Monday, September 27, 2010

Unwelcome Guests: JFK and The Unspeakable (Khrushchev, Cuba, World Peace and Martyrdom of JFK/MLK)

(Extra credit opportunity for HUM 121 students)

JFK and The Unspeakable (Khrushchev, Cuba, World Peace and Martyrdom of JFK/MLK)
Unwelcome Guests

This week has a single main presentation, by Jim Douglass, author of "JFK and The Unspeakable". He describes how during the course of his presidency, JFK turned from a pliable young man who could be manipulated by the US security apparatus into a peace campaigner so forthright that even the prospect of his own death did not diminish his resolve. Douglass starts by introducing the Catholic theologian and peace activist, Thomas Merton, reading a letter in which Merton doubted whether Kennedy had it in him to face what he called the "unspeakable evil" at the heart of the US establishment, but opined that if he did, he would be marked out for assassination.

We supplement Douglass' talk in our first hour by including what he describes as definitely the most important of JFK's speeches, the American University address in which he announces a unilateral ban on US atmospheric nuclear tests, just 6 months before he was murdered. Douglass describes the importance of JFK's personal relationship with Khrushchev in diffusing the Cuban missile crisis, and notes that both leaders defied great pressure from their military establishments not to back down.

In the second hour, we hear a short section describing how on in WW1, describing how front line troops spontaneously put down their weapons and declared a truce, realising how much they had in common with each other. We then return to Douglass' speech, detailing JFK's tireless work to make peace with USSR, in spite of the awareness that by challenging the primacy of the military industrial complex, he was running a great risk to his own life. He details arrangements made by the CIA to assassinate Kennedy in Chicago, and explains why Dallas was chosen instead as the final venue.

Following the speech are questions about the events of 1963 and about their importance nowadays. The show concludes that, in the language of Charles Eisenstein, it was Kennedy's public rejection of the discrete and separate self, his altruistic efforts for peace, that marked him out as an enemy of "the unspeakable". We reflect on the implications for the 21st century, before concluding with the last speech of another thorn in the side of the US war machine, Martin Luther King, with an afterword by Bill Hicks.

Credits: Thanks to PirateTV of Seattle for the Douglass' speech.
Music: Mates of State

To Listen to the Episode

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