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WATCH: Robert F. Kennedy’s Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination Speech

On April 4th 1968 Martin Luther King was shot and killed in Memphis Tennessee. New York’s Senator Robert F Kennedy was in Indianapolis, on the campaign trail for the 1968 Presidential election, when he heard the news. Deciding to break the news to the predominantly black crowd, with only minutes to prepare and no written notes, Kennedy stood on the back of a flat-bed truck and delivered a five minute speech that would define his legacy as the perhaps the greatest POTUS America never had.

TRANSCRIPT:

I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

For those of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is, there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill-be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond and go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poem, my favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own de-despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past. And we will-we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much.

– Robert F. Kennedy – April 4, 1968

There were riots in major cities all over the United States following MLK’s death. There were none in Indianapolis.

Just eight weeks later, Robert Kennedy was assassinated.


34 Comments

  1. Ex Londoner says

    I think the point of my quoting Ho Chi Minh speech has been misunderstood. I am sorry Hugh O’Neill but I understand you probably want to feel better by thinking that a leader’s speech soothes the problem by the nation who created but it may not for most people.

    I specifically quoted Ho Chi Minh eloquent speech as it highlights and breaks down of the hypocrisy of brutal cruel and murderous atrocities wrapped up in French libertarian values and speeches. Later, the US repeats the same kind of hypocrisy of crimes which the US continues to force on civilian populations till this day but on a much more brutal scale. To quote corrupt actions or leaders in the US in order to trace a smidgeon of rhetoric based ethics does not provide neither solace nor solutions for me.

    Prior to the Vietnam war, Ho Chi Minh quoted the very US constitution and values which the nation has failed to uphold on a world stage. The response of the US is well known and the atrocities that followed. US leaders are perhaps better known for brutality, looting and criminal acts of suppressing the democracy of other nation states.

    The speech by Ho Chi Minh shows that if a leader can still act with integrity when faced with the kind of hostility meted out by a giant criminal rogue US superpower, then perhaps you are worth noting, quoting and remembering. Otherwise all of us could find ourselves hoping to the differentiate between Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump. Perhaps the legacy of the Kennedys that should be addressed is to quote Big B without permission
    “The Agent Orange is a reference to Operation Ranch Hand; which the Kennedys started and still causes birth defects to this day.”

    Personal empowerment devoid of corrupt leaders is something to be relied upon.

    Quoting the legacy of rhetorical speeches which do not answer to the war crimes not only across the world but in the US against the native American tribes, the black population and countless others who reside in the US with reparations is perhaps the speech to quote if it could ever be found amongst a US leader. All US leader speeches are untenable until you can find actions of integrity, which the rest of the world has been left to carry on behalf of the peace is war US that has consistently denied the world and its own citizens but instead spends most of the budget on sponsoring wars and supporting the terrorism sponsoring Saudis. Perhaps a speech to explain this is what should be quoted.

    Admin – I would ask where in history have or even why would leaders including Presidents act out crimes given out to spies, that is perhaps the sole reason why these immoral mercenaries exist. Conveniently described as rogue or duped (Mark Thatcher, Christopher Steele) if they are fail and are caught and promoted if not. It is perhaps better to rely on actual facts which is why Big B cautious against fake rewrites of history but instead rely on integrity journalism of John Pilger is a fine example. Without permission, I wish to requote Big B:

    “I would cite John Pilger for that, as he was there for the latter part of the War. The ‘advisors’ were training and equiping the ARVN: no one denies that. The only opinion differential is whether they were ready to fight their own battles: which is doubtful. This can be confirmed by the fact that when America did eventually withdraw support in 1975: Saigon fell. The Agent Orange is a reference to Operation Ranch Hand; which the Kennedys started and still causes birth defects to this day.”

    • Hugh O'Neill says

      Many thanks for the lengthy and thoughtful ‘correction’. I do not doubt for one second either your integrity, nor even Big B’s, nor indeed Ho Chi Minh’s. Ye are all honourable men. I humbly seek truth in a boundless ocean of disinformation, and have no greater wish than for universal peace, reconciliation, respect and justice for all of Mankind – on which noble and idealist sentiment I think we can all agree?

      Since I cannot see into the hearts and minds of men alive, never mind those of men long gone, then I tend to search among the words they spoke and wrote to discern their thoughts and character. I am also aware that even those supposedly in power have no real power, and that the more layers in a hierarchy and sub-divisions between competing agencies means that there is a serious attenuation of control. Politicians are only the visible elements, but the strings which they control (and control them) remain invisible. Sadly, we have to live in the world as it is and not as it should be. Teddy Roosevelt complained of the power behind the throne, and we have heard of the Business Plot against FDR, revealed by Smedley Butler. Ambassador Kennedy doubtless had many faults, one of which was his extreme naivety alongside such men as FDR and Cordell Hull (or such earlier incarnations as Woodrow Wilson’s Colonel House) – and in a different league again from the infernal Dulles Brothers, schooled in the dark arts by Uncle Robert Lansing.

      I suspect that the Kennedys, as nouveau riche Irish arrivistes, were beyond the pale for the WASP Boston Brahmins, and never reached such depths of ‘sophistication’ (in its original sense). Joe Kennedy was devoutly pacifist, and devout in his faith of good government and imbued a sense of service to his brood. (No doubt, he was devout in many other arenas). I likewise believe (since what else is there?) that JFK entered public service with the best of intentions. If he could write (as a WWII veteran) in a private letter that “War will continue until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today” then that rather suggests that he has changed from the gung ho volunteer (despite his father’s pacifism). He took a deep interest in foreign affairs and, like his father, considered all businessmen bastards (The Steel clash).

