Skip to comments.Catholics, Liberals, Blacks and Racists: The JFK "Big Tent" To The White House
Posted on 11/12/2013 5:55:21 AM PST by Nextrush
"When a church enters the arena of controversial social policy and attempts to control the judgement of its own people (and of other people) on foreign affairs, social hygiene, public education and modern science, it must be reckoned with as an organ or political and cultural power. It is in that sense that I shall discus Catholic power in this book. The Catholic problem as I see it is not primarily a religious problem: it is an institutional and political problem. It is the matter of the use and abuse of power by an organization that is not only a church but a state within a state, and a state above the state."
Paul Blanshard "American Freedom And Catholic Power" (1949)
"I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant or Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been and may someday be again a Jew, or a Quaker, or a Unitarian, or a Baptist. It was Virginia's harrassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that led to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today, I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril."
John F. Kennedy (Speech to Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12th, 1960)
Socialist author Paul Blanshard's blast against the Roman Catholic Church was published just 11 years before John F. Kennedy's presidential bid, but his attack from the left was often echoed by conservative Protestants who had grievances against Papal authority dating back to the persecution of early Protestants.
Prejudice against Catholics in the United States began with the first Irish immigrants arrival in the country before 1850 with rioters torching Catholic churches in convents in the Northeast with the notable exepction of New York.
That's where Bishop Hughes ordered Catholic laymen with guns to protect Catholic buildings.
In the 1850's the third party movement called the "Know Nothings" because of their secretive ways opposed the Irish influx but other parties tried to exploit it like the Democrats and the Whigs. A Whig political trick was to plant an Irishman to stand up and speak at political meetings so the Whig speaker could respond with a comment about how he 'liked the Irish brogue'.
The Republicans who replaced the Whigs continued to seek the support of Irish immigrants and many believe they lost the 1884 presidential election because a Protestant clergyman made a speech decrying Democrats as the party of "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion."
In the 1920's a new brand of anti Catholic bigotry focused on the crime associated with Catholic gangsters who were breaking the Prohibition laws. A new and powerful version of the Ku Klux Klan (peaking at five million members) flourished in the Midwest, South and rural parts of the Northeast.
Into this buzzsaw went the candidacy of Governor Al Smith of New York, the first Catholic nominee of a major party for President. Republican Herbert Hoover crushed Smith who carried only Catholic strongholds like Rhode Island and Massachusetts along with the states of the deeper South from South Carolina to Arkansas where hatred of Republicans and Yankees ran deeper than any animus towards Catholics.
To win where Smith hadn't JFK had to tap into the "Jim Crow" vote and wedge his support further north and west into places like North Carolina and Texas. JFK spoke to the Protestant ministers in Houston, Texas to tamp down fears of a Catholic president in the South.
Kennedy also spoke strongly against the Eisenhower Administration's (implying his opponent Vice President Richard Nixon) use of 101st Airborne Division troops to enforce a federal court order desegregating Little Rock Central High School. Kennedy said he wouldn't use the military to enforce desegregation.
At the same time Kennedy had to pull together his Catholic base in the Northeast and Midwest cities and appease the liberal wing of his party.
The most prominent member of that wing was Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. As Minneapolis mayor in the mid 1940's Humphrey engineered the unification of Democrats with the Farmer Labor Party ahead of his 1948 Senate run.
Humphrey fought for and got a civil rights plank in the Democrats 1948 platform causing southern delegates to walk out and form the States Rights Party with Strom Thurmond as presidential candidate (He got 39 electoral votes carrying the Deep South).
Kennedy easily defeated Senator Humphrey as a presidential candidate in the primaries, but he needed his support for the general election and he needed the support of black voters in large northern cities (60 percent went to Eisenhower in the last election)
A major coup for Kennedy's efforts came during the fall campaign when Dr. Martin Luther King was arrested, denied bail and sent to the Georgia State Penitentary on a misdemeanor charge.
JFK called King's wife to express his "concern" and then worked with the Democrat governor of Georgia to get Dr. King out of the prison.
The Kennedy campaign printed flyers that were distributed outside of black churches in Northern cities the Sunday before the election. The flyers highlighted Kennedy's "concern" for King.
On election day some 60 percent of the black vote went for Kennedy helping to win key states like Michigan by 2 percent with Detroit and Illinois with Chicago by 8,000 votes.
