Coffee House From the archive

The Spectator on the assassination of JFK and how to remember the president

22 November 2013

8:30 AM

22 November 2013

8:30 AM

6 December 1963

…That we here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain…

Lincoln, a hundred years ago at Gettysburg. And President Johnson, in his noble speech to Congress, echoed the words in tribute to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Earlier in November we in this country had been wondering how long Remembrance Sunday could remain. Wondering whether the poppy symbolism of the First World War meant very much to those who fought in the Second, the youngest of them now moving towards their forties. That President Kennedy should have become the spokesman of those who fought in war and yearned for peace was natural.

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But he became also a symbol of youth and hope to a whole generation that was too young to fight and that also yearned for peace. President Kennedy was the first man of the twentieth century to reach the White House. Now he is dead and, with the exception of a few bigots of the extreme right and the bigots of Communist China, the whole world mourns. How, then, to remember him?

Looking only at the cold balance sheet of achievement it is absurd to compare Kennedy with Lincoln. And yet the bond is strong and true. Professor Allen, writing in this issue on ‘Democracy and Violence,’ shows clearly how much the civilised world was affected by Lincoln’s assassination. The United States was not then the leader of the Western world and the fierce immediacy of television made Kennedy’s loss even more terrible. But Lincoln and Kennedy were confronted by the same sort of problems and they shared the same sort of aims and ideals. And both were murdered. It is now our duty to be more urgent in our support of the causes for which Kennedy fought. To be more contemptuous of the bigots of right and left alike. It is certain that Kennedy was murdered in a city of the extreme right: it is said that he was murdered by a fanatic of the extreme left.

It is necessary to be more urgent in insisting on the brotherhood of man — in Africa or Asia, Alabama or Britain. Our racial problems are insignificant in comparison with those of Africa, of Asia and of the United States. In Africa and Asia the surge towards independence is both inevitable and desirable. In America the new President has pointed to the first task, to pass the Civil Rights Bill. In Britain we probably do not need new legislation. Men are not made better, and not often made to behave better to others, by legislation alone. Political skywriting will achieve nothing.

Perhaps for the citizen the key lies in a greater determination to serve. If possible in one of the underdeveloped countries of the world. If not, then at home through his church or chapel, a hospital league of friends or any of the voluntary organisations that offer service. It is for the Government to be clear-headed, generous, ruthless. Clear-headed in identifying its priorities, generous in its support of them, ruthless in denying to other desirable causes and policies equal priority. It is more urgent to see that every child has full opportunity in education to match his ability. More urgent that every family has a decent home. More urgent that the strong should help the weak here and abroad. Sir Alec [Douglas Home] has already said that at all times the Conservatives must remember that a general election lies just ahead. Mr Wilson, while piously expressing public horror at such a candid piece of electioneering, no doubt loses no opportunity of saying exactly the same thing to his colleagues. Education, especially higher education, housing and slum clearance, aid both at home and to the Commonwealth: these are the priorities. Conveniently they are probably also the most popular policies. Heart and head for once can make the same appeal.

‘Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.’ Kennedy is dead. We are all diminished. We are a poorer people now. But President Johnson has struck exactly the right note. His challenge went first to Congress. He reminded them that for thirty-two years Capitol Hill had been his home. It was a shrewd comment. No one understands better than Lyndon Johnson the technique of easing controversial Bills through Congress. If he cannot put the Kennedy measures on the statute book, no one can. First, then, the Civil Rights Bill. Second, the tax cuts Bill. There is little time.

Here, although time also is short, the problems are different and so must the solutions be. But in both countries it is more urgent to find them. To do this would be the only true remembrance of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.


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Show comments
  • Ron Todd

    Well I must be a bigot then.

    • telemachus

      I challenge you that if aware at all in 1963 you did not shed a tear

      • Neotelemachus

        Whatever the feeling was in 1963, history has revealed more about the adulterous, war-mongering son of a gun running, anti-British crook. His brother Edward was no better and the Kennedy clan deserve the curse that has afflicted them. They remind me of Blair and his disgusting coterie of sycophants and Britain-haters. It surprises me not at all that you are a supporter idiot #1.

        • Ron Todd

          Our ‘honours’ system reached its nadir when Edward Kennedy got an honorary knighthood.

      • Ron Todd

        I did not shed a tear.

  • Tom Tom

    Why was Kennedy in Dallas ? He was there to shore up the Democratic power base before the 1964 election which was split. LBJ had his sponsors and Kennedy was an East Coat Preppie with a rich bootlegger daddy who was not popular and needed Texas for re-selection. Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat to carry Texas and John B Connally as Democratic Governor in the car with Kennedy this day in 1963 became a Republican Secretary of the Treasury under Nixon.

  • zanzamander

    Sadly he wasn’t allowed to long enough to make a hash of it.

    • telemachus

      That is what is said of all genius’ whether in war (Eva Peron, Martin Luther King)or the arts(Buddy Holly, Mozart)

      • Swiss Bob

        You left Stalin off your list.

        You’re so funny, a fan of fascists and communists, or is this another ‘seal team’ co ck-up?

      • Colonel Mustard

        Have they said it about you yet, “genius”?

        You have to be a wind up. No real person could write the unmitigated and largely regurgitated tripe you do without an overwhelming sense of acute embarrassment.

        • Swiss Bob

          I particularly like the MLK genius of war bit!

          I think the office junior has the account today.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Spot on. I mean MLK was right up there with Ghandi and St Francis of Assisi when it comes to war-mongering. It is Junior Idiot#1 on the case today.

  • Swiss Bob

    Speccie sort your moderation out, I can’t even quote your own articles!

    • Andy

      LOL. Must have been the rude bits !

      • Swiss Bob

        “Dave was jolly and obedient as I stood in the shallow end of the pool and performed my duties,” Alford wrote. “The president silently watched.” Perhaps this was meant to reward Powers for his willingness to procure women for the president. Even so, there are shades of Caligula’s court here.

        The second para is apparently OK.

        • Andy

          Told ya, rude bits. Naughty man.

  • Andy

    Problem with accessing President Kennedy is he is viewed through gilded memory. In reality President Johnson achieved far more, but the left hate him.

    • telemachus

      See
      What did I say
      Within 14 minutes the ignorant right wish to belittle this giant who gave hope to a generation
      Johnson prosecuted an unjust war which murdered millions o SE Asians
      *
      Those of us who chanted “Hey Hey LBJ, How many kids have you killed today?” with Tariq in Grosvenor Square know the truth of that

      • Andy

        It was Kennedy’s war you cloth headed moron.

        And I’m not surprised you and other Fascists were busy chanting in Grosvenor Square, but as per you know diddly sh*t.

        Now toddle off back and do a few lines with Rev Flowers.

        • telemachus

          A low grade adviser enterprise
          It was Johnson who burned the locals with napalm

          • Andy

            Oh but Johnson was a Democrat not a Republican.

            • telemachus

              A very right wing republican type Democrat

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                So right wing that he introduced the biggest programme of welfare, health and social equality reforms in aid of the poor and disadvantaged in the history of the USA.

          • Colonel Mustard

            You have no understanding of the origins or complexities of the Vietnam War, let alone the fighting of it. Your stupid slogans belong in 1968 as you do, preferably on the other side of the iron curtain. You are a silly little man with an enormous ego and with far too much to say here of no worth at all.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              Agreed. The pivotal question on the subject of Kennedy’s death in the context of Vietnam is, I believe : would he have escalated or de-escalated the American military presence in Vietnam between 1963 and 1968, the end of a potential second term of office? Many pro-Kennedy biographers cite evidence that he was already planning to reduce America’s involvement and that his own wartime experience supports this view. I am not so sure. We now know with the benefit of hindsight that escalation was a bloody and fruitless journey and did terrble damage to American morale, prestige etc. That said, Kennedy would have come under the same pressures from all sides of the American establishment as Johnson and I wonder if he would have resited or sucumbed.

              • telemachus

                See above reply to Mustard

                • Colonel Mustard

                  It is not a “reply”, machus. It was just your usual smear against anyone who disagrees with your cant and a cut’n’paste job that had no relevance whatsoever to the point I was making.