      And so to Vietnam, which JFK had visited in 1954 and was greatly influenced by Ambassador Gullion that the US should not simply replace the French. But how long had the CIA been in action there (Graham Greene’ “Quiet Americans?”). The CIA, from the beginning, was beyond presidential control, with the Dulles Brothers working in tandem and under the cloak of “Plausible Deniability”. Truman and Eisenhower had no real idea of what they were up to. Do not disregard Eisenhower’s Valedictory warning about the MIC acquisition of influence etc. The game was broken when he handed over to Kennedy. Now how in God’s name can one man alone fix such a system, when all around him are working to a different agenda, and consider him an insignificant upstart? That is the core question at issue in this whole assessment of JFK.

      Yes, he may well have signed-off on Operation Ranch Hand, but was he made aware of the implications? Did anyone then suspect the everlasting damage to generations unborn? I don’t know the answer (no doubt you do).

      I now struggle with where you and Bib B wish to take this train of thought? If Kennedy had acted as a Thomas Merton, or a Gandhi or a Jesus Christ, would he ever have achieved political office? If a genuine man of peace, should he have avoided politics completely? Perhaps he made the same mistake which those less smart than you and Big B will always make i.e. we look to our leaders for guidance. The sad reality is that all Human societies feel the need for leaders and develop government (think Lord of the Flies). The naive among us cling to the (futile? infantile?) hope that governments will be of the people, by the people and for the people. More savvy and ‘sophisticated’ psychopaths may take advantage of this innate Human propensity (no man is an island).

      JFK was a man for misquoting poetry:
      Bullfight critics ranked in rows, Crowd the enormous Plaza full;
      But he’s the only one who knows—And he’s the man who fights the bull.

      Once in the job as President, the man has to find his own way, learn whom to trust and whom not to trust. Given that the whole body politic was ridden with the CIA cancer, then its amazing he achieved anything. But at least he gave good speeches – worthless empty hypocrisy to you, soaring rhetoric for me (and a few others..;-). Now what good are words, if they are not matched by action? How can you act when both hands are tied behind your back (or nailed onto a cross?). That reminds me of an Eisenhower speech (Mankind is hanging from a cross of iron).

      What use are mere words? What use is poetry? Aeschylus wrote:

      Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
      falls drop by drop upon the heart,
      until, in our own despair,
      against our will,
      comes wisdom
      through the awful grace of God.

      Since it is words themselves which are the entire basis of this article (and your complaints) I offer another JFK quote: “One man can make a difference, and everyone should try”. Now I don’t give a damn whether he meant it or not. Such words raise the Human Spirit to aspire to be better, to do better. I don’t care if Jesus never actually said “Blessed are the Peace Makers” but I will damn well live my life by that motto. Words matter.

      I am sorry if the Kennedys are not the saints we might wish them to have been. Is any saint as we think him? Our time is limited, and wisdom is a rare gift. We can all be wise after the event. But since they offered hope like no-one else has these last 50 years, then we clutch at straw men. Who else might have changed the world for the better, and lived?

      • BigB says

        Hugh: now we have transcended the conversation: perhaps the dialogue can begin? I can see we are coming from the same place: the wish for universal peace …as I cannot improve your eloquence. As to a telos: I had no idea of a destination (I do actually think RFK was a hypocrite). Moving on, in answer to your questions: yes, if JFK was the man they said he was, he would have avoided politics and followed MLK and Thich Nhat Hanh (‘Thay’). The distinction that precludes Merton is that the other two were “engaged” in “beloved community building”. There is a peculiar narcissism in those that seek power: wherein lies my entire philosophy.

        Of the idealism of government being of the people, for the people, by the people: can you point out a place and time where this was actualised? So we can agree that the ideal state is an idealism? In theory, through the action of the Social Contract and the General Will, a mutually beneficial cooperation of rulers and ruled could occur: only it’s never worked out that way. So the state works for something other than the common good: so why are we still waiting for conditions to arise that the very existence of an authoritarian state prevent? I venture to answer that we can no longer envision such a reality? Nor trust ourselves to achieve it?

        So it is in the interest of the authoritarian state to keep us in perpetual pubescence: and in our perpetual pubescence we can no longer conceive of the Other of the state? This dialectic is driving the devolution of humanity: and the totalising evolution of the state. The more authority encroaches into every aspect of life and micro-manages and regulates it: the less opportunity toward maturity we have …until we cross the event horizon into full dependency and perfect citizenship. Full independence fuses into dream qua nightmare?

        The state will never voluntarily devolve responsiblity (though it may simulate doing so): and in its neo-totalitarian, supra-sovereign iteration it is no longer possible to infiltrate and democratise its structures and institutions. So we have to create our own responsiblity and engage in beloved community building: which brings me back round to Merton, MLK, and Thay. The ethical dimension of true community building is transcendent of heirarchical authority and spiritual: and that is a dimension in which I believe the Kennedys had a deficit. As per my original comment: at least this is true in comparison to my “improbable triumvirate”?

        • Hugh O'Neill says

          I see you as a Diogenes type character, or maybe a John the Baptist, dressed in rags and not giving a stuff about the ordinary vanities. You are such a deep thinker that you have perhaps transcended to such a place where few can follow i.e. in order for this ideal society you speak of, then everyone would need to be converted, which sounds almost cult like (as the Romans considered Christianity).
          I said beforeL we must live in the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. That entails compromise with those who less enlightened, less generous, nasty, deceitful and dangerous. How does one order a society without rules? You send a man up Mount Sinai to get the list but while he’s gone, lets have an orgy and worship a golden calf. Mankind has his demons, his good angels and his bad. It is informed conscience, loving family, a moral code, a moral narrative, a belief in a better world. This only works for a fraction, but others need to be kept in line. Thus all societies will have their share of decent folks, miscreants, informers, legislators, police and executioners.

