Kengor Writes . . .
Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).
Marx at 200: Classical Marxism vs. Cultural Marxism
This Saturday, May 5, marks the bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth, a cause for literal celebration in certain quarters of the academy.
It’s often charged among the political right that America is going Communist, or at least socialist, or toward some form of Marxism. My concern is less classical Marxism than cultural Marxism, a strain of Communist thought that even most of those engaging in it aren’t consciously aware of. If you Google “cultural Marxism,” the first thing that pops up is a Wikipedia definition dismissing it as a “conspiracy theory which sees the Frankfurt School as part of an ongoing movement to take over and destroy Western culture.”
A conspiracy theory? Well, that merely affirms the point. The vast majority of those advancing cultural Marxism aren’t even aware they’re doing so. Tell them and they’ll either blankly stare or mockingly laugh at you as a conspiracy monger.
In truth, cultural Marxism not only exists, but exists as a dominant form of Marxism in America and much of the West today.
Classical Marxism’s Decline
Classical Marxism, by contrast, continues to dwindle.
Just this week I caught a rare admission that slipped from the lips of the current chairman of Communist Party USA, John Bachtell: He said that CPUSA has a mere 5,000 members.
Yes, only 5,000. You could find more members of Unicorn Party USA.
Even more pathetic is that CPUSA has been pounding its chest lately claiming a “surge” in membership under the siege of President Donald J. Trump. Really? Some surge.
Of course, CPUSA never had big numbers. At its heyday in the 1930s, it probably never had more than 100,000 members. That’s why Communists have always sought out dupes among the broader liberal left. It’s why Marxist ringleaders like Angela Davis show up at the Women’s March not quoting Lenin but stumping for same-sex marriage and condemning “climate change.” Davis didn’t dare openly agitate for the KGB at the March; she agitated for LGBT.
The Communist movement has always needed liberals as props to enlist at rallies. Rarely could CPUSA ever have filled Central Park with its own members. Bachtell’s cohorts today might not fill a sandbox at a Manhattan playground.
The reason for that is good news: The original ambition of an economic/class-based revolution has failed in America. And so, instead, today’s Marxists — including those in CPUSA, once the home of classical Marxism — have gone cultural.
It’s a form of Marxism so radical in its redefinition of human nature that Marx himself would blush and find it bewildering. As I write, the lead article at CPUSA’s website is titled, “The Capitalist Culture of Male Supremacy and Misogyny” — a piece breathtaking in its cultural radicalism. And it personifies the Communist movement’s thrust today.
Frankfurt School of Freudian-Marxism
So, what is this cultural Marxism, and how did it emerge?
It began not on May 5, 1818, with Marx’s birth, but over 100 years later with the birth of what came to be known as the Frankfurt School.
These 1920s and 1930s German Marxists were Freudian-Marxists. For them, orthodox/classical Marxism was too limiting, too narrow, too controlled by the Soviet Comintern that strong-armed national Communist parties. This rigidity prevented these more freewheeling neo-Marxists from initiating the cultural transformation they craved, including revolutionary changes in marriage, sexuality, and family. These Frankfurt-based theorists were left-wing intellectuals who looked to the universities as the home base from which their ideas could be launched. They spurned the church and looked to Marx and Freud as the gods they believed would not fail. Rather than organize the workers and factories, the peasants and the fields and the farms, they would organize the students and the academy, the artists and the media, and the film industry.
One can look at the Frankfurt school’s cultural Marxism not as a replacement for classical Marxism, but as the accelerator pedal that was missing from the wheezing, stalling vehicle. The cultural Marxist agrees with the classical Marxist that history passes through a series of stages on the way to the final Marxist utopia, through slavery and capitalism and socialism and ultimately to the classless society. But the cultural Marxist recognizes that Communists will not get there by economics alone. In essence, cultural Marxists shrewdly realized that the classical Marxists would utterly fail to take down the West with an economic revolution; capitalism would always blow away Communism, and the masses would choose capitalism. Cultural Marxists understand that the revolution requires a cultural war over an economic war. Whereas the West — certainly America — is not vulnerable to a revolt of the downtrodden trade-union masses, it is eminently vulnerable when it comes to, say, sex or pornography. While a revolution for wealth redistribution would be unappealing to most citizens of the West, a sexual revolution would be irresistible. Put the bourgeoisie in front of a hypnotic movie screen, and it would be putty in your hands.
