In one of the latest but most distasteful efforts to mute criticism of President Obama's policies, a left-wing media "watchdog" by the name of Eric Boehlert is suggesting that conservative criticism of Obama could lead to his death. Trying to score partisan political points by raising a macabre scenario, Boehlert claims that there are similarities between alleged hatred of Barack Obama and opposition to John F. Kennedy before he was assassinated.
The obvious problem with his amateurish analysis, which has been published under the wild headline, "The Last Time Right-Wing Hatred ran Wild Like This a President was Killed," is that Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, a communist who was upset with Kennedy's attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. It wasn't right-wing ideology which inspired Oswald; it was Marxism.
This disinformation effort needs to be analyzed carefully to understand where the real threat to Obama may actually lie. If scribbling like that of Boehlert is taken seriously, Obama's life could be put more in jeopardy from the real extremists, who are on the left and in the Islamic camp.
I covered an October 25, 2003, anti-war demonstration in Washington, D.C. which featured "Bush/Satan 2004" T-shirts and "Stop Bush" signs with the "s" in Bush made to resemble a Nazi swastika. I also photographed someone carrying a sign that said, "Bush is the Anti-Christ." But it didn't occur to me to write a story saying any of this constituted a threat to the President's life. That would have been a stretch based on dubious assumptions.
However, the reality is that some of the groups protesting Bush were communist and had foreign connections. One of them, the Workers World Party, had been investigated by the now-defunct House Internal Security Committee for its support of the North Korean regime and Arab terrorist groups.
While criticism of Obama and his policies has been intense, some of the strongest attacks on Obama have come not from the right, but from the left.
Consider, for example, the "Down With Obama's War in Afghanistan" front-page headline and story in the Workers Vanguard newspaper. This self-described "Marxist Working-Class Biweekly of the Spartacist League of the U.S. " had previously warned that Afghanistan was to be "Obama's preferred theater of imperialist carnage."
Some of the same communist groups which opposed Bush's Iraq policy oppose Obama on Afghanistan .
While the Communist Party USA is strongly supporting the President, there are many on the far-left who despise him. Citing Afghanistan and other issues, some of the Marxist true-believers already view Obama as a sell-out.
For example, while the Marxists approve of Obama's alliance with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and the attempt to destroy the anti-communist government of Honduras, some are concerned that the effort isn't moving ahead rapidly enough and that the Pentagon is still pursuing a strategy "to regain control" of Latin America, in the words of Workers World, the newspaper of the Workers World Party. They are very upset by an administration decision to expand U.S. military access to Colombian bases.
The same newspaper also accuses Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of an "imperialist policy toward Africa."
Domestically, the paper Socialist Action is griping that Obama's management of General Motors has resulted in layoffs for workers. The paper accuses Obama of "union-busting."
The truth of the charges is less important than the fact that they are being made by people who regard Obama as a puppet of the capitalist elites. The Party of Socialism and Liberation complains that Obama, even before he became President, had assured the U.S. ruling class of his commitment to "domination" of the Middle East.
Clearly, some of the Marxists in the U.S. haven't gotten the memo that Obama is supposed to be one of them.
It is difficult to get accurate figures on the number of these hard-core Marxist-Leninists. Thanks to liberal politicians, there are no official congressional bodies which monitor and investigate domestic communist and other extremist organizations. Such efforts, which were actually dedicated to uncovering extremists on the right and left, were considered "McCarthyism."
Other communist activists, such as former Weather Underground leader Mark Rudd, think they understand what Obama is doing. He has written that Obama is pursuing a deliberate strategy of appearing to be moderate on some issues so he can move harder to the left on others. Jarvis Tyner of the CPUSA agrees, having written that the left should support and not oppose Obama, even when he appears to be breaking ranks. "No struggle is pure," he has written.
Our media ignore this kind of support for Obama as well as the angry rhetoric about Obama's "imperialist" policies coming from some communist and anti-American groups. Obviously, those under attack in Afghanistan by Obama's "imperialist" policies are taking this personally. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not only potential but real threats to the President. It is telling that three men from Afghanistan have just been arrested on charges relating to planned acts of terrorism in the U.S.
John F. Kennedy had conservative critics before he was elected President. After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba designed to oust Castro from power he reportedly developed second thoughts about his anti-Castro policy. But there can be no question that his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was involved in several Marxist groups, including the "Fair Play for Cuba" committee, and had actually defected to the Soviet Union.
Earlier this year, on a Sunday interview program, ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson said that he wanted to ask Fidel Castro before he died, "did you do it? Meaning November 22, 1963." It's a fair question, considering that Kennedy was considered early on to be an enemy of the Cuban Communist revolution and that Oswald was a pro-Castro activist.
The only open question is to what extent Soviet and Cuban intelligence agents had a direct role in the Kennedy assassination.
The Soviets were so fearful that they would be blamed for Kennedy's assassination that Marzani and Munsell, a publishing house they subsidized, quickly published a disinformation book, Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy, by a communist named Joachim Joesten. The book argued that right-wingers were really behind Kennedy's murder.
It was to be expected that the communists would try to divert attention from Oswald's links to Cuba and the Soviet Union. But to ignore his communist ideology in order to sound the alarm over conservative criticism of Obama decades later adds to the dishonesty and raises the question of what these Obama defenders are trying to do.
It is clear that they aren't concerned about protecting Obama from real threats; they only want to silence legitimate criticism of the President. Consider that Boehlert's evidence of "violent rhetorical attacks" on Obama consisted of a few controversial signs from the 9-12 anti-Big Government rally, including several that made fun of Obama, questioned where he was born, reaffirmed the value of the Second Amendment, or said, "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy."
Criticism of Obama from any source on the right or the left should not necessarily be considered potentially threatening. But the rhetoric against Obama on the anti-American far-left should be considered more troubling than a few anti-Obama signs at the 9-12 rally.
To further muddy the waters, Jimmy Carter claimed that the "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy" sign actually said, "Bury Obama with Kennedy," another lie designed to make conservatives out to be potential assassins. Carter further discredited himself.
The FBI and the Secret Service have a very difficult job. It would be a travesty if these agencies turn their attention to law-abiding conservatives as a potential threat because of lies and disinformation from those who claim to want to see the President protected from his enemies.