          One phrase that springs to mind is “Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar” which is 2 sets of rules, 1st for the temporal world and 2nd for the spiritual.

          I don’t pretend to know the truth. Does anyone (know or just pretend to know)? But a good test of the quality of a leader is who supports him and who hate him? In the RFK’s case, it was the poor whites, the blacks, Latinos, Farm workers, Cesar Chavez, unions who supported him; it was the banks, the warmongers, the mafia, the CIA, J.Edgar Hoover, LBJ who detested him. Now judging simply on these 2 criteria, it appears he was a good man. No amount of dazzle dazzle can alter that simple test. I rest my case.

          Will you join me in supporting the release of Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian refugee of the 1948 Nakba?

          • Big B says

            Thanks for the John the Baptist reference: I just hope my head doesn’t end up being served on a silver salver!

            Re the envisioned and the actual: philosophers have described the world, the point is to change it (to misquote Marx). My main focus is environmental: the world as envisioned is at least generations, if not centuries away. We cannot move from A to Z overnight: but we do have to move from A to Z …for that, we need a map. The process of change is micro-incremental, and involves transition to the next achievable Possible. Clearly, collapse into self-governance would be carnage and a bloodfest. The paradox is that is exactly what we risk by running our current dead paradigm to its logical conclusion: which is just such a collapse. The way I envision a Future is a utopian idealism: but the values that sustain it desperately need realisation in the world now. I’m talking about valorising immaterial capitals such as love, compassion, equality, and peace. At least in the way I envision it, there is a Future. Currently, there is not. Our Future is being auctioned off to the highest bidder; and there are only a handful of people who can afford to bid.

            Maybe these will never yield the ‘perfect’ society? Maybe the ‘Dream’ will always be a dream? There is a further complication due to the environment: change is now a biological necessity. Will we evolve toward the utopian idealism of the spiritual ‘Dream’? I do not know: but I can also see quite clearly the infernal Hell we are in the process of co-creating …and I know which outcome I would prefer: even if it is in synthesis with what we can salvage from the current paradigm. I don’t personally know any psychopaths: all I know are ordinary, decent folk …the consensus of what they aspire to is life, love, and the pursuit of that elusive value, happiness. We do not need a globally networked, industrialised, financialised, imperialist-capitalist, materialist, culture of dominance, exploitation, and alienation to do that. Could we do any worse for ourselves? I think not.

            Sirhan Sirhan is wholly innocent: and this has been known since the original Coroners Report. And yes, I even believe that he was an MK-Ultra patsy: so I would support any attempt to get him released.

            • Hugh O'Neill says

              BigB. This is a small miracle. Not only have we converged in our outlooks, but you sound exactly like RFK and his son RFK Jr. “Some men look at things and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask: Why Not?” was RFK’s signal to his team to get back onto the campaign train. Another tremendous gift that the Kennedys had was their humour: they were able to look at life with a half-cocked eye and laugh heartily at themselves. You know when you are in good company when men do not take themselves too seriously. Life is too short.
              With your head in the clouds and my feet in the clay, we are an unstoppable force. Hallelujah & Amen. Now lets actually do something about Sirhan rather than fantasise. Would you be up for writing something for Offguardian to this effect? I could try, but time is tight and the Zeitgeist is now. I have already written to Code Pink and to Tom Jackman of the WaPo. Bill Clinton, the ultimate chancer, nonetheless has a golden tongue (ask Monica) and would be a good addition to the effort. Ethel too is still going strong. Then that triumvirate of Paul Schrade, William Pepper, and RFK Jr. You get Pilger but don’t bother about Chomsky (who cares for Chomsky?). Seriously, lets do this.

    • BigB says

      Consider permission granted: and thank you for so eruditely amplifying what I was trying to say.

  2. bevin says

    As Joe Strummer put it “I’m so bored by the JFK…” (insert what here)
    The problem with the idea that ‘had Kennedy lived all would have changed’ is that it is grounded in mere wishful thinking: Kennedy won the Election by “out scaremongering” Nixon. He was elected as a Cold Warrior with a mandate to build more weapons, deploy more troops. The notion that his position over Cuba was conciliatory seems to me nonsensical: I recall, at the time, marveling at the arrogance involved in surrounding the USSR with nuclear tipped missiles, organising invasions of Cuba and threatening Armageddon because Cuba wanted to establish some sort of deterrence in the form of Soviet bases. There was no justification for war then any more than there is for attacking Iran or North Korea today.
    There is an article in Counterpunch
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/06/fallout-from-colombias-new-association-with-nato/
    which traces the NATO/Colombia relationship back to 1962 when JFK’s Pentagon implemented the policy of training and arming paramilitary death squads in order to suppress popular democracy. If you want to talk of JFK\s legacy that might be a good place to begin-the use of assassination on an industrial scale. That and the enormous increase in the US involvement in Vietnam-which led, almost inevitably, to LBJ’s escalation – are the most memorable, in global terms, consequences of the Presidency.
    The sad truth is that JFK was put in power by gangsters (and not just in Chicago) and throughout his presidency tended towards the use of clandestine forces, paramilitaries and all the tricks of subversion and the dark arts of propaganda- his successors maintained and refined his policies.
    For his monument look around you- look at Colombia, look at Indo-China and the long agonies that those peoples have been through. I see nothing to suggest that Kennedy would have changed a thing. Just about the only evidence in his favour is the circular argument that if he had not been different they wouldn’t have killed him.
    And the same goes for RFK too, one of the original McCarthyites.

    • Hugh O'Neill says

      Bevin. I will attempt to respond to each of your points as best as I can.

