Posted on July 15,
Not Just Cos
Take back William Fulbright’s medal,
In the aftermath of the latest Bill Cosby revelations,
it has been proposed that the fallen icon be stripped of the Presidential Medal
of Freedom, which was awarded to him by George W. Bush in 2002. A petition, being championed by Sen. Kirsten
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), says Cosby “does not deserve to be on the list of
distinguished recipients.” Well, if
we’re going to hold the honorees to that standard, we also need to take back
the award from the late Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright.
Imagine if Cosby had been awarded something called the
Presidential Medal of Respectful Treatment of Women. Suppose also that Bush and everyone else had
already known about the accusations against Cosby, and the apparent admission
contained in his recently released 2005 deposition. That’s how inappropriate it was for Bill
Clinton to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Sen. Fulbright.
would think that being a segregationist would automatically eliminate someone from
consideration for such an award, but Fulbright was one of the seven senators
(all Democrats) who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He voted against the Voting Rights Act of
1965, and was one of 99 federal legislators (97 of them Democrats) who signed
the Southern Manifesto in protest of the Brown
v. Board of Education ruling.
To be fair, Fulbright didn’t want to deny freedom only
to black Americans. If he’d gotten his
way, the United States would have abandoned its Constitution, morphed into a
European-style parliamentary system, and rendered itself subservient to the
United Nations. Heaven knows which of
our rights he would have bargained away in the process.
An inveterate Communist sympathizer, Fulbright essentially
proposed the construction of the Berlin Wall two weeks before it became a
reality. “I don’t understand why the
East Germans don’t just close their border, because I think they have a right
to close it,” he said on July 30, 1961.
The people of East Germany had no say in the matter, of course. By “the East Germans,” he meant the Communist
government of a Soviet-dominated prison state.
What he was really advocating was that the inhabitants of that country
be prevented from escaping to the Free World.
A decade earlier, Fulbright had led the charge to
censure Sen. Joseph McCarthy, driven in part by McCarthy’s having correctly
identified pro-Communist diplomat Philip Jessup as a security risk. For committing the offense of overzealousness
in defense of his country, McCarthy is relentlessly smeared as one of the worst
villains in American history. Meanwhile
Fulbright, an enemy of freedom both at home and abroad, is a recipient of the
Presidential Medal of Freedom, among other entirely unjustified honors.
Fulbright served for 15 years as Chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a curious position for a man who so loathed
his own country that he would often mock those who loved it, sarcastically
referring to them as “super-patriots.”
In 1961, this animosity manifested itself in the Fulbright Memorandum,
in which he proposed that military officers be forbidden from speaking publicly
Unsurprisingly, he began undermining the American
effort in Vietnam from almost the very beginning. It was his committee that invited John Kerry
to testify in 1971, for the purpose, as the Fulbright himself explained, of
prodding Congress to “end American participation of the war.” Kerry famously leveled slanderous accusations
against his fellow soldiers, with the chairman’s tacit approval. Never during the McCarthy era was the Senate chamber
turned into such a circus as it became that day.
Nobody who was trapped in occupied East Berlin, subjected
to Jim Crow laws, or imprisoned in Ho Chi Minh’s “reeducation camps” could have
possibly associated Sen. Fulbright with the cause of freedom, but Bill Clinton
did, and no wonder. It was Fulbright who
had arranged for his 23-year-old protege – who had already been drafted – to
obtain a deferment in exchange for his insincere promise to join the ROTC upon
returning from Oxford. That’s the kind
of perverted concept of freedom we should expect from Clinton. After all, it was he who eagerly complied
with Cuban officials when they came to our country to demand the return of
their government property, in the form of a six-year-old boy.
At least we can be pretty sure that Cosby, whether he
keeps his award or not, will ultimately get whatever reputation he
deserves. The same cannot be said of
Fulbright, whose wickedness had been a matter of public record all along, but
whose name has never suffered for it in the least.
The Shinbone: The
Frontier of the Free Press