            • telemachus

              I was correct in my predictions of bigots and bile, I am sorry to see after my JFK commemoration service and dinner

              *

              in an October 2, 1963, National Security Council meeting, after debriefing Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor on their recent trip to Saigon, “President Kennedy asked McNamara to announce to the press after the meeting the immediate withdrawal of one thousand soldiers and to say that we would probably withdraw all American forces from Vietnam by the end of 1965. When McNamara was leaving the meeting to talk to the White House reporters, the President called to him, ‘And tell them that means all the helicopter pilots, too.’ ” Promptly, wrote O’Donnell, McNamara double-crossed the president, giving the reporters merely a prediction of the end of America’s war, not Kennedy’s prescription of the end of America’s war: McNamara merely said they thought “the major part of the the U.S. task” would be completed by the end of 1965, nothing about the president’s intention to complete the task by the end of 1965.

              • Neotelemachus

                Cut and paste Idiot #1? How unusual.

              • Colonel Mustard

                You are the bigot and you spout the bile.

                Silly, sad little asterisk man with big ego and nothing to say.

      • Colonel Mustard

        In the interests of balance you should have also chanted the question of Ho Chi Minh, bearing in mind that it was his regime that both started the war and prolonged it. But the useful idiots of the anti-war movement were hi-jacked by the international communist conspiracy of which you were and are an active member.

        You and those like you deliberately closed your minds to the truth then as you close them now in order to best serve the ideology you wish to impose on others. You have no concept of another perspective let alone the truth. Your creed depends on the perpetuation of lies and your inner soul should be thoroughly ashamed of the things that have been done in the name of the ideology you serve.

  • telemachus

    Now he is dead and, with the exception of a few bigots of the extreme right …, the whole world mourns.
    *
    Watch out for an outpouring of bile from the usual suspects

    • Swiss Bob

      Revolting man and a pervert in the classic sense, see the Speccie article here as I cannot quote from it.

      http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/alex-massie/2013/11/john-f-kennedy-was-one-of-the-nastiest-presidents-in-american-history/

      On top of that the fool nearly destroyed the World.

    • Tom Tom

      Kennedy was a weak president, that is why after the Berlin Wall
      Khrushchev thought he could push him over Cuba. Kennedy was out of his
      depth, had Brezhnev not toppled Khrushchev those nuclear missiles
      ALREADY on Cuba would have had their targets locked. the submarine
      depth-charged by the US Navy only failed to launch nuclear weapons
      because the Captain had doubts…

      • telemachus

        Garbage he saw off the Krushchev missles
        And inspired a generation to better things

        • Tom Tom

          Wrong. read K’s memoirs about his impressions of the naive young Senator he met in Geneva in 1956. Read about the fact that the Kremlin was dealing with a GIC on Cuba who wanted authority to fire without reference to Moscow.

          • Stanislav Romanov

            1963 year the Cold War summit.Soviets was owercome with terror.Kennedy’s to asess how people determined which want an armed conflict a machine soviets security terrible probings brother’s a matter the bank’s account jewish’s victim nacism.Threaten to compromising oneself many soviets leader’s the II world war.World to go throught two famous attempt’s on Kennedy’s and pope.Los assasin’s be similar.Oswald and Agca visit’s Moscov next official resign from their serve but to take over their the polish security de fact departament KGB.Poland’s activity cooperation with criminals american.Cause crime not to be politic.

        • loftytom

          Ronie Reagan saw of Soviet Missiles whilst the British left tried to hinder the effort, useful idiots as per.

    • Colonel Mustard

      As a bigot of the extreme left you pour out plenty of bile here, you silly little asterisk man.

    • kyalami

      When I try to think of his achievements I get to

      – putting a man on the moon
      – getting the USA deeply involved in Vietnam
      – supporting civil rights.

      Nixon got the USA out of Vietnam and opened negotiations with China.

      • Tom Tom

        He won an election in 1960 by 300,000 votes. The ballot boxes in Cook
        County, IL disappeared until after the count in the rest of the nation
        and Mayor Dailey found extras for Kennedy

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