      1.Out-scaremongering Nixon? Maybe he just believed the military propaganda about the missile gap, whereas Nixon might have known the truth?

      2. “Cold Warrior’? Maybe he would never have been allowed to even run by TPTB if he had revealed his inner pussycat? Ike had reduced military numbers because he had moved away from conventional war to nuclear only, so to counter that trap, then maybe conventional was slightly less insane…?

      3. Senator JFK tried to meet Castro in Harlem and visited his hotel, in respect for the revolutionary. But such views were private, and would have had him lynched by TPTB. He inherited Nixon’s Bay of Pigs thing, and all the entrenched madness of the anti-communist ideology within the CIA/JCS/State etc.

      4. I read the articles in Counterpunch and General Yarborough’s Report with “Secret Supplement” recommending death squads and torture. Do you suppose that JFK had any sight of this Secret Supplement? Did his opposition to Operation Northwoods not suggest a distaste for dirty war, unlike the rest of his Cabinet and advisers? We know that his orders were countermanded in Vietnam, so why would it be any different in Colombia?

      5. You somewhat ignore JFK’s efforts to get out of Vietnam and his NSAM 263, countermanded by NSAM 273 drafted by Mac Bundy before JFK’s assassination i.e. Bundy was part of the Coup d’Etat and had full prior knowledge.

      6. I might agree that JFK was “put in power by gangsters”, but not in the sense you intend; the gangsters were TPTB (Wall St., MSM. MIC) who swallowed JFK’s hawkish pose. The Chicago story I think has been over-played. But how dirty is US Politics going by today’s DNC? Was it ever thus? e.g. How did the radical free-thinking fair-minded Henry Wallace get removed from the ticket in 1944 in favour of the unelectable Truman? (Thanks Stone & Kucinich)

      7.https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/edmund-gullion-jfk-and-the-shaping-of-a-foreign-policy-in-vietnam As this article makes clear, JFK was very much pro-sukarno and all those who sought independence from Colonial exploitation. You do him (and yourself) a gross disservice because you ingesting BS is not good…

      8. And finally: McCarthy. A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals he did work with McCarthy (at his father’s behest) for 1 year but resigned because he disliked McCarthy’s methods. He then made a huge enemy of McCarthy, Cohn and Hoover because McCarthy had gone after the wrong Annie Lee Moss.

      I don’t pretend to have a deep knowledge of the period, but I do know that there are oceans of disinformation, deliberately engineered by those massive forces of Capitalism who exploit Humanity and destroy any who dare oppose them. As a thought experiment, just suppose that the fantastical image some of us have on both JFK and RFK were true: might you not then rally to the cause? Yet even if we are profoundly deluded, aren’t those same values that we ascribe to the deified Kennedys worth supporting? Hate the sin but love the sinner?

      • BigB says

        Hugh: your reading of NSAM 263 is limited to those who had a reason to pervert the truth. I am referring to Newman /Schlesinger; Galbraith /Newman /McNamara… and not by way of reasoned perversion, but based on these – Douglass /Curtin. A fuller reading must refer to the McNamara /Taylor report an the Pentagon Papers (which revealed JFK’s policy of “broad commitment” to winning the war in Vietnam). It is beyond the scope of a comment to detail: so I refer you to the analysis of Peter Dale Scott, Chomsky et al. Suffice to say here, it was a withdrawal contingent on winning: that actually amounted to an escalation, particularly in the Mekong Delta. Need I point out that all the advisors for “peace” when with JFK, went on to perpetrate the war with LBJ? Might they not have a self-invested interest in writing their own version of history?

        In anticipation of you firing back with the NSAM 263/273 dual thesis: this has also been deconstructed by Chomsky. Going further than Chomsky or Scott: I would say this was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Newman …and endorsed by one of the Court historians, Schlesinger. Would you uncritically believe everything (i.e. JFK was hoaxed) from a former Chief ExO of the NSA? I don’t: but that’s a matter of opinion …not fact. For a full appreciation: I refer you to Chomsky: Rethinking Camelot.

        • Hugh O'Neill says

          BigB I very much appreciate the opportunity to learn and the time you have taken to educate me, no matter how painful to have my heroes trampled in the dirt. I clearly have a lot of homework before I can respond meaningfully. In the interim though, I would tend to trust Peter Dale Scott, but never Chomsky. How can one trust Chomsky when his response to the assassination is “Who cares?”. Now if JFK really was the bete-noir/anti-Christ you clearly believe him to be, why would the CIA assassinate him? Shouldn’t an academic like Chomsky, no matter how much he may loathe JFK the man, be concerned that the democratically elected POTUS was un-democratically executed in full daylight?
          On Vietnam, I believe that prior to the Nov 63 Coup d’Etat, a total of 75 US servicemen were KIA. 75 too many (and was anyone counting the VC?). Yet its still small beer compared with the escalation under LBJ. I cannot explain Macnamara; perhaps he lost his soul when he helped Le May firebomb Japan?
          The Pentagon Papers: Prouty made the point that the entry for 22nd Nov 1963 made no mention of the assassination, elides it completely, in an effort to show that Presidential policy had always been escalation. No doubt, you will say that Prouty is in on the Big Hoax. And what pray is the end-game of this hoax? Are they trying to change the Big Book that St. Peter keeps?
          NSAM 263 may indeed be the Holy Grail of Camelot, but its way past my bedtime now. Good Night, and may your God go with you (as Dave Allen used to say).

          • BigB says

            Re: Chomsky – I cannot defend his later aberations (9/11 etc): but to discard an entire oeuvre because of them? He is at heart an anarchist: leaders don’t mean much to him. I do believe the assassinations matter: they are “Deep State Events” as Peter Dale Scott calls them …they revealed how things really work. 9/11 matters: one can barely understand the modern world without it as a referential. Yes, Chomsky does distort, for instance distorting Operation Northwoods or the very ExComm tapes I have mentioned, so I would advise cross-referencing. We are in a post-truth world: we are all our own citizen journalists now!

