Enjoy a special message from the Gipper. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
This year marks not only the 50th anniversary of the shooting of John F. Kennedy but also the 45th anniversary of the shooting of Robert F. Kennedy, which occurred in June 1968. Was there a common source motivating the assassins of both Kennedys—that is, Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan?
That renowned political philosopher Mick Jagger speculated on a source. “I shouted out ‘Who killed the Kennedys?’” asks the lyrics in the 1968 song by The Rolling Stones. “When, after all, it was you and me.” The song was titled, “Sympathy for the Devil.” It was, The Rolling Stones suggested, the Devil who had killed the Kennedys, along with his accomplices.
I must say I can’t disagree with that one—a rare area of agreement between me and Mick Jagger.
There is, however, a more earthly answer. And it was provided, surprisingly, by a rising political star in the immediate hours after the shooting of Bobby Kennedy. That star was the new governor of California, Ronald Reagan.
RFK was shot in Governor Reagan’s state. Reagan was no stranger to Bobby Kennedy. He had debated him a year earlier on national television, which didn’t go well for RFK, with Reagan clearly outshining him. Kennedy told his handlers to never again put him on the same stage with “that son-of-a-b—-.”
That debate occurred five years after Bobby Kennedy had intervened to get Reagan fired from his long stint as host of the top-rated GE Theatre on CBS—a fact unknown until it was revealed by Michael Reagan in his excellent book, The New Reagan Revolution. Typical of Reagan, he harbored no bitterness toward RFK. That was quite unlike Bobby Kennedy, a man who personally knew how to hold a grudge.
On June 5, 1968, Reagan was full of nothing but sympathy for RFK. He appeared on the popular television show of Joey Bishop, one of the extended members of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack. Bishop and Reagan were old Hollywood friends, and Bishop extended the governor a platform to address the shooting. A transcript of Reagan’s appearance on that show was grabbed by his young chief of staff, Bill Clark, who died just a few months ago. Clark shoved it in a box that ended up in the tack barn at his ranch in central California. It lay there until I, as Clark’s biographer, dug it out three decades later.
That rare surviving transcript reveals a Reagan who spoke movingly about RFK and the entire Kennedy family. Condemning the “savage act,” Reagan pleaded: “I am sure that all of us are praying not only for him but for his family and for those others who were so senselessly struck down also in the fusillade of bullets…. I believe we should go on praying, to the best of our ability.”
But particularly interesting was how Reagan unflinchingly pointed a finger of blame in the direction of Moscow. Reagan noted that Kennedy’s killer, Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian Arab and also a communist, had shot Kennedy because of his support of Israel during the Six Day War that had occurred exactly one year earlier. On that, we now know beyond dispute what Reagan knew then: That war had been shamelessly provoked by the Kremlin.
Looking to exploit divisions in the Middle East and further exacerbate America’s foreign-policy problems at the time (we were mired in Vietnam), Soviet officials cooked up false intelligence reports claiming that Israeli troops had been moved into the Golan Heights and were readying to invade Syria. They peddled the malicious, phony information to Egypt and other Arab states for the explicit purpose of creating a military confrontation with Israel. The Israeli leader, Levi Eshkol, immediately denounced the accusation, telling the Soviet ambassador to his face that there were no Israeli troops there whatsoever, and offering to personally drive him to the Golan at once. Acting on orders, the ambassador flatly refused, shouting “Nyet!” at Eshkol and storming out of the prime minister’s residence. The Egyptians, too, checked their intelligence sources and found no evidence of Israeli troops in the Golan. Nonetheless, the pieces were in motion, and one thing dangerously led to another until everything spiraled out of control. Within mere weeks, the Six Day War was on—precipitated by the Kremlin. The egregious depths of Soviet disinformation spawned a major Middle East war.
RFK supported Israel in that war. Sirhan Sirhan never forgave him for that. He killed him for that.
Again, Ronald Reagan knew about the Soviet role in instigating the conflict, which he apparently pieced together via various reports at the time. As a result, he linked Bobby Kennedy’s assassination to the USSR’s mischief in the Middle East. “The enemy sits in Moscow,” Reagan told Joey Bishop. “I call him an enemy because I believe he has proven this, by deed, in the Middle East. The actions of the enemy led to and precipitated the tragedy of last night.”
Moscow had precipitated the Six Day War in June 1967, which, in turn, had prompted RFK’s assassin in June 1968.
