"Badge of honor" -- but where's the honor?

As Glenn Reynolds observed, hedging won't help Kerry avoid this story:

KANSAS CITY - (KRT) - Confronted with 32-year-old FBI records, Sen. John Kerry's campaign all but conceded he attended a 1971 Kansas City meeting where a fellow anti-war veteran called for political assassinations.
Nor will it help the Kerry campaign to push the story that Kerry was a victim of FBI, and that this was a badge of honor:
KETCHUM, Idaho - Reports that the FBI monitored John Kerry's antiwar activities in the early 1970s are both "a badge of honor" and a troubling example of government intrusion into peaceful and legitimate protest, a Kerry spokesman said yesterday.

"Revealed in page after page of FBI reports is the portrait of John Kerry at age 27 speaking with courage and conviction, leading veterans to Washington for peaceful protests, advocating nonviolent protests and moderation," spokesman David Wade said.

....."He knew it wouldn't be easy," Wade said. "The Nixon White House set out to destroy him because he was a credible voice speaking up for veterans. Now we learn that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was following his every move."

The above "badge of honor" story was in my local (Philadelphia) newspaper. But the story about the assassination meeting was in the New York Sun.

If the stories of Kerry's attendance at a meeting where assassinations of members of the U.S. Senate were discussed (even voted upon) are true, then Kerry is ill-advised in portraying himself as a victim. (More here.)

Hoover's FBI -- or, for that matter anyone's FBI -- would have been seriously, dangerously amiss had they not kept track of people who took it upon themselves to attend meetings discussing the assassinations of United States senators.

Either Kerry is very foolish, or his handlers are incredibly stupid (possibly blinded by their ideology). Either way, it doesn't look good.

If he wants the stories about the assassination meetings to go away, why is Kerry literally bragging that the FBI's monitoring of him is a "badge of honor"? If it turns out that he was present while assassinations were discussed, what "honor" is he talking about?

To ordinary Americans (you know -- the kind of people who don't sit around and discuss assassinations of senators), it might begin to look anything but honorable.

Organizations that plot the assassinations of American politicians for political ends (or any reason) are hardly in the same league as Martin Luther King, Jr. Kerry's participation in the debate -- confirmed by witnesses -- requires an explanation as to why he never notified authorities of the plot, even if he did argue against it and resigned shortly afterward.
In Kerry's defense, it should be noted that he says he resigned from VVAW before the assassination discussions took place.

Well, I guess we should be glad to hear that, and we should hope it's true. After all, we don't want a president who actually attended meetings where such things were discussed.

Do we?

I think that under the circumstances, though, some people might still be confused about how being monitored by the FBI was a badge of honor.

If I were Kerry, I'd lose this badge as fast as I could.

posted by Eric on 03.24.04 at 01:41 AM


Sounds like Kerry's in a quandary. He wants to keep reminding one segment of the population, the majority, of his war heroism in Viet Nam. He wants another segment of the population, his "base" apparently, to keep remembering his anti-war heroism in opposing that same war. He has to keep the two strategies in balance somehow, to keep them from from conflicting with each other -- and not to confuse the two segments
(i.e., the majority of the voters might not think it such a "cool" and rebellious thing to have hung out with people who talked about assassinating people, might indeed think of such would-be assassins in a rather more unfavorable light, nor would the majority necessarily have the same reflexive dislike of J. Edgar Hoover or of law enforcement in general as was prevalent among large sections, but not actually a majority, of my generation during the early 1970s).

Looks like a hard row to hoe, as they say. At this rate, it looks to me like Bush is going to win. Just recognizing a fact. I don't have a dog in this fight, as they say. I'm not enthused about either Bush or Kerry. If it wasn't for Bush's appeasement of the Enemy here at home, I would decidedly prefer him over Kerry.

I hate to have to say it but, to use a Rand-style argument or point or observation: J. Edgar Hoover may have had his eye on Kerry, but, judging from Kerry's looks, it doesn't look to me that J. Edgar would have had his eye on him in the way he had his eye on some other men. It's too bad. I would certainly consider it a badge of honor if the great J. Edgar Hoover had had his eye on me in _that_ way, even if I'm not quite man enough to be a man's man myself.

Steven, glad you're back!

J. Edgar Hoover really merits a separate post, because he is so controversial. He was much hated by the left because of the way he went after the Communist Party, USA. His fierce anti-Communism drives his bad press to the present day. For example, you will not find much mention of the fact that he advised FDR that it would be unconstitutional to intern Japanese Americans. (Hoover told him not to do it.)

