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Ed Driscoll

“If Our Colleges And Universities Do Not Breed Men Who Riot…”

February 28th, 2010 - 8:23 pm

I was going to tag this on as an update to the Al Gore post below, but this is worth breaking off into a post of its own. Power Line’s John Hinderaker Fisks Frank Rich’s latest stemwinder in the New York Times, attacking the eeeeeevil Tea Partiers, and once again attempting to tie them in with the communist manifesto-quoting, ObamaCare-supporting Joseph Stack, he of the not-so-friendly skies.  Hinderaker highlights this item by Rich:

In the heyday of 1960s left-wing radicalism, no liberal Democratic politicians in Washington could be found endorsing groups preaching violent revolution. The right has a different history.

Hinderaker responds:

Let’s just stop there. What Republican politician has ever “endors[ed] groups preaching violent revolution”? I am not aware of any; we’ll get to that in a moment. But many liberal Democratic politicians in the 1960s–like, for example, George McGovern, the Democrats’ 1972 Presidential nominee–proclaimed their sympathy with the views and objectives of violent groups, if not the tactics used by those groups, i.e., their opposition to the war in Vietnam and their desire to take the government of the United States in a more socialist direction. In fact, many of those very Democrats–John Kerry, Bill Clinton and others come immediately to mind–are now the leaders of their party.

Let’s flashback once again to this March 18th, 1968 speech by Bobby Kennedy, made at Kansas State University, as recounted in a 2008 Vanity Fair profile of RFK:

As Kennedy began [to speak at Kansas State U.], his voice cracked, and those near the stage noticed his hands trembling and his right leg shaking.After praising [Al] Landon’s distinguished career, he said, “I am also glad to come to the home state of another great Kansan, who wrote, ‘If our colleges and universities do not breed men who riot, who rebel, who attack life with all their youthful vision and vigor then there is something wrong with our colleges. The more riots that come on college campuses, the better the world for tomorrow.’ ” …

At first he seemed tentative and wooden, stammering and repeating himself, too nervous to punctuate his sentences with gestures. But with each round of applause he became more animated. Soon he was pounding the lectern with his right fist, and shouting out his words.

Rene Carpenter watched the students in the front rows. Their faces shone, and they opened their mouths in unison, shouting, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”

Hays Gorey, of Time, called the electricity between Kennedy and the K.S.U. students “real and rare” and said that ” .. John Kennedy … himself couldn’t be so passionate, and couldn’t set off such sparks.”

Kevin Rochat was close to weeping because Kennedy was so direct and honest. He kept telling himself, My God! He’s saying exactly what I’ve been thinking! ..

Kennedy concluded by saying, “Our country is in danger: not just from foreign enemies; but above all, from our own misguided policies–and what they can do to the nation that Thomas Jefferson once said was the last, great hope of mankind. There is a contest on, not for the rule of America but for the heart of America. In these next eight months we are going to decide what this country will stand for–and what kind of men we are.”

He raised his fist in the air so it resembled the revolutionary symbol on posters hanging in student rooms that year, promised “a new America,” and the hall erupted in cheers and thunderous applause.

As he started to leave, waves of students rushed the platform, knocking over chairs and raising more dust. They grabbed at him, stroking his hair and ripping his shirtsleeves. Herb Schmertz was left with a lifelong phobia of crowds. University officials opened a path to a rear exit, but Kennedy waved them off and waded into the crowd …

(You can hear the audio and read a transcript of RFK’s speech here.)

Of course, 1968 was also the same year that Bonnie & Clyde was released to movie theaters. Leftwing historian Rick Perlstein, the author of 2008′s Nixonland,  told Reason magazine that “Bonnie and Clyde was the most important text of the New Left”, adding:

“It made an argument about vitality and virtue vs. staidness and morality that was completely new, that resonated with young people in a way that made no sense to old people. Just the idea that the outlaws were the good guys and the bourgeois householders were the bad guys — you cannot underestimate how strange and fresh that was.”

