November 23, 2013

Re-capping the 20th anniversary of the JFK assassination

Twenty years to the hour after President John F. Kennedy was gunned down, 1,500 people gathered Tuesday for a memorial service a block away from the assassination site...

"This city has never blamed the city of Washington for the death of Abraham Lincoln so it is unfair to blame the city of Dallas for this criminal act," declared former U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough, who rode in the motorcade with Kennedy two decades ago...

"The future did not die here -- it never dies; it goes on. Here died one spirit," added U.S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez of San Antonio, who also rode in the motorcade...

Shortly before the ceremony began, a column of vans and cars taking part in a motorcade sponsored by "The Texas Coalition for Freedom" circled the block where the Kennedy Memorial is located, displaying signs supporting President Reagan and opposing communism. The group later rallied at the memorial.

Another group of protesters silently stood to the side during the service, holding a banner protesting U.S. arms in El Salvador.

From "Dallas Remembers Assassination" (AP, 11 / 22 / 1983).

That was another world, wasn't it? I can't imagine today seeing a caravan of right-wingers trolling a major anniversary of JFK's assassination, nor a group of left-wingers using it to protest militarism. Folks back then had a healthy lack of respect for celebrity worship and the sanctification of high authority.

Steve Sailer's been covering the coverage of the 50th anniversary in the mainstream media, most of which pushes the theme of "Dallas, a city of hate in need of redemption, has it atoned enough to be forgiven of its sins?" They gloss over the name of the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and the fact that he was a Marxist wacko who tried to defect to the Soviet Union, that he was not from Dallas, and so on.

E.g., this article from the NYT that mentions Oswald's name just twice, and only includes half of a sentence about his background and motives: "...even though the killer was a Marxist outsider." Sooo back to how Dallas was like literally the most racist and bigoted city in, seriously, the entire country, I'm not even kidding.

Not like there weren't any retards back in the '80s who tried to frame the story as though the political climate of Dallas had assassinated the president, but I was surprised to read how much truth broke through in the NYT. By '83, political naivete was considered an embarrassment, no longer enshrined as "idealism," and the public was way too savvy to swallow a bunch of over-stretched apologies on behalf of a Supreme Leader who didn't even get to accomplish much in his less than three years in office.

The Left was still hanging around, but remember from this post, they were populist, not power-seekers and corporate cocksuckers. That began to change during the '90s; with respect to Camelot hagiography, especially after the 1991 movie JFK. This shift in the popular view so disturbed Noam Chomsky, a mainstay of radical politics, that in 1993 he wrote a short book detailing how Kennedy was not about to end the War in Vietnam or otherwise save us from the turbulence of the later '60s, and that there was no grand conspiracy to assassinate him or cover it up.

Well, you can imagine what the gist of the 1983 NYT article was -- "Dallas, Dallas, You can't hide, We charge you with regicide!" So let's take a look instead at the parts that you couldn't sneak past the thought police in our Millennial era. For ease of reading, I'll put my comments in brackets within a single long block quote. It mentions Oswald's name six times.

From "Dallas Still Wondering: Did It Help Pull Trigger?" (NYT, 11 / 22 / 1983):

Many demurred at the time, among them Price Daniel, a former Governor. He maintained that Oswald ''spent more time in Russia than in Texas'' and ''was not a product of Dallas, having lived there less than two months, a far shorter time than in New York, New Orleans, San Diego, Moscow and Minsk.''

[Details of the killer's background and motives – something that might give us insight. But detective work is so boring when you can just fantasize instead.]

Most horrific, the minister said, was ''the cheer that came from the crowd across from the City Hall when word came that Oswald had been murdered in the basement of the police station.''

[If there was a crowd cheering the death of Oswald, and no such cheering when Kennedy was shot... what do we conclude about how much Oswald's act resonated with the people of Dallas?]

The moral indictment of Dallas as an accessory to assassination strikes some here as strange, especially as there was scant mention of civic culpability in 1968 when other dreams were slain: those attending Senator Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.

[Entirely obvious back in '83, mind-boggling today.]

Mr. Greene, like most others here, still sees the situation that evolved in the 1960's as a failure of the city's leadership, not as any fundamental flaw in its people.

''The real crime,'' he said in an interview this week, ''was in the leadership. They should have announced that this town was not run by these kooks. But the leadership didn't make things plain until just before the assassination, right after the Stevenson episode.''

''The police told everybody before the motorcade, 'You're not going come down here and embarrass us.' And they didn't. Ninety-nine percent of the people along the motorcade route were deliriously supportive.

[So, wait, in a city of hate directed toward Kennedy and all he stood for, there was no counter-crowd to heckle, jeer, and throw shit at his motorcade? I saw worse heckling during George W. Bush's first inauguration, where the “stole the election” thing was still in the air, and his car sped by with the tinted windows rolled up for a good stretch of the route.]

''Then the totally unexpected happened. It wasn't a right-wing kook, it was a left-wing kook, a publicly pronounced left-wing kook. It was a sudden paradox.

[Oswald's leftist background isn't glossed over as one of those “oh yeah, btw” kind of factoids. In '83, the writer drew attention to the fact that everybody in 1963 who thought they had it right, had it wrong, completely backwards in fact. Take-home message: show some humility, liberal witch-hunters.]

Indeed, the reception the handsome young President and his elegant wife received that day was tumultuous, so much so that Nellie Connally, the wife of Gov. John B. Connally, leaned over and exulted, ''No one can say Dallas doesn't love and respect you, Mr. President.''

''You sure can't,'' the President replied...

[Reminder: Kennedy was welcomed in Dallas as though he were one of the Beatles, to use a slight anachronism. Did the City of Hate forget to set their alarm clocks that day?]

Although critical, Mr. Marcus [of the Nieman-Marcus stores] and others here who will discuss the city's shortcomings of the 1960's nonetheless view a blanket condemnation as unfair.

''A lot of journalists and book writers and others hit Dallas with their stories already written,'' Mr. Greene said. ''At the time, I was generally considered a liberal editor in Dallas, but I found myself defending Dallas against pointless charges, against things the city wasn't guilty of.

''We had a lot of semipolitical kooks who had a lot of lung power but not much real power. They depended on their actions' substituting for their numbers.''

[The current NYT reporter who hit Dallas with his story already written was nevertheless willing to allow that quote in, to open up the possibility that maybe his close-mindedness is not a desirable trait for a reporter, and that he's repeating the mistakes of outside reporters from 20 years earlier. Today's writers don't allow the other side to call the writer's pre-fab fantasies “pointless charges.”]

The Washington Post ran a similar article at the time on the theme of, Should we burn Dallas at the stake or forgive its sins? Forgive -- thumbs up. Burn -- thumbs down. ("20 Years Later, Dallas Remembers -- Minus Its Shame and Guilt," WP, 11 / 22 / 1983.)

It too allowed some inconvenient truths to get past the censors, though not as much as in the NYT (the WP is more liberal). But in a sign of the levity and black humor of the Eighties, particularly on topics of Dire Consequences To Liberals, the reporter closes the article with this quote:

"For years and years, the first thing people said when they heard you were from Dallas was, 'Oh, you're the ones who killed Kennedy,' " said Shannon Wynne, a native who owns a string of nightspots. "Now they want