By DENNIS KING
Our Town, 1982
The followers of right-wing extremist Lyndon LaRouche have apparently discovered a sure fire technique to gain publicity for LaRouche and his various front organizations, such as the pro-nuclear power Fusion Energy Foundation (FEF).
It's very simple, and we recommend the technique to other cults and hate groups. You start hanging out at airports or in fancy hotel lobbies until a celebrity comes by--preferably, a celebrity whom you have already abused in print via libelous charges of corruption or sexual misconduct. You go up to the celebrity and start shrieking at him or her. When the celebrity reaches for your throat, you wiggle away and rush gleefully to criminal court to swear out a summons for "assault." The magic of the celebrity's name guarantees coverage by the local gossip columnists and sometimes even by the wire services; and your cult becomes known to millions of people.
Of course, the trick depends on picking the right victim. If he or she is universally popular, your cult will only end up winning the disgust of the public. We wouldn't recommend taking on Princess Diana or Pope John Paul. Instead, you need somebody controversial. Get in a fight with Jane Fonda, and you're guaranteed the support of the far right. Pick a fight with Roy Cohn, and you'll get the left on your side. Zero in on Henry Kissinger, and you'll gain sympathy from people who can't forget the Cambodia invasion.
In fact, the above three controversial public figures have all been victims of the Lyndon LaRouche piggyback-your-way-to-instant-fame technique. First was Mr. Cohn in 1980. The LaRouchians goaded him for months by circulating a scurrilous anti-Cohn scandal sheet called Now East. Then one of them pops up to harass him in the lobby of the Waldorf. Pow! Innocent LaRouchian obtains assault summons. The New York Daily News laps it up.
Next vlctim, Peter Fonda. Ever since "The China Syndrome," the fanatically pro-nuclear FEF has been sliming sister Jane via posters and bumper stickers such as "Jane Fonda Spreads Faster Than Nuclear Radiation." Members of the Fonda clan see it every time they go to an airport. Finally, Peter flips out. POW! Criminal summons! The LaRouchians make the big time with UPI.
The latest victim is Nancy Kissinger, wife of Henry. On Feb. 7, the Kissingers were passing through Newark Airport on their way to Boston, where Dr. Kissinger was scheduled to undergo triple-bypass heart surgery. LaRouche followers manning an FEF literature table recognized the Kissingers and began harassing them. When Ellen Kaplan, one of the LaRouchians, asked Dr. Kissinger if he sleeps with little boys, Mrs. Kissinger lost her temper and--in her lawyer's elegantly phrased account of the event--she "reached out and her hand came in contact with the woman's throat, very lightly."
When Ms. Kaplan obtained the inevitable summons, the event stimulated only moderate publicity. But then, Mrs. Kissinger failed to answer the summons (apparently due to faulty service) and thus was served with an arrest warrant. Paydirt for the LaRouchians! This time the story makes all of the national media: television, radio, the daily papers, spreading far and wide the name of LaRouche and FEF.
Unlike in previous incidents, however, the nastiness of Ms. Kaplan (and the feistiness of Mrs. Kissinger) created a groundswell of sympathy for the defendant. Mrs. Kissinger was inundated with messages of support, and the media developed an acid tone in its coverage of Ms. Kaplan's side of the story.
In a press conference on Mar. 4, spokesmen for FEF, although supportive of Ms. Kaplan, denied that LaRouche had any connection with the incident: a curious claim, considering that the press conference was held at LaRouche's headquarters and that the two FEF spokesmen present were both longtime aides of LaRouche. Ms. Kaplan herself, according to former LaRouche followers, has been a member since the early 1970's of LaRouche's cadre organization, the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC).
But even if this smokescreen is pushed aside, the incident will still be misunderstood by the general public, thanks to media coverage which has failed to identify the political motives of the LaRouchians in their longstanding campaign of anti-Kissinger agitation.
