Ignored American History, Part 2
President Roosevelt’s New Deal Saves America
In 1933 Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected and offered a New Deal that gradually helped average people and the great majority, and prevented a violent uprising and revolution.
Roosevelt unified the vast majority of the American people, led them out of the horrible depression, initiated conservation and environmental programs that put millions of people to work and made tremendous improvements across the nation. He also led the U.S. to victory over the German Nazis and Japanese tyrants who threatened to conquer and rule the world by force of arms. And the greatest rewards of Roosevelt’s New Deal gradually raised the standard of living of the average American family significantly, and gradually and eventually created a huge and great Middle Class.
During Roosevelt's first term many reforms of the economic system were established, and some much needed regulations were put in place. Moreover, many New Deal programs such as Social Security and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were hugely helpful. For while President Roosevelt is now best known as the president who won the Second World War, it was the domestic programs he established before the war that were just as significant. They saved millions of Americans from poverty, and made great long-lasting improvements all across the nation.
The WPA and CCC, for instance, put more than three million people to work and produced many wonderful and immensely useful public works projects and state and national parks that are still used and enjoyed by the public today. Altogether it was a marvelous and worthy investment in people, in the infrastructure, in the country, in the environment, and in the land.
Of course, extreme right-wing Republicans accused Roosevelt of being a "Socialist," because they were as prone to deception and slander then as they are now. But, because his New Deal produced wonderful results and tremendous improvements, the vast majority of Americans loved him.
Now, another positive factor was that Roosevelt’s New Deal efforts were boosted by a grass roots political protest-liberation movement, led by great and courageous people like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joe Hill, Paul Robeson, Josh White, Dorothea Lange, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others who were instrumental in the progressive political liberation movement. Together with New Deal Democrats they exposed the corruption of the greediest, wealthiest, powerful few; revealed the plight of the poor and the working poor; and exposed the damage that had been done to the environment due to careless, short-sighted exploitation. And, together with the moral support of those in the spiritual movement, they produced a substantial amount of progress.
The "Religious Right" Puts Its Foot In the Door
In 1933, in reaction to the political victory of Roosevelt and the liberal progressives, there was a revival of right-wing political activism in the guise of religiosity, driven by right-wing conservative, theocratic, dogmatic Christian sects. They sought to establish more firm control in the United States, and they founded what they called a "Legion of Decency" to do that.
Like the modern-day "Christian Right," it consisted mainly of right-wing conservative Christians, mostly evangelicals and fundamentalists who sought not only to combat religious pluralism and reject equality of religions, but also to censor the movie industry. And they succeeded.
The right-wing conservative "Christian Revival" of the 1930s continued sporadically throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and it had a significant impact on the movie and television industry. Rigid censorship was imposed on the broadcast and entertainment industry by a very powerful conservative clergy, even though they were in the minority.
Of course, now Americans consider the 1950s as the "happy days," but that was mostly because employment was very high, wages and benefits were good for the middle class, and even the minimum wage was a living wage, so crime wasn’t a big problem and most people were prosperous.
The problem was that rigid censorship always proves to be counterproductive, because it produces repression. And that produces unnecessary guilt, rebellion, and other negative consequences. We are, after all, human, and, if we are conscientious, we learn from our mistakes. But, in spite of that, and because of what was politically and socially "correct" at the time, strict conformity was the general rule.
Consequently, there were many who rejected it and rebelled. In fact, that's when the first motorcycle gangs were formed. It’s also when the Bohemians and "Beatniks" (the forerunners of the "Hippies") became influential with their liberation poetry and songs, and it is when many young people simply ignored authority when no one was looking.
That was because whenever authorities are overly and unnecessarily prohibitive and restrictive, young people are especially rebellious. Distrustful and rigidly strict church and state authorities, just like distrustful and rigidly strict parents, tend to do things that are counterproductive, because most people, and especially young people, resent and resist being rigidly controlled. Even though society must have reasonable rules and laws, people like freedom and liberty, within reason.
Despite the censorship and rigidity, though, in the 1950s America was, for the most part, united. That was mainly because the Second World War (1941-1945) helped to bring the American people together very noticeably. And, because of that unifying event, along with the efforts of New Deal Democrats and all those in the political liberation movement and the pluralistic spiritual movement, many things improved.
For example, the Labor Union movement had grown significantly and some good regulations and worker’s rights had been established, and the minimum wage was actually close to a living wage — not poverty wage as it had been and is again today. However, most of the improvements were made in spite of the efforts by some very unscrupulous and ruthless right-wing partisan conservative Republican politicians who rose up in the 1950s, led by Republican Senators Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon.
They labeled and condemned all the progressive people on the left and in the political liberation movement as "Communists" and "Socialists" for advocating for the majority and the working poor.
It was much like it is today. But in the 1950s it was called "red-baiting," and McCarthy, Nixon, Reagan and their right-wing cohorts did it with terrible malice. They demonized those in the liberation movement in an unfair, slanderous, deceptive, misleading way, but they were successful. They ruined the lives of many good people in the liberation movement, many of whom were in the entertainment industry and other influential professions, who were "black listed," ostracized and punished in many different ways. It was an American form of Fascism (much like has risen up in America again due to the "religious right").
By the time we entered the 1960s, those dishonest and deceptive right-wing conservative tactics had produced their desired affect. Laws and policies once again enabled and catered to the very wealthy few who enjoyed even more privilege and license.
Ironically, it was Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a four-star Army General during World War II, who recognized what was happening and spoke up. In his farewell address in 1961, he warned America about the dangers of allowing the "Military-Industrial Complex" to have too much power and get out of hand. It was very appropriate and needed advice.
Unfortunately, most Americans did not listen and the problem continued to increase. And because Eisenhower’s warning was not heeded, the U.S. Military Industrial Complex not only grew, it became more corrupt. And, by the way, since 1982 and particularly since 2000, it has became the Religious-Military-Industrial Complex – which of course ignores the Constitution's laws making government neutral regarding religion, with a separation between church and state.
Besides that, the Religious-Military-Industrial Complex is religious in name only, and it has not served God or humanity in many instances. In fact, in certain instances it serves Mammon and the wealthiest few Americans, and it has proven fatal to truly democratic, representative government.
Today the American government and commercial media lionizes the Military. But we should remember this about military and war: While there have been just wars, there is no such thing as a "holy war," and the "weapons" of God’s true servant are not carnal, or lethal. They are divinely inspired, written words of truth. Contrary to that, to fuel the war machine and the fires of war, imperialistic militarism is always fueled by misleading or concocted propaganda about an "evil enemy."
Furthermore, it should never be forgotten that it is through religious and military indoctrination justified by a doctrine of preeminence and superiority that fascist states come into being, and their military empires are forged and expanded by the fire of war and force of arms.
The reality is that the U.S. Religious-Military-Industrial Complex has grown fat and rich, and it has been plunging down a slippery slope by militarizing the culture of our nation to prepare for endless war. It has conditioned Americans to think of the U.S. as a beacon of light and the global force for good, God, and morality. But while there is some truth to that, and while most people in the military industrial complex are good people or at least think they are doing the right thing, it is in part propaganda and a smokescreen to hide some very scandalous facts.
Americans need to realize that the U.S.A. cannot perpetuate the Reaganite myth that America has nothing to be ashamed of, nor can it perpetuate the polarizing, arrogant, Dominionist Bush doctrine that “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Not true. In fact, many Americans and most other people in the world are well aware of the sins of the U.S. Government and its military, and we realize that we must become as a family of equal nations and religions and races and cultures if we are to put an end to conflicts and hostilities and save the world from utter destruction.
