FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Billy Graham, Nixon and the Jews

Almost thirty years after President Nixon resigned in disgrace, the tapes continue to come out, their power to sully reputations undimmed by time.

Now it is the Rev. Billy Graham who has been made to feel the lash of his own words, secretly taped by the president who sought his spiritual counsel and used him for “cover.”

We knew, long ago, of Nixon’s own anti-Semitism. We heard his voice on the first wave of tapes, wanting to know how his daughters were being deployed in his re-election campaign. When staffers told him they were scheduled to appear at functions in support of the arts, he protested, “No, no, that’s Jews and queers.”

Nixon himself has long since lost the power to shock us, even when we hear him proposing to drop nuclear weapons on Vietnam.

But this conversation with Billy Graham is something else again. Here is the most admired and influential religious leader in America complaining to the president of the United States about the Jews and their “stranglehold” on the media, and blaming them for “all the pornography.”

Even when Nixon replies that he agrees but “can’t say that” in public, Graham presses the point: Yes, right, but if you get elected to a second term, then we could do something about the problem.

Graham adds that while many Jews are friendly to him, “they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.”

Today, Graham claims to have no memory of the conversation, as if to throw ever-so-slight a doubt on whether it actually occurred. Alas, we have the tapes. Advisers (and network news anchors bending over backward to sound respectful) point out that the old evangelist is in his eighties and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, an argument similar to the one used to try to keep war criminals from being brought to trial.

What they might have pointed out instead is that Billy Graham, at a time when he was presenting himself as a moral leader and conducting “Crusades for Christ,” was saying things no person with the slightest claim to moral stature could be imagined saying, under any circumstances.

Given nearly unfettered access to the highest halls of power, the minister used his influence to slander an entire people, to betray the trust of those who had by his own account been good to him, to urge the most powerful person in the world to act vigorously in the service of bigotry.

Closer in time to Dachau than to the present moment, the “preacher to the presidents” counseled the rankest, crudest, most heart-sickening anti-Semitism.

This news is especially painful to people who have revered Billy Graham, seeing him as a class act who operated on a much higher level than the Jerry Falwells, Pat Robertsons and Jimmy Swaggarts who came after him. I recall how some people who loathed and feared Nixon took comfort in the thought that “at least he’s talking to Billy Graham.”

Now that we know what poison he was pouring into the president’s ear, it will be impossible ever to think of him in the same way again. As paranoid as Nixon was, his spiritual advisor sounds even nuttier.

Dr. Graham says that the statements he cannot remember saying do not reflect his real views, and that he apologizes. For what, one wonders. The word “repentance” has been conspicuously absent from news accounts.

The very thought of all the times Billy Graham has “led the nation in prayer” is painful today, and not just to people who never liked him in the first place, who found him hard to take even at his best.

Had he been caught with a hooker, or with his hand in the till, or busted trying to pick up a boy in a bus station washroom, and it had come out only now, we’d probably just feel embarrassment for the old guy. But this goes way deeper. We have all said things we regret, things we’d never want made public. Graham said them to the president of the United States, from a position of privilege, by way of advice.

What must people be feeling who attended his “Crusades” around the time of that phone call, who heard him preach, who poured down out of the stadium seats at his call to conversion, now that they know what was really on his mind?

David Vest writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He is a poet and piano-player for the Pacific Northwest’s hottest blues band, The Cannonballs.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

 

 

More articles by:

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail