“Coexistence with Communists is neither possible nor honorable nor desirable.” Joseph McCarthy
In November of 1963 an American Communist named Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Bureaucratic apathy, and misplaced ideas of tolerance, allowed Oswald to commit this crime; by which he removed from office a staunch anti-Communist hated and feared by the Kremlin. But don’t expect to hear that in a typical college level history class.
Most history professors and textbook writers are leftists who are very reluctant to acknowledge any connection between Communism and anything bad. Mainstream historians like Dr. Eric Foner show more sympathy for Soviet agents who lost their jobs in the US government after being exposed, than for the millions of innocent people, President Kennedy included, who lost their lives at the hands of Communists during the twentieth century.
The View from the Left
College professors and other leftists are generally loath to talk about the Marxist beliefs of the man who assassinated President Kennedy. The freshman textbook Making a Nation,1 for example, does not inform the reader that the President’s assassin was a Communist who had tried to renounce his US citizenship. Similarly, the textbooks Nation of Nations,2 Give Me Liberty,3 and America’s Promise4 do not say a word about Oswald’s Communist loyalties. Give Me Liberty does not even mention that Oswald ever visited the Soviet Union.
Nation of Nations makes it sound as if Oswald’s reasons for killing the President are a mystery wrapped in an enigma: “Oswald seemed a mysterious figure. Emotionally unstable, he had spent several years in the Soviet Union. But his actions were never fully explained, because only two days after his arrest – in full view of television cameras – he was gunned down by a disgruntled nightclub operator named Jack Ruby.”
Kennedy the Cold Warrior
In reality, Oswald’s reasons for killing Kennedy are not difficult to fathom. President Kennedy was a rock-ribbed anti-Communist who supported Joseph McCarthy’s efforts against subversion in the US government, and took a very aggressive stance against the Soviet Union internationally.
A Wikipedia page on Kennedy describes the hostility Kennedy engendered in the Kremlin: “Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and senior Soviet military figures began to believe that Kennedy was a dangerous extremist who, with the American military, was seeking to plant the idea of a Soviet first-strike capability to justify a pre-emptive American attack. This belief about Kennedy as a militarist was reinforced in Soviet minds by the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 and led to the Soviets placing nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962.”
Lee Harvey “Oswaldskovitch”
Oswald was a self-described Marxist from the time he was a teenager. During the three years he spent in the US Marine Corps, he was known to his peers as “Oswaldskovitch” because of his obvious Soviet sympathies. Amazingly, the military did not discriminate against Oswald on the basis of his vocal support for America’s Cold War enemy. He was assigned a job in radar technology, and cleared for access to classified materials. Soon he was assigned to a high-security US military base in Japan, responsible for super-secret U2 spy plane missions over the Soviet Union.
Sadly, the Marine Corps was not the only branch of the service that sometimes displayed a cavalier attitude toward security risks during the Cold War. The Army had its share of security problems as well, and Army brass sometimes showed the same “don’t rock the boat” attitude.
In October of 1953, for example, Army General Ralph Zwicker wrote a letter to his commanding officer warning that a Major under his command appeared to be a Communist.5 In January of 1954 General Zwicker shared the same information with an investigator working for Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy called the Major (Major Irving Peress) up before his committee and asked him questions like “did you attempt to recruit any of the military personnel there into the Communist party?” “did you have Communist party meetings in your home?” and “did you organize a Communist cell at Camp Kilmer?” Peress took the Fifth in response to each question.6
Soon General Zwicker was visited by a messenger from his commanding officer. When General Zwicker testified before McCarthy’s committee, his story had changed.7 He denied any knowledge of the Major’s Communist associations. The Major avoided a court-martial, and was granted an honorable discharge. The following year McCarthy was censured by the Senate.
“Oswaldskovich” entered the Marine Corps just two years later.
Oswald Defects, Bureaucrats Yawn
In September of 1959 Oswald was able to obtain a discharge from the Marine Corps by claiming, falsely, that he needed to care for his invalid mother. In October he showed up at the American Embassy in Moscow and renounced his American Citizenship, stating as his reason “I am a Marxist.” He told Richard Snyder, the State Department consul in Moscow, that he had asked the Soviet Government to make him a citizen, and had offered to share with the Soviets any sensitive military information he had learned during his time in the Marines. The State Department refused to accept Oswald’s renunciation of his American citizenship, and kept his US passport on file. In November of 1959 Oswald sent the same State Department official a strongly worded letter repeating his demand that his American citizenship be revoked. Snyder again ignored Oswald’s renunciation of his citizenship.
A couple years later Oswald, who had gotten married in the interim, took advantage of the State Department’s liberal treatment. He demanded and got the return of his American passport. He returned the United States, with his Russian wife, in June of 1962. No one asked him to renounce Communism.
When he’d been back in the United States for just eight months, Oswald tried to murder General Edwin Walker, an outspoken anti-Communist. Soon after that he was arrested after passing out leaflets in support of Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro, and getting into a street fight with three Cuban immigrants who opposed Castro. He tried to visit Cuba. He also wrote at least one letter to the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C.
Seventeen months after he returned to the US from the Soviet Union, Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy.
College professors and other liberals may portray Oswald’s motives as an unfathomable mystery, but in reality they are pretty easy to understand. President Kennedy was an implacable and powerful enemy of Soviet Communism, and Oswald was a Communist. The only real mystery is how the State Department let such an obvious enemy of this country, who had twice renounced his citizenship, return to the United States.
The sad epilogue to this sad story is that the State Department didn’t really change its ways after letting a violence-prone Communist come to the US to kill the President. Nor did the Immigration and Naturalization Service learn anything from the experience. In the years 2000 and 2001 nineteen Muslim radicals, most of them from Saudi Arabia, were fast-tracked into this country and allowed to stay here, despite any number of obvious red flags. On September 11 of 2001 they hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into office buildings, killing some three thousand Americans.
As philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
1Boydston, Cullather, Lewis, McGerr, and Oakes; Making a Nation; 2004 Edition
2Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, and Stoff; Nation of Nations; 2006 Edition
3Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty, 2005 edition
4Rorabaugh, Critchlow, and Baker; America’s Promise, 2004 Edition
5M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History, p. 525
6Ibid., p. 523
7Ibid., pp. 524, 525