Two wrongs don't make a right. Violence is not the answer, nor is taking the law into your own hands. Only truth can prevail, and only good can overcome evil. And lasting peace cannot and will not be "won" by waging war -- especially not today or in the future. We will have lasting peace only when truth overcomes falsehood, when love overcomes hate, and when good overcomes evil that masquerades as good. And we will have lasting peace only when nations confess our offenses, make amends, reconcile our differences, and actually make peace.
But now, having gotten that digression out of the way, let’s continue the story.
The Peace and Freedom Movement Is Reborn In the 1960s
Some aware and conscientious people did understand why Eisenhower issued his warning. His successor President John F. Kennedy understood. And, in response to all the political and corporate corruption, and in response to the prudish "religious" repression that had been caused by the right-wing conservative clergy in the 1930s, '40s and '50s, the peace and freedom movement was reborn in the early 1960s.
Indeed, the peace and freedom movement was not only reborn, it was greatly expanded by many different folk singers, rock bands, entertainers, political activists and spiritual leaders, including Joan Baez; Bob Dylan; Pete Seeger; Peter, Paul and Mary; Gloria Steinham; Martin Luther King Jr.; Baba Ram Dass; Stephen Gaskin; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Richie Havens, and many others far too numerous to mention here. God bless 'em.
In fact, huge numbers of people joined the liberation movement. It was generally known as the love, peace and freedom movement, and they were and still are good, fair, compassionate, conscientious people. They tried, and most of them still try, to point out true spiritual values having to do with love, peace, freedom and equality, that are really at the core of all religions.
Of course, a part of that movement was known as the political New Left, which included the Free Speech Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Anti-War Movement, etc., and some of the people in the New Left were not humble, or meek.
However, the vast majority of those who wanted reform and greater freedom and opportunity were non-violent, peaceful, loving and reasonable "doves," despite being labeled otherwise by right-wing "hawks" who defended the status quo.
The peace and liberation movement also warned about the growing income disparity and gap between the rich and the poor, because once again the rich were getting much richer while the working poor and the poor were becoming much poorer.
In 1962, Michael Harrington’s book, The Other America, pointed out that at least 20 percent of the American population were living below the poverty line and had missed out on the prosperity of the 1950s. Such research and facts gave the movement knowledgeable authority in speaking out on the behalf of the working poor and the poor.
Another book published in 1962 that was very important and influential was Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. But, as Al Gore has noted, big businesses, corporations and chemical companies tried to contradict the facts in the book and made false claims to the contrary. Nevertheless,Silent Spring helped revive the conservation and environmental movement in the 1960s (which was really the beginning of the "Green" movement), and many environmental protections began to be established.
The best thing, though, was that in the 1960s the awareness that there is a unity at the core of all religions emerged once again. The basics of the esoteric spiritual teachings, along with an influx of Eastern religious teachings, created the "New Age" movement that blossomed in the United States in the 1960s. That's when "The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius" was widely announced in the great classic musical, Hair, which was great and wonderful (even though it was premature in announcing the beginning of the new age).
The huge peace-freedom-liberation movement in the 1960s was extremely effective politically and socially. However, it cannot be overemphasized that many of those in the movement were non-political. Many of the "hippies" and the "flower children," for instance, were more involved in spiritual pursuits, and many were involved in a "back to the earth" and "back to nature" movement, and in music and arts and crafts. That's when the interest in natural foods, ecology, environmental protection and conservation really began to flourish (even though it later suffered severe setbacks under the Reaganites).
What got more of the media's attention in the 1960s, though, was the political part of the liberation movement, the New Left. It was very motivated because its leaders and activists were seriously trying to save the world and establish peace, freedom, and social and economic justice and equity.
Granted, there was some foolishness demonstrated by relatively small radical elements of the New Left, because they responded in-kind to the violent right-wing suppression of dissent and protest. But, in spite of that, most of those in the political New Left were more rational and they succeeded significantly. Their influence ultimately produced many welcome reforms in environmental protection and criminal justice, and established more civil rights, more women's rights, and many other rights and protections for the majority of people and the environment.
