NYT: "Dallas’s Role in Kennedy’s Murder"
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From the New York Times, leapfrogging loyalties at their most lunatic:

The City With a Death Wish in Its Eye 

Dallas’s Role in Kennedy’s Murder 


FOR 50 years, Dallas has done its best to avoid coming to terms with the one event that made it famous: the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. 

That’s because, for the self-styled “Big D,” grappling with the assassination means reckoning with its own legacy as the “city of hate,” the city that willed the death of the president.

It will miss yet another opportunity this year. ... 

But once again, spectacle is likely to trump substance: not one word will be said at this event about what exactly the city was in 1963, when the president arrived in what he called, just moments before his death, “nut country.” ...

Those “men of Dallas” — men like my grandfather, oil men and corporate executives, self-made but self-segregated in a white-collar enclave in a decidedly blue-collar state — often loathed the federal government at least as much as, if not more than, they did the Soviet Union or Communist China. ... 

For those men, Kennedy was a veritable enemy of the state, which is why a group of them would commission and circulate “Wanted for Treason” pamphlets before the president’s arrival and fund the presciently black-rimmed “Welcome Mr. Kennedy” advertisement that ran in The Dallas Morning News on the morning of Nov. 22. It’s no surprise that four separate confidants warned the president not to come to Dallas: an incident was well within the realm of imagination. 

The wives of these men — socialites and homemakers, Junior Leaguers and ex-debutantes — were no different; in fact, they were possibly even more extreme. 

(After all, there’s a reason Carol Burnett pulls a gun on Julie Andrews at the end of the famous “Big D” routine the two performed before the assassination in the early 1960s. “What are ya,” she screams, pulling the trigger, “some kinda nut?!”) 

In the years before the second wave of the women’s movement, many of these women, affluent but frustrated in their exclusive neighborhoods like Preston Hollow and Highland Park, turned to politics as a means of garnering the validation they were otherwise denied. With time and money at their disposal, they would outdo their husbands, one another and even themselves. ...

And in the annals of my own family history, it was my charming grandmother, not some distant relation without a Neiman Marcus charge card, who nevertheless saw fit to found the “National Congress for Educational Excellence,” an organization that crusaded against such things as depictions of working women in Texas textbooks and the distribution of literature on homosexuality in Dallas public schools. 

In a photograph taken not long after the assassination, my grandmother smiles a porcelain smile, poised and lovely in psychedelic purple Pucci, coiffure stacked high in what can only be described as a hairway to heaven. Her eyes, however, are intent, fixed on a target — liberalism, gender equality, gays. 

Dallas is not, of course, “the city that killed Kennedy.” Nor does the city in which the president arrived 50 years ago bear much resemblance to Dallas today, the heart of a vibrant metroplex of 6.7 million people, most of whom have moved from elsewhere and have little or no connection to 1963. 

But without question, these memories — and the remnants of the environment of extreme hatred the city’s elite actively cultivated before the president’s visit — have left an indelible mark on Dallas, the kind of mark that would never be left on Memphis or Los Angeles, which were stages rather than actors in the 1968 assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. 

For the last 50 years, a collective culpability has quietly propelled the city to outshine its troubled past without ever actually engaging with it. ...

But those are transient triumphs in the face of what has always been left unsaid, what the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald once called the “dark night of the soul,” on which the bright Texas sun has yet to rise. The far right of 1963 and the radicalism of my grandparents’ generation may have faded in recent years, they remain very much alive in Dallas. ... 

This year Dallas has a chance to grapple with the painful legacy of 1963 in public and out loud. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen, although the city did quietly host a symposium on whether it really deserved to be labeled “the city of hate” earlier this month. 

But when the national cameras start rolling on Nov. 22, Dealey Plaza, the abandoned, almost spectral site of the assassination and now of the commemoration, will have been retouched in a fresh coat of literal and figurative white paint. Cosmetics seem to be all we can expect.

I was under the impression that President Kennedy was assassinated by a Communist named Lee Harvey Oswald; evidently, I was misinformed. Instead, it must have been a giant right-wing conspiracy.

In the January 14, 2008 issue of The American Conservative, John O'Sullivan, who wrote about the failed 1981-1984 assassinations attempts on Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher in his 2006 book The President, The Pope, and the Prime Minister, reviewed James Pierseon's new book Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism:

"Piereson's first original (and brilliant) insight is his recognition that what transformed American politics was not the assassination itself but how it was interpreted. 

"Kennedy was slain by a devout communist, one-time defector to the Soviet Union, and admirer or Fidel Castro who had kept in touch with Soviet diplomats after returning home from the USSR and was trying to re-defect to Cuba. A common-sense interpretation of the crime would have portrayed Kennedy as an anti-communist martyr of the conservative cause in the Cold War. Such a view would have made the Cold War — rather than civil rights — the central issue in U.S. politics... But such an account would have also been contrary to the emerging "spirit of the age," which dictated to commentators a very different analysis. 

"Before anyone knew the identity of Kennedy's assassin, his death was at once and widely attributed in media speculations to 'extremists' and 'bigots' on the Right. ... But that conviction hardly changed once it became known that the assassin was a communist. To be sure, the newspapers dug into Oswald's career as a defector very thoroughly. But the editorials and opinion columns, their television equivalents, and the comments of the liberal and cultural leaders repeatedly and passionately blamed the assassination on something called 'extremism,' which was disconnected from America in general and to the radical Right in particular. ... It soon became conventional wisdom that all Americans bore a share of the blame for the bigotry, intolerance, and hate that had struck down the president. John F. Kennedy in death became a martyr for the cause of civil rights — a cause to which in life he had shown a prudent political coolness. ... 

"Piereson's second great contribution is to establish that Mrs. Kennedy herself, in the very depths of her grief, was signally responsible for inventing and spreading this misinterpretation and lifting it to the level of myth. 

... These questions were answered when Mrs. Kennedy learned that the lone Oswald had killed her husband. She then complained, "He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. It had to be some silly little communist. It even robs his death of any meaning." 

"Even before the misinterpretation had become current, she had intuitively grasped both its main features and the unfortunate fact that reality did not quite measure up to them. In her arrangements for the funeral and her selection of those speaking at the various memorial services, she ensured that the misinterpretation would be the dominant theme. Finally, by dictating to Theodore White the story that Kennedy had often ended his day listening to songs from his favorite musical, "Camelot," and by insisting that it must remain in White's article over the skepticism of his editors at Life magazine, she lifted the misinterpretation to the level of myth... 

... "Observers attentive to purely political signs — votes, laws, opinion polls — were inevitably late to notice this cultural shift. But a woman of fashion, who was also politically knowledgeable, was able to sense it from the surrounding atmosphere. ... 

"To their surprise, however, as the radicals [in the late 1960s] rushed forward with their battering rams, the liberals opened the gates and surrendered. How could they resist? If America had killed Kennedy, the liberalism was merely a smiley face painted on a System of racist and sexist oppression. ... For a decade or so after November 1963, liberalism and its institutions were convulsed by disputes, entering the maelstrom as pragmatic, patriotic, and problem-solving bodies, and emerging from it as perfectionist, utopian, anti-American ones, secretly anxious to punish the American majority for its sins rather than solve its problems."


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