John F. Kennedy
While he has become sainted due to his martyrdom and the historical impression that he was the liberal left's Last Great Hope, many of his forays into international affairs proved to be disastrous, or at least, dangerous brinkmanship (e.g., the Vietnam War, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis). However, his efforts for civil rights proved to be of good intent. His New Frontier[wp] brought some domestic change, but wasn't as expansive as the Great Society.
 'Secret Societies' speech
On April 27th 1961, Kennedy gave a speech to the American Newspaper Publishers Association in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York. Aside from being a particularly good example of Kennedy's grasp of rhetorical pathos, it's become exceptionally popular amongst online conspiracy whackjobs, almost exclusively because Kennedy uses the term 'secret society' on one occasion, and makes reference to the US being opposed around the world by a "monolithic and ruthless conspiracy," which relies variously on "infiltration instead of invasion," "subversion instead of elections," "intimidation instead of free choice" and "guerillas by night" to "expand its sphere of influence."
Versions of this speech are all over YouTube with ridiculous titles (e.g. "JFK blows the whistle on 9/11") - the speech is generally quote mined down from its original 20 minute length to a pithy 5 minutes (some are as short as a minute or two) which focuses on the juicy when de-contextualised statements listed above, but they're invariably so poorly edited that the speech doesn't actually make much narrative sense (although it's certainly a credit to Kennedy's aforementioned grasp of highly charged rhetoric that he can sound convincing and purposeful even when what he's saying is incoherent). All in all, said videos command a combined viewership of several million.
Depending on what theories you subscribe to, JFK was referring to one or all of the following - the CIA, the Fed, the FBI, the Illuminati, the New World Order, 9/11, Mossad, MI6, Freemasons, Israel, Skull & Bones Society, Big Government and so on. However, many conspiracy peddlers seem to be in agreement that it was this speech that led to his assassination.
It should come as absolutely no surprise that Kennedy was talking about something totally unrelated to any of the targets just mentioned (although, ironically, JFK's statements about the behaviour of this enemy are directly applicable to the actions of the US throughout the Cold War period). Additionally, for a speech that supposedly threatened the powers that be to such a degree that they had no recourse but to assassinate Kennedy in cold-blood two and a half years later, verbatim text transcripts of the speech in its distinctly non-scurrilous entirety (and a full audio recording) are freely available in numerous places on the web. A brief read or listen of the oratory in full reveals that Kennedy was clearly speaking in reference to the Soviet Union, and it's due to their own generalised idiocy (ignorance of the logistics and history of the Cold War, ignorance of the use of terms like 'closed society' and 'Iron Curtain' in political discourse, etc.) that conspiracy theorists believe differently.
- "If by a 'liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'liberal,' then I'm proud to say I'm a liberal."
- "We need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all - except the censor."
- "Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed - and no republic can survive."
- "If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth."
- "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."
- "We choose to go to the Moon, and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are HAAAAAAD."
- "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
- "A wall is a hell of a lot better than a war."
- "Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind."
- "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."
- "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."
 Anything else?
Oh, almost forgot:
 See also
- JFK's commencement address at American University
- John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory
 Ich bin ein footnote
- ↑ Despite being a member of the NRA and liking wide-ranging tax cuts. What constitutes a leftie in the States is... different.
- ↑ Moreover, he refused to send soldiers in Laos, rejected the idea of using nukes on Cuba, preferred a neutralist option in Vietnam like in Laos, switched up the Joint Chiefs of Staff after the Bay of Pigs debacle, and sacked the ever-deplorable Allen Dulles from the CIA.
- ↑ Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association, April 27, 1961, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum