Thursday, January 12, 2006


JFK and the Freedom Riders

I heard a bit of Fresh Air today and they were talking about the Freedom Riders a bit.

Call me naive and/or over-influenced by 2000s era conservative rhetoric, but why didn't Kennedy just put a stop to all the shenanagans down South? Why didn't he just get a "cease and desist" order and send marshals down immediately to make sure that federal law and authority were respected? Why didn't he just start rounding up people like Bull Connor (or J. Edgar Hoover for that matter) on conspiracy charges? And why didn't he just give an -- almost -- now we'd call it Bush-esque -- speech in which he used his bully pulpit to say "look -- we're locked in a struggle with an enemy who is seeking to undermine our freedoms. those at home who violate established federal law and try to deny people their freedoms can only be assumed to be in league or sympathy with the Soviets"?

Kennedy came at the perfect time to nip reaction to the march of freedom in the bud and he failed. At the very least, in a time of struggle, the federal government needed to assert its authority and assert the rule of law, and Kennedy failed in doing that (even as they painted lefties as subversives, people like Connor and Hoover et al were actually real subversives, if not treasonous in their desire to undermine just and proper federal authority).

Those who have fallen for the myth of Camelot should, along with Kennedy's support for the military industrial complex, recall that while JFK did many good things, he was, shall we say, far from being our best president -- he let people skirting with treason get away with it ... and some of their ideas are still buried within the psyche in certain all too powerful sectors in this country.

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