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John Kerry’s America - What he said about us
NRO ^ | June 8, 1971 | William F. Buckley Jr.

Posted on 02/04/2004 7:24:55 AM PST by Tailgunner Joe

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the text of William F. Buckley Jr.'s June 8, 1971, commencement address to the United States Military Academy at West Point. The speech appears here as it is in Let Us Talk of Many Things : The Collected Speeches.

The morale in the armed services was low, reflecting the impasse and progressive demoralization in Vietnam, and especially the trial of Lieutenant William Calley for the massacre at Mylai. A drastic charge, flamboyantly made by decorated veteran John Kerry (now a United States senator from Massachusetts), had been rapturously received. Kerry ascribed to our soldiers in Vietnam uncivilized, barbarous practices. I devoted my talk to asking about Mr. Kerry's charges and reflecting on their implications.

A great deal has been written lately on the spirit of progressivism at West Point. I note that a generation ago, cadets were not permitted to read a newspaper, whereas today, each cadet room receives a daily copy of the New York Times. I know now what it means to be nostalgic for the good old days.

I read ten days ago the full text of the quite remarkable address delivered by John Kerry before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. It was an address, I am told, that paralyzed the committee by its eloquence and made Mr. Kerry — a veteran of the war in Vietnam, a pedigreed Bostonian, a graduate of Yale University — an instant hero.

After reading it I put it aside, deeply troubled as I was by the haunting resonance of its peroration, which so moved the audience. The words he spoke were these:

"[We are determined] to undertake one last mission, to search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war, to pacify our hearts, to conquer the hate and fear that have driven this country these last ten years and more, so that when, thirty years from now, our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be able to say 'Vietnam!' and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory, but the place where America finally turned and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning."

"Where America finally turned." We need to wonder: where America finally turned from what?

Mr. Kerry, in introducing himself to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made it plain that he was there to speak not only for himself, but for what he called "a very much larger group of veterans in this country." He then proceeded to describe the America he knows, the America from which he enjoined us all to turn.

In Southeast Asia, he said, he saw "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."

A grave charge, but the sensitive listener will instantly assume that Mr. Kerry is using the word "crime" loosely, as in, "He was criminally thoughtless in not writing home more often to his mother." But Mr. Kerry quickly interdicted that line of retreat. He went on to enumerate precisely such crimes as are being committed "on a day-to-day basis, with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." He gave tales of torture, of rape, of Americans who "randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravages of war."

Mr. Kerry informed Congress that what threatens the United States is "not Reds, and not redcoats," but "the crimes" we are committing. He tells us that we have "created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence, and who have returned with a sense of anger."

Most specifically he singled out for criticism a sentence uttered by Mr. Agnew here at West Point a year ago: "Some glamorize the criminal misfits of society while our best men die in Asian rice paddies to preserve the freedom which most of those misfits abuse." Mr. Kerry insists that the so-called misfits are the true heroes, inasmuch as it was they who "were standing up for us in a way that nobody else in this country dared to." As for the men in Vietnam, he added, "we cannot consider ourselves America's 'best men' when we are ashamed of and hated for what we were called on to do in Southeast Asia."

And indeed, if American soldiers have been called upon to rape and to torture and to exterminate non-combatants, it is obvious that they should be ashamed, less obvious why they have not expressed that shame more widely on returning to the United States, particularly inasmuch as we have been assured by Mr. Kerry that they have been taught to deal and to trade in violence.

Are there extenuating circumstances? Is there a reason for our being in Vietnam?

"To attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom . . . is . . . the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart." It is then, we reason retrospectively, not alone an act of hypocrisy that caused the joint chiefs of staff and the heads of the civilian departments engaged in strategic calculations to make the recommendations they made over the past ten years, to three Presidents of the United States: it was not merely hypocrisy, but criminal hypocrisy. The nature of that hypocrisy? "All," Mr. Kerry sums up, "that we were told about the mystical war against Communism."

The indictment is complete.

It is the indictment of an ignorant young man who is willing to condemn in words that would have been appropriately used in Nuremberg the governing class of America: the legislators, the generals, the statesmen. And, reaching beyond them, the people, who named the governors to their positions of responsibility and ratified their decisions in several elections.

The point I want to raise is this: If America is everything that John Kerry says it is, what is it appropriate for us to do? The wells of regeneration are infinitely deep, but the stain described by John Kerry goes too deep to be bleached out by conventional remorse or resolution: better the destruction of America, if, to see ourselves truly, we need to look into the mirror John Kerry holds up for us. If we are a nation of sadists, of kid-killers and torturers, of hypocrites and criminals, let us be done with it, and pray that a great flood or fire will destroy us, leaving John Kerry and maybe Mrs. Benjamin Spock to take the place of Lot, in reseeding a new order.

