However, McNamara carefully avoided calling attention to the use of gas against civil rights people on March 7 to Selma. He also carefully avoided coming right out and saying that the gas being uded in Viet Nam is the same as what he uses in this country to "put down disorders." We suspect the Vietnamese against whom the gas is being used might tell a story somewhat different from Lyndon's. We'll see.
There's also been some comment in recent days about the new and improved forms of napalm (jellied gasoline) being used by our freedom fighters in South Viet Nam. An indiscreet reporter in the New York Times reports that this lovely device for burning people alive was developed in 1940 (about the time German chemists were perfecting zyklon B, the gas used in the Nazi concentration camps) by a couple of enterprising Harvard University professors doing research for the Armed Forces. Just another of Harvard's many contributions to the arts and the humanities.
One wonders how long it's been since Lyndon and McNamara were gassed, and how long it's been since either of them had a container of flaming gasoline jelly heaved at him.
And speaking of the unspeakable American operation in South Viet Nam, there were conflicting reports last week about the plans of "our" South Viet Nam Government to deport three peace agitators to the North. It seems these three trouble-makers had circulated a petition in Saigon calling for a negotiated peace between the South and the North (Vit Nam, that is). Some Government and military sources said the three would be put on plane and parachuted into North Viet Nam, where, these sources felt, all peace- mongers belonged. Others, supposedly in the know, said the plans had been called off.
Finally, the whole thing was straightened out by the President of the National Bank of Viet Nam. He was on a visit to Australia, and was interviewed there by the press. He said the three touble makers were shoved out of one of our planes, all right. And the shoving took place over North Viet Nam, all right. But, he said, his government felt that it could not spare parachutes for peacemongers, so the three were thrown out of our plane without parachutes.
This is what Lyndon calls "advancing the frontiers of the freedom," one supposes.
For several weeks now, various kinds of people have been suggesting that Lyndon's objectives in South Viet Nam are not clear, and that he ought to say something or do something which could explain to all the worldthe free world, that iswhy it is necessary to burn people and gas people down there.
Actually there is no need for Lyndon to say anything. The facts speak for themselves. So long as a profit is to be made from burning and gassing humans, some of our very best citizens will be urging that the cause of freedom requires the use of napalm and gas.
For example, the American Cyanamid Co., 76th largest corporation in the country, was recently caught with its corporate snout a bit further into the public trough than the law allows. Cyanamid has been supplying the South Viet Nam Government with what the newspapers call "pharmaceutical products." We don't know what the pharmaceuticals were, but we do know that Cyanamid is probably the world's largest producer of cyanide and cyanide gas. Anyhow, Cyanamid was invoicing the stuff out to South Viet Nam at one price, and then sending the bill to the U.S. Government at much higher price.
As we say, we don't know whether Cyanamid was shipping napalm or "anti- personnel gas"--there's a beaut--or some other delightful invention for extending and expanding freedom. But it does appear to be a fact that Cyanamid was deliberately overcharging the U.S. Government. This brings up the question: Who runs this company--a bunch of crooks? Gangsters? Racketeers? Well, you may be the judge.
The Chairman of the company, W.G. Malcolm, sits on the board of the Irving Trust Co., the nation's 13th largest bank. James B. Fisk, a director of Cyanamid is the President of AT&T's Bell Laboratories, a member of the governing board of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an overseer of Harvard University. Thomas L. Perkins, another Cyanamid director, is a Trustee of Duke University and a director of Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, the nation's 6th largest bank.
These paragons of America virtue, and the profits they make from supplying the materials of war to our forces in South Viet Nam, go a long way toward explaining what we're doing down there. The incredible thing is that they're not content with the legitimate profits war brings to honorable men. They've just got to get in an extra gouge.
On the boards of the banks, and the universities, they contribute a great deal to making America what it is. They and their fellows make the decisions about who can borrow, and how much, about who can learn and what they can learn, about who can work and who cannot work and, ultimately, about who will live and who will die in South Viet Nam.
It is not comfortable--is it--to think that the basic decisions on such matters for most of the American people are being made by a set of common thieves and shysters?
So long as we're overseas the American forces, let's look around a bit elsewhere. The Indonesian government a few weeks ago announced it was taking over management of the rubber plantations of the U.S. Rubber Co., and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Almost immediately the U. S. State Department began making threats that U.S. aid would be stopped, if the properties of U.S. Rubber and Goodyear were not returned to their American owners. Then a short time later Indonesia said it was taking over management of the Standard Oil and Shell Oil operations in the country.
It is to be expected that Lyndon very shortly will suspend all aid to Indonesia. Those aid dollars must be stopped, he'll argue, because $180 million in oil properties and $80 million in rubber properties have been taken from those fine U.S. citizens Standard Oil (the Rockefeller Family), Shell (owned in England and Holland), U.S. Rubber (the Dupont family) and Goodyer Tire and Rubber (the Goodyear family).
What kind of aid is this which will be suspended as a means of teaching those frightful savages the proper respect for the Old Glory? And Old Goodyear? and Old Standard?
