Should JFK Airport be Renamed?
For years, buildings were named and statues erected of people that helped shape the nation. While it can be argued that some of their influence in nation building was less than desirable, they are still part of America's history. Statues of heroes of the Confederacy, for example, stood on town squares and in parks for decades without harming anyone. Sure, some folks walked by and jeered at the likeness of a person with whom they, in their mind, had forged some sort of hate for. Regardless of reasoning, a monument to someone they felt was less than deserving offended them.
Nothing changed for nearly 100 years and many of those memorials stood guard in public without so much as a peep. The same could be said for schools, airports, bridges and highways named after well known politicians and generals. Then something happened. Something that made the United States a laughing stock in the international community. As some point, where it is hard to determine, we decided that anything that offended anyone had to be either abolished, hidden or destroyed. Forget the fact that many of the offended's arguments were weak. Tossing out terms like “racist” or “genocide” was their war cry in an attempt to shame officials in to ridding the area of something that hurt their tender sensibilities. In some cases, they didn't wait for legally sanctioned action, they formed a 21stcentury lynch mob to force their beliefs upon all by tearing down monuments on their own.
The Rise of Idiocracy
These mobs and their childish temper tantrums, astonishingly, have made significant progress in erasing subtle reminders of our nation's history. Calling anyone that stood in their way racist, fascist or a nazi, and playing on the fears of those who did not wish to be branded as such, they pushed much of their agenda through. Their cause, while it had a percentage of support at the beginning, turned into a ridiculous game of erasing the names of persons that they have proclaimed, as judge and jury, unworthy.
But it is a slippery slope to start demanding that every person who has even a minuscule of wrongdoing in their past have their memorial removed or demolished. One can make an argument for many beloved historical figures to have their name or likeliness removed from buildings or parks. To demonstrate just how insane this mob mentality has become, there is even a movement to have a statue of Abraham Lincoln removed from a college campus. While it should have never been allowed to start in the first place, we have ask ourselves: where will it stop?
Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, JFK Has Got to Go
To demonstrate just how easy it is to make a case for changing the name of a structure or removing a monument is, I propose renaming one of America's busiest airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, or better known as JFK Airport. If hunting down and removing reminders of items that are detrimental to the reputation of our nation, why have we not renamed JFK Airport? Our 35thpresident is held in high esteem by many. There are dozens of places, building and bridges named after him, he even adorns one of our coins. But what did he do to deserve such recognition? If being good looking and charismatic are the qualifications to be honored, then I assume they will be erecting a statue in my honor soon.
President Kennedy was assassinated. In short, he became a national martyr. He was no doubt popular with most of the citizenry, but after his death many began to view his short stint as president through rose colored glassed. His mediocracy and outlandish deeds were conveniently forgotten. The sad fact is, JFK should have his named removed from public view long before we start worrying about how Christopher Columbus behaved on his voyages. I suggest banishing Kennedy's name from any public venue, starting with the one place that prompts his named to uttered tens of thousands of time a day: JFK Airport. Why you ask? What did JFK do to offend me? He actually offended all of us by his behavior and legacy. Here are four good reasons anything honoring JFK has to go:
He Stole the Presidency
The 1960 election was a tight race. Nixon, the former vice-president in the Eisenhower administration, seemed to have the upper hand. Following a televised debate in which Kennedy demonstrated television's power to influence people, the election was up for grabs. In one of the closest elections in history, Kennedy received an extremely narrow majority of the popular vote with 112,827 (.17%) votes. But, as we all have learned, it is the electoral votes that count, and Kennedy garnered 303 votes to Nixon's 219. By the electoral college count, Kennedy won the election easily. Or did he?
Two states, and their electoral votes, could have changed the outcome of the election. Namely, Illinois and Texas. It is no secret that Kennedy chose Lyndon Johnson, a Texas senator, as his running mate to win Texas and improve his chances in the south. However, it is doubtful that Johnson was enough for Texans to vote for a northern socialite. There were widespread accusations that the Johnson's political machine had perpetrated voter fraud in order to sway the state's election outcome in Kennedy's favor. There was, in fact, voter fraud.
Kennedy won by a large margin in Fannin County, Texas. He received the majority of the 6,138 votes cast. The problem is, there were only 4,895 registered voters in the county. In Angelina County, Kennedy won 187 votes in a county with only 86 registered voters. There were other irregularities, but those two counties alone should have been significant cause for a recount. And a recount was sought, except that the Texas Board of Elections, all of who were Democrats, quickly certified the election to prevent it from being contested.
In Illinois, with Chicago famous for its corruption, Nixon won 92 of the state's 101 counties. It fell to Chicago to turn the tide in Kennedy's favor. Chicago's Mayor Daley held back the city's vote count until the wee hours in the morning, likely to gain time to alter the vote tally. Kennedy ended up winning Chicago's Cook County by an unrealistic 450,000 votes. Later investigations into Chicago's meddling in the election found that numerous deceased persons had voted, and one abandoned house had 56 voters registered. How strong was the evidence that Chicago threw the election in order for Kennedy to get Illinois' 27 electoral votes? Three election workers ended up serving jail time for voter fraud. While Texas likely should have gone to Nixon, there is no question that Illinois was his. John F. Kennedy, was fraudulently elected president of the United States.
