracy was behind it (reinforcing the “unspeakable” evil Douglass writes about) but also the emergence of vile historical revisionists whose only talent is decrying a man whose shoes they’re not even fit to lick.

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