The key figures of the Frankfurt School included Georg Lukacs, Herbert Marcuse, Wilhelm Reich — who literally wrote the book and coined the term, “The Sexual Revolution” — Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and others. The formal school began in 1923 as the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt in Germany. Among its driving forces from within Moscow was Willi Munzenberg, the so-called Red millionaire. “We must organize the intellectuals,” exhorted Munzenberg.
And so they would. And how did they slide into America?
The threat of Hitler’s Germany drove the Frankfurt School out of Europe and into the welcoming arms of America’s left-wing academics. Most to all of the leading practitioners of the Frankfurt School were Jews who needed a safe haven from Hitler’s madness. So, they and their Institute came to New York City, specifically to the campus of Columbia University, already a hotbed of Communist thought.
Pleading the case for them at Columbia was John Dewey, founding father of American public education and Communist sympathizer. (Dewey described himself as a small “c” Communist, objecting only to “official Communism, spelt with a capital letter.”) Thus, their primary area of operation would be the educational system — the schools, the universities, and particularly the teachers’ colleges. It was no coincidence that Columbia housed the nation’s top teachers’ college — a creation of John Dewey.
From there, the cultural Marxists spread their ideas to campuses nationwide. Their extremist notions would sweep up the ’60s New Left, to which the likes of Herbert Marcuse became an ideological guru to the radicals who today are tenured at our universities.
Gramsci’s March Through the Institutions
Not to be forgotten in all of this was a critical figure, a non-German. At the age of 35, in 1926, Antonio Gramsci was arrested in his native Italy by Mussolini, and would spend the last 11 years of his life in prison. Samuel Gregg calls Gramsci perhaps “the most dangerous socialist in history.”
Whereas Marx and his original followers were all about class economics, seeing wealth redistribution and the seizure of the means of production as the key to their vision, Gramsci looked to culture. If the Left truly wanted to win, it needed to first seize the “cultural means of production:” the culture-forming institutions such as the media and universities and even churches.
Not until leftists came to dominate these institutions would they be able to convince enough people to support their Marxist revolution. “This part of his thesis was like manna from heaven for many left-wing Western intellectuals,” writes Sam Gregg. “Instead of joining a factory collective or making bombs in basements, a leftist professor could help free society from capitalist exploitation by penning essays in his office or teaching students.”
And in a really radical stroke — one too radical for its own time, but that would ultimately succeed — Gramsci and his heirs insisted that these leftist intellectuals needed to question everything, including moral absolutes and the Judeo-Christian basis of Western civilization. They needed to frame seemingly benign conventions as systematic injustices that must be exposed. This is where we got professors fulminating against everything from “the patriarchy” to “white imperialism” to “transphobia.” By the 21st century, even biological sex was no longer considered a settled issue. As I write, the New York City council offers public employees the option of choosing from 31 different gender identities. Of course, that’s nothing compared to Facebook, which at various times in the last three years has listed 51 gender options.
There was no traditional institution off limits to the cultural Left.
In fact, so “critical” was the cultural-Marxist left of anything and everything that it would brand itself as “critical theory.” Today, there are entire academic departments and programs dedicated to “critical theory.” Barack Obama’s alma mater, Occidental College, has a Department of Critical Theory and Social Justice, which at its website promises to instruct wide-eyed students in the principles of “Marxism, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, deconstruction, critical race studies, queer theory, feminist theory, postcolonial theory. . . .” You get the picture.
For the cultural-Marxist left, “critical theory” is the zeitgeist, the prevailing spirit of the age. Michael Walsh calls it “the cult of critical theory,” the guiding force of what Walsh describes as “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace,” the instrument for what he rightly calls “the subversion of the West.” To quote the ’60s radicals, hey, hey, ho, ho, Western civ has got to go.
Gramsci himself foresaw societal transformation coming about by a “march through the institutions.” In this, he was prophetic.