And now that it’s the currency of the land inside the New York Times’ offices, how clapped out and sclerotic such a mindset has become over forty years later. Or as Mark Steyn recently dubbed the phenomenon, “Conformo-Radicalism.”

Given how intertwined the New York Times is with the Democratic Party, it’s worth requoting this passage from the New Yorker on Rich’s boss:

“He [Pinch Sulzberger] had been something of a political activist in high school — he had been suspended briefly from Browning for trying to organize a shutdown of the school following the National Guard’s shooting of students at Kent State — and at Tufts he eagerly embraced the antiwar movement. His first arrest for civil disobedience took place outside the Raytheon Comapny, a defense and space contractor; there, dressed in an old Marine jacket of Punch’s, he joined other demonstrators who were blocking the entrance to the company’s gates. He was soon arrested again, in an antiwar sit-in at the J.F.K. Federal Building in Boston.

“Punch had shown little reaction after the first arrest, but when he got word of the second one he flew to Boston. Over dinner, he asked his son why he was involved with the protests and what kind of behavior the family might expect of him in the future. Arthur assured his father he was not planning on a career of getting himself arrested. After dinner, as the two men walked in the Boston Common, Punch asked what his son later characterized as ‘the dumbest question I’ve ever heard in my life’: ‘If a young American soldier comes upon a young North Vietnamese soldier, which one do you want to see get shot?’ Arthur answered, ‘I would want to see the American get shot. It’s the other guy’s country; we shouldn’t be there.’ To the elder Sulzberger, this bordered on traitor’s talk. ‘How can you say that?’ he yelled. Years later, Arthur said of the incident, ‘It’s the closest he’s ever come to hitting me.’”

Similarly, since Hollywood and the Democrats are so interconnected, it’s also worth flashing back to an article James Webb wrote for the American Enterprise magazine in 1997, during his earlier incarnation as a man of the right:

Denial is rampant in 1997, but the truth is this end result was the very goal of the antiwar movement’s continuing efforts in the years after American withdrawal. George McGovern, more forthcoming than most, bluntly stated as much to this writer during a break in taping a 1995 edition of cnn’s “Crossfire.” After I had argued that the war was clearly winnable even toward the end if we had changed our strategy, the 1972 presidential candidate who had offered to go to Hanoi on his knees commented, “What you don’t understand is that I didn’t want us to win that war.” Mr. McGovern was not alone. He was part of a small but extremely influential minority who eventually had their way.

There is perhaps no greater testimony to the celebratory atmosphere that surrounded the Communist victory in Vietnam than the 1975 Academy Awards, which took place on April 8, just three weeks before the South’s final surrender. The award for Best Feature Documentary went to the film Hearts and Minds, a vicious piece of propaganda that assailed American cultural values as well as our effort to assist South Vietnam’s struggle for democracy. The producers, Peter Davis and Bert Schneider [who plays a role in David Horowitz’s story—see page 31], jointly accepted the Oscar. Schneider was frank in his support of the Communists. As he stepped to the mike he commented that “It is ironic that we are here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated.” Then came one of the most stunning—if intentionally forgotten—moments in Hollywood history. As a struggling country many Americans had paid blood and tears to try to preserve was disappearing beneath a tank onslaught, Schneider pulled out a telegram from our enemy, the Vietnamese Communist delegation in Paris, and read aloud its congratulations to his film. Without hesitating, Hollywood’s most powerful people rewarded Schneider’s reading of the telegram with a standing ovation.

(And then of course, there was the merry band of kind-hearted pacifists that Lenny and Felicia had over for cocktails in 1970.)

As Jonah Goldberg wrote in Liberal Fascism:

Like the editors of the old Soviet encyclopedias who would send out updates to instruct which pages should be torn out, American liberalism has repeatedly censored and rewritten its own history so that the “bad guys” were always conservatives and the good guys always liberals.

And Rich has demonstrated at least twice now in the past five months, nobody is better at working the Memory Hole than the Gray Lady.

Update: As usual, Ronald Radosh is succinct: “Frank Rich: An Embarrassment to the New York Times.”

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