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Where Is Our John F. Kennedy?

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We live in a nation with many problems. We are beset by foreign enemies and torn apart by internal divisiveness. The spirit of partisanship which George Washington warned against so many years ago has become an unreasoning monster that destroys our ability to unite and function effectively as a nation. The names, the faces and the enemies may be different, but the challenges we face today are not so different from those we have faced at other vital turning points in our history.

One of those times of crisis came with the transition from World War II to the Cold War. In that era we were fortunate to have the leadership of John F. Kennedy – at least for a few years – to set the standard by which we would meet the challenges of that era and remind us that the fight for survival was meaningless without fighting just as hard for the freedom on which our nation was founded – not only for ourselves, but for the world.

Kennedy had all the advantages and the aptitudes of a privileged birth, but also an understanding of the basic needs that bind men together no matter what their station. A man who embraced and defended the basic values of America – not self-righteous moralizing or sanctimonious religiosity, but the basic values of the Republic as laid out by our founding fathers – the freedom of the individual, the value and quality of life and the importance of an equal opportunity to pursue prosperity. He understood Thomas Jefferson when he said “that government governs best that governs least,” and he sought to provide a government of quality of ideas and leadership rather than quantity of bureaucracy and spending.

Kennedy came to the White House at a young age, after a period of warfare and during a time of domestic conflict. He transcended the limitations of political partisanship which had blackened the previous decade and embraced ideas which were anathema to the majority of his own party and supported in many cases only by his opposition. He was a northerner in a southern party, an elitist in a populist party, a liberal in a conservative party and an internationalist in an isolationist party. Rather than being weakened by these contradictions, Kennedy drew strength from them and made his party and the nation better as a result.

Had he lived, we have every reason to believe he might have become a glorious failure, sucked too deep into war and presiding over a nation going through changes too rapid and severe for anyone to manage, with his own party likely to turn against him. But Kennedy didn’t live. His untimely death preserved his legacy untainted for us to look to as an example.

Today, on the 42nd anniversary of his death, in a time which is troublingly reminiscent of the early 1960s in many ways, it seems particularly appropriate to look to his legacy and the ideals he expressed so cogently in his First Inaugural Address. Here are some selections from that speech – arguably one of the greatest political speeches of all time. They seem particularly relevant to our current situation.

“Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.”

“We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”

Kennedy had to remind the people of his time of many of the same things which we seem to be forgetting today. He clearly saw the threat that we face today with the Patriot Act and the growing influence of government in day to day life. He echoes Rousseau’s observation that “Man is born free yet everywhere he is in chains.” He also points out a key point we seem to have forgotten: that a commitment to freedom means a commitment to human rights, and that you can not have one without respecting and protecting the other.

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Kennedy was unequivocal. He understood that there is no price too high to pay for liberty, a message his own party seems to have completely forgotten in pursuit of political interests ahead of the common good.

“To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society can not help the many who are poor, it can not save the few who are rich.”

We’re not competing with communism anymore, but the problems Kennedy saw still remain and have even been compounded by years of neglect. Some of that neglect came from focusing on fighting Communism. In the distraction of that struggle, we allowed for the growth of new enemies among the people we should have been working to help, had we not abandonned Kennedy’s ideas in the years after his death.

“So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

This idea of civility seems to have been lost in the last few decades, not only between nations, but within our own ranks. Maybe it’s time to start over again as Kennedy suggested and find common ground and begin to to relate to others on a civil basis, rather than purely out of self-interest or the bitterness of old quarrels.

“In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.”

About Dave Nalle

  • Baronius

    I dunno, Dave. Nixon could easily have challenged the vote count. More than 600 members of the Daley machine were indicted for campaign violations (3 were found guilty: you’ve got to love Chicago). Illinois and Johnson’s Texas made the difference in a very tight election. They say Nixon’s heart shrank 3 sizes that day: he felt that the election was stolen, and never got over it. But Nixon was a more decent man, maybe the more decent man, in 1960.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com Silas Kain

    I liked Nixon a lot. He had a keen sense of world affairs and I really think he wanted to do some good. The 1960 election followed by the 1962 Gubernatorial election in California caused him in many ways to snap. Though he resurrected himself in 1968, I don’t think Nixon ever really felt secure as President. In his post presidency years he tried to change his image and I think he did a pretty good job of becomeing an elder statesman in the end.

