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Take heed, warns Paul Harvey’s other famous commentary

Jen’s Jots: Voices and votes matter. Show up for what matters to you and what you want for this country.

Jennifer Kiel

February 7, 2024

3 Min Read
A black and white photograph of broadcaster Paul Harvey
PAUL HARVEY: His 1965 speech outlines what the devil would do to take over the United States. John Springer Collection/Getty Images

Paul Harvey is much loved in the ag industry. His powerful and passionate “So God Made a Farmer” speech touched those in the ag industry and well beyond.

It was first delivered at the 1978 National FFA Convention and later drew newfound attention as Dodge used it for a Super Bowl commercial in 2013.

For two minutes, boisterous football fans quieted as Harvey created a visual world with words, starting with, “And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker. So, God made a farmer.’”

There’s something about Harvey’s soothing, yet strong voice that slows down, only to be followed by a stampede of chores that underscore farm urgency — somehow resonating, even with the non-farmer.

Paul Harvey’s broadcasting career was long and strong. Many remember his famous “The Rest of the Story” segments.

It was only recently I learned he delivered a 1965 radio address, “If I were the Devil,” taking a much darker tone. There’s no TV recording, but the audio broadcast — slightly broken up with sporadic static — seems to unnervingly parallel occurrences 59 years post-delivery.

I decided to share it because I found it both interesting and troublesome. I don’t know if the devil is at work here, but it serves as a reminder that everyone has a choice. Voices and votes matter. Show up for what matters to you and what you want for this country. Look forward by electing people with the right motives and dedication to see it through, while looking inward at our own moral compasses.

Read on or not — that’s certainly your choice. Below, I’ve selected a few excerpts for space reasons. If you’d like to see the original broadcast, visit youtube.com.

'If I were the devil'

I would set about however necessary to take over the United States.

I'd subvert the churches first, and I would begin with a campaign of whispers.

I'd peddle narcotics to whom I could. I'd sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I'd tranquilize the rest with pills.

If I were the devil, I'd soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves and nations at war with themselves until each, in its turn, was consumed.

And with promises of higher ratings, I'd have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.

If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellect but neglect to discipline emotions. I'd tell teachers to let those students run wild. And before you knew it, you'd have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.

If I were the devil, I'd take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.

What'll you bet I couldn't get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?

In other words, if I were the devil, I'd just keep right on doing what he's doing.

Rest in peace Paul Harvey (Sept. 4, 1918 – Feb. 28, 2009).

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and remember, this was written in 1965. Write me at [email protected] or Jennifer Kiel, 710 W. Park St., Saint Johns, MI 48879.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Kiel

Editor, Michigan Farmer

While Jennifer is not a farmer and did not grow up on a farm, "I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone with more appreciation for the people who grow our food and fiber, live the lifestyles and practice the morals that bind many farm families," she says.

Before taking over as editor of Michigan Farmer in 2003, she served three years as the manager of communications and development for the American Farmland Trust Central Great Lakes Regional Office in Michigan and as director of communications with Michigan Agri-Business Association. Previously, she was the communications manager at Michigan Farm Bureau's state headquarters. She also lists 10 years of experience at six different daily and weekly Michigan newspapers on her impressive resume.

Jennifer lives in St. Johns with her two daughters, Elizabeth, 19, and Emily 16.

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