Saturday, 24 August 2013

50 years on how do we remember John F Kennedy?

JFK was killed in Dallas nearly 50 years ago. No leader in the intervening years has come close to his magnetism or captured the public's imagination, save possibly for Obama in the 2008 election campaign.
For me he is the better speaker albeit his brother Bobby was the real deal.
In June 1963 JFK stood on a platform in West Berlin and uttered one of the most iconic phrases of 20th-century politics: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
jfk003.JPGPresident John F. Kennedy stands on a platform erected on the steps of West Berlin's city hall, Rathaus Schoeneberg. A crowd watches the President (back to camera) as he delivers his 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech on June 26, 1963, at Rudolph Wilde Platz, West Berlin, in the Federal Republic of Germany. 
Kennedy spoke truth to the power of Soviet totalitarianism in the shadow of the Berlin Wall and proudly declared, “I am a Berliner.”
In Berlin he told the truth about those who build walls to stabilize a rotten system, albeit would be many more years before the wall itself came down. That speech was one of best-remembered moments of Kennedy’s tragically short presidency. He challenged Americans not only to reconsider their attitude toward the Cold War but also demanded that white America see civil rights as a moral issue. The speech on civil rights and equality is seminal:
“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and as clear as the Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.”