I find the anti-homosexual smear campaign against him perplexing, because I don't think it should be a smear! Whether he was in fact homosexual has little to do with it (but historians mostly agree that despite much speculation, there's no solid, reliable evidence). That the anti-gay smear would come from the left -- which generally champions gay rights -- strikes me as disingenuous. Either he was gay (and very closeted) or he was not. Those who tar him for alleged closeted homosexuality do not speak the same way of closeted leftist homosexuals. And if he wasn't gay, what would that imply about his accusers and their determination to say that he was? It strikes me that they want it both ways. There is a kneejerk assumption that saying Hoover was a homosexual somehow discredits his entire life. I'd rather they yell about his anti-Communism, because I think that's why he's so hated. If being a closeted homosexual is worse to the left than being an anti-Communist, then why isn't the left being called "homophobic" for it? (I remember when Huey Newton took other leftists to task for calling Spiro Agnew a "faggot" -- saying that because Agnew was an "enemy of the people" and homosexuals were not, it was a smear to say that about Agnew. I was a teenaged Marxist at the time, and it made me admire Newton.)

Likewise, many conservatives agree that any imputation of homosexual conduct (towards Hoover or anyone else) constitutes a smear. My point -- which makes this so complicated -- is that homosexuality should not matter. Whatever the man did or didn't do privately was his own business.

Eric Scheie   ·  March 25, 2004 5:27 PM

Dear Eric:

Excellent points, as always. J. Edgar Hoover, Whittaker Chambers, Roy Cohn, Marvin Liebman, General Edwin Anderson Walker -- anti-Communist homosexual men.

(I know, I know, "Transcendental Science". I don't know of so many anti-Communist homosexual women of that era because women as such were less visible. That's just the way it is. I had to invent Dawn and Norma for my own selfish aesthetic delectation, but I'm sure their real-life counterparts were out there. Dawn and Norma. Their filmstrip and booklet: "The Two Isms: Lesbianism vs. Communism" Also: "Communism vs. the Negro")

Without the great homosexual anti-Communists, we would be living under Communism today. And homosexuals have been persecuted under every Communist regime.

The Left today tries to absorb homosexuals as one more fashionable cause, one more "oppressed victim group", along with children and chimpanzees (both denied the vote!), homeless disabled left-handed Eskimos of Gypsy extraction, etc., etc.. But their is nothing in Leftism per se that is intrinsically pro-homosexual (or pro-sexual as such), and vice versa, nothing in homosexuality per se that would intrinsically incline one toward Leftism (secularism, egalitarianism, progressivism, etc..). And, conversely, there is nothing in Rightism or conservatism (theism, elitism, royalism, traditionalism, etc.) per se that is intrinsically or necessarily anti-homosexual. If Sappho was living today, she would be a HomoCon.

Abortion is yet another issue not intrinsically or logically tied to either Leftism-Rightism or to homosexuality (male or female). When I was pro-abortion, it was largely on Rightist or libertarian grounds (a woman's right to her property), and now that I am increasingly anti-abortion, it's largely on Leftist grounds (the unborn as an "oppressed victim group" denied even the right to life). Also, a number of homosexuals find abortion abhorrent. (One key reason for that: if a genetic cause of sexual orientation is proved, then anti-homosexual women will be aborting their homosexually-oriented children -- a "Final Soulution" to the homosexual "problem". I'm against that!)

Hmmm....! That gives rise in my thoughts to yet another 3-dimensional spectrum: Left vs. Right, pro-abortion vs. anti-abortion (or pro-life), pro-homosexual vs. anti-homosexual. Each dimension is orthogonal to the other two.

The Democratic party (with which most of today's Leftists now reflexively identify) adopts homosexuals as one of its pet causes or constituent interest groups, but will discard them like a soiled tissue whenever they find it politically convenient. The difference between the two paries on this issue is this: The Democrats will be anti-homosexual from lack of principle, while certain Republicans are anti-homosexual as a _first_ principle.

It was HomoCons like Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch who were the earliest and strongest advocates of homosexual marriage. The Leftists are mainly just following along. One key difference is that Leftists see homosexual marriage mainly in terms of equal financial benefits while Rightists see homosexual marriage mainly in spiritual terms of fidelity and commitment. Many, like Richard Goldstein (who has attacked Sullivan as well as Camille Paglia) don't really like the idea of marriage at all. And quite a number of Leftists don't like the idea of homosexuals serving in the military. I notice that, on the Right, even among a number who generally condemn homosexuality, there is increasing acceptance of the idea of homosexuals serving their country militarily. Since 9/11, patriotism has taken priority over anti-homosexualism in the minds of some. Good!

I'm very pleased with Huey Newton having taken that stand, and at the time that he did. I must say that Al Sharpton has differentiated himself from Jesse Jackson on that issue, too. I largely judge a man's or woman's character by his or her stand on the rights of homosexual men and women. Deroy Murdock (of the "National Review"), John Lewis, Coretta Scott King, and a few others are so distinguishing themselves now. I'm increasingly angered by this Politically Correct ploy "pro-Negro = anti-homosexual". When the Enemy uses that argument, I always reply: Tyron Garner. John Geddes Lawrence couldn't have done it without him.

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