Gentleman, how many times, in the days ahead, you will need to ask yourselves the most searching question of all, the counterpart of the priest's most agonizing doubt: Is there a God? Yours will be: Is America worth it?

John Kerry's assault on this country did not rise fullblown in his mind, like Venus from the Cypriot Sea. It is the crystallization of an assault upon America which has been fostered over the years by an intellectual class given over to self-doubt and self-hatred, driven by a cultural disgust with the uses to which so many people put their freedom. The assault on the military, the many and subtle vibrations of which you feel as keenly as James Baldwin knows the inflections of racism, is an assault on the proposition that what we have, in America, is truly worth defending. The military is to be loved or despised according as it defends that which is beloved or perpetuates that which is despised. The root question has not risen to such a level of respectability as to work itself into the platform of a national political party, but it lurks in the rhetoric of the John Kerrys, such that a blind man, running his fingers over the features of the public rhetoric, can discern the meaning of it:

Is America worth it?

That is what they are saying to you. And that is what so many Americans reacted to in the case of Lieutenant Calley. Mistakenly, they interpreted the conviction of Calley as yet another effort to discredit the military. And though they will not say it in as many words, they know that if there is no military, it will quickly follow that there will be no America, of the kind that they know, that we know. The America that listens so patiently to its John Kerrys, the America that shouldered the great burden of preserving oases of freedom after the great curtain came down with that Bolshevik subtlety that finally expressed itself in a Wall, to block citizens of the socialist utopia from leaving, en route even to John Kerry's America; the America that all but sank under the general obloquy, in order to stand by, in Southeast Asia, a commitment it had soberly made, to the cause of Containment — I shall listen patiently, decades hence, to those who argue that our commitment in Vietnam and our attempt to redeem it were tragically misconceived. I shall not listen to those who say that it was less than the highest tribute to national motivation, to collective idealism, and to international rectitude. I say this with confidence because I have never met an American who takes pleasure from the Vietnam War or who desires to exploit the Vietnamese.

So during those moments when doubt will assail you, moments that will come as surely as the temptations of the flesh, I hope you will pause. I know, I know, at the most hectic moments of one's life it isn't easy — indeed, the argument can be made that neither is it seemly — to withdraw from the front line in order to consider the general situation philosophically. But what I hope you will consider, during these moments of doubt, is the essential professional point: Without organized force, and the threat of the use of it under certain circumstances, there is no freedom, anywhere. Without freedom, there is no true humanity. If America is the monster of John Kerry, burn your commissions tomorrow morning and take others, which will not bind you in the depraved conspiracy you have heard described. If it is otherwise, remember: the freedom John Kerry enjoys, and the freedom I enjoy, are, quite simply, the result of your dedication. Do you wonder that I accepted the opportunity to salute you?


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: 1971; 2004; antiamericanism; johnkerry; kerry; kerryrecord; ketchupboy; westpoint; williamfbuckley

1 posted on 02/04/2004 7:24:59 AM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe
BUMP!
2 posted on 02/04/2004 7:26:21 AM PST by jmstein7
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Buckley. Majestic.
3 posted on 02/04/2004 7:33:18 AM PST by Taliesan
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To: Tailgunner Joe
If Kerry gets the nomination, this should be read from the podium as the keynote address at the RNC convention this summer.
4 posted on 02/04/2004 7:35:01 AM PST by Taliesan
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To: Tailgunner Joe
I wonder if WFB will be speaking at The RNC this July. His oration on Kerry and philosophical decisions brings a level of clarity that many others lack.
5 posted on 02/04/2004 7:41:02 AM PST by .cnI redruM (Vae victis! - [woe to the vanquished].)
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To: All
Excellent, especially the final paragraph.

Jane Fonda Kerry must be exposed.
6 posted on 02/04/2004 7:41:02 AM PST by jigsaw (Freeper Fidelis)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Big Bump.
7 posted on 02/04/2004 7:43:14 AM PST by DoctorMichael (Thats my story, and I'm sticking to it.)
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To: All
remember: the freedom John Kerry enjoys, and the freedom I enjoy, are, quite simply, the result of your dedication. Do you wonder that I accepted the opportunity to salute you?
8 posted on 02/04/2004 7:43:59 AM PST by jla
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To: Taliesan
i agree, but, in the mean time, what can we do to 'bring this to light'? Forums like this help, letters to editors help (but they won't print them).
Any ideas?
9 posted on 02/04/2004 7:47:42 AM PST by pc52 (pc52)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Kerry's campaign theme should be "I am the only one able to take on the powerful special interests as long as they keep sending me tons of money. Afterall that's the only way I can gain leverage over them. And if they don't send me money, and I win, I'll make laws to harm the economy and jobs of those who refuse to donate to my campaign."