Of course, part of the success of the New Left was due to the presidency of Democrat John F. Kennedy, a charismatic man whose inclinations were democratic. He had become president in 1961 following Eisenhower, and he helped to inspire the younger generation with great hope and courage. His Peace Corps was and still is great, and it has done and still does a lot of good in the world. He was also instrumental in getting the minimum wage increased. He planned to end any U.S. military involvement whatsoever in Vietnam. He did much to further civil rights. And he issued an executive order to provide surplus food to unemployed Americans -- among many other things.
At the same time, however, there were very strong right-wing conservative Republicans vying to regain power, and the dissenting protests and successes of the New Left brought a vehement and violent reaction from right-wing political leaders who still had power in certain states and cities.
The most significant and consequential examples of that were in 1965 in Selma in reaction to the Civil Rights Movement, in 1968 in Chicago in reaction to the Anti-War Movement, and in 1969 in Berkeley in reaction to the Free Speech Movement.
It’s notable that the violence in Berkeley was ordered by Ronald Reagan, who was at that time the Republican Governor of California. He falsely claimed that the Free Speech Movement was led by "outside agitators, communists, and dirty bums who simply want to tear down society." He also said that if it took a "bloodbath," he would stop them, and he did create a bloodbath because he used terribly brutal armed forces to try to suppress valid and needed dissent and protest. And in doing that, Reagan exacerbated the violent right-wing reactionary confrontations that swept across America in the 1960s, which deeply polarized and divided the American people.
However, the corrupt few did more than resort to violent suppression of dissent and protest. They resorted to deception, slander and false accusations of those who dared to dissent and protest. And a few even resorted to murder and assassination, most notably of President Kennedy, who was tragically assassinated in November 1963.
The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
The assassination of President Kennedy and the following assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were crucial events and turning points in American history, and Americans should understand much more about them because they virtually stopped America's progressive momentum and ultimately resulted in America being pushed backward, particularly during the last 32 years.
There are many indicators showing that, one of which is the rapidly growing income gap between the wealthiest few and the working poor, and the rapid shrinking of the middle class. That is why America and much of the world is divided, in conflict, and suffering. It is part of the reason why the wealthiest few Americans now hold 95 percent of the nation's wealth. And that's merely one of the reasons why this is an important issue.
Therefore, this analysis recognizes that the truth about Kennedy's assassination lies somewhere between the official government version of the story and the wild conspiracy theories that have been submitted during the last 50 years and increasingly in recent years.
Now, there are many opinions about why President Kennedy was assassinated, and the official story is that the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, acted entirely on his own and of his own volition. However, while that may be true, many people believe there's more to it than that, and some researchers have provided some fairly reasonable evidence to lend credence to that belief.
To be fair, we should consider all the circumstances during the years leading up to the assassination and the circumstances immediately prior to and during the assassination in order to assess the actual situation, and we should try to reach a truthful conclusion.
For example, we should consider that in 1962 Kennedy had the courage to oppose the CIA regarding its plans concerning Cuba. He overruled the Pentagon and his top military generals and refused to bomb Cuba and risk nuclear war. Instead, he faced down the Russians who had planted nuclear missiles in Cuba, and he averted catastrophe by taking action diplomatically and also by a courageous military show of force, the result of which was that the Russians removed their missiles from Cuba.
Other facts reveal that Kennedy was considering firing FBI Director Herbert Hoover. Kennedy was in opposition to a right-wing dominated CIA and Pentagon. He had opposed the CIA's plans regarding Cuba, and he had even made it apparent that he was going to reduce the size and role of the CIA. He had rejected the Pentagon’s Chiefs’ "Operation Northwoods," which was a plan to commit real or perceived acts of terrorism against Americans and blame Cuba's Castro for it. And Kennedy had also rejected the Pentagon’s insane argument that the Soviet Union should be attacked while the U.S. held far superior nuclear advantage.
