What Gerald Ford Really Stood For
No one should get pleasure from the death of another, but workers have no reason to mourn the passing of Gerald Ford
AFSCME Local 444 retired
In California, a working class man or woman who steals a piece of pizza and already has two felonies on their record can receive from the judge a twenty five year stint in one of the state's many "correctional" institutions.
While doing his time it is unlikely that the prisoner (quite possibly a Vietnam or increasingly more so, Iraq war veteran) will have the privilege of bumping in to former heads of state, especially presidents of the United States.
As the imbecile Bush continues to wreak havoc on the workers of the world without fear of retribution, including workers here in the US., we are supposed to bow our heads in reverence to Gerald Ford, a former US President who died December 26th. The San Francisco Chronicle published numerous nauseating letters to the editor December 30th describing Ford as, "hard working and simple" and "a good man" as "decent" and as a person who doesn't "prevaricate." I had to head to the dictionary to check on prevaricate as I wasn't sure if it had something to do with how we chew our food, but it turns out it means someone who doesn't lie or avoids giving straight, honest answers; it's the polite way the educated upper classes call each other liars.
Now every worker knows you couldn't be president of the United States if you gave honest answers. But aside from that, Ford, like Ronald Reagan and all these representatives of the capitalist class, have blood on their hands, and no thinking worker would consider them honest and decent people.
Gerald Ford was a political representative of the US ruling class and global capitalism. Like Bush, his base was "... the haves ... and the have-mores." (1) Unlike Bush, he wasn't stupid enough to say it publicly. As the Encyclopedia Americana informs us, "Ford consistently opposed federal aid to education, including funds for school construction, emergency school aid, and increased appropriations for higher education. In other domestic areas he voted for greater curbs on labor union practices and for more restrictive increases in the minimum wage." (2). In the course of two years in office he vetoed more than 50 pieces of legislation that, in his view, increased spending. Naturally this fiscal restraint didn't include the Pentagon, Ford had supported an aggressive approach in Vietnam that killed a couple of million Vietnamese and some 57,000 American workers and youth.
Ford supported the dictator Pinochet who, with US support, overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile assassinating its leader. Prior to the coup, the constitutionalist general, Rene Schneider was also assassinated with the tacit approval of Kissinger and the US government. Schneider was no supporter of Chile's new leader, Salvador Allende, but he was a staunch constitutionalist and considered it his duty to defend the results of a democratic election. Pinochet had thousands murdered and suppressed trade union and democratic rights.
Ford and Kissinger were close partners in crime. Not long after the murder of Allende, they visited the Indonesian dictator General Suharto on December 6th 1975 for an official visit on the way to Hawaii. The US was the principal supplier of arms to Suharto, a vicious dictator, also a suppressor of trade union and democratic rights. After a brief talk with Suharto, Ford and Kissinger left the next day, December 7th, and that very day the Indonesian military invaded East Timor. In the events that followed some 200,000 people were massacred, close to one third of the population. Both Ford and Kissinger gave US government approval to this slaughter. (3)
Kissinger conveniently left the incident out of his memoirs, along with many other distasteful truths, but classified state documents report part of the conversation that he and Ford had with Suharto who needed US approval for the invasion:
Ford: "We will understand and we will not press you on the issue."
Kissinger: "We understand your problem and the need to move quickly, but I am only saying that it would be better if it were done after we returned." (4)
So were the lives of thousands upon thousands of Asian adults and children decided by the leaders of the "free" world.
It has just come to light that Ford opposed the Iraq war. A decision by a man of this type would be based on the strategic interests of US capitalism and profit making and not for the human misery that results from such a venture. But if there are any doubts, one should ask oneself: what sort person is it that opposes a war his country starts that leads to the death of close to a million people as well as three thousand of his own nationality and says nothing about it?
He tells a prominent writer about his opposition on the condition that the writer says nothing until after his death. (I am sure his heirs will reap the book royalties.)
What could one possibly respect about this person?
I went to my local library the night after Ford's death and the flags were at half-mast. I thanked them for recognizing James Brown for the great cultural icon that he was. The security guy told me it was for Gerald Ford, "He helped heal the nation after Nixon and Watergate", he informed me, repeating the line they are pushing in the media.
"He pardoned the thug Nixon, this heals the nation?" I replied. "How about we let one and a half million of the folks we have in prison out so we can really feel better? Maybe we'll even get cured. Plus, the majority of them are my people, workers."
"He pardoned Nixon because they take care of their own." I said, "They always take care of their own."
He couldn't say much because he was at work. But he gave me a wry smile; he knew what I meant.
In the movie Gosford Park, one of the maids of some bourgeois asks the maid of another why they live their lives through their masters. They see that they have no life of their own outside of serving these people. They have no heroes, no great leaders, no one to look up to; only the important figures of the ruling class are supposed to occupy that position.
They still offer up their figures and through their control of society try to convince working people to honor these "great" men. This is what state funerals of men like Ford and Reagan are all about. But their heroes are not our heroes. Their morals are not our morals. Simply put; they are not our kind. History is full of heroic figures, working class men and women who fought and died for the rights we enjoy today. We have the rights we have today despite the Gerald Fords of this world not because of them
Another plunderer of the riches of the world will be gone soon, the English Queen. Many of them live long lives, a benefit of a rich lifestyle, good food and great medical care. Their parting should not sadden us.
(1) "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves ... and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base." George Bush Al Smith Foundation speech, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City, 19 October 2000
(2) Encyclopedia Americana: http://ap.grolier.com/article?assetid=0161740-00
(3) The Trial of Henry Kissinger: Christopher Hitchens
(4) Matthew Rothschild: The Progressive, 12-28-06
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