Kerry is a joke- he factually stands out as the one Senator in US History, far above Sen. Baucus from Montana, as the Senator who takes more special interest money than any other Senator.

Yeah right John, you're gonna "take on the powerful special interests"-- baloney -- you're gonna take them on alright- "Hey I'm taking you on- give me money."

A crock of horse pucky.
10 posted on 02/04/2004 7:48:48 AM PST by GotDangGenius
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To: jla
The saddest part is that Mr. Kerry will be elected because, rather than in spite of his treasonous activities.
11 posted on 02/04/2004 7:51:03 AM PST by TommyUdo (The Democrat Party-- Proudly Pimpin' off Po' Folk since 1964)
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To: Taliesan
HANOI JOHN. There's your soundbite.
12 posted on 02/04/2004 7:56:02 AM PST by floriduh voter (www.conservative-spirit.org freeper site)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Kerry...and many of his defenders, are making his post Vietnam War protests seem like a principled position against an unpopular war. This position is a lie. Kerry didn't just protest the Vietnam War...he marched with those who wanted to see America defeated. And in doing so, endagnered the lives of those still in battle.
13 posted on 02/04/2004 7:59:09 AM PST by cwb (Dean = Dr. Jeckyll exposing his Hyde)
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To: GotDangGenius
Good thread for my new favorite graphic:


14 posted on 02/04/2004 8:02:50 AM PST by Coop (God bless our troops!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
If Yaaaawn Cash & Kerry would have let us win Nam, maybe 10 million SE Asians would be alive right now? He would rather support the Kamer Rouge than the USA!

Pray for W and The Election

15 posted on 02/04/2004 8:03:36 AM PST by bray (The Wicked Witch of NY and Her (9-8) Flying Monkeys are In Flames!)
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To: Taliesan
As always.
16 posted on 02/04/2004 8:04:29 AM PST by CasearianDaoist
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To: TommyUdo
The saddest part is that Mr. Kerry will be elected because...

Stop right there, Tommy!
I honestly can't imagine why you'd think this. Dubya already has the South locked, including Florida, and of course the Republic of Texas and it's 34 Electoral votes.

Kerry speaks for a definite minority of folks in America. These are the same ones who gave Rapin' Bill Clinton only 40% of the popular vote each of his elections. And I even doubt that all of these malcontents & social parasites buy into Kerry's charges of an America-in-decline.

17 posted on 02/04/2004 8:05:02 AM PST by jla (http://hillarytalks.blogspot.com)
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To: TommyUdo
The saddest part is that Mr. Kerry will be elected because,

Kerry won't be elected. At this point in virtually every Prez campaign, the party not holding the White House is far ahead in the polls. Bush hasn't even started campaigning, and when he does, Kerry will flop like a fish out of water. I can see Kerry growing gill slits as we speak. He'll be gasping for air the minute his record is "marketed" by the Bush campaign. You think Howard Dean imploded, wait 'till "candidate yawn"- Kerry starts getting impaled by the Bush campaign. Kerry's campaign will need defib paddles to prop up the corpse and hand out toothpicks to the audiences for their eyeballs to stay open.

18 posted on 02/04/2004 8:05:28 AM PST by GotDangGenius
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To: cwboelter
.


'JOHN KERRY = Enemy of Vietnam Vets'


http://www.TheAlamoFILM.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1320


Same-Same
HILLARY Diane RODHAM
WILLIAM Jefferson CLINTON

.
19 posted on 02/04/2004 8:07:19 AM PST by ALOHA RONNIE (Vet-Battle of IA DRANG-1965 www.LZXRAY.com.)
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To: jla
Bingo !
20 posted on 02/04/2004 8:07:24 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Torie; woodyinscc; Howlin
In Southeast Asia, he said, he saw "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."

He lied. A contemporaneous view of post war John Kerry by Buckley.

21 posted on 02/04/2004 8:12:12 AM PST by jwalsh07
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Frenchie consorts with known criminals.


22 posted on 02/04/2004 8:24:16 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: jla; GotDangGenius
O.K., I'm sorry, Doom and Gloom shall not prevail. It must be the heavy fog in CA (both figuatively and actually) this AM and actually reading some of the "Bush Bashing" posts here 'bouts.