            • Hugh O'Neill says

              BigB. Its almost 5am. I just awoke. Glad you admit the somewhat major flaw in your otherwise angelic CHOMSKY. I just recalled your other angel, JOHN PILGER: despite his knowing that there was a 2nd shooter in RFK’s assassination, beyond making his statement to the LAPD, he has done nothing in 50 years to get Sirhan free. Pilger, like you and Chomsky, detests the Kennedys; his hatred stops him from helping an innocent man rotting in jail for 50 years! Would it not be honourable if he were to put his own neck (like RFK’s) in the line of fire, and join William Pepper, John Schrade and RFK Jr. in calling for Sirhan’s release, or at least a re-trial? I have not yet had time to check on Peter Dale Scottt, but I will.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      I see you’re in the Chomsky, Gore Vidal camp.

  3. Gary Weglarz says

    As at literally every other comments section on posts related the 1960’s assassinations anywhere in progressive media the last two days the troll boys are out in force doing their little troll jig all faithfully executing:

    (“The 4 D’s: Deny, Disrupt, Degrade, Deceive”)

    – all right out of their little troll manual. If it walks like a troll, talks like a troll, and posts like a troll, well, golly, I wonder what it could be?

    https://theintercept.com/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/

    The trolls are here because the truth matters. Even 50 years after these events the truth still matters.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Many trolls are just brainwashed dupes. Why do you think you have a May regime and we in Austfailure are misgoverned by a cabal of malignant cretins allied to the Murdochite hate machine?

  4. Ex Londoner says

    A speech of what Americans and Colonialists should actually say and do by people who have to face their cruel and illegal US is perhaps the real reason the author of this should not be telling people to get heartened by this empty vacuous speech after years of murderous interventions and atrocities.

    DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
    OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF VIET-NAM
    Ho Chi Minh’s Speech, Ba Dinh Square, September 2, 1945

    “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.

    The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the citizen also states: “All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights.”

    These are undeniable truths.

    Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow citizens. They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice.

    In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every democratic liberty.

    They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct political regimes in the North, the Center, and the South of Viet-Nam in order to wreck our national unity and prevent our people from being united.

    They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood.

    They have fettered public opinion; they have practiced obscurantism against our people.

    To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium and alcohol.

    In the field of economics, they have fleeced us to the backbone, impoverished our people and devastated our land.

    They have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, and our raw materials. They have monopolized the issuing of bank notes and the export trade.

    They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people, especially our peasantry, to a state of extreme poverty.

    They have hampered the prospering of our national bourgeoisie; they have mercilessly exploited our workers.

    In the autumn of 1940, when the Japanese fascists violated Indochina’s territory to establish new bases in their fight against the Allies, the French imperialists went down on their bended knees and handed over our country to them.

    Thus, from that date, our people were subjected to the double yoke of the French and the Japanese. Their sufferings and miseries increased. The result was that, from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, from Quang Tri Province to the North of Viet-Nam, more than two million of our fellow citizens died from starvation. On March 9 [1945], the French troops were disarmed by the Japanese. The French colonialists either fled or surrendered, showing that not only were they incapable of “protecting” us, but that, in the span of five years, they had twice sold our country to the Japanese.

    On several occasions before March 9, the Viet Minh League urged the French to ally themselves with it against the Japanese. Instead of agreeing to this proposal, the French colonialists so intensified their terrorist activities against the Viet Minh members, that before fleeing they massacred a great number of our political prisoners detained at Yen Bay and Cao Bang.

    Notwithstanding all this, our fellow citizens have always manifested toward the French a tolerant and humane attitude. Even after the Japanese Putsch of March, 1945, the Viet Minh League helped many Frenchmen to cross the frontier, rescued some of them from Japanese jails, and protected French lives and property.

    From the autumn of 1940, our country had in fact ceased to be a French colony and had become a Japanese possession.

    After the Japanese had surrendered to the Allies, our whole people rose to regain our national sovereignty and to found the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam.

    The truth is that we have wrested our independence from the Japanese and not from the French.

    The French have fled, the Japanese have capitulated, Emperor Bao Dai has abdicated. Our people have broken the chains which for nearly a century have fettered them and have won independence for the Fatherland. Our people at the same time have overthrown the monarchic regime that has reigned supreme for dozens of centuries. In its place has been established the present Democratic Republic.

    For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government, representing the whole Vietnamese people, declare that from now on we break off all relations of a colonial character with France; we repeal all the international obligations that France has so far subscribed to on behalf of Viet-Nam, and we abolish all the special rights the French have unlawfully acquired in our Fatherland.

    The whole Vietnamese people, animated by a common purpose, are determined to fight to the bitter end against any attempt by the French colonialists to reconquer their country.

    We are convinced that the Allied nations, which at Teheran and San Francisco have acknowledged the principles of self-determination and equality of nations, will not refuse to acknowledge the independence of Viet-Nam.

    A people who have courageously opposed French domination for more than eighty years, a people who have fought side by side with the Allies against the fascists during these last years, such a people must be free and independent.

    For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam, solemnly declare to the world that Viet-Nam has the right to be a free and independent country – and in fact it is so already. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safe guard their independence and liberty.

    [Source: Ho Chi Minh, Selected Works (Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1977).]