However, that wasn’t the main reason top brass at the Pentagon resented Kennedy, because he had also overruled their desire to initiate U.S. military combat involvement in Vietnam. In fact, he had planned to start pulling all of Eisenhower’s non-combatant military advisers out of Vietnam and have them out by 1965. That plan was hated by the Pentagon and the entire U.S. Military Industrial Complex.
Unfortunately, in November 1963 not long after he formulated that plan he was assassinated, and soon after that Lyndon Johnson and the U.S. Military Industrial Complex were able to sharply escalate U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam. Regular U.S. combat units were deployed beginning in 1965 (whereas prior to that only non-combatant military advisers were involved). And that decision made in 1965 plunged U.S. fighting troops and forces headlong into a dirty war until 1975 -- making many government contractors and industrialists very much richer, all at the expense of all the Americans and Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians who were killed or maimed during that very long war.
Of course, in recent years Republicans have tried to discredit the disengagement story because Kennedy never actually revealed his plan to end U.S. involvement in Vietnam, at least not publicly. In fact, in public, Kennedy had expressed support for Eisenhower’s policies regarding military advisers in Vietnam, and he stated that it would be best to do whatever possible to help the South Vietnamese government ward off the Communists. And after all, that was the political rationale at the time, based on the old “Domino Theory” (that if a country fell to Communism, others would naturally fall too).
However, National Security Action Memorandums reveal that Kennedy's disengagement policy from Vietnam was on record, and as president, Johnson actually did reverse it. Johnson and the Pentagon instead committed combat troops for the first time, which expanded the war far beyond what it was. Furthermore, Kennedy’s withdrawal plan was also confirmed by Kennedy aides Dave Powers and Ken O'Donnell who were close to him for 15 years, knew him well, and reported the story in 1971.
Even so, Republicans have had some success in denying the disengagement story, for several reasons. In November 1963 when the Vietnam War became Democratic President Lyndon Johnson’s war with ground combat troops committed, many Kennedy friends and confidants, including his brothers, put aside their distaste for the Texan Johnson and they supported the Vietnam War in public -- perhaps because they didn’t think it would be politically expedient or helpful to the country to reveal what they knew.
That has left the door open for Republicans to claim that Kennedy did not want to withdraw military advisers from Vietnam, and they claim that the O'Donnell/Powers story is false because it came out at a time when all the Democrats who had originally supported the war publicly became against the war when it became Republican Richard Nixon's war.
However, the facts of the matter have been made clear. It was the Pentagon and the U.S. Military Industrial Complex that wanted a ground war in Vietnam, and Kennedy defied the brass whereas Johnson went along with them when he became president by default.
Now, because Hoover’s FBI, the CIA the Pentagon and the U.S. Military Industrial Complex resented Kennedy, many conspiracy theories have been presented ever since the assassination. But while many of those theories are baseless, there is some circumstantial evidence that lends credence to some of them.
For example, it is documented that Oswald visited the Dallas FBI office a couple of weeks before the assassination, asking to see Special Agent James Hosty. There is no documentation, however, regarding the purpose of his visit, or what was said, or why he asked for that agent. All we have is the verbal hearsay testimony of the FBI receptionist, who said that Oswald did not talk to Hosty and merely left a message for him.
According to the receptionist, Oswald’s note told Hosty to leave Oswald’s wife alone, and threatened legal action if he didn’t. And, according to Hosty himself, the note advised him to talk to Oswald directly instead of “bothering my wife,” or “I will take the appropriate action and report this to the proper authorities." We will never know what actually happened, because after Kennedy’s assassination, Agent Hosty said that he destroyed Oswald's note on orders from his superior, Gordon Shanklin.