  • Anthony Grande

    “You think every major democrat politician doesn’t count on the mob-vote in some way?”

    Yeah I know but that isn’t a reason to excuse them.

    We are forgetting the Vietname War:

    Democratic President Kennedy started it,

    Democratic President Johnson escalated it by inseting the draft,

    And Republican President Nixon tried to win it and he is the one who goes down in history as a tyrant and loser.

    What if Nixon was president in 1960 rather than Kennedy, would things be different?

  • G. Oren

    Silas – Somebody should do a study of politicians with “Kennedy Envy”. We know LBJ had his inferiority complex and so did Nixon.

    I’m a little younger than you and Dave (44 last August), but I’ve been politically “aware” since birth I guess. Ha! Ya’ll remember what it was like as Vietnam drug on but wound down, the sacrifice of troops as we “Vietnamized” the war and drew down our overall troop commitment. Nixon must have had a press conference every six weeks, seems like he was always out in front himself answering the press directly – peace with honor etc… he did the right thing in Dec. 72, bombed em back to the stone age and the NVA came back to the peace table by Jan. 73. Watergate encapsulated his ego problem, if he’d just’ve come clean in the beginning he would’ve wound up as a great president and the dems would not have had the opportunity to gut the CIA, the military etc.. in the mid 70′s. Lots of “if only’s” for Nixon – but history has been kinder to him than his contemporaries were – his version of realpolitik and Salt I were helpful in framing the Soviet’s position.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Anthony, a quick visit to google could set your historical information straight. US involvement started after the French began to pull out after Dien Bien Phu in 1954, with monetary aid and then unofficial direct involvement prior to Kennedy’s inauguration. True, Kennedy did send in the first official troops, but the CIA was operating in the area before 1960.

    If Nixon had won in 1960 I think our chances of nuclear conflict in the 1960s would have been enormously higher. Johnson couldn’t afford to be a cold warrior because of all the economic problems his policy helped to exacerbate.

    Dave

  • G. Oren

    Anthony – I think I read on the most recent gay rights discussion post that you are 17-18? Anyway, The vigor you display in your posts is laudable, and I might have posted things similar to yours when I was your age – I was certainly ideologically convinced of the rightness of lebertarian/conservatism. But, you must try to capture something besides heat and the lazy sound bite. Aping Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity will not cut it, you need to get your facts straight – as Dave points out above – then see how the facts line up with your ideological barometer. You may find your barometer doesn’t work in a lot of cases. You may also find there is much more to culture and politics than parotting the party line. I’m writing to you as I would talk to my daughter (who is about your age and very politically aware), I mean no disrespect. I appreciate reading your thoughts, but they would be so much more informative and stimulating if you would expand your knowledge base. Reading lists of great books and conservative “must reads” are easy to find. Again, I mean no disrespect, a world of knowledge and history lies open to you – be one of the few who really tries to grasp it – not parrott some talking head or uneducated preacher.

  • Anthony Grande

    Dave, don’t get me wrong, I would have supported the Vietname War. I was just trying to make a point. I believe that, despite all the propanganda, we won the Vietname War but lost only one objective: a free South Vietname or a united democratic Vietname.

    I do believe that things would have been different if Nixon was elected instead of Kennedy (fill me in if I am wrong): A declaration of war, no draft and less casualties.

    G. Oren, heard it many times and we’ll see.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Anthony, when I was a young snot about your age, I had plenty of opinions about politics, and lots of other things. But when my dad asked his neighbor, “remember Fiorello La Guardia?” and my mom recounted how he read the funnies over the radio during a newspaper strike, I shut my trap and listened. I heard a lot of these stories during the many strikes in the first administration of Mayor John Vliet Lindsay, whom I, in my intemperate “wisdom,” had convinced my parents to vote for in 1965.

    No matter what I knew, or thought I knew, I understood enough to understand that I did not know enough to open my mouth. My parents had lived through the things in La Guardia’s day that I only read about. They had lived through the Depression and the Second World War. My father had a doctorate in being a war refugee, even though he had only a sixth grade education.

    When he talked about how the German soldiers would give him and his brother bread from their bakeries during the First World War in occupied Russia-Poland, I listened to the voice of history. There were things my dad could tell me about the First World War that are found in NO textbook, no matter how thoroughly written and researched.

    This thread is primarily for those of us who have some historical memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the era that immediately followed. Some of us who lived in this era, believe that Nixon would have been the better choice in 1960. Some not.

    Some of us believe that the war in Vietnam was morally wrong. Some, like me, believe that it was a stategic error, a waste of blood and money. Some of us believe that it was right and more than a few of us put those beliefs into action and volunteered for service rather than wait for the letter in the mail “inviting” us to come to the Selective Service Board. There are many voices you do not hear on this list. They belong to those who never lived long enough to even see an IBM PC because they swallowed a bullet in Vietnam – and died.

    Maybe your mom or dad can tell you about some of these things, and maybe, if you are lucky enough to still have them, your grandparents can give you a better shading of understanding. But beyond that, these are things you can only read in a text, or on a computer “encyclopedia.”

    It is good that you are interested in these things and think enough to have opinions on them. It puts you leagues ahead of the mall rats in your country and in mine. But there are times when you are wiser to let your elders who lived through all this argue while your read in silence. You might learn something.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Lovely job, Dave. I mentioned in comments in another post only a little while back that Kennedy is the last president that I felt I could admire.

    His famous call, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” is still pertinent today, maybe even more so than in the 60s. We need people to rise out of their cynical cocoons and do more (this means even little things like volunteering at a local senior center or the big things like joining the Peace Corps). Kennedy had a vision for America, and I think that’s what inspired us.

    You mention that Kennedy might have been a glorious failure, but I beg to differ. I think he would have been one of our most successful presidents had he lived; he would have been re-elected and served until 1968 when his brother would have won the White House (of course, I am assuming that neither assassination took place).

    With Bobby serving until 1976, we might have avoided many of the things that tore this country apart: Vietnam, Watergate, the Nixon resignation. Moreover, we would not have slid into a deep decline in the Carter presidency (no doubt a Republican, perhaps even Reagan since he ran) would have won in 1976. It would have altered the landscape of our times (I think for the better).

    In the end, we would not have the ascension of the Bush dynasty, perhaps no Clinton administration at all, and maybe no 9/11.

    All speculation, but that is the only thing we can do. I wish JFK would have lived and served his country (as a sitting President and then later as an eloquent statesman) with the amazing capacity for leadership and courage that he showed throughout his life. He and Teddy Roosevelt are the only two presidents that I can admire after Lincoln. That’s a downright travesty.

  • Tom Donelson

    To those who used Dave’s piece to blast Bush may reconsider. Kennedy prepresented the hawkish wing of the Democratic Party and his tax cuts served as a model for both Reagan and Bush. His support for free trade is closer to the modern Republican Party. While he was a liberal who had faith in government intervention in the ecnonomy and was not a limited government advocate, he certainly understood that even liberalism had limits.

    Was he perfect? Hardly, as his private life showed. The bottom line is that Kennedy put in place the basis for a moderate Democratic Party. A legacy that his own brother among others have thrown away.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    In the end, we would not have the ascension of the Bush dynasty, perhaps no Clinton administration at all, and maybe no 9/11.

    Actually, I think that if your scenario had happened it would have further legitimized dynastic presidencies and the Bushes are the moderate Republican elitist answer to the moderate Democrat elite dynasty of the Kennedys.

    Dave

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I think you’re right, Dave. And had we gone down that dynastic path I wonder how different politics would be today. As archaic as it sounds, there seems some advantage to a constitutional monarchy. I like the idea that the prevailing political party in Parliament also maintains the Executive. We have had some phenomenal leaders in the House who would have made far better executives than we’ve had. All that being said, we have what we have and need to make the best of it. A good place to start these days would be to revamp election laws and campaign finance.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I don’t know about legislators as executives, Silas. Seems like those who serve too long on the hill make poor candidates and worse presidents. Let me just mention LBJ and Ford as classic examples. The skill sets just aren’t the same.

    Dave

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    You’re not big on Ford, Dave? I really liked him, especially for the courage it took for him to pardon Nixon. You’re right about being in power too long but being the executive would require party approval as in Britain. It will never happen in America, but I can dream, can’t I?

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Thinking this over again, I had a wild thought. If the three branches of government are truly to be separate, why does the president get to choose Supreme Court justices (who need to be approved by legislators)?

    How about the public voting for Supreme Court justices? They would have to campaign, speak about the issues, and I think in the end we’d have a more pure system.

  • G. Oren

    We’ve wandered far and wide with this thread, but that befits the legacy of JFK and the pivotal time of his presidency. Dave responded above regarding political dynasties, and I have to jump in here with something I’ve been stirring on for some time, this also touches on VL’s post in #67.

    Briefly, as all of you know, the founders were steeped in the classical history of Greece and Rome. The history of republican democracy indicated that small city states e.g. Athens were the most sucessful venues for plebiscitary democracy. The Roman republic had numerous counterbalances to the “will of the people”. That they first thought of themselves as citizens of soveriegn states, and these states as part of a confederation of states is obvious from the articles of confederation. That the subsequent constitution incorporated numerous “checks and balances” and indirect methods for the “election” of various legislators and the executive, as well as appointment (with approval) of SC justices, indicates the skeptical attitude the founders had toward the “will of the people” and the tyranny of temporary majorities.

    My points are these: 1 – though it was not surprising that JQ Adams should follow in the steps of his father when the nation was still small and states still comparatively strong, I think it would surprise the founders to see so many legacy politicians on the landscape in the 20th century. In a nation of nearly 300 million, you would think we would have better mechanisms for seeing that the best and the brightest are able to run for public office. I see these political dynasties as comparable to Roman families that produced senators and consulars, they have the money and their names present a political shorthand to the faithful. Nevertheless, a tradition of public service does not make a good or especially wise public servant of any particular dynastic member, as Tom points out above. In my opinion, that these political dynasties exist is an example of the lassitude of a large electorate, we don’t care enough to educate ourselves on the issues – in most years we are pretty far from the hot-headed rabble the founders feared – dunder-headed rabble maybe. W was certainly not the most qualified person to be governor of Texas, but his name was known and the money could be raised with the name etc… I imagine a Kennedy could get elected to anything in Mass. So, in my view these dynasties do not represent quality of leadership, but access to money and a rather cynical belief in their right to rule. It makes you wonder if the Athenian model can be applied at all to such a large polis.

    2. Assuming we could get the constitution amended to make it so, electing Supreme Court Justices would add another layer of bloviation to the process. Though it might increase the quantity of direct democracy, that by itself would be no guarantee of knowledgeable or qualified candidates, much less good judging. In Texas, we elect supreme court justices to four year terms, and I can tell you it is a process by turns both unseemly and surreal – who can know what really needs to be known about the candidates – I end up following the advice of our professional association, the TSCPA. Imagine if the nine justices of the court had to be elected to six year terms with three being up every two years – it would be like having three mini-presidents elected every two years – the thought makes me quesy. But, that’s just me.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    You’re not big on Ford, Dave? I really liked him, especially for the courage it took for him to pardon Nixon.

    Courage or the inevitable payoff for getting a shot at being president. My problems with him date back to the Warren commission, where he was a leading force for not investigating anything but the obvious explanations. And the fact that as president he basically did nothing at all – he certainly didn’t introduce the economic policies he could have to bring the country out of recession.

    You’re right about being in power too long but being the executive would require party approval as in Britain. It will never happen in America, but I can dream, can’t I?

    Have you seen what a mess the British system is? I’m all for multiple parties, but picking an executive out of the legislature by consensus is a disaster.

    Dave

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Thinking this over again, I had a wild thought. If the three branches of government are truly to be separate, why does the president get to choose Supreme Court justices (who need to be approved by legislators)?

    Well, that way both of the other branches theoretically have a say in who gets picked. Personally I’d like to see them up for review periodically. The problem here is really the life term, not how they’re selected. I’d put them on there for a 3 year probationary period before final confirmation.

    How about the public voting for Supreme Court justices? They would have to campaign, speak about the issues, and I think in the end we’d have a more pure system.

    We do that here in Texas and the result isn’t any better PLUS you get justices bought and paid for by special interests elected to the bench.

    Dave

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I’ve been looking over the latest back and forth here and I can only say that a parliamentary system breeds people who are executives accustomed to operating in a legislative body. That’s because every single back bencher is dreaming of heading the cabinet as prime minister.

    The grass is always greener in the neighbor’s pasture. Israel has a professional committee choose its High Court judges and the result is that one is the clone of the other. Decisions here are pretty predictable.

    Countries who have no fundamental vision of what they are about tend to be a mess. This extends to America, Canada, Israel, Germany, ands of course, Italy. Kennedy tried to provide a vision, but it died with him.

    Silas, like you I dreamt of living in a parliamentary democracy. Now I live in a country that pretends it is one. It sucks.

    Finally, every now and again, someone pops up with the family trees of presidents. What is remarkable is how many of these jokers are distant relatives. A long time ago, someone wrote a book aboiut political “tribes” in the States. The dynastic principle is quite alive in the country that calls itself a republic.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I have to agree that the dynastic principle is alive and well here in the States. Besides Massachusetts, the Kennedys have injected themselves into the politics of New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and even with Arnold, California. The Bush family has been discussed ad nauseum along with its direct connection to Franklin Pierce via Barbara Bush. Though the Rockefellers are on the verge of extinction, the Cuomos may pick up where they left off.

    I don’t think election of judges is prudent, especially in our elections system. The fact that there are states where judges are elected has always concerned me. Judges should be selected by the Executive with consent of the Legislative. What’s happened is that polarizing issues confronting society have entered the judicial debate in such a way that the selection of judges has become completely devoid of reason. When special interests get hold of the judicial selection process, that can only spell trouble. Again, like a broken record, I have to refer to what I have said since my first day here at BC. We need radical campaign finance reform and the decentralization of the special interests on K Street. And before we implement that kind of reform, we need something even more: the electorate showing up at the polls.

  • http://pogblog.blogharbor.com pogblog

    John Kennedy was shot on my 19th birthday. I felt flayed. That makes one keenly aware of politics and consequences for the rest of a life, believe me.

    I like your insight that at least in fledgling form JFK had “an understanding of the basic needs that bind men together no matter what their station.”

    I think if JFK had lived he would have come to promote what I might call the leadership in each of us. Rather than rallying to soaring words from an exalted leader, I think he might have asked us each to pick up our own grain of sand and move it to the mountain.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “That makes one keenly aware of politics and consequences for the rest of a life, believe me.”

    Words of wisdom, well spoken.

    In January 1963, we were watching TV and a bulletin came on telling us that Sylvanus Olympio of Togo (I think) had been assassinated. My mother said, “that can’t happen in America.” I looked at her and said, “really?”

    I was enough of a snot to remind her of this when watching the carriage carry John Kennedy’s casket on the day of his funeral.

  • Anthony Grande

    Ruvy, comment 60, thanks. I see what you are talking about.

    I am an amateur Mafia expert. I have have and read about 30-40 books written by or written about mobsters, my family has connections with the Mafia going back to the Old Country and I watch just about anything I can on the Mafia. This is where I get my information about Kennedy from. JFK, his daddy Josepgh and little RFK has deep connections with wiseguys and made many deals. This is fact.

    You say listen to my parents about history? My dad has many stories but he never went to Nam eventhough he was old enough. My mom is a throbbing Liberal (but is Pro-Life) and she cries every time a tell her my dream is to enlist in the Army. My paternal Grandparents are long gone. My maternal Grandparents on my mom side are so liberal it makes your head spin (they are also Pro-Life).

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I have to agree that the dynastic principle is alive and well here in the States. Besides Massachusetts, the Kennedys have injected themselves into the politics of New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and even with Arnold, California. The Bush family has been discussed ad nauseum along with its direct connection to Franklin Pierce via Barbara Bush. Though the Rockefellers are on the verge of extinction, the Cuomos may pick up where they left off.

    There are so many other dynasties too. The Roosevelts are still around, a Taft is governor of Ohio, the Chafees have a long history in government – almost the hereditary rulers of Rhode Island. Then there are the newer entrants in the race, the Gores, the Bayhs and so many others. But I don’t see it as a bad thing. These people who feel called to national leadership as a sense of inherited responsibility seem to often make better and less venal leaders than those who come up from the bottom of the garbage heap of politics or those who are in politics purely for personal gain.

