Red-baiting muddies the waters

More than anything, American public opinion is galvanized in its revulsion to the horrific crimes committed in Tucson, Ariz.

Because of this, the tea party and right wing hate radio hosts have no choice but to obscure what they know to be true – they are primarily responsible for the atmosphere of hate that fueled this act of violence. So they are using one of their favorite big lies: anti-socialist, anti-communist red-baiting.

Right-wing bloviators and their supporters are spinning myths about leftists, equating socialism with fascism. The two have nothing in common. Nowhere do Marx and Engels, nor those who honestly embrace their philosophical tenants, advocate wholesale terror against elected officials and democratic institutions. American Marxists are advocates and staunch defenders of democracy, democratic institutions and movements.

But such lies and mythologies aren’t limited to Limbaugh, Beck or Palin, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat accomplishes the same logic by invoking President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in his Jan. 11 column.

Correctly stating the extreme right-wing atmosphere of 1963 Dallas, Texas, Douthat writes:

Dallas was “awash in right-wing anger – over perceived Cold War betrayals, over desegregation, over the perfidies of liberalism in general. Adlai Stevenson, then ambassador to the United Nations, had been spat on during his visit to the city earlier that fall. The week of Kennedy’s arrival, leaflets circulated in Dallas bearing the president’s photograph and the words ‘Wanted For Treason.'”

But then, Douthat resurrects a planted story that was long ago proven false. Douthat claims Lee Harvey Oswald was a “Marxist of sorts.”

This statement is such a bald attempt to use anti-communism to cover up the political and ideological toxic brew feeding both crimes in Dallas and Tucson. It’s a complete fabrication lifted from the early post-JFK assassination reports, which no credible JFK assassination expert accepts today.

All evidence points to the big lie about Oswald being carefully cultivated by the CIA and the right wing as a means to divert attention from the real source of the crime. This has been exhaustively laid out with the most recent evidence in “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why he died and why it matters” by James W Douglass.

Far from being a left-winger, Oswald was under the employ of the FBI and had been trained by Naval Intelligence and sent to the Soviet Union as a spy. Leading up to the assassination, Oswald was carefully handled by the CIA and those involved in the conspiracy. His so called ties with the Cuban Revolution were a total fabrication.

Far from being “an activist on behalf of Castro’s Cuba,” as Douthat writes, Oswald was an anti-Communist embedded in the “vast right-wing conspiracy” to kill the president.

The effort to connect the assassination to Castro was a blatant attempt to divert attention from the real killers and foment national outrage leading to an armed invasion of Cuba or worse yet a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The right wing conspirators, including those in the military industrial complex, sections of corporate capital, anti-Castro Cubans and the American Mafia were all united in their vitriol against Kennedy for his desire to change relations with the Cuban government and end the Cold War.

President Lyndon Johnson saw through this and refused to go along.

Douthat is making a desperate attempt to obscure the connection between the criminal acts of Jared Lee Loughner and toxic political climate he fed off – the anti-government rantings and call to arms of the extreme right wing, the tea party and hate radio.

There is no evidence what-so-ever that political violence (especially over the last two years) in any form has been instigated by the left, progressive movements and media.

Just as those who tried to link the Kennedy assassination to left, progressives, socialists and communists failed, so too will all efforts to paint Loughner as someone inspired by the humanistic and democratic ideals of socialism.

Photo:  John F. Kennedy’s motorcade Nov. 22, 1963. (Public Domain)


John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People's World. He is active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, where he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs. He currently lives in Chicago.