Conflict and Violence In America Increases After Kennedy’s Assassination
Conflict and violence increased after Kennedy was killed, and it caused a tremendous amount of grief, despair and suffering. And when the violence increased in 1965 in Selma Alabama and peaked in Chicago in1968 and in Berkeley in 1969 (because of Governor Reagan), it left the country deeply divided.
That was a very crucial time, because when the nation was deeply split and polarized, the balance of political power began to swing to the right again. And that happened for several reasons.
When two more heroes of the democratic progressive New Left (Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy) were also assassinated, Democrats had become split between progressives and conservatives. Liberal Progressives were led by Eugene McCarthy, who went into the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago as the clear frontrunner. But the democratic party bosses favored and nominated the relatively conservative and traditional Hubert Humphrey, even though he had not even campaigned in the primary elections.
That was why so many progressive and liberal anti-war democrats demonstrated in the streets of Chicago in 1968, and that was why the Mayor of Chicago at the time ordered his police forces to crack down and crack heads, which caused the bloody police riots at the time.
Consequently, with Democrats divided and with their candidate not really representing the majority of them, right-wing conservative Republican Richard Nixon was able to become president in 1969. And he was able to do so not only because democrats were deeply divided, but also because Nixon sold the misleading notion that the whole New Left was just a radical misguided minority and that he represented the "Silent Majority."
The truth, however, was that the New Left was immensely popular and influential, and Nixon won not only by misleading propaganda, but by some very dirty tricks and collaboration with the Vietnamese. (And by the way, that has only been revealed recently by Robert Parry in two articles, one titled LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason,’ and the other titled The Almost Scoop On Nixon’s ‘Treason’. If that story had broken in 1968 things would probably have been very different, in America and in Vietnam.)
But, that story was hushed up, and even though by that time the actual majority of Americans were against the war and certainly not for Nixon, many Americans were so disgusted with partisan political conflict by that time that they did not even vote! And Nixon swayed just enough people who did vote to get elected. Consequently, certain aspects of the civil conflict in the U.S. got worse, and the Vietnam War lasted for seven more years.
With Republican President Nixon in power, the Military-Industrial Complex became even stronger and more out of hand (as Eisenhower warned it could). Nixon escalated and expanded U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and began bombing Laos and Cambodia, which was very profitable for certain U.S. corporations and military contractors who supported Nixon (since there were a whole lot of helicopters, bombs, agent orange and other hardware needed to wage that 12 year long war.
During Nixon’s presidency a crucial event occurred when Daniel Ellsberg revealed secret Pentagon Papers in 1971, exposing the U.S. Government’s lies about the Vietnam War. Nixon was enraged. In public he claimed Ellsberg "put himself above the President and the U.S. Government," and in private he told his team: "Let’s get the son of a bitch." That is when Nixon took the even more corrupt path which led to his inevitable downfall and disgrace in 1974.
But even knowledge of the Pentagon Papers did not stop the U.S. war machine in Vietnam. It had not stopped when Americans had learned of such atrocities as the My Lai Massacre, the secret bombings of Laos and Cambodia, and the horrendous effects of napalm and agent orange either.
The Vietnam War was continued by the U.S. Government in spite of how the majority of Americans and other people in the world felt about it, until Congress finally stopped the bombing in 1973 and Americans were driven out of Vietnam in 1975. (And the consequence of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam was the death of 58,220 Americans, about two million Vietnamese, about 250,000 Cambodians, and about 100,000 Laotians.
Even so, the peace and freedom movement of the 1960s and ‘70s succeeded in being the conscience of America, because it was essentially the same spiritual-philosophical movement that had become popular in both Europe and America in the 1700s and 1800s. It had flourished again advocating the ideals of universal love, peace, freedom, equality, fairness, compassion, tolerance, and religious pluralism. It recognized that all spiritual teachings and all religions have, at their foundation and core, the same eternal, universal values and principles. And the popularity of the movement continued and grew in the 1960s through the 1970s, and it was very influential socially even though it didn't receive the media attention that the political protest movement did.