    When special interests get hold of the judicial selection process, that can only spell trouble. Again, like a broken record,

    Of course, the special interest we can never get rid of on the bench is the lawyers. I’d like to see more judges with a background other than law, at least at the top levels of the judiciary. An intelligent person can learn the law he needs to be a judge, but just practicing law your whole life doesn’t give you much of a feel for the needs and circumstances of the kinds of people who end up on trial.

    Dave

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Anthony,

    You wrote,”My maternal Grandparents on my mom’s side are so liberal that it makes your head spin (they are also Pro-Life).”

    May I sugest that you forget the conservative and liberal labels and listen to their stories. You might discover the source of their beliefs, which is something worth far more than an elusive and shifty label, like liberal or conservative.

    In your studies, you’ll eventually discover that “liberal” in Europe is something very different from “liberal” in America, and that often “pro-choice” is a term used by Europeans who are in favor of restricting or making abortion illegal.

    For example, elsewhere I mentioned that I was a socialist. That too is a shifty and tricky label. If I must tack on the labels, I’m a syndicalist socialist, which in simple English means that I prefer a system where you have only pivate enterprise competing on the open market, but the private enterprises are as much possible owned by the workers, rather than coupon clipping capitalists.

    I mention this not to raise the issue or advocate the concept, but to illustrate how tricky and misleading political labels can be.

    In the ’50′s and ’60′s, the Histadrut (the national labor federation) ran the sick funds here, the health insurance providers here. The “nationalist” Herút party and the “conservative” Liberal party advocated the state taking over the sick funds so as to weaken the Histadrut. That is what most folks would call socialism.

    Have I sufficiently confused you yet with labels?

    If not, consider that in Central Europe, the People’s Party is the name of a right wing political organization, while just a decade and a half ago, the People’s Republic was the standard name of the “left” wing communist states in Eastern Europe.

    There oughta be a labelling law.

  • Anthony Grande

    “May I sugest that you forget the conservative and liberal labels and listen to their stories.”

    Why do you think that I labeled them as liberals?

    My grandparents do tell me stories and tries to influence me with them, let me share one with you:

    Those damn Jews invaded the Holy Land after WWII and burned down and destroyed the villages of those poor Palestinians. They are now occupying the little land the Palestinians have and oppressing them. We need to do everything we can to give back the Holy Land to the rightful owner, the poor Palestinians. I do not blame those suicide bombers because they have been oppressed for so many years. (When they went to Israel they befreinded Palestinians who told them these stories. They also bought me a book, “Blood Brothers” by Elias Chacour, are you familiar?

    “In your studies, you’ll eventually discover that “liberal” in Europe is something very different from “liberal” in America”

    No, they are very much the same. Its just that here the liberals hide it.

    We are very different and liberal means something and conservative means something. I am sorry if I am offending by using terms that vary in your country.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com Christopher Rose

    The use of the word liberal in the sneering, condescending way that it is used by many people is as subtly devious as it is offensive.

    What people who use the word that way are objecting to isn’t “liberalism”, it’s tolerance. However they rightly saw that going around objecting to tolerance would be a very difficult message to sell and came up with this snide innuendo.

    Furthermore, the use of the word liberal in this way has the effect of shutting off debate on many serious issues, which is another calculated and intended result. It may be of some political expedience in the short term but is certain to rebound on the perpetrators of this intellectual fraud.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I have to agree with Chris. Using political labels to cut off debate tends to rebound unfavorably on those who use the tactic.

    Anthony, from the story you told me above of your grandparents’views it is impossible to conclude that they are “liberal,” “conservative” or anything else. They are clearly anti-Israel and pro-Arab. That is as far as one can reasonably go.

    I do not like your grandparents’ views, but at least they want you to think. This is good.

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  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Mazel Tov, Dave.

    A very good job of a piece, that deserves recognition.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Thanks to Natalie Davis for picking the post and thanks to you too Ruvy.

    Dave

  • Anthony Grande

    Ruvy, supporting the Palestinians is a liberal thing to do in this country.

  • Fucker

    I needed to know what opposition John faced