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NEWS & COLUMNS

Billy Graham: War Criminal

By Alexander Cockburn

Billy Graham: War Criminal

Billy Graham: War Criminal

There’s a piquant contrast in the press coverage of Billy Graham’s conversations with Nixon, as displayed on the tapes gradually released from the National Archive or disclosed from Nixon’s papers. Back in April l989, a Graham memo to Nixon was made public. It was dated April 15, 1969, and was drafted after the evangelist met in Bangkok with missionaries from Vietnam. These men of God said that if peace talks in Paris were to fail, Nixon should step up the war and bomb the dikes, which, Graham wrote, "could overnight destroy the economy of North Vietnam."

Graham lent his imprimatur to this recommendation. Thus Graham was advocating a policy to the U.S. Commander-in-Chief that on Nixon’s own estimate would have killed a million people. The German High Commissioner Seyss-Inquart was sentenced to death at Nuremberg for breaching dikes and other crimes in Holland in World War II. (His execution did not deter the USAF from destroying the Toksan dam in North Korea, in 1953, thus deliberately wrecking the system that irrigated 75 percent of North Korea’s rice farms.)

This disclosure of Graham as an aspirant war criminal did not excite any commotion when it became public.

Very different has been the reception of a new tape revealing Graham, Nixon and Haldeman palavering about Jewish domination of the media, and Graham invoking the "stranglehold" Jews have on the media. On the account of James Warren in the Chicago Tribune, who has filed excellent stories down the years on Nixon’s tapes, Nixon raises a topic about which "we can’t talk about...publicly," namely Jewish influence in Hollywood and the media. Nixon cites Paul Keyes, a political conservative who was executive producer of the NBC hit Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, as telling him that "11 of the 12 writers are Jewish." "That right?" says Graham, prompting Nixon to claim that Life magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and others are "totally dominated by the Jews." Nixon says network tv anchors Howard K. Smith, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite are "front men who may not be of that persuasion," but that their writers are "95 percent Jewish."

Magnanimously, Nixon concedes that this does not mean "that all the Jews are bad," but that most are left-wing radicals who want "peace at any price except where support for Israel is concerned. The best Jews are actually the Israeli Jews." "That’s right," agrees Graham, who later concurs with a Nixon assertion that a "powerful bloc" of Jews confronts Nixon in the media. "And they’re the ones putting out the pornographic stuff," Graham adds. Later Graham says that "a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine. They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country." After Graham’s departure Nixon says to Haldeman, "You know it was good we got this point about the Jews across." "It’s a shocking point," Haldeman replies. "Well," says Nixon, "it’s also, the Jews are an irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards."

Within days of these exchanges becoming public the 83-year-old Graham was disturbed in his dotage and impelled to express public contrition. "Experts" on Graham were duly cited as expressing their "shock" at Graham’s White House table talk.

Why the shock? Don’t they know that this sort of stuff is consonant with the standard conversational bill of fare at 75 percent of the country clubs in America, not to mention many a Baptist soiree? Nixon thought American Jews were lefty peaceniks who dominated the Democratic Party and were behind the attacks on him. Graham reckoned it was Hollywood Jews who had sunk the nation in porn. Haldeman agreed with both of them. At whatever level of fantasy they were all acknowledging power. But they didn’t say they wanted to kill a million Jews. That’s what Graham said about the Vietnamese, and no one raised a bleat.

It’s supposedly the third rail in journalism even to have a discussion of how much Jews control the media. Since some of the prime founders of Hollywood were Polish Jews who grew up within 50 miles of one another in Galicia, it’s reckoned as not so utterly beyond bounds to talk about Jewish power in Hollywood, though people still stir uneasily. Jude Wanniski remarked last week in his daily "Memo on the Margin" in his Web newsletter Supply Side Investor that (a) Graham was not being anti-Semitic, and that (b) it was certainly true to say that the Jews control discussion of Israel in the media here.

There are a number of stories sloshing around the news now that have raised discussion of Israel and of the posture of American Jews to an acrid level. The purveyor of anthrax may have been a former government scientist of Jewish ethnic extraction with a record of baiting a colleague of Arab origins, acting with the intent to blame the anthrax on Muslim terrorists. Rocketing around the Web and spilling into the press are many stories about Israeli spies in America at the time of 9/11. On various accounts of unknown reliability, they were trailing Atta and his associates, knew what was going to happen but did nothing or were simply spying on U.S. facilities. Some posing as art students have been expelled, according to the AP. Finally, there’s Sharon’s bloody repression of the Palestinians, and Israel’s apparently powerful role in Bush’s foreign policy.


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