Unfortunately, the Peace and Freedom Movement and Woodstock Generation then rested on our laurels, because in the 1970s we felt we had won. But, we were naive. We didn’t see what was coming.
You see, because good people remained silent, the Reaganites, touting themselves as "religious and patriotic," were able to regain presidential power in 1981, and full congressional power in 1983.
The Right-Wing Takes Over Everything
The right-wing conservative backlash rose to power under the leadership of Ronald Reagan and "Christian conservatives" like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. It was very similar to what had occurred in the late 1930s, and history repeated itself.
Reagan was just what right-wing conservatives, the wealthiest few and the U.S. Military-Industrial Establishment needed, because he had become a proficient pitchman for corporate interests on commercial television. Moreover, he actually believed in much of what he said, and he made hegemonic flag waving, bible thumping and militant sword rattling seem "right" to many Americans who felt Reagan "restored American pride and religious values."
Reagan was supported by other like-minded right-wing conservative political leaders and ideologues, and especially by very wealthy corporate executives and attorneys. Together they created the Reaganite New Right and the early "Neo-Conservative" movement, which has, for the most part, operated ever since then under the guise of patriotism and religious values (even though its values are not really Christian, and it has proven to be not good for the country or the world).
It should also be noted that in 1980, as Ronald Reagan was campaigning for the presidency backed by the Christian Right, John Lennon was killed. John had been singing his greatest song, Imagine, which reflected the universal spiritual thinking and feelings of his generation, the generation in which many of us took advantage of the ample opportunity we had to learn the universal truths at the core of all religions. But, while most people loved John's song, some people hated it then, as some hate it now. Some even condemn it as "heretical and blasphemous." And that is why Mark David Chapman, a right-wing, self-professed "born-again Christian" zealot, shot John Lennon in the back three times, and killed him.
Of course, it wasn’t polite for the media to mention that fact. So the flag wavers and bible thumpers (that John spurned) succeeded, and Reagan rode his bandwagon to the White House.
The New Right Reaganite Republicans then steadily and increasingly chipped away at Roosevelt's democratic New Deal programs, and claimed they were doing so in the name of God and Country.
Even though Roosevelt’s programs are actually based on Christian values because they are compassionate and charitable and care about and for the poor and the least of our brethren, the Reaganites, like the later Bushites, tried to do away with and reverse all the rights and protections that had improved the lives of the American people and the environment during the 1930s, ‘‘40s, '50s, and '60s.
Here is a video illustrating how the the Reaganite war on labor unions, for instance, impacted America:
That is why during the last 30 years the rich have steadily gotten so much richer, at the expense of the majority, the working poor, the poor, the infrastructure, and the environment.
The problem is that evil loves to masquerade as good. It even thinks it is good, which is what egocentric delusion is all about. That’s why demagogues appear to be good, patriotic and religious, and appeal to the pride, emotions and prejudices of gullible people. That’s how Ronald Reagan gained power, because he seemed like a nice guy and he could be very charming when he wanted to be. He had a lot of practice on television before he got into politics.
When Reagan became president in 1981, he appointed people to the Civil Rights Commission, the Justice Department, the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency who reversed much of the progress that had been made. They started huge setbacks and terrible trends. They simply ignored facts put forth by scientists, environmentalists and advocates of the poor. They pushed for "deregulation" to benefit big business and corporations, claiming it was to "get big government off our backs," all of which was very misleading and deceptive.
Reaganites claimed that none of their industrial technology harms the environment. They claimed that "we cannot afford a welfare state," that government was "too big," and that tax cuts for the rich are absolutely necessary and good for the country (just as Bush did again when he gained power in 2000).
With the rise of Reagan to the U.S. presidency in 1981, the Military-Industrial Complex grew even more, and it took on a new aspect. With the influence of the so-called "Christian Right," it then gradually became the Religious-Military-Industrial Complex, and it established an out of control culture that the son of man calls Reaganism.