What makes this suspicious is that Oswald’s note was ordered destroyed by an FBI superior, and we should try to discover why Oswald’s note was destroyed, and why Oswald asked for Hosty. For the possibility is that he knew him as he knew another FBI Agent, John Quigley. After all, it has been documented that on August 9, 1963, Oswald spoke with agent Quigley for over an hour. But the circumstances of these visits, at least according to the official public record, indicate that such contacts Oswald had with the FBI were acrimonious and their purpose was allegedly focused on Oswald’s Communist ties and sympathies. And while that may be true, given the history of coverups it is reasonable to suspect that there may be more to the story.
It is no wonder there are so many conspiracy theories about Kennedy’s assassination, many of which make the argument that Oswald was just a pawn or patsy, allowed to assassinate President Kennedy because he would make the perfect fall guy. And there are many indicators that would seem to support that theory. One, for example, is this video which shows Secret Service agents being called off or away from their duty to act as human shields behind the president just before the motorcade passed in from of the Book Depository building where Oswald was waiting.
It is no wonder that the Secret Service agent whose duty was to protect Kennedy’s rear (and probably would have prevented the assassination had he not been waved off) was confused and perplexed. If he had been able to remain at his post to Kennedy’s right rear beside the vehicle, the assassination would not have had a clear shot. After all, snipers do not shoot at moving targets as the targets pass in front of them at a right angle. It’s too hard to aim that way. They wait until the target has passed, and then fire from the rear when there is an easier target moving slowly away.
The fact that Kennedy’s main protection from the Secret Service agent who had been assigned to trot immediately behind him to his right was waved away is highly suspicious and lends credence to the theory that high up officials of the Secret Service were in on a conspiracy. But again, this is circumstantial evidence only. We will not know unless and until those who may have been involved reveal their secrets, if indeed secrets are being kept.
Of course, there are other conspiracy theories that claim there was more than one sniper shooting at Kennedy, and that the shooter who shot him in the head was shooting from the front. However, those theories have been discredited by the facts — by forensic and ballistic evidence, by video evidence, and by autopsy photos. It is clear that there were three shots fired – one that missed, one that shot Kennedy in the upper back or lower neck and exited near his lower throat, and one that entered the back of his head and caused a large exit wound on the top right of his head nearer to the front. And the Zapruder film clearly shows that the head shot exit wound caused a little cloud of mist consisting of blood spray and brain tissue that was blown forward, indicating that it was the result of an exit wound and that the bullet had entered from the back of his head. And there is an autopsy photo that shows the small entry wound to the back of the head.
The confusion over this was caused by the fact that right after the head shot entered Kennedy’s head, his head snapped backward quickly, causing some brain matter to fall back onto the trunk of the vehicle. That is what has caused some people to assume that the head shot came from the front. However, they are apparently unaware that President Kennedy was wearing a full torso, corset-like back brace. That is why his body did not fall forward, and it is why, after being shot in the back of the head, his body and head immediately snapped backward as a reaction to his head having been knock forward for an instant because of being struck hard from behind. It was the result of the stiff spring-like stays along the back of his back brace.
Now, because Oswald was the only sniper and assassin does not mean that he was not allowed and enabled to carry out the assassination. We should wonder about it and keep investigating, because it is possible that Oswald was a very convenient fall guy, and it is possible that people within the military and the investigative and intelligence agencies were well aware of what he was going to do and conveniently did not prevent it from happening.
On the other hand, even though President Eisenhower and his successor President Kennedy both disapproved of the inflated and expanded power of the U.S. Military Industrial Complex, and even though Kennedy also disapproved of the over inflated and expanded power of the CIA and the FBI, it is possible that such forces were not responsible either directly or indirectly for his assassination. We must keep our minds open to that possibility as well.
We should also keep our minds open to the possibility that there were other forces, or a combination of forces, that were responsible, whether directly or indirectly, not only for the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but also for the following assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After all, they were also killed by people who appeared to be acting all on their own, and no one else has been officially accused or officially suspected. But deductive reasoning leads one to suspect that there’s more to it than that, because the deaths of those three individuals drastically changed the direction and the progressive momentum of America.