Let's just say, "If" Kerry is elected... ("nothin's a 'Lock,' Book...").

I do think FL is in play due to the high percentage of easy radicalized "Seniors." From the "Greatest Generation" to a bunch of welfare state whiners in ein augen blick!.

23 posted on 02/04/2004 8:27:30 AM PST by TommyUdo (The Democrat Party-- Proudly Pimpin' off Po' Folk since 1964)
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To: TommyUdo
Kerry's was an also ran 6 weeks ago. His rise has come about because of Dean's crash and burn. The Democrats remain desperate for anyone they think can beat Bush. That is the only reason they are supporting Kerry. There is no real passion for the candidate, as we will see once Bush and Rove begin to weigh in with campaigning of their own. Also, as the field thins, and Dean heads for the Greens, and Edwards thinks he can make this a horse-race to the convention, expect Kerry and his Vietnam-shtick begin to wear thin.
24 posted on 02/04/2004 8:36:35 AM PST by bootyist-monk (5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Thunderbirds are go!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Buckley eloquent as usual. If Kerry becomes POTUS we will have validated the Soldier hating commie punks that lined the streets in California and elsewhere, smoking dope, spitting on returning Nam Vets and chanting "ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE PEACE A CHANCE."

First we elect a draft dodging, military hating rapist as POTUS and in NOV we "MAY" elect a hero of that WAR, who comes home ONLY to disgrace himself and his fellow Vietnam Veterans not only by agreeing with those commie punks but calling his fellow vets barbarians, murderers and rapists.

Our founding fathers always invisioned military men through the prism of George Washington our first and greatest president, alas we now have CinC's who despise those they command, hate the principles upon which this nation was founded and believe our military is nothing more than a gang of thugs, killers and rapists. It is damn sickening!!

25 posted on 02/04/2004 8:43:05 AM PST by PISANO (God Bless our Troops........They will not TIRE - They will not FALTER - They will not FAIL!!!!!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Great article, may I suggest that you e-mail this to the Wall Street Journal. They occasionally reprint old articles from their archives, maybe they would consider printing this.
26 posted on 02/04/2004 8:46:07 AM PST by Eva
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To: Tailgunner Joe
This is a terrific article, and a prophetic reminder!
27 posted on 02/04/2004 8:46:24 AM PST by Gritty ("If America is the monster of John Kerry, burn your commissions tomorrow morning"-WF Buckley, 1971)
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To: pc52
Copy and paste and send it to every veteran that you know, then send it to your whole e-mail list.
28 posted on 02/04/2004 8:58:27 AM PST by Eva
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To: Tailgunner Joe
These are legitimate campaign issues and topics. Kerry's got an interesting philosophy and take on our country. And with the cover of that book to go along with it. He's as great a patriot as Benedict Arnold.
29 posted on 02/04/2004 9:08:35 AM PST by bushfamfan
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To: GotDangGenius
And I like you will enjoy every minute of it.
30 posted on 02/04/2004 9:17:26 AM PST by DarthVader (Liberal Democrats = The domestic enemies of the United States)
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To: DarthVader
Believe it or not, even Newsweek is willing to bash Kerry now:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1071438/posts

Of course, this may intended to innoculate him on this later - if a Republican brings it up during the general election, Ketchup Boy can just say, "That's old news, we covered it months ago."

31 posted on 02/04/2004 10:06:54 AM PST by RebelBanker (Deo Vindice)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
I think that we should send a copy of this to every media person who writes a pro-Kerry article. Just get it out there, make them acknowledge this issue.
32 posted on 02/04/2004 10:52:13 AM PST by Eva
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To: RebelBanker
only problem is that Kerry keeps talking up his "band of brothers",,wonder how they will like being lumped in as baby killers, animal shooters, rapists, etc.
33 posted on 02/04/2004 10:56:34 AM PST by cajungirl (John Kerry has no botox and I have a bridge to sell you!)
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To: jla
Haven't you heard, the 'base' is PO'D at Dubya's spending and illegal alien thing and are gonna sit home and let the RATS have the next 3 SCOTUS appointments to teach him a lesson. Many FReepers are voting third party for this reason.

GO DUBYA GO! I like my tax cuts, conservative judges, and a CIC I can be proud of.

34 posted on 02/04/2004 11:40:31 AM PST by GailA (Millington Rally for America after action http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/872519/posts)
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To: GailA
Now Gail, we need to work on closing any fissure(s) in the G.O.P., not compound them! :^)
I myself could very well be described as one of the base you refer to, but you can be assured I intend to do all a humble, Virginia citizen can in helping reelect Dubya.

