Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering the hero

The CNN crawl today is informing us over and over that depending how old the segment of the population is, President John Kennedy's approval rating runs from 89 to 93% or thereabouts.  That's far higher than any incumbent president has enjoyed since we started producing such statistics and considerably higher than he enjoyed in office.  I'm not sure George Washington could match it and I'm pretty sure that's higher than Jesus by a bit.  Of course time, like absence makes the heart grow fonder and of course it makes many of us forget how controversial he was; how much of the same drooling, scurrilous calumny presidents who attempt to make this a greater nation endure from the same sources, the same elements that just can't stop railing and raving about the evil Obaminator.

The route of the Presidential motorcade was lined with spectators and there were signs blaring "all the way with JFK" but there were also posters accusing him of treason, for " betraying the Constitution" and giving support to Communists. There were newspaper editorials condemning him. Like syphilis, crab lice and delusional politics the two legged vermin and their followers are still with us -- and not just in Texas.

History and circumstance have a way of  changing what we think we once stood for. Those millions of Americans who listened to Father Coughlin's radio broadcasts, sympathized with the rise of  fascism and racism in Germany and Jim Crow and racism in the US had to tone it down in December of 1941and the public has largely forgotten the depth of right wing outrage since the hundred year struggle for basic civil rights legislation is remembered only in history books and in simplified form. Sure, JFK enjoyed approval ratings of 70% while in office -- a level that has not been equaled since, but had he been able to serve out a term or two: had he been able to achieve detente with Castro and Khrushchev and Ho Chi Min we can be sure the same kind of  right wing rabble would have reduced it to the level Barack Obama now enjoys. 

But we've forgotten.  JFK is a hero, not a Popish danger to Protestant America and  the people who printed those posters, started those rumors, made those accusations slunk back into the baseboards and behind the cupboards before the blood was dry.  We never got an apology, a retraction or an admission from the hate mongers nor will we get any acknowledgement from their heirs and assigns who have taken it all to new depths. We never will.  JFK was a hero - of course we always thought that.   Oh yes it was a terrible thing that someone shot him, but his blood is on their hands, not ours. We never suggested anything and of course we're not suggesting anything when we tell you about that Kenyan, Muslim tyrant -- that constitution trashing, Sharia loving, Jesus hating traitor, that murderer of children, that Hitleresque purveyor of Communist inspired health care and Marxist redistributer of wealth who pals around with terrorists, but violence?  Perish the thought!

16 comments:

  1. JFK was a hero when he exited WWII. It has been several years since I read the account of his brave and intrepid rescue of the crew of pt-109. Yet the important details are unforgettable. In what began as the darkest, pitch-black of night he helped to pick up his men and get them to cling to the remaining fragment of the small boat. One by one he towed them indefatigably to a nearby island. Never giving up hope. Almost entirely single-handed. Seeing it through to ultimate success and completion.

    Another exciting work on Kennedy fell into my personal collection. A Thousand Days John F. Kennedy in the White House by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. It's a little bit dry to read. Something between nodding off with a copy of Foreign Affairs on your knee and a daily presidential briefing. But the history contained within is invaluable. As reported day-to-day by a White House insider and published historian. Beginning with the political campaign. Inexhaustibly referencing the multi-national issues of his time. Finally chronicling the fight for civil rights and the issue of poverty in the U.S.A. It stands alone as a critical history of the Kennedy presidency, published in 1965. I would recommend it highly to anyone who wishes to better understand the complex and perilous world of the 1960s. I don't think we need to ponder what JFK might have done. We can be grateful for what he did for us in the time he had.

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  2. It makes me smile to think people are studying the 60's as history. To this old man it's still current events. The smile fades when I think of how much has been re-interpreted, re-phrased and misunderstood and most of all the hard fought gains either taken for granted or repudiated by people would wash it all away if they could.

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  3. Just when you believe the rightwing of American politics can't sink further into the gutter, along comes a blogger, whom I will not link to, who today has a post up praising Lee Harvey Oswald for what he did and wishes he were here to day to do the same to President Obama.

    Hatred has a terrible way of eating up one's insides so all that's left is a hollowed-out shell of a human being and toxic fumes of venomous spite.

    Sadly, that defines most of the right today.

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    1. “Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

      I think this adage sums up my viewpoint on partisan outreach. For those of us who reach across the partisan divide to engage in dialogue with persons of opposing viewpoints, I have learned to avoid bloggers with an underlying character disorder. No matter how superficially charming a blogger may appear on surface, they reveal their dark side sooner or later. What are the signs and symptoms? Here’s what I look for:

      An inordinate need for adulation and attention, self-congratulatory claims and assertions, inconsistencies and contradictions in how they represent themselves, negativity with no enunciation of core values and beliefs, grandiosity, a tendency to lash out in anger (far in excess of context), a callous disregard for people (reflexively demonizing and dehumanizing any person or group that does not mirror their viewpoint or feed an ego need), cultists, misfits, and nihilists. Sooner or later, such persons will betray your trust and revile you without reason or mercy.

      As your cephalopod often says: “With friends like that, who needs anemones!”

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  4. Why choose to highlight a minority nut job?

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  5. Not true Shaw. Sweeping generalizations are grossly unfair to those on the conservatve side that find this blogger you mention as disgusting as you do. I do not believe his attitude " defines most of the right."

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    1. RN,

      Shaw has ample and legitimate reasons for feeling as she does right now (and frankly so do I).

