The Myth of Camelot
Progress, we are marching backward
Progress, as the captains of our fate
Progress, as we spiral downward
Progress, we destroy and annihilate (“Progress” by Kerry Livgren)
The last decade has been an eventful time for those who would call themselves “progressives” in America.
In his second inaugural address, Barak Obama became the first president to equate the fight for gay marriage with the fight against slavery, and the struggle for women’s rights and civil ri
Pro-abortion forces rejoiced at the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, in which voters banned same-sex marriage in that state. It will also consider a constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.
The president has pressed congress to pass wide-ranging gun control legislation.
Across the country, states have passed measures legalizing the use of marijuana, not only for medicinal purposes, but also as a recreational drug.
Yes, it has been a heady time for those who would call themselves “progressive.” So why don’t they call themselves “liberal” anymore?
In the Reagan era, the word “liberal” became synonymous with big government, wasteful spending and radical social engineering. Middle America recognized that “liberals” wanted to steer America away from its roots in Judeo-Christian morality and toward a secular, post-Christian worldview. So the “liberals” changed their label, but continued to sell the same product.
As we heard in President Obama’s inaugural speech, there pervades among so-called “progressives” certain myths that fuel their imagination of what a “great society” should be or could be. It is a myth that they called “Camelot.”
The term was adopted soon after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, when his wife, Jacqueline, used the word to describe his administration and the ideals for which it stood. Of course “Camelot” referred to the hit Broadway musical starring Richard Burton and Julie Andrews, which was popular at the time. It is said that they often played the sound track to the musical in the White House in the evenings.
It is a historical fact that during the Kennedy administration some of the most important questions of our times were confronted. Like King Arthur in “Camelot,” President Kennedy properly used “might for right” in fighting for equal rights for African-Americans; in containing the global spread of Communism; and in cutting taxes to ease the financial burden on American families.
John F. Kennedy's legacy is threefold. First, it was his leadership in the area of civil rights, and then the tragedy of his assassination, that enabled President Lyndon Johnson to push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was a righteous landmark law that needed to take place to bring equality to all races in this melting pot nation.
In an overt demonstration of support for the Civil Rights Movement, earlier in his presidency Kennedy nationalized the Mississippi National guard in response to city officials defying federal court orders to enroll James Meredith at the University of Mississippi.
Kennedy will also be remembered for his strong and wise leadership during the Cuban missile crisis, one of the many battles fought to contain communism after World War II and up until the fall of the Berlin wall.
All of these accomplishments are well known. What is not as well known is that Kennedy is also remembered for having cut taxes in order to spur economic growth, which brought prosperity to America in the 1960s. This part of “Camelot” set the precedent for the tax cuts under President Ronald Reagan, which then brought prosperity in the 1980s.
To look back from the position of the 21st Century, one would wonder if John F. Kennedy was a conservative. If he were still alive, and hadn’t changed like the rest of his party, he would be considered a conservative – possibly a radical conservative.
Ronald Reagan, a lifelong Democrat until he switched parties in 1962, recognized the shift leftward and famously declared, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.”
Sadly, it was almost immediately after Kennedy’s assassination that the Democratic Party took a sharp turn to the left, abandoning the policies of “Camelot” – and abandoning the biblical worldview that guided many of the key decisions during that 1000-day administration. In the famous Billy Joel song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” the singer gives a litany of tragic events that took place in the mid-20th Century, then he shouts out, "JFK blown away, what else do I have to say?”
The Kennedy assassination – along with the war in Viet Nam – sparked the philosophical revolution that has moved Western civilization away from our cultural roots and toward a Post-modernist, secular-humanist, Post-Christian worldview.
The policies of “Camelot” took place before this seismic cultural shift to the left.
So when people on the left look longingly at the days of “Camelot” in the Kennedy administration, they are peering at a mirage in the shifting sands of liberal politics. What the Kennedy administration stood for culturally, militarily, and economically is a world away from what the so-called “progressives” stand for today.
Part of the mirage being espoused by “progressives” – and enunciated by the president in his inaugural address – is that the fight for gay marriage follows in the legacy of the fight against slavery, or for women’s rights or civil rights in America. It is a myth.
According the ACLJ, Planned Parenthood reported that they committed 333,964 abortions in the last recorded year, while also receiving 542.4 million in government aid. When they declare that aborting innocent children in the womb with government aid is a good thing – it’s a myth.
When they say that Americans don’t pay enough in taxes and we need to silently support the unchecked welfare state, with all of its fraud and uncontrolled spending – it’s a myth.
When the progressives say government isn’t big enough – it’s a myth.
What it all comes down to is a question of whether we as individuals and a nation should be guided by biblical principles, or whether we should create a government policy “that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
At the end of the movie version of “Camelot” we see King Arthur speaking to a boy and encouraging him to stay behind the lines of battle so he can carry on the message of “the round table” to the next generation. Ronald Reagan said the same thing about the foundations of American liberty when he declared:
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
Ironically, Reagan made this statement in 1961, in the twilight of the Cultural Revolution that has swept aside so many of America’s Judeo-Christian moorings. We must resolve to pay the price in prayer, communication, and hard work to take a stand for the biblical truths that were the true foundations of Kennedy’s “Camelot” if this nation – and Western Civilization as a whole – is to survive.