    • Hugh O'Neill says

      Wow! Many Thanks for posting such a superb speech. (Although we may have meandered from the main topic, it is nonetheless worthwhile). Ho Chi Minh – whats not to like? I recently read 2 long essays/book reviews by Jim de Eugenio relating to JFK’s interest and support for former colonies to become autonomous and to choose their own alliances or remain neutral. Such behaviour earned the wrath of John Foster Dulles who simply ignored presidential wishes because he knew best and thus engendered CIA meddling by his equally amoral and ideologue brother Allen Dulles. Thus JFK was the intellectual enemy of the Dullesses. JFK was a stalwart supporter of men like Lumumba, Sukarno and Nasser, and an opponent of European colonial powers. Did he have any dealings with Ho Chi Minh?

      • BigB says

        Yes, he tried to kill him! Not directly, but he supported the American propaganda project of false partition; kept the brutal and repressive puppet dictator Diem in power (and the Generals after him); and trained the South Vietnamese Army to fight him …after starving him out with Agent Orange did not work. You seem a little conflicted as to which side of history to take, Hugh: the Oppressors or the Oppressed? That the Kennedys have come to signify the Oppressed they tried to kill baffles me? How is this tenable?

        • Admin says

          Wow – wait a minute –

          yes he tried to kill him!

          not directly but…”?

          Do you think your very personal animus towards this man is possibly influencing your judgment? This is not sarcasm, it’s a sincere question.

          It might help to evaluate your arguments on this if you popped in a few links to your sources.

          • BigB says

            So the 16,000 military ‘advisors’ the Kennedy regime had in Vietnam were doing what: if not trying to kill Ho Chi Minh (indirectly) and the Viet Minh directly?

            Personal animus or factual accuracy? The American propaganda project refers to the false partition of Vietnam: which is cited by Ho Chi Minh himself in the text. You can probably read into the text that Ho was not even a Communist: that was American propaganda too – to justify the false partition (the ‘free’ South and the ‘communist’ North). I would cite John Pilger for that, as he was there for the latter part of the War. The ‘advisors’ were training and equiping the ARVN: no one denies that. The only opinion differential is whether they were ready to fight their own battles: which is doubtful. This can be confirmed by the fact that when America did eventually withdraw support in 1975: Saigon fell. The Agent Orange is a reference to Operation Ranch Hand; which the Kennedys started and still causes birth defects to this day. The individual spray runs were originally signed off one by one by JFK: until he devolved blanket authority. He accepted that this was not in breach of International Law, because the British did it in Malaya. Wikipedia is as good a source as any for that.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ranch_Hand

            My entire argument is to accept JFK and RFK for what they were: and don’t apotheosize them into something they were not. I believe the historic facts, such as we know them (such as the facts about Ranch Hand;), speak for themselves and preclude sanctification. You have to ideologically select facts and revise them to make saints: which is virtual mythmaking. And if we must selectively review and heroify history to make Great Men: why not the three alternatives I propose (Merton, MLK, Thay)? At least they are worthy: the Kennedys, not so much.

            • Admin says

              But you seem to describe almost any attempt to discuss anything about these men other than their corruption as being an “apotheosis.” Why not focus on the subject in hand which is – “why did they die”? Surely this is more productive than rehearsing all the reasons why they weren’t saints. Not suggesting you are deflecting, but others use similar methods to do just that. Chomsky for one.

              It’s a bit like responding to 9/11 by pointing out the WTCs were full of asbestos and needed to come down. It might be true, but it also misses the point!

              • Big B says

                Admin: with due respect: is it not a subtle inversion of your comment policy to claim that factual assertions refer to “corruption”? I was actually trying to make a case against counterfactual analysis. Conterfactual analysis that turns a blind eye to Operation Ranch Hand; the birth of the death squads in S America; the “godamn Murder. Inc” against Cuba, that even LBJ thought was too much; creates a mythologised “Thirteen Days” version of the Cuban Missile Crisis: overlooks the fact that JFK doubled his nuclear arsenal based on a fake “missile gap”; attempted to freeze the missile gap in Americas favour with a fake Test Ban Treaty (that actually sparked an arms race): and the biggey, based on NSAM 263, that he was going to withdraw from Vietnam. He was, when they had won.

                The answer to your question is that no one knows WHY the Kennedys died: but everyone is prepared to speculate on their own selective reading of history. This is what I oppose, put plainly. Could one construct a man of peace from the above? Then you need alternative facts?

                This leaves us with the fictive question: he must have died for a reason? Undoubtedly, but also undoubtedly it was not peace. Not how I would conceive and describe peace: in fact, he stood for its antithesis. For which I will cite his last, ungiven, speech: in which he openly boasts of the colossal war machine he had created. Does that read like a man of peace: one who was turning to his enemies in peace, who died for a reason, and that reason should give us something called ‘hope’ (the Douglass mantra). No, nor does it to me. Hope and peace do not need a colossal war machine or a doubled nuclear arsenal to enforce: exactly the opposite.

                In less than 3 years, we have increased by 50 percent the number of Polaris submarines scheduled to be in force by the next fiscal year, increased by more than 70 percent our total Polaris purchase program, increased by more than 75 percent our Minuteman purchase program, increased by 50 percent the portion of our strategic bombers on 15-minute alert, and increased by 100 percent the total number of nuclear weapons available in our strategic alert forces. Our security is further enhanced by the steps we have taken regarding these weapons to improve the speed and certainty of their response, their readiness at all times to respond, their ability to survive an attack, and their ability to be carefully controlled and directed through secure command operations.

                https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/JFK-Speeches/Dallas-TX-Trade-Mart-Undelivered_19631122.aspx

                Until the next time, I rest my case.