But Reagan wasn’t finished positioning blame where it deserved to be placed. Eight days later, on July 13, 1968, Reagan delivered a forgotten speech in Indianapolis. Both the Indianapolis News and Indianapolis Star reported on Reagan’s remarks, but the only full transcript I’ve seen was likewise located in Bill Clark’s private papers. In that speech, Reagan leveled this charge at international communism, with an earlier Kennedy assassination in mind: “Five years ago, a president was murdered by one who renounced his American citizenship to embrace the godless philosophy of communism, and it was communist violence he brought to our land. The shattering sound of his shots were still ringing in our ears when a policy decision was made to play down his communist attachment lest we provoke the Soviet Union.”
Reagan was spot on. As many conservative writers are currently noting, liberals in the immediate moments after the JFK assassination sought to blame everything but Oswald’s love of communism, love of the Soviet Union, and love of Castro’s Cuba as motivations for what he did. Some blamed the climate of alleged “hate” and “bigotry” and “violence” in Dallas for the shooting. They ached to blame the right, fulfilling James Burnham’s timeless maxim: “For the left, the preferred enemy is always to the right.” Amazingly, they attempted to label Oswald a “right-winger,” which was utterly upside down. He was a left-winger, as far left as one could get. Oswald was a completely committed communist. He was head over heels for Castro’s Cuba in particular. He adored Fidel. After defecting to and then leaving the Soviet Union after a long stay there, he went back to Texas (with a Soviet wife) and then tried everything to get to Havana and serve the revolution there. JFK and Fidel despised one another; each wanted the other dead. Guess who Oswald sided with on that one?
The Warren Commission later agonized over the possible motivations of Oswald. In the end, it determined that it “could not make any definitive determination of Oswald’s motives.” To its credit, the commission “endeavored to isolate the factors which contributed to his character and which might have influenced his decision to assassinate President Kennedy.” It listed five factors, which appear on page 23 of the huge commission report. Among the five, the fifth underscored Oswald’s “avowed commitment to Marxism and communism,” and noted specifically his ardor for Moscow and Havana. The commission concluded that this did indeed contribute to Oswald’s “capacity to risk all in cruel and irresponsible actions.”
Nonetheless, Oswald’s passion for international communism, from Russia to the Western Hemisphere, has been downplayed by the American left and many Americans generally from the literal moment we learned that John F. Kennedy had been shot.
One American who was never blind to that motivation was Ronald Reagan. More than that, Reagan wasn’t naïve to the role of international communism in the shooting of RFK either.
For the record, this is not to say that Lee Harvey Oswald or Sirhan Sirhan acted as conscious, deliberate agents trained and ordered by the Soviets or the Cubans, though some—such as Ion Mihai Pacepa—have examined that possibility in depth. Their actions, however, cannot or should not be separated from the malevolent force of international communism, which unquestionably played a role in their ultimate deadly actions.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and New York Times best-selling author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”
Editor’s note: This article first appeared at American Spectator.
Come on, Oprah.
You’re way too smart to be this stupid.
When are you going to get off this kick about Barack Obama being disrespected more than previous presidents just because he is a black man?
It’s getting embarrassing, Oprah.
You’re one of America’s great talents and greatest success stories.
You’re a self-made billionaire, an astute multimedia mogul, a beloved cultural icon.
You’re admired around the world for your generosity and good works. Your opinions and endorsements influence what millions of people read, how they think, and who they vote for.
But after five years of President Obama’s reign, you apparently still haven’t learned a thing about presidential politics and race relations in this country.
You proved it again just last week in Britain when you were plugging that movie “The Butler.”
You were asked — for the umpteenth time — by the BBC whether you thought President Obama was being treated unfairly or criticized disproportionately by the media and others because he was black.
You said, “When the senator yelled out, ‘You’re a liar’ — remember that? Yeah, I think that there is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs, and that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s African American.”
I realize your primary job in London was to promote “The Butler,” the movie about the real-life black butler who worked in the White House for eight presidents that was so bad I dubbed it “The Butler from Another Planet.”
But was your response to the BBC reporter’s question — a variation of the same claim you’ve made before — really the most thoughtful thing you could come up with?
Were you jet-lagged? Exhausted? Were you weary of being asked the same dumb question and having to give the same cliched answer?
Come on, Oprah. You’re off your usual game.
Using the example of the president being called a liar in Congress as proof that President Obama is a victim of racism is getting pretty stale.
It occurred in 2009. And it wasn’t a senator; it was South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson who yelled out “You lie” when Obama was overpromising the benefits of his Affordable Care Act to a joint session of Congress.