Sam Gregg puts it well: “The worst part of Gramsci’s legacy is that it has effectively transcended its Marxist origins. His outlook is now blankly taken for granted by millions of teachers, writers, even churchmen, who have no idea that they are committed to cultural Marxism.” And so, adds Gregg, “the vast structures of cynicism which Gramsci’s ideas have built, which honeycomb Western society today, will prove much tougher to dismantle than the crude cement blocks of the old Berlin Wall.”
They will indeed. The people of Berlin had no problem recognizing the concrete wrongness of the wall that corralled them. But try to tell those redefining marriage that what they’re advocating is concretely wrong.
The Never-Ending Search for the Newest Victim Class
In a crucial respect, classical Marxism and cultural Marxism will always bear an essential, enduring commonality — one that explains a lot about today’s modern left.
Both classical Marxists and cultural Marxists see history as a series of struggles that divide the world into hostile/antagonistic groups of oppressors and the oppressed. Both seek out victim groups as the anointed group that will serve as the redeemer group. The victim group becomes the agent for emancipation in ushering in the new and better world. The Marxist must always, then, be on the search for the victim class that, in turn, must always be made aware of its victimization. Its “consciousness” must be raised.
In classical Marxism, this was simple: the victim group was identified by class/economics. It was the Proletariat. It was the factory worker.
In cultural Marxism, this hasn’t been so simple, because the culture is always changing: the victim group is constantly being searched for anew by the cultural Marxist. The group one year might be women, the next year a new ethnic minority, the next year another group. Today, there’s a hard push by cultural Marxists to tap the “LGBTQIA-plus” (People’s World frequently uses that label) movement as the championed victim group.
Thus, a cultural Marxist like Angela Davis — mentored by Herbert Marcuse — could stand at the Women’s March before a sea of young women in pink hats and recite a litany of popular grievances. In her casting about for victim groups, the former Communist Bloc cheerleader hailed Chelsea Manning, “trans women of color,” “our flora and fauna,” and “intersectional feminism,” and denounced “white male hetero-patriarchy,” misogyny, Islamophobia, and capitalist exploitation.
This is where today’s Marxists in America are toiling hard. They are working diligently on the cultural front. That’s where they are confident they can finally take down Western civilization and its Judeo-Christian bedrock.
From Factory Workers to “Cultural Workers”
In closing, consider this striking new term I recently encountered when perusing the latest “About” section of the website of People’s World, successor to the Soviet-funded Daily Worker and the leading mouthpiece of American Communism. It singled out a label I hadn’t heard before: “cultural workers.” It states:
“Today, People’s World offers a daily news platform for the broad labor-led people’s movement — a voice for workers, the unemployed, people of color, immigrants, women, youth, seniors, LGBTQ people, cultural workers, students and people with disabilities.”
They’re looking not for factory workers but for cultural workers. Forget the factory floor — that project failed long ago. Communists tried to organize the steelworkers, the autoworkers, the teamsters, the coalminers. It didn’t work.
Thus, the new recruiting ground is the classroom floor, the campus, the university, and the schools. That’s where the cultural workers who can usher in the fundamental transformation are being found. These modern cultural revolutionaries are succeeding magnificently in redefining everything from marriage and family to sexuality and gender. And most stunning of all, it’s the parents — many of them conservative Christians — who are paying for the grand indoctrination with their life savings.
And 200 years later, Karl Marx would be chuckling heartily at that irony.
Marx’s Apologists Should Be Red in the Face
May 5 marked the bicentennial of Karl Marx, who set the stage with his philosophy for the greatest ideological massacres in history. Or did he?
He did, but deniers still remain. “Only a fool could hold Marx responsible for the Gulag,” writes Francis Wheen in Karl Marx: A Life (1999). Stalin, Mao and Kim Il Sung, Mr. Wheen insists, created “bastard creeds,” “wrenched out of context” from Marx’s writings.
Marx has been accused of ambiguity in his writings. That critique is often justified, but not always. In The Communist Manifesto, he and Friedrich Engels were quite clear that “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.”
“You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property,” they wrote. “But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population.” And this: “In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.”
Marx and Engels acknowledged that their views stood undeniably contrary to the “social and political order of things.” Communism seeks to “abolish the present state of things” and represents “the most radical rupture in traditional relations.”
Toward that end, the manifesto offers a ten-point program, including “abolition of property in land,” “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax,” “abolition of all right of inheritance,” “centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly,” “centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state” and the “gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.”
