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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Billy Graham: In Memoriam by Casey Cole (FROM ROL, USA, NL 107-108)

Originally Appeared in ROL, USA Newsletter 107-108, 2018

Graham with Richard M. Nixon

Billy Graham: In Memoriam


Reverend Billy Graham passed away on February 21, 2018 and was immediately deified and lauded as a “hero” by the U.S. corporate media.  Let us be clear on Graham’s legacy: the only gospel Graham followed was that of war, hate, and unfettered capitalism. It is absolutely undeniable that Graham played this role for the irredeemably corrupt and bloodthirsty machine of U.S. imperialism. And he played it for well over half a century.

Graham never met a war he didn’t like. He openly supported every U.S.-backed military campaign since the Korean War. In 1969, Graham penned a secret letter to Richard Nixon urging him to bomb dikes in North Vietnam in a way that “could overnight destroy the economy of North Vietnam” while also committing an act of open genocide against the Vietnamese people with an estimated one million dead. (“When Billy Graham Urged Nixon to Kill a Million People” https://www.counterpunch.org/2013/11/01/when-billy-graham-urged-nixon-to-kill-a-million-people/) Graham then went on to invite Nixon on his “crusade” in Knoxville, Tennessee shortly after the Ohio National Guard had massacred four students at Kent State University for protesting the bombing of Cambodia. (“Protests and Progress: Nixon visit puts Knoxville on National Stage,” Knox News) He also publicly attacked Martin Luther King, Jr.’s criticism of the war in Vietnam as “an affront to the thousands of loyal Negro troops who are in Vietnam. (“The Prince of War: Billy Graham’s Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire” by Cecil Bothwell) When George H.W. Bush invaded Iraq in the first Gulf War, the Reverend purportedly urged him on by claiming Saddam Hussein was the anti-Christ.  Graham has been a trusted “spiritual” adviser for U.S. imperialism and every U.S. president from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama.
Billy Graham has also been pivotal in sowing dissension among sectors of the U.S. working class by acting as a catalyst in the so-called Culture Wars in U.S. politics. Graham worked tirelessly to keep the working class divided on issues around homosexuality, gay rights, and abortion in order to keep us distracted and fighting one another instead of the true enemy – capital. On the issue of labor unions, Graham stated in a rally in 1952 that the Garden of Eden would have, “no union dues, no labor leaders, no snakes, no disease, and that a Christian worker would not stoop to take unfair advantage of his bosses by joining a union. (“Billy Graham, America’s Pastor?” Washington Post, 2-22-18)

Graham, promoted as a figure in sympathy with the Civil Rights movement, was in favor of segregation until the Brown v. Board of Education ruling and simply saw which way the wind was blowing. In fact, the “white moderate” invoked several times in Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is widely believed to be a direct reference to Graham: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.

Billy Graham even styled his crusade as if it were a product to be peddled and has widely been quoting as saying: “We are selling the greatest product on earth. Why shouldn’t we promote it as we promote a bar of soap?”

Graham has been portrayed as a beloved and non controversial figure in U.S. politics for the vast majority of his career: he has been lauded as “God’s Ambassador” while blessing crimes against humanity; praised for his role in the Civil Rights Era while actively sabotaging the efforts of the Afro-American people to fight for freedom; and beloved by many whom he is credited with “bringing closer to Christ” while actually sowing working class division and worshiping the almighty dollar — all this on behalf of the U.S. Empire.

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