Oprah, you’re great. But you need to brush up on your history and current events.
America still has racists and bigots. They come in all colors and creeds. But you, better than anyone, must realize that the American people, especially the young, are increasingly colorblind.
You couldn’t have become the most influential woman on the planet and America’s richest black woman if white audiences hadn’t fallen in love with you and your TV talk show.
And President Obama couldn’t have been elected twice without the broad support of white voters who cared more about his hopes and promises than the color of his skin.
Obama is being beat up for political reasons, not racial ones. Just take off those black-and-white glasses, Oprah, and read the headlines.
Obamacare is a disaster. Obama’s economic policies are failing, and his administration is incompetent.
The president’s bipartisan critics in the media and in Congress don’t care what color his skin is, just as the “disrespecters” of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Ronald Reagan didn’t care about their white skin.
Oprah, let’s face it. It is you who is still fixated on the color of the president’s skin.
You need to update and upgrade your thinking. What you say matters. People trust you. They expect intelligent thoughts about race from you, not outdated and predictable cliches.
Imagine if you had said something to that BBC reporter like, “You know, that’s a really dumb and racist question. President Obama isn’t America’s black president, he’s America’s president. He’s taking his lumps because he’s been screwing up. It happens to presidents all the time. Except for a few racists, no one in America cares anymore what color the president’s skin is. Neither do I. I only care about the job he’s doing.”
That would have been an Oprah-worthy answer — and an important message about race for America.
Photo credit: Story Accents (Creative Commons)
Eighty percent of Americans consider themselves Christians—but today, many of them consider themselves a persecuted remnant. Is it mere paranoia? Remember, even the paranoid have enemies.
An Anti-Defamation League poll in 2005 found that 64 percent of Americans believed that religion was under attack in the U.S. It was 75 percent among Christians who attend church regularly. A Heritage Foundation Legal Memorandum by lawyer Jay Alan Sekulow warned in 2012:
All across America, religious institutions and individuals are being subjected to increasing restrictions on their free exercise of religion and freedom of speech—a crackdown that can be seen in a variety of different contexts ranging from employers or health care professionals being required to provide or facilitate abortions against the dictates of their faith to street evangelists and public school students seeking to share their religious viewpoints with others. This rising disregard for religious liberty represents a marked break from the long-standing American tradition of accommodating religious practice and expression that predates the ratification of the Constitution.
Under the Obamacare health care law, religious employers will be required to pay for insurance to cover medical procedures such as abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization procedures they oppose on moral grounds. Religious individuals too will be forced to participate in such programs or pay fines. Employers and employees of actual houses of worship are excluded from the requirement, but not religious charities, schools, hospitals, or other related institutions at the center of Christian life. Some are opposing these provisions in court, demanding exemptions from the law. They are not optimistic. Many now believe the entire establishment is against them.
It is clear that not all of this is paranoia. The atheist professor, author, and producer Richard Dawkins is not even subtle about it. One of his scripts—aired on British television and later on American public TV—was titled The Root of All Evil? Evil, naturally, was religion. He criticized all “three Abrahamic religions,” because their “irrational roots are nourishing intolerance and murder” around the world. They “preach morality, peace, and hope; in fact, they bring intolerance, violence, and destruction.”
His main target is Christianity since he considers it the most powerful. Dawkins characterized Christianity’s belief that Jesus had to be “hideously tortured and killed so that we might be redeemed” as a “nasty sadomasochistic doctrine.” He complains that Christian religious schools promote a “poisonous system of morals.” He compares the teaching of religion to a virus that infects young people and spreads from generation to generation. He considers families teaching religion to be “child abuse.” These views are now suitable for prime time television.
Or consider former Yale dean and classics scholar Donald Kagan. He recently complained to the Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Kaminski that democracy seems to have run its course in America and the West as the morality that has sustained them has atrophied. What morality? While the “Romans had no qualms about quashing their enemies, big or small” and the U.S. had relentlessly won two world wars “and imposed and protected the current global order, the recent record shows failed or inconclusive engagements.” The problem is that “We’re a certain kind of culture which makes it hard for us to behave rationally when the rational thing is to be tough.” The culture that makes this difficult is “unsubtle Christianity” and its strong strain of pacifism. “Who else has a religion filled with the notion ‘turn the other cheek’? Who ever heard of such a thing? If you’re going to turn the other cheek, go home. Give up the ball.” Today, such sentiments about Christianity run in the country’s leading newspapers and pass without any notice at all.