In a preface to their ten points, Marx and Engels acknowledged their coercive nature: “Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads.” In the close of the Manifesto, Marx said, “The Communists . . . openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”
They were right about that. Human beings would not give up fundamental liberties without resistance. Seizing property would require a terrible fight, including the use of guns and gulags. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and a long line of revolutionaries and dictators candidly admitted that force and violence would be necessary.
We’re told the philosophy was never the problem — that Stalin was an aberration, as were, presumably, Lenin, Trotsky, Ceausescu, Mao, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, the Kims and the Castros, not to mention the countless thousands of liquidators in the NKVD, the GRU, the KGB, the Red Guard, the Stasi, the Securitate, the Khmer Rouge, and on and on.
Couldn’t any of them read? Yes, they could read. They read Marx. The rest is history — ugly, deadly history.
Remembering Barbara Bush — and Robin
Only two women were both wife to a president and mother to a president. One was Abigail Adams, who died 200 years ago, October 28, 1818; the other was Barbara Bush, who died yesterday, April 17, 2018. Mrs. Bush was 92 years old.
Barbara Bush will be remembered as simple and unpretentious, especially following Nancy Reagan as first lady. Mrs. Reagan was known for fancy clothes and fancy friends, as part of the Hollywood set. Mrs. Bush was known for being more homespun, more Texas, even though she was raised a blueblood with much fancier trappings than Nancy. She followed Nancy in many ways, including in death, as Nancy passed away in March 2016.
Still, Barbara humbly accepted the role of the older-looking and less-glamorous first lady. Her husband jokingly called her “The Silver Fox,” and she graciously smiled and accepted the ribbing. She was more Mamie Eisenhower than Jackie Kennedy.
We’ll hear all sorts of things about Mrs. Bush in the next few days. But there’s one story about her that I learned when researching and writing a biography of her oldest son — a story I think is well worth remembering. It’s probably the most human thing about this very human lady.
It was the fall of 1953. George W. Bush was seven years old. His parents’ green Oldsmobile pulled in front of Sam Houston Elementary School in Midland, Texas. George happened to be strolling down an outdoor corridor with his friend, carrying a Victrola record player to the principal’s office. The moment that he saw the car, he set down the phonograph and sprinted ahead to his teacher. “My mom, dad, and sister are home,” he shouted. “Can I go see them?
The little sister was Robin. To this day, George W. Bush swears he saw her. He says he caught her small head barely rising above the backseat. His parents had been in New York, where they were tending to George’s little sister. He knew Robin was sick, but had no idea how sick. The three-year-old was dying from leukemia.
George’s parents returned with an empty back seat and emptier news. “I run over to the car,” said Bush almost half a century later, “and there’s no Robin.” She was not coming home. “I was sad, and stunned. I knew Robin had been sick, but death was hard for me to imagine. Minutes before, I had had a little sister, and now, suddenly, I did not.” Bush says that those minutes remain the “starkest memory” of his childhood. When asked about the incident in an interview, his eyes welled with tears. He stammered his response.
Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush started to show symptoms in February 1953, just after the birth of her baby brother Jeb. She simply wanted to lie down all day. Mysterious bruises began appearing on her body. The Bushes took her to Dr. Dorothy Wyvell, renowned in West Texas pediatrics. Wyvell was shocked by the test results. She told the Bushes that the child’s white blood cell count was the highest she had ever seen, and the cancer was already too advanced. She recommended they simply take Robin home and allow nature to take its course, sparing all of them the agony of futile treatments.
The Bushes couldn’t do that. George H. W. Bush had an uncle in New York who was president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering cancer center. They agreed to do everything they could in the hope of some breakthrough.
As for Barbara Bush, she was constantly at Robin’s side during the hospital stay. Her husband shuttled between New York and Midland. Each morning of Robin’s New York stay, her father dropped by the family’s Midland church at 6:30 a.m. to hold his own private prayer vigil. Only the custodian was there, and he let him in. One morning, Pastor Matthew Lynn joined him. They never talked; they just prayed.
Barbara was the strong one throughout the affair. When Robin received blood transfusions at the cancer center, her mother held her hand. Her father had to leave the room.