In the past six months we have provided the country with $1.4 in aid--for technical training, malaria eradication and assistance to educational Institutions. But all this will now stop, because the Indonesian wanted to control for themselves the natural resources of their country.
In the language of Lyndon's state department, such an attitude is known as "aggression".
Lyndon's foreign aid administrators, David Bell, was testifying the other day before a Senate Committee which is considering Lyndon's foreign aid program. In showing the Senators how necessary it is to continue the foreign aid program, Bell pointed out that all American foreign aid is tailored to counter "communist activity" in the countries where it is granted. (Communist Activity apparently is when people want to control their own natural resources--it is aggressive communist activity, see above.) Bell described our aid to Venezuela as typical of this policy. He said we have extended aid to Venezuela in the form of advisers to police who have been combatting insurgent movements.
(The insurgents want, among other things, to take the enormous oil resources of Venezuela away from the American oil companies which now own them.)
We might suggest, Lyndon, that Mr. Bell would find it useful to send James Clark and Al Lingo down there to advise the Venezuelan police. They really know how to handle insurgents. They proved it March 7, in Selma.
When Lyndon spoke to the students at University of Kentucky on Lincoln's birthday, he told them that life in the Great Society will not be one of comfort and ease and luxury. He said that American youngsters must be prepared to sacrifice for the good of all.
Meanwhile Lyndon's great friends the McCloskeys of Philadelphia were illustrating what sacrifice means.
The McCloskeys run a construction company. They make money from construction contacts. They don't care what they build or where they build it, just so there's a profit in it.
The McCloskeys and various business associates have set up corporations other than their construction company. These other corporations want to own and operate large apartment buildings. So these other corporations borrow money to pay for building the buildings. Finance companies will loan them the money because the federal government, through the Federal Housing Administration, will insure the loans--if the McCloskey corporations don't pay back the loans, the FHA will.
Then the corporations hire the McCloskey construction company to build the buildings. When the buildings are completed, the other corporations decide they don't want the buildings, so they don't pay back the money they borrowed to build them. The finance companies who loaned the money then go to the FHD and report that the money is not being paid back. Then the FHD takes the taxpayers money, and pays off the loans. Meanwhile the McCloskeys and their associates have made an enormous profit off the contract with the other corporations for building the buildings.
The records show that this has happened three time in the past two years--in Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, and Orlando, Florida. The total amount of money made by the McCloskeys and their associates is more than $9,000,000. And that is the amount the FHD has to pay to the finance companies who loaned the money.
In Washington D.C., an urban renewal project is moving 672 families out into the street, because their homes are being torn down to make way for some public buildings. There is no public housing for this families, because there just isn't any money available to build public housing. It's all being spent, through FHD insured mortgages, on buildings like those the McCloskeys put up.
Yes, as Lyndon said, the Great Society will require sacrifices, for "many are called, but few are chosen." (Lyndon likes the bible.)
Many American feel that they really don't have any part in the horror and ugliness that is typical of much of the world. For example, many good- hearted Americans really deplore the fact that the Portuguese Government provides slave labor for the Portuguese businessmen and farmers in Portugal's Africa colonies, Angola and Mozanbique.
What do these slave-laborers do? Many of them work on the vast coffee plantations, tending the plants, cultivating them, picking the beans, etc. Coffee is one of Angola's principal export products. Where does the coffee go? Merchants in the U.S. buy all of it, roast it, grind it, package it, and put it on the shelves of our nice clean antiseptic All-American supermarkets, from whence it finds its way into the coffeepots of free America.
We mentioned recently that Lyndon's boys had upped the quota of South African sugar which can be imported into the U.S., thus further enriching the racists of South Africa.
Somehow it seems fitting, in a country which has an Alabama and a Mississippi, and a Harlem, and a Chicago Southside, that the citizens should sit in their middle-class and upper-class breakfast rooms in the morning, reading the financial pages, stirring their racist South-African sugar into their slave-labor Angolan coffee.
And somehow, it sorta gets you right here in the old chesteroo, when you think that it's the native anglo-saxon genius of free enterprise that makes all this possible. For if the coffee couldn't be produced with slave labor, then it couldn't be sold here for enough profit to make it worthwhile to a sharp American businessman. He'd put his dollars to work elsewhere.
A perfect example of this free enterprise genius is the Rockefellers' Chase Manhattan Bank. When SDS and other groups organized protest demonstrations against Chase because it invests so heavily in South Africa, Chase, in the good old American way, promptly got an injunction against the demonstrations. When the SDS and others demonstrated, they got arrested. The Chase officials are some of the finest, most generous people in the world, until you begin enquiring into how they make their money, and what it coasts humanity for them to be as wealthy and powerful as they are. When you do this, you prove you're not realistic, that you're out of the mainstream of things, that you're not really a good American.
Whatsa matter, you don't like that Angolan coffee? That South-African sugar ain't sweet enough? You say they got blood in them? You must be some kinda kookofficer, arrest this man, he's trespassing on my property.
March 25, 1965
Copyright © Jack Minnis, 1965