X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

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.

[Alt-Text]


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.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close