Kennedy also won in some important Southern States by close margins like Texas (2 percent) and North Carolina (just over 4 percent).
John F. Kennedy had been able to pull together a disparate coalition of people many of whom disagreed about civil rights and equality for black people to win the election in popular votes by a close margin of just over 112,800 votes or .17 percent. (The deciding electoral college vote 303 to 219 with 15 segregationist elector votes)
Could he hold them together to win re election the next time?
“Big Tent” Democrats indeed. Why does a pro-Castro Communist like Oliver Stone blame the “conspiracy to kill Kennedy” as being the linchpin that allowed “everything bad” that happened in the 60s?
Kennedy was no ally of Castro, Communists, or the sort that Mr. Stoned adores. And there are rumblings that the “conspiracy theories” were KGB planted misinformation campaigns to take their heat off their own possible involvement in the murder.
Lee Harvey Oswald was a Communist kook but when Communists go kooky the story has to be rewritten “for the masses”.
The “Reverend” Jim Jones proclaimed his People’s Temple Marxist when the Kool Aid mass suicide and murder occurred in Guyana back in the 1970’s.
A left wing African Studies major at my campus radio station back then used the tape made by Jones at the Kool Aid mixing where he blasted all his “enemies” real or imagined to suggest the CIA may have been responsible for all the deaths.
This Kennedy conspiracy stuff is such a waste of time and energy but the Left must rewrite history when one of their own does an evil deed.
...if Hughes attacked religious and ethnic bigotry, he also recognized that the dysfunctional behavior of New Yorks Irish was more destructive than the discrimination against them. After all, he knew that German immigrants, 40 percent of whom were also Catholic (the majority was Protestant, with a small minority of Jews), were almost immediately successful upon arriving in the country, even though most had come to America with no more money than their Irish counterpartsthough they did arrive as intact families to a much greater degree than the Irish. German Catholic immigrants did not experience anything akin to the troubles of Irish Catholics, proving that the source of Irish difficulties was not simply their religion or that their ancestors werent English. Tellingly, there are almost no reports of German gangs in the historical period that Gangs of New Yorkboth the movie and the 1928 book by Herbert Asbury on which it is basedportrays.Related threads:
-- from the thread What Gangs of New York Misses
....a clergyman was the catalyst for the cultural change that liberated New Yorks Irish from their underclass behavior. He was John Joseph Hughes, an Irish immigrant gardener who became the first Catholic archbishop of New York. How he accomplished his task can teach us volumes about the solution to our own end-of-the-millennium social problems....
....He immediately stirred up a war over the citys schools, then run by the Public School Society. Though the society received state funding, it was essentially a private Protestant organization that taught Protestantism and used the Protestant Bible. Worse, from Hughess point of view, it had pupils read such books as The Irish Heart, which taught that the emigration from Ireland to America of annually increasing numbers, extremely needy, and in many cases drunken and depraved, has become a subject for all our grave and fearful reflection. Hughes (with the support of New Yorks 12,000 Jews) wanted an end to such sectarian education, and he wanted, above all, state aid for Catholic schools, just as the state had funded denominational schools before 1826 (with no one dreaming of calling such aid unconstitutional). The outcome of the struggle pleased no one: the Maclay Bill of 1842 barred all religious instruction from public schools and provided no state money to denominational schools.
-- from the online article How Dagger John Saved New Yorks Irish
....1841 was an election year in the state of New York. Five days before the election, at a Catholic rally at Carroll Hall, [then-bishop John Joseph Hughes] presented his parishioners with a list of the candidates he favored for council and urged them to vote for them....The Constitution gave Hughes the right to advise his parishioners how to vote, but the Protestant establishment was outraged at what they saw as priestly meddling in politics. Leading the attack, James Gordon Bennett, editor of The New York Herald....Hughes's politicking paid off. All but three of the candidates he had supported were elected. In April 1842, the state passed the Maclay bill. By a majority of just one, New York's Senate voted to end religious instruction in New York's public schools....
-- excerpts from Hour Two of the PBS broadcast God In America
Obsession and rent free in your head BUMP
Thanks for the read and the bump! Speaking of rent free obsessions:
"The best part about Free Republic is how (borrowing a phrase from Rush Limbaugh) I get to live rent-free inside the heads of so many Catholics."
-- April 27, 2011