By the way, you in Millington, TN? I lived in Cordova before coming over to the Ol' Dominion.
Throw Away The Keys sounds like a fine & justifiable undertaking.

35 posted on 02/04/2004 12:03:18 PM PST by jla
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To: A.A. Cunningham
Question for the vets, is it normal to wear the decorations (are they called boards?) on fatigues like that? (picture on post 22). Thought those were only worn on dress uniforms.
36 posted on 02/04/2004 12:06:34 PM PST by yhwhsman ("Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small..." -Sir Winston Churchill)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
bump
37 posted on 02/04/2004 12:17:50 PM PST by wisconsinconservative ("The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.")
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To: jla
We've been in Millington about 17 years now. The Navy base is no longer a training base, but BUPERS...paper pushers. They are aweful nice people though. Our primary is 2/10, I voted early last Friday. weasely and breck girl are in Memphis today trying to con folks.
38 posted on 02/04/2004 12:40:40 PM PST by GailA (Millington Rally for America after action http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/872519/posts)
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To: Tailgunner Joe; Hon
and especially the trial of Lieutenant William Calley for the massacre at Mylai. A drastic charge, flamboyantly made by decorated veteran John Kerry (now a United States senator from Massachusetts), had been rapturously received. Kerry ascribed to our soldiers in Vietnam uncivilized, barbarous practices

What is this all about??

39 posted on 02/04/2004 3:14:31 PM PST by Mo1 (Join the dollar a day crowd now!)
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To: Mo1
Assuming that you want an explanation of the bolded parts of your message.

Lt. William Calley and some members of his platoon were tried and convicted of the rape, torture and massacre of Vietnamese civilians (the Mylai massacre). Some of this groups behavior was so evil that some American soldiers eventually got medals for threatening to open fire on Calley and his soldiers in order to rescue civilians.

Kerry's drastic charge is that the Mylai massacre (along with other atrocities) was not an aberration, but in fact standard operating procedure by all forces and that ranks from private up to general knew it, accepted it and participated in it.

40 posted on 02/04/2004 3:33:51 PM PST by ExpandNATO
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To: ExpandNATO
Thanks for the info .. I didn't know about that case
41 posted on 02/04/2004 3:38:34 PM PST by Mo1 (Join the dollar a day crowd now!)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Thought you might want to read this.
42 posted on 02/04/2004 5:47:20 PM PST by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: Tailgunner Joe
I would like to hear from Vietnam Vets. Was Kerry lying through his teeth when he testified? Was he telling the truth? You guys know.
43 posted on 02/04/2004 6:00:45 PM PST by gitmo (Who is John Galt?)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Bump and bookmark

Give yourself an attaboy.
ATTABOY!
44 posted on 02/04/2004 9:03:49 PM PST by Valin (Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.)
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To: Mo1
"What is this all about??"

Kerry's "testimony" before Fulbright's Senate Committee in April 1971.

You can Google it. But in a nutshell Kerry read a speech written for him by Robert Kennedy's former speech-writer and anti-war activist.

In it he quoted some "testimony" from the "Winter Soldier" investigation, funded by Jane Fonda. The testimony--that Kerry presented as fact--claimed that US soldiers committed atrocities in VN as a matter of routine.
45 posted on 02/05/2004 5:25:50 AM PST by Hon
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To: yhwhsman
The only device(s) authorized for wear on utilities are rank insignia and devices like wings(aviator, jump, recon, etc.) scuba or BUDS(SEALs). Ribbons are not to be worn on anything but what is known as a service uniform. During the Vietnam War it became chic among anti-war types to adorn their utilities with ribbons, aka fruit salad, to attempt to give credibility to their protests/actions by saying "Look at me, I've been there and done that so you must take what I'm saying and doing as gospel." They are part of the shtick just as Kerry's testimony before the Senate was an act.
46 posted on 02/06/2004 8:00:37 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: A.A. Cunningham
The only device(s) authorized for wear on utilities are rank insignia and devices like wings(aviator, jump, recon, etc.) scuba or BUDS(SEALs). Ribbons are not to be worn on anything but what is known as a service uniform.

Thanks A A. How anyone can believe Kerry is presidential material is absolutely astounding to me.

47 posted on 02/06/2004 3:10:38 PM PST by yhwhsman ("Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small..." -Sir Winston Churchill)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

BTTT


48 posted on 08/28/2004 10:57:53 PM PDT by Mo1 (FR NEWS ALERT .... John Kerry over dosed on Botox and thinks he's Bob KerrEy)
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