  5. Hugh O'Neill says

    If you could Leave aside the anti-Kennedy vitriol for the moment, the article is about the speech. Do you deny that the speech itself was not remarkable for its diagnosis and treatment of the disease that continues to afflict America, and now most of the world today?
    Much of what we think we know about the Kennedy’s is false evidence laid by those who killed them. Its easy to invent stories about men after they can no longer defence themselves. “The evil that men do lives after them” etc. but helped considerably by the disinformation of the somewhat dissembling CIA and MSM.
    To cut to the heart of the matter, which (for me) is the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was a dream come true for the JCS and all the rest of the hawks in CIA and State: JFK (and RFK) successfully outwitted the whole gang of them, knowing that they risked assassination in doing so. After the Soviet ships had turned back, and the crisis ostensibly diminished, JFK was writing a letter of condolence to the widow of the U2 pilot KIA over Cuba. He looked up at RFK and said: “Tonite would be a good nite to go the theater” (he couldn’t spell because he was American) in macabre reference to the assassination of Lincoln almost 100 years earlier.
    You may argue until the cows come home that both JFK and RFK had their faults. Hello! Don’t we all? Whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone etc. Amongst the tsunami of dross written about JFK, there is one gem: Jim Douglass “JFK & The Unspeakable” which the author dedicated to Thomas Merton (thereby grouping JFK with Merton). I trust Jim Douglass’ wisdom for doing so. (Interestingly, the book was published by Orbis Books whose CEO is Robert, son of Daniel Ellsberg).

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    • Big B says

      The speech is remarkable for its complete lack of anything that could be referred to as authentic. Speech is everything about context. The historic context of the words spoken by RFK render them devoid of any real meaning. They are hollow phonetic imitations masquerading as actual empathetic sympathies. All I hear is an authoritarian who wanted to pacify the genuine anger of the people.

      The Kennedy’s shamelessly jumped on the bandwagon of the CRM to get elected. JFK did not vote for a single civil rights issue as a congressman: in fact he pushed back against them. In one instance: he buried a Bill proposed by LBJ. When it came toward the Presidential election, he had himself photographed wit Corretta, whilst Bobby got MLK out of prison …a ruthless act of votewinning realpolitik or out of genuine concern? In his inauguration speech, JFK promised to swipe away segregation with the stroke of a pen, then did nothing. So the CRM started sending pens to the Whitehouse, because there were no pens there. Of the famous Civil Rights Bill: Roy Wilkins of the NAACP said it was ““so moderate an approach that if it is weakened or eliminated, the remainder will be little more than sugar water.” Of the March on Washington: RFK was instrumental in watering down the impact, to the point of rewriting the speeches and having control of the PA …so it became the “Farce on Washington” according to Malcolm X. Dr Kings “I have a Dream” speech must have caused the censors to shit themselves, as it was extemporised in response to Mahalia Jackson. None of this is made up “by those who killed him”. It is all verifiable.

      As for the Cuban Missile Crisis strawman: didn’t we do this before? Sheldon M Stern has reviewed all the ExComm tapes so we don’t have too. His conclusion: “John F. Kennedy and his administration, without question, bore a substantial share of the responsibility for the onset of the Cuban missile crisis”. My conclusion: he’s being soft on JFK: less so on RFK, who wanted to invade Cuba as it would be “the last chance we will have to destroy Castro.” If they had, as I said below, WW3 would have been the outcome. As it was, they covertly continued with Operation Mongoose just as soon as they had averted the Armageddon they so nearly precipitated. ‘Thirteen Days’: is a used toilet tissue of lies.

      Sheldon M Stern: The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality
      Philip Nash: The Other Missiles of October
      Bobbie’s (heavily redacted) personal papers were released in 2013: and have insights into Mongoose, etc.

      So, the Kennedy’s pretty much epitomise the Unspeakable alright: ruthless sociopaths that nearly destroyed the world to save face for the exceptionalist nightmare that is the American dream. Fine words, had they not come from an inveterate narcissist?

      Which is why I offered three alternative names of men who meant what they said: and conversely nearly brought about actual peace. The question is still open – who should we celebrate: the real purveyors of peace like Thay, Merton, or MLK; or the fake mythologised Keepers of Camelot?

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      • Hugh O'Neill says

        “For nearly half a century national security decision makers have relied on three lessons derived inappropriately from the Cuban missile crisis: success depends on (1) the threat of superior force, (2) toughness and inflexibility, and (3) the use of a small ad hoc group like the ExComm to advise the President. Sheldon Stern’s trenchant analysis, based on the most careful and exacting review to date of the ExComm’s recorded conversations, turns the three traditional missile crisis lessons on their head. He effectively demonstrates that the outcome depended on President Kennedy’s repeated refusal to use or threaten to use force, and on his persistent search for a compromise that could end the stand-off peacefully. Most important, Stern highlights that the ExComm did not provide Kennedy with the well-considered advice he supposedly used to avoid war, but instead Kennedy directed its discussions towards the conclusions he sought. This is a clearly written, timely, and significant contribution to our understanding of the Cuban missile crisis.” (Philip Brenner American University)

        Sorry Big B, but I have not read any of Sheldon Stern’s opus. I briefly looked up the book on Amazon and found the above quote (among many). From that one quote, the only thing that has altered in my thinking is even greater respect for JFK. Let us attempt a little empathy: suppose you were in his place, surrounded by all these war-mongering rabid anti-communist ideologues. You have a deep suspicion of war as a solution to any problem, and yet that is the inevitable result of all the advice being offered. But perhaps JFK then imagine himself in Khrushchev’s shoe (he let one at the UN) likewise surround by his own hawks.