Robin never had a chance. Eventually, the medicine that labored to try to control the evil metastasizing in her frail frame quickly caused its own set of problems, and George H. W. was summoned from Texas immediately. He flew all night to get there, but by the time he arrived Robin had slipped into a coma. She died peacefully.
“One minute she was there, and the next she was gone,” remembered her mother. “I truly felt her soul go out of that beautiful little body. For one last time I combed her hair, and we held our precious little girl. I never felt the presence of God more strongly than at that moment.”
It all happened so fast. By October, Robin was dead, only weeks from her fourth birthday.
“We awakened night after night in great physical pain — it hurt that much,” Barbara recalled.
Alas, it is said that this was the reason Barbara Bush turned prematurely gray. There was a story — quite a story — behind that trademark hair of Barbara Bush. The story’s name was Robin.
May Barbara Bush rest in peace, reunited at long last with that little girl.
John Kerry: Reporting for Duty . . . From Vietnam to Iran
He hasn’t changed a lick in 47 years.
I’ve been asked a number of times about John Kerry’s unauthorized actions with Iran compared to Ted Kennedy’s unauthorized actions with the Kremlin. Kerry, this spring 2018, sought to undermine President Trump’s policies, whereas Kennedy, spring 1983, sought to undermine President Reagan’s policies.
Many people — including the president of the United States — want to know if Kerry’s actions constitute a violation of the Logan Act. It’s a question I’m frequently asked about Kennedy. The short answer, in both cases, is that I’m not the source to provide the answer. Congress is. The Democratic Congress in the 1980s didn’t hesitate to launch criminal proceedings against President Ronald Reagan and his staff (many of them fine men of great integrity) in a militant pursuit for impeachment over “Iran-Contra.” Liberal Democrats did so while turning a blind eye as their leader — House Speaker Jim Wright — buddied up to Sandinista dictator Daniel Ortega in his own negotiations.
And Wright wasn’t secretary of state, just as John Kerry wasn’t secretary of state when he conferred with Iranian officials in secret meetings in New York. In what the Boston Globe described as a “rare move” of “unusual shadow diplomacy,” Kerry met with the Iranian foreign minister (among other high-level foreign officials) “to discuss ways of preserving the pact limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It was the second time in about two months that the two had met to strategize over salvaging a deal they spent years negotiating during the Obama administration, according to a person briefed on the meetings.”
That’s the very deal that President Trump was working to cancel just as Kerry was working to save it.
And that’s hardly the only Kerry outrage. No, this is old-hat. I’d like to remind everyone of Kerry’s affront decades ago. The date was April 22, 1971, 47 years to almost the exact day that Kerry met with the Iranians.
That moment, too, included yet another unsavory role by Ted Kennedy. Senator Kennedy helped arrange for the young Kerry, a Vietnam vet, to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, courtesy of Senator J. William Fulbright, hero to a young Bill Clinton, another vocal Vietnam War opponent. There, Kerry spoke of “war crimes committed in Southeast Asia” by American troops — war crimes that were “not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.” He charged that U.S. soldiers had:
“. . . personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam. . . .”
Kerry’s blistering testimony went on and on, filling two hours. The Senate room was packed with reporters and cameras. The testimony scandalized America and its soldiers.
Kerry claimed to speak on behalf of not simply the “small” group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War, of which he was the only representative to testify, but on behalf “of a very much larger group of veterans in this country.” And most damaging, his testimony came amid at least seven pending legislative proposals relating to the war; continued funding hung in the balance. That funding would signal whether the United States tried to win or opted for withdrawal, and whether the boys in the rice paddies got the weapons to defend themselves.
Kerry’s statement hit Vietnam vets like verbal napalm. His analogy to Genghis Khan, widely considered one of history’s worst beasts, was a damning indictment. His words made headlines worldwide. Overnight, his face was everywhere. He was inundated with media requests, an instant celebrity. He was discussed at the highest echelons of the Nixon White House, where the president dismissed him as a “phony.”
And speaking of phony, John Kerry’s testimony would be vigorously disputed from the outset.
