President Johnson accused of being ‘Villain of Vietnam’ at Communist rallies (1966)

President Johnson was cast in the role of “the Villain of Vietnam” during this week in May 1966 when thousands of workers marched through the world’s Communist capitals to celebrate May Day.

By Darryl Armitage
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 11:52 am

His administration was accused in a speech by Soviet Defence Minister Marshal Malinovsky of waging a “vicious and piratic war” against the Vietnamese people.

He was attacked in speeches at mass rallies in the capitals - and in Peking (Beijing) in a series of May Day plays he was portrayed, pale and trembling, as the nastiest character.

In Vietnam itself, 5,000 South Vietnamese workers marked May Day by a demonstration around the US Embassy in Saigon, shouting “Americans go home” and carrying slogans saying “Stop the war”.

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2nd December 1963: American President Lyndon Baines Johnson addresses the nation on his first thanksgiving day television programme, broadcast from the executive offices of the White House. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

The parades and festivities followed the usual pattern, reported the News Letter.

In Moscow there were missiles, rumbling mightily across Red Square on huge carriers, “but no new weapons were spotted among them by Western observers”.

In Peking (Beijing), red flags and bunches of flowers were waved In the rain as thousands of people took to the streets in holiday mood.

Half a million people thronged Central Warsaw for Poland’s May Day, also celebrating the nation’s millennium. A pageant displayed historical figures and costumes through 10 centuries of nationhood.

Irish President Eamon de Valera (1882 - 1975, left) with US President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908 - 1973) at the White House, Washington D.C., 1st June 1964. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Another May Day theme this year - in Beijing - was “the struggle again revisionism” which was a blast against Russia. Beijing papers devoted columns to reports of a speech by Prime Minister Chouen-Lai when he launched the most blistering denunciation of the Kremlin leadership yet made at a public rally.

In East Berlin a sharp attack charging West German President Luebke with murders in the Nazi earmarked the May Day parade.

In West Berlin, the three Western Allied commandants denounced the East Berlin parade as “a renewed violation of the four-power status of Berlin”.

Meanwhile, Pope Paul warned workers not to become “satellites of false ideologies or anti-social activities”.

The Pope was addressing 15,000 members of Catholic workers’ organisations at a mass in St Peter’s Basilica in honour of St Joseph the worker, which coincided with the secular May Day festivities of workers’ movements.

He told them their faith should make them “able, strong and loyal and understanding of the common good in safeguarding your interests . . . but never satellites of other false ideologies and other reprehensible and basically anti-social methods”.