For instance, many newspaper readers will probably regard the Feb. 7 harassment of the Kissingers as a sort of delayed-action antiwar protest--distasteful in style but well-meaning in political thrust. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Lyndon LaRouche and his publications advocate the total militarization of American society, forceful intervention in foreign countries, and preparations for what LaRouche terms ABC (atomic, bacteriological, chemical) warfare. LaRouche's security adviser and unofficial political consultant, Mitchell WerBell lII, is a former counterinsurgency expert active in Vietnam in the late 1960's.
In fact, LaRouche and NCLC have been waging a campaign against Kissinger for several years not because of Vietnam, but because Kissinger is a Jew and a supporter of Israel.
This motivation emerged in 1977, when NCLC linked up with the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby and began to engage in Jew baiting of its own, often using the code word "British" for Jew. NCLC published a pamphlet entitled "Expel Britain's Kissinger for Treason." Next, they published a March 1978 editorial calling for the "immediate elimination" of the "Jewish Lobby" from American government. "The first aspect...," the editorial said, "is the naming of names, such as Henry A. Kissinger." In September 1978, an NCLC editorial called for the registration of Jews as "foreign agents" (of the "Zionist-British organism") and for the establishment of a Special Prosecutor's office to prepare treason trials. Explicitly named in the editorial as an "Israeli-British" agent was, again, Henry A. Kissinger.
Since 1978, there has been no change in this NCLC outlook on Kissinger. At a table in front of the Lenox Hill Post Office on East 70th Street last month, LaRouchians were selling The Pestilence of Usury, LaRouche's latest pamphlet. In the key chapter, "Why Some British Bankers Lie So Loudly," LaRouche states "we are confronted with an evil even far worse than Adolf Hitler" and "the enemy...is nasty, evil...we are seizing the sweet taste of evil victory from their mouths." LaRouche accuses this evil, usurious, "British" force of allegedly implementing "anticapitalist, economy-wrecking commitments," stating: "Henry A. Kissinger represented, and continues to represent today, exactly the same policies."
Meanwhile, as the LaRouchians continue to prowl the nation's airports and street pavements in hot competition with those irrepressible British agents, the Hari Krishnas, it is not only celebrities who should beware. Our of sheer hysteria, the young peddlers of The Pestilence of Usury have transformed spontaneous ideological debate with ordinary citizens into violence or threats of violence on a number of occasions.
At the Newark Airport, two years prior to the Kissinger incident, a documentary film producer, Gary Goch, stopped at a LaRouche literature table. He says he verbally protested the anti-Semitism. One of the LaRouchians followed him to the escalator and attacked him there, then complained to the cops that Goch had started it. Goch, not the LaRouchian, spent the night in a Newark jail cell.
At the San Francisco Airport in 1978, freelance journalist Dan Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars, was attacked and knocked to the floor by LaRouchian leafleters. He says the attack was completely unprovoked.
In 1979, a LaRouchian peddler in Seattle punched out an elderly Jewish man who expressed disapproval of an anti-Zionist poster displayed at an NCLC literature table.
On the streets of Manhattan's East Side, just last month, LaRouchians manning a table in front of the Murray Hill Post Office leveled abusive remarks at passers-by and one dog walker says a LaRouchian told her, "If you don't get away, I'll kill your dog."
An article in The New York Times in October 1979 quoted a former NCLC member on these peddling tactics: "If you don't buy a paper you're a pig or smell bad or they call you a Nazi. They get two inches from a person's face and cut them to pieces. They can get anybody to hit them in a second. They love it, getting bloody."
That this statement is no exaggeration is shown by papers filed with the New York State Supreme Court in the lawsuit United Auto Workers v. NCLC. In the mid-1970's, NCLC activists instigated a number of fights with members of the UAW by going to plant gates with leaflets accusing employees or local union officials of being (among other things) homosexuals. The targeted individuals or their friends would vigorously express their anger at the leaflets--and the NCLC members would subsequently attempt to get them arrested. This campaign of provocations was halted only after the UAW filed its $30 million suit for damages.
If the Kissinger incident results in an investigation by state authorities in New York and New Jersey of the conditions under which LaRouche front groups solicit funds at area airports--and of the phony tax-exempt status of the blatantly political FEF--such will be a fitting answer to the LaRouche cult's harassment both of celebrities and of the general public.