Furthermore, we should understand that it was not merely internal government forces in military, intelligence and investigative agencies that hated liberal progressives like the Kennedys and King. Southern racists who wanted to perpetuate racist Apartheid also hated liberal progressives – with a passion. And that may have been one of the reasons why they were assassinated.
After all, it was perhaps no coincidence that Kennedy’s assassination was one hundred years, almost to the day, after Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, delivered in November 1863 after Union armies defeated armies of the Southern Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.
That may not have been a coincidence, considering that there were many in Dallas Texas that hated Kennedy and his brother Robert for their position against racial segregation and apartheid. In fact, some of Kennedy's harshest critics in Texas were racist right-wing ideologues who accused him of being a “godless socialist.” (Notice that sounds familiar, because Texas Tea Party members lead others in repeating that deceptive mantra against President Obama, and they have proudly displayed the Confederate flag in parades.)
Kennedy in fact supported racial integration and civil rights, and during his campaign for the presidency in 1960 he had telephoned Coretta Scott King, wife of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was at that time in jail because he had tried to integrate a department store lunch counter in Georgia. At the same time Robert Kennedy called the Governor of Georgia to gain King's release from prison.
Even further, in 1961, President Kennedy said: "The denial of constitutional rights to some of our fellow Americans on account of race - at the ballot box and elsewhere - disturbs the national conscience, and subjects us to the charge of world opinion that our democracy is not equal to the high promise of our heritage."
Kennedy made that statement even though he understood that the civil rights movement angered many Southern whites, and that his support for it would make it more difficult to pass civil rights laws in Congress because it was dominated by conservative Southern Democrats.
Despite the Southern opposition, Kennedy assigned federal marshals to protect civil rights demonstrators like the Freedom Riders. Kennedy signed an Executive Order requiring government contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." His order also established the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.
In 1962 when James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi but was prevented from entering, Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent 400 federal marshals and President Kennedy sent 3,000 U.S. troops after the situation on campus turned violent. The upshot, after the violence was quelled, was that Meredith was finally able to enroll in his first class. And Kennedy followed by signing other Executive Order prohibiting racial discrimination in federally supported housing or "related facilities."
In June 1963 President Kennedy intervened again when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama to stop two African American students from attending. And that evening Kennedy gave his famous civil rights speech on national television and radio, promoting his initiative for civil rights legislation to provide equal access to public schools and other facilities, and greater protection of voting rights.
The day after his speech, just out of spite, Southern Democrats and Republicans defeated Kennedy’s two-year long effort in Congress to combat poverty in Appalachia. (In spite of that, however, Kennedy’s initiative regarding civil rights ultimately resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed by his successor, Lyndon Johnson.) But, during this time Southern racists reacted brutally. For example, they killed Medgar Evers and bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama killing four African American children in the explosion, and two other children were shot to death in the aftermath.
In the final analysis, though, it is not crucially important to determine whether or not any conspiracies were involved in the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and King, nor is it crucially important to determine that even though it was the Communist Lee Harvey Oswald who actually killed Kennedy, he was enabled or allowed to do so by U.S. government agents who served the U.S. Military Industrial Complex that sought global dominance. It is important to determine those things. However, what is most important is to realize that the malevolent spirit and mentality that motivated and approved of the assassins was widespread, and it is still very much alive today.
It is also important to realize that regardless of who was really responsible for it, Kennedy’s assassination, like the assassinations of his brother and Dr. King, caused horrified disappointment and frustration in those who were trying to reform the U.S. political-economic system. But, it soon made them stronger and more determined, and that of course created an even stronger right-wing reaction against them from right-wing conservatives all over the nation.
(Continued at Ignored American History, Part 3, which discusses what happened after Kennedy's assassination, the rise of Ronald Reagan and the "Christian" Right, etc.)