One of the most dramatic such confrontations was a heated debate between Kerry and John O’Neill on the Dick Cavett Show on June 30, 1971. O’Neill had taken command of PCF 94, John Kerry’s Swift Boat, after Kerry’s departure. So incensed was O’Neill that over 30 years later he would co-author a bestselling book, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, laying out why he and other Swift Boat veterans judged Kerry “a liar and a fraud, unfit to be the commander in chief of the United States of America.” O’Neill and a group of roughly 200 “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” called a press conference in Washington on May 4, 2004. The group wasted no time with an extraordinary ad campaign that arguably cost John Kerry the presidency. He lost the presidency less in November 2004, than in April 1971.
As to the actual origins of Kerry’s information, that is likewise a controversy. One source disputes Kerry’s claim with a bracing suggestion — namely, that the origins were not American, nor Vietnamese, but Russian.
The Kremlin, primarily under Yuri Andropov’s lead at the KGB, had a nasty campaign of disinformation aimed at American servicemen. An eyewitness was Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, who later became the highest-ranking intelligence official to defect from the Soviet bloc. Pacepa spoke to Kerry’s testimony of brutal U.S. “war crimes”:
“The exact sources of that assertion should be tracked down. Kerry also ought to be asked who, exactly, told him any such thing, and what it was, exactly, that they said they did in Vietnam. Statutes of limitation now protect these individuals from prosecution for any such admissions. Or did Senator Kerry merely hear allegations of that sort as hearsay bandied about by members of antiwar groups (much of which has since been discredited)?
“To me, this assertion sounds exactly like the disinformation line that the Soviets were sowing worldwide throughout the Vietnam era. KGB priority number one at that time was to damage American power, judgment, and credibility. One of its favorite tools was the fabrication of such evidence as photographs and ‘news reports’ about invented American war atrocities. These tales were purveyed in KGB-operated magazines that would then flack them to reputable news organizations. Often enough, they would be picked up. News organizations are notoriously sloppy about verifying their sources. All in all, it was amazingly easy for Soviet-bloc spy organizations to fake many such reports and spread them around the free world.
“As a spy chief and a general in the former Soviet satellite of Romania, I produced the very same vitriol Kerry repeated to the U.S. Congress almost word for word and planted it in leftist movements throughout Europe.”
Pointing to “peace” organizations that the KGB saturated with dubious anti-American propaganda, Pacepa stated:
“The quote from Senator Kerry is unmistakable Soviet-style sloganeering from this period. I believe it is very likely a direct quote from one of these organizations’ propaganda sheets.”
Andropov would proudly tell Pacepa that the KGB’s Vietnam campaign had been “our most significant success.” Thanks to the manipulation of the American peace movement.
One can debate where and when John Kerry got his information. What is undeniable, however, was its value to America’s enemy: the Viet Cong.
In Unfit for Command, John O’Neill recalls the experience of one his band of brothers, Bill Lupetti, a Navy corpsman who had treated injured Swift Boat soldiers. Lupetti was stationed at An Thoi, where both O’Neill and Kerry had served. For Memorial Day 2004, Lupetti returned to Vietnam, painfully visiting Ho Chi Minh City, wandering through the streets earnestly looking to find out whether certain Vietnamese friends had survived the merciless Communist takeover enabled by the American withdrawal.
Lupetti happened upon the War Remnants Museum. Inside, he came to an exhibit dedicated to “heroes” who had helped the Communists win the war. A wall plaque at the head of the exhibit stated: “We would like to thank the Communist parties and working class countries of the world.” This included the “wholehearted support” of various “progressive human beings.”
Among those progressives represented in pictures, Lupetti glimpsed American campus radicals from the 1960s. (In fact, Jane Fonda’s smiling face was captured in a photo in a separate Women’s Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, standing alongside Madame Binh.) And there, Lupetti was staggered by the sight of a photo of John Kerry — the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee that year. There he was, John Kerry, in a special exhibit honoring those whose “heroic” contributions had helped the Viet Cong defeat the United States.
The Communist Vietnamese never forgot John Kerry’s testimony in 1971. It had been a great help. And perhaps today, in Iran, Kerry’s words are again being heralded, this time by the world’s worst theocratic terror state. Perhaps if the nuclear deal gets resurrected, Kerry’s mug will find a frame on the wall of a “heroes” exhibit somewhere in Tehran one day: Another testimony to him saving America’s adversaries from the Republican in the White House. *