      Years ago, the Swash Zone was visited by a blogger known to you. Subject blogger introduced himself to this forum, complemented the writers for their wit and whimsy, offered gestures of friendship (and a presumption of trust), and then used us – USED us – as subjects for ridicule and scorn. In other words, he misrepresented himself, suckered us, and then betrayed our trust. Subject blogger then plagiarized over 8,000 words published on this forum, and violated the confidentiality of private email from our members. To make matters worse, subject blogger gloated – GLOATED – over how he snookered those ‘dumb, na├»ve liberals.’ Arrogant chest thumping can be especially galling!

      Perhaps you may recall this incident, the time when I invited Pamela to post an article at Progressive Eruptions. Conservative and Republican by persuasion, Pamela was immediately assailed by other conservatives for the crime of friendship with a liberal and a Democrat. The right wing response was ugly: A BLESSED KRISTALLNACHT TO ALL (originally posted January 6, 2010).

      I base my friendships with people on the goodness of their character, not their politics. The same goes for Shaw. We have befriended bloggers from both the left and the right – honest and honorable people who would never intentionally hurt a person based on political persuasion.

      Betraying a presumption of trust in friendship is hurtful, shameful, and frankly sicker than hell. I have nothing but contempt for people who would take advantage of one’s good nature and better angels and then stab you in the back. This is essentially what FT did to Shaw – utterly without conscience and contemptible as hell.

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  6. I hear you (O)CT(O)PUS, and agree with the contemtable nature of those things you described. I have experienced the same as well. As unfortunate (and despicable) as it is it is that many have character flaws it does not mean most conservatives or libertarians have those flaws. Anymore than it means just because some liberals are lacking in character means the majority of liberals are.

    I consider you and Shaw as friends, even when we disagree on a particular political issue. And frankly, for me, I could not care less what a low life conservative or libertarian might say about that.

    But again, I appreciate your perspective.

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    1. I am not characterizing Shaw’s critics and assailants as conservative, libertarian, or Republican; merely as persons who cannot be considered trustworthy.

      As Captain Fogg recounts above, 50 years ago there were extremists voices who regarded JFK as a traitor and communist, although these fringe groups received scant media attention at the time. What changed between then and now? Sensationalized tabloid news, the Internet, and social media have given radical elements a public platform and a wider audience than before – conferring a newfound legitimacy upon those whom we once considered far outside the mainstream.

      We do ourselves a disservice in how we label ourselves. There is no such thing, in my opinion, as a true liberal or a true libertarian or true conservative. Rather, there is a spectrum of belief and opinion within these self-assigned categories – from Noam Chomsky to Rand Paul on the libertarian side, as examples - and very few of us subscribe in full to the platforms offered by our respective parties.

      Ultimately, what drives us is identity politics. Self-identification within these self-assigned categories turns us into little more than clans and tribes – each imagining the ‘other’ as ‘enemy.’ How often are political discussions framed as acts of war? Consider:

      FT: “ Dictators, socialists, communists, Marxists, Fabian, power-hungry, “threadbare, smelly and ready to be cast onto the scrap heap.

      FT: “ I'm NOT going to accept insolence, belligerence, specious twisted logic, mischaracterization of my motives, willful misunderstanding and outright mendacity as a proper response to anything I might have to say.

      Are the above quotes examples of normal and civilized discourse? No. This instinct to engage in cult behavior may drive our politics; but it is not about politics. Rather, it is about anger and hatred - and an aberrant, anti-social mindset.

      This I have found: Partisan stink tanks exploit social resentments to divide and conquer the electorate. When we set aside the stalking point scripts, we tend to agree more often than we disagree.

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    2. To paraphrase Bill Maher in a recent show: I don't know whether or not all politics are local, but I think all politics are tribal. That's certainly true in the US today. We opine with whom we consider ( or would like to consider) our peers. Of course to paraphrase someone else, I don't want to belong to any tribe that would have me as a member.

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  7. " When we set aside the stalking point scripts, we tend to agree more often than we disagree."

    To add... and when we do disagree we can do so without the rancor, insults, and general BS that accompanies the us versus them winner take all mentality.. Thus allowing for continued cordial associations at the least and friends in many cases.

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    1. I agree, but your reply to me (an emotional insult) on another post was exactly what you decry here. Unlike most, you did apologize, thank you.

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  8. Years and years ago I played Anne in "The Diary of Anne Frank." One of the many lines I remember from that play is Anne's famous "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." This was spoken by a young girl hidden away in an attic at a time in her life when she should have been in school, writing, learning and blossoming into a young woman. All because of systemic religious hatred and a desire by the haters to annihilate a group of people. I remember so clearly how I, as a teenager playing Anne, I was amazed at her generosity of spirit and goodness "in spite of everything." And then when I learned how it ended for her, her mother, and sister, how those words she wrote could teach someone like me, who never had to face what she and her family faced, humility and the meaning of human decency. She has always been dear to me because of that.

    When I read that someone could celebrate and even revel in the gruesome death of a young husband and father AND the leader of our country, that made me think of Anne. I would love to have been able to ask her how, in spite of that sort of hideous dancing on a dead man's grave, could I ever believe people are "really good at heart."

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    1. Captain Fogg’s reference to Father Coughlin in the above post should remind us that America also has a dark and ugly fascist streak.

      If some of our Internet acquaintances were in a different place and time, I wonder who among them might have been Hitler’s henchman on the brutal side of history. I could name a few …

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  9. Or, perhaps for some, Lenin's or Stalin's henchmen. After all, the tendency for tyranny can be found in many political ideologies.

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