        Let me give you another book to consider: Norman Cousins “The Improbably Triumvirate”. I guarantee this one will get you spitting even more feathers than usual, but it does show that JFK was always looking for ways to get around his own State apparatus to directly communicate with those perceived as enemies. You might think his Peace Speech (10th June 63) empathy rhetoric, but it was totally ignored in the US but reported widely in the USSR. Whether he was a calculating hypocrite or not, his words (like his brothers) passed the Heineken Test (they got to parts that other words cannot). On this 50th Anniversary of the state’s execution of this flawed chancer, ought we to give RFK a little credit for the better angels of his nature?

        • BigB says

          JFK acted diplomatically in the ExComm meetings, standing up the hawks, the worst of whom was his brother …to resolve a situation he largely created. He inherited the policy (the deployment of Jupiter missiles in Turkey) from Eisenhower, but they were redundant (superseded by Polaris) and a provocation. There were plenty of ways the situation could have been diffused without risking world war. The Kennedys chose the most irresponsible route. If RFK had been president, world war or nuclear Holocaust would have been the outcome.

          Stern is soft on Jack: he was the keeper of the Kennedy Library for 25 years; but he does not spare the above conclusion. I am not anti-Kennedy: they had merit as politicians …I am anti-Camelot. A mythos has been created around them that is a monstrous distortion of history. The CRM and MLK were the engine of change: not the Kennedys, who clung on to White supremacist power (JFK had to appease the Dixiecrats if he wanted to maintain his powerbase and stay in power). The Court historicism is suspect if you want to believe Schlesinger, Galbraith, McNamara or RFK ‘”In His Own Words” and particularly “Thirteen Days”. Nor does Douglass book square with the historic record. Yes, JFK stood up to the worst of them, Lemnitzer, Dulles, LeMay, RFK… but there is gulf between that and the best of us? And we do not know what JFK would have done after he died, the main thesis of the Douglass book is an overt virtual historiography. And I strongly dispute his definition of “peace”. Peace in the context of the Vietnam War would mean complete withdrawal and open and free elections …which Ho Chih Minh would have won: and the propaganda created base in SE Asia would be lost. Anyone who believes the Kennedys even contemplated that outcome has a really distorted view of history, IMO. An equally valid reading is that they were contemplating, what we we call now a reduced presence “train and equip” mission, once the South Vietnamese Army were sufficiently capable of fighting their own battles …which, without American equipment (replaced on a one for one loss/renewal ratio) and air cover, would have been never.

          So yes, I can give JFK some merit, but as for apotheosis – no way. And RFK even less so: when he wasn’t surveilling MLK, he was plotting to kill Castro. Which is why I propose another “Improbable Triumvirate”: who were genuine purveyors of non-violence and peace. Distorting history to favour “Great Men” inculcates heirarchical power structures …why not rewrite a history that favours us? Then we might win the peace?

          • Hugh O'Neill says

            https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/edmund-gullion-jfk-and-the-shaping-of-a-foreign-policy-in-vietnam
            The above link is to an article by Professor James Norwood detailing JFK’s insights in Vietnam being formed in the 1950s after speaking with Edmund Gullion. There is also a 1954 film clip of his stating that Vietnamese deserve the right of self determination https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kUkw-wF7yk.
            So lets get this straight. You now admit a grudging respect for JFK (but definitely not RFK nor the Camelot mythos). I presume that you must admit too that the CIA/Mossad etc. assassinated JFK? So lets get to the mythos first. If JFK, knowing the personal risks he ran, surrounded on all sides by psychopaths, and yet he sticks to his (non-violent) guns and hopes to persuade and educate by reason and logic – and inspiring rhetoric – that Peace is worth striving for ( e.g. “Mankind must make and end to war, before war puts an end to mankind”), then maybe it is not surprising that those closest to him may have been somewhat moved after his death? Hagiography is the right word, maybe because the story does indeed have resonance with Christian martyrdom?
            As to RFK and the halo effect. What you say about RFK may all be true, but might it also be possible that he too, like JFK was changing and learning, minds open by empathy to new perspectives, not enslaved by ideology? When you listen to the testimony of men like Paul Schrade or John Lewis, then it is very hard to not be moved by their witness.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      ‘JFK and the Unspeakable’ reads like a thriller, like something Dostoevsky might have crafted, a ‘Devils’ for the American Reich. And the Gadarene wine are more in charge than ever.

      • Hugh O'Neill says

        Does that mean you like it or not? I found Dostoevsky unpalatable, but perhaps I am just a Gadarene swine?

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Oh, yes-I lerve Fyodor Mikhailovich. The ‘Notes from Underground’ is my favourite-I re-read it often.

  6. BigB says

    This is the epitome and zenith of hypocrisy: RFK hated MLK …and it was RFK’s authorisation of Hoover that led, indirectly, to MLK’s assassination. I’m not claiming direct causality, as Hoover overstepped his authority …and I very much doubt RFK told him to put a bullet in his throat. Nonetheless, these are the emptiest and hollowest of words. To bracket RFK with MLK is an insult to Dr King’s memory, IMHO. If we need an inspirational historic antecedence: try grouping MLK, Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh? And leave the Camelot mythos Kennedy’s out of it?

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    • I didn’t know that. I read the speech and was moved by it, then read your comment, BigB. It saddens me to think I was moved by hypocritical words. But they are right, nonetheless. It is, however, also important to know the whole situation, so I thank you for bringing these details to our attention.

      In the end though, either we continue to allow ourselves to be divided and conquered, or we learn how to understand one another.

    • Jen says

      RFK and MLK may have had their differences about how to achieve equality and fairness for black Americans due to the vast social and economic gulf between them (and RFK’s own privileged background certainly did not help) but even RFK in his most blinkered moments recognised what MLK was ultimately fighting for and must have realised at that moment when he heard of MLK’s death that he had underestimated the man.

      To improvise the speech in the way RFK did with no notes on the hop was no mean effort.

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