Reaganism claims to serve all the people in the name of God and Country, but it actually serves the wealthiest few and what Jesus called "Mammon" (material wealth and power). It is designed very cunningly to create the appearance that it is beneficent and good, even though it has actually enabled the very wealthy to get much more wealthy, while worsening conditions for most people in the country and world.
To make matters worse, in 1982 a large group of right-wing politicians, attorneys and judges established a so-called "Federalist Society" designed to impose right-wing partisan political ideology into the U.S. legal system. And, on the "religious" front, a secret right-wing "Super Christian" group called "The Family" began to ensure that the U.S. Religious Military Industrial Complex served the interests of what they call "The Army of God." And both the Federalist Society and The Family have grown in power ever since.
To the detriment of most of us, the Reaganite Neo-Conservative and "Christian Right" movement, which flies the banners of religiosity and patriotism, succeeded politically. But, while they think they’re doing the right thing, they serve Mammon and the wealthiest few. They can't be honest about that, of course, which is why they have been so adamant in claiming that their political action is simply an effort to "restore God to America" and "fulfill the intent and desire of the Founding Fathers." But, in fact, they have done the opposite.
They’ve caused a lot of Americans to think that you are a "True American" only if you proudly proclaim yourself to be a Christian, agree with Neo-Conservative Republican ideas, and look down on immigrants and people of other faiths.
They do not realize they are extremely bigoted, hypocritical, and un-American. They ignore the fact that all white Americans are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, and the only truly native Americans are Native American "Indians." Furthermore, representative democratic government can work properly only if and when ALL people are fully free, fully educated, and have fully equal rights and opportunities.
The "Christian Right" and their right-wing Republican cohorts are NOT doing what America's Founding Fathers intended, or what is good. Instead, in 1999 a Republican dominated Congress passed legislation repealing crucial regulations on banking institutions that had been put in place in 1933 during Roosevelt’s first term, further opening the door to greed and corruption.
Under the reign of President George W. Bush, who gained the presidency by hook and by crook, the Religious-Military-Industrial Complex grew totally out of control. Huge corporations (especially military contractors, oil companies, banks, predatory lenders, credit card companies, health insurance companies, HMOs, pharmaceutical companies, and monopolistic food production companies) have been raking in record profits and indulging in terribly unfair price gouging, "ripping off" the public and rewarding their top corporate executives absurdly excessive and inequitable financial incomes.
Reaganites and Bushites, as well as certain "sold out" Democrats, have enabled the CEOs of very large American corporations to cause much harm and loss, and exploit people. They have even used slander and all the shady influence that money can buy, not only to silence "whistle blowers" who feel the public should know the truth, but also to use the power of television in paid commercial advertisements to spread misleading and even deceptive propaganda to make their corporations seem good and beneficial to us all, and even good for the environment.
Rather than abide by real and true spiritual values, Reaganites and Neo-Conservatives focused instead on the erroneous man-made, patriarchal, "Christian" doctrine of preeminence and superiority that has been used over the last sixteen centuries to serve the wealthy few and justify military-industrial imperialism, colonialism and even genocide, all in the name of "civilizing the heathen" and "saving souls."
Remember, the American Revolution of 1776 was won mostly by liberal progressives on the left, in a great attempt to serve the people. Even conservatives like Alexander Hamilton agreed with the majority, even though he was a British "loyalist" regarding corporate, economic and fiscal matters. And the majority wanted government by the consent of the governed, representing the people, promoting the general welfare, establish equal rights and justice for all, and ensuring not only religious freedom, but freedom from Theocracy and theocratic imposition.
Unfortunately, right-wing conservative ideologues ignore all that. They ignore the clear intent and spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and they have no choice but to be dishonest and deceptive -- pretending that they serve all the people and appealing to the "conservative" group ego and to emotions, prejudices, nationalism, hegemony and religious bigotry, which is why they "get tough," wave their flag, thump their bible, and rattle their sword to stir up support for ideas that are actually against the Real American Dream and instead serve the interests of the wealthiest few.
In the last 32 years they had a lot of political success doing that. And we have paid a very steep price because of it.