Every day, even first-rate newspapers and quality television shows display total ignorance about the first 1,500 years of Western civilization. Following Voltaire, moderns consider the whole formative period of our culture to be a “dark age,” contrary to any serious modern scholarship about the period. No major Western worldview has had reason to look at the age favorably. Voltaire’s atheists believe that all thinkers before themselves were unenlightened; Protestants saw the whole period as repressed under a corrupt Papacy; and even post-Trent Catholics wanted to forget the whole previous era and begin over again. A recent Discovery Chanel documentary did bring in medieval scholars who demonstrated—by displaying its actual discoveries—that most thinking about the period is simplistic, but that was a rare exception.
Even serious, Christian-friendly authors like Avi Beker get it muddled. As Hillel Fradkin noted about Beker’s wonderful history of the Jews and anti-semitism, The Chosen, the author made the “common error” of believing that the Christian reaction to Jews was much worse than the Islamic reaction, whereas “Muslim persecution of Jews was equal if not greater than Christian persecution as Maimonides and Halevi both testified.” Part of the error was Beker’s “assimilation of the Holocaust to the history of Christianity.” Christian Europe often disposed many to be unfavorable to Jews; but “Nazism must be laid at the door of modernity,” not Christianity. While Beker is generous in praising modern Christianity for its toleration, his Enlightenment-centric history makes it difficult for him to understand the fact that “the most serious form of contemporary anti-semitism is not that of Christians but of Muslims and their sometimes secular allies on the left.”
The normal assumption is that such observations are the detached reflections of neutral experts merely reporting the facts. Take New York University Professor Thomas Nagel, the very model of academic objectivity. He wrote a fine book, Mind and Cosmos, that seeks a third way between materialism and religion, one that any theist could admire as a courageous and open-minded attempt at a reasonable solution. But his underlying thinking outside the book is not the cool rationality most assume to be the atheistic mindset. The Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson reported that Nagel told the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga that he always pursues truth, but “if I ever found myself flooded with the conviction that what the Nicene Creed says is true the most likely explanation would be that I was losing my mind, not that I was being granted the gift of faith.”
Nagel conceded that pure materialism is rationally a failure, but continued “I want atheism to be true and I am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and naturally hope I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” Nagel has become the object of unfair leftist scorn for questioning materialism, but can one imagine any traditionalist admitting a similar bias and surviving at all?
In fact, many passionately dislike what Christians and other religious people believe. That is fine as long as the passion is from the Nagels of the world who are merely seeking truth, ardently or otherwise. Even threats from those such as Dawkins can be answered. It is only when opponents use coercion and raw political power to limit freedom that a real menace emerges. It is in an Obamacare law where the implementing zealots are convinced that they know what is good for everyone that the threat resides. Much more danger comes from those who claim the whole truth and are determined to force it for the other person’s good, no matter how much that person abhors it.
As Albert Camus once noted, “The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.”
Given the seemingly endless misrepresentations and outright lies surrounding the ObamaCare roll out, even those who once firmly supported the government-mandated healthcare plan have begun speaking out against it.
Former actress Patti Davis, the left-leaning daughter of conservative icon Ronald Reagan, was among those criticizing the law Monday on Twitter.
“Could the president please explain why I and others are losing our health ins. plans?” she wrote on the social media site. “Wasn’t supposed to happen!”
The site’s active conservative population quickly leapt into action, reminding Davis why her own father railed against big government liberalism during his illustrious political career.
“Your father feared this would come,” one user wrote. “Clearly you didn’t listen.”
Another response offered the following food for thought: “Socialism’s less fun when you’re on the sharp end, isn’t it sweetie?”
Bombarded with scathing retorts, Davis ultimately deleted the original comment. Thanks to the permanence of the Internet, though, her words are recorded for anyone to see.
She is among countless leftists whose myopic view of their own ideology prevents them from seeing the truth until it is too late.
This is not Davis’ first criticism of Obama, however. Upset with his impermeable partisanship, she issued an open letter to him earlier this month in which she said she is “trying hard every day to learn from the man whose DNA runs through my veins.”
She then suggested that Obama “could try a little harder to learn from him too.”
Though it is certainly refreshing to see more and more leftists come to their senses in light of this disastrous administration’s attack on the American way of life, it is a shame it has taken so long to happen.
If only more people had listened to and heeded Reagan’s wisdom while he was president, we might not be longing for those prosperous years today.
–Western Journalism staff writer
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