He Imprisoned Thousands of People
Communist Cuba is no people's paradise. Under the iron-fisted rule of Fidel Castro, things were so bad that thousands fled the island on makeshift rafts in an attempt to reach the United States. Many of those died in the process. Cuba truly was/is an island prison. But it didn't have to be that way. Castro's rise to power caused concern in the Eisenhower administration. Having a communist country at America's doorstep was unacceptable. Late in his tenure as president, Eisenhower approved plans for a CIA backed invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro.
Kennedy took office knowing of the Cuban invasion plan. He had been briefed while still a candidate. He allowed the plan to proceed, and the Bay of Pigs Invasion began on April 17, 1961. The invasion had a good chance of success. Using US supplied aircraft, and later air support, the invasion force would land near a city with a large anti-Castro citizenry, and destroy the Cuban air force on the ground. However, Kennedy, in an attempt to lessen America's involvement, cut the number of bombers for the initial strikes on the Cuban airfields in half. The result was a largely intact fleet of attack aircraft that would mercilessly pound the pro-American landing force. Kennedy also had the landing site changed. The initial site was substituted for the pro-communist area surrounding the Bay of Pigs.
It was very early in his presidency and Kennedy was hoping to distance himself from what was looking more and more like a defeat. And thanks to JFK's waffling and indecision, that is exactly what happened. After lying to the Soviet Union and the United Nations about US involvement, a few days later he was forced to acknowledge that the Bay of Pigs catastrophe was largely an American CIA operation.
The result was the solidification of Castro's leadership over the cuban people, and the resulting communist culture thrust upon them. Not allowed to leave, the entire population became prisoners on the island. The failed invasion also caused Castro to become a close ally of the Soviet Union, who would later place medium range nuclear missiles in the country that resulted in the world's closest brush with nuclear war: the Cuban Missile Crisis.
He Got the United States Involved in Vietnam
To be fair, it was the Eisenhower administration that originally sent military advisors to Vietnam. Using mainly special forces, Ike was attempting to keep the Domino Theory from making all of southeast Asia a communist stronghold. He provided South Vietnam millions of dollars of equipment and training as well as US military expertise though the advisors. When Eisenhower left office, there were 900 American military advisors in Vietnam.
By the time Kennedy turned his attention to Vietnam, he already had a crisis of reputation. He had his ass handed to him in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, allowed a wall to be built around West Berlin, and allowed the US to far fall behind in the space race. He told a New York Times reporter that "Now we have a problem making our power credible and Vietnam looks like the place." In an attempt to make up for his other failures, Kennedy began sending US troops to Vietnam. By the time Kennedy was assassinated, 19,000 American troops were in Vietnam, and JFK was complicit in the coup and murder of South Vietnam's president.
Kennedy's escalation in Vietnam cemented the United States' commitment to keeping the communists out of the south to a point there was no turning back. The war dragged on for years and cost thousands of American lives. Ending in defeat for the US as our nation withdrew in the early 70s; from the grave JFK provided one last humiliation for our country.
He Was a Philandering Lech
Kennedy's appetite for women is well known and well documented. But in his defense, it is hard to name any president that didn't have a mistress on the side. Reagan was too old to care, Carter too religious to stray. Others are up for debate, except Clinton of course. However repulsive Clinton's behavior was, he was a boy scout compared to JFK.
There were a slew of dalliances. Although it can be said he actually had pretty good taste in mistresses. Who could forget that he and Marylin Monroe were friends with benefits. But the tryst that really put him at the top of the list of perverts is his 18 month affair with Mimi Alford.
Ms Alford was a 19 year old intern in the White House press office. She was there only days before she was bedded by JFK, in which the president took her virginity. That would be lecherous enough, but while swimming with the president at the White House pool, he ordered her to perform oral sex on one of JFK's compadres; which she did. In the following months, he introduced her to drugs (amyl nitrate, aka poppers), and wanted her to perform oral sex on his brother Teddy Kennedy, which she did not. While Kennedy did not overtly rape his teenage intern, the disparity in power and his position far above her in the administration is what we call sexual harassment today. If you want to know more about the lurid details of JFK and his teenage mistress, her book is a good read. While there is significant fake outrage at a president talking about grabbing women by the genitals, JFK actually did. Did I mention she was 19?
Marilyn Monroe Sings to JFL
Good Looks and Charisma Do Not Make a Great President
But on the bright side, John F. Kennedy started the Peace Corps, although one would be hard pressed to prove that it provides anything of value to our nation. And he did eventually get us on track to enter and eventually surpass the Soviet Union in the conquering of space. Either of those are hardly reasons for naming a major airport after him. He was good looking, charismatic, and a damn good orator, which is apparently enough for a segment of our population to remember him as a great president.
Which returns us to the original debate: does a president that did little for the nation, and caused significant harm to its reputation while bedding teenage girls deserve anything, be it a building or monument in his honor? If you can think objectively the answer is “no.” In the context that people are demanding the removal of all things that could even slightly offend someone be torn down or renamed, JFK should be near the top of that list; and we should start with JFK Airport.