Strakon Lights Up, No. 116

An apology's not enough, Rev. Graham!


"This stranglehold has got to be broken, or this country's going down the drain." That's Billy Graham talking about Jews and their role in the established media, on a tape of Richard Nixon's conversations from 1972 that the National Archives recently turned loose of. When the established media got wind of the tape, it wasn't long before the Automatic Apologize-or-Die Grinder spun into action, with Graham on his knees in front of it.

On March 2, the Associated Press was authorized to report that "in the conversation with President Nixon, the evangelist complained about what he saw as Jewish domination of the news media" and that Nixon emphatically seconded that opinion. As the conversation went on, according to the AP, Nixon upped the ante by talking about Jewish domination of Hollywood, too. In response, Graham is quoted as saying that Jews "swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I am friendly to Israel and so forth. But they don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country, and I have no power and no way to handle them."

When the tapes came out, the 83-year-old Graham spake these words into the Grinder, as required: "Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon. They do not reflect my views, and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks." That script is again according to the AP.

I'm going to do Graham the favor of taking what he says seriously instead of writing the whole affair off as a predictable Establishment ritual, empty of all logic and unanalyzable in logical terms. Given that, I have to say that while Graham's statement may succeed in getting the Apologize-or-Die Grinder to turn itself off, it doesn't succeed with me. I need to know a few things.

Were Graham's 1972 comments to Nixon not his sincere views at the time? It isn't clear from the accounts I've seen who brought up the whole subject of the Jews. Even if Nixon raised it, did Graham feel under some compulsion to make up things in order to please The Leader, a "well-known anti-Semite"? — things that the preacher now, at least, seems to consider pretty vile, as well as untrue? If so, that's something we ought to know about this particular authority on faith and morals.

If, on the other hand, Graham really believed those things then, when and why did he cease believing them? The statements about Jewish influence "do not reflect my views," he says now. Did they once? Or has he "no memory" of that either?

Perhaps Graham decided, at some point after 1972, that Jews do not possess a "stranglehold" over Big Media as well as disproportionate influence over Hollywood. Could that be the explanation? Has Jewish influence in those industries really declined? Once again as inhabitants of Planet Doublethink we must be shocked but unsurprised that no one exhibits the slightest interest in how accurate Graham's 1972 appraisal actually was.

Talking to Nixon, Graham referred to having "no power" to challenge the Jews, "no way to handle them." Clearly he was speaking not of actual political power but instead of influence, his and theirs. Is that another of his views that was either untrue at the time or has since become untrue? Has Graham become more "powerful" than he was, relative to the Jews? Maybe bending the knee, if repeated often enough, makes one stronger than I'd thought.

It's useful to recall that Graham's electronic ministry depends on the continued cooperation of those who control the telescreen. Now, why in the world would Graham bend the knee to Jewish power if that power didn't exist? But perhaps the TV industry in New York and Hollywood has been taken over by Baptists, and it was those enormously wealthy, well-connected, and influential corporate Baptists who Graham was afraid would be offended when the Nixon tapes were released.

Alternatively, maybe Graham just decided, at some unrecorded point, that overwhelming Jewish influence on the "commanding heights" of communication is a good thing for the country and not a bad thing. And that if all were left well enough alone, unprotested, American culture would continue soaring to hitherto unscaled heights of decency, civility, humane creativity, and general goodness. Did he conclude, at some unrecorded point, that such a continuation of progress toward cultural godliness would have been impossible if Christians and those of Christian heritage had been dominant?

To hell with your apology, holy man. I need answers!


P.S. Don't you wonder what other public men are sitting in private offices right now, chattering freely about certain inconvenient truths? Knowing all the while that those truths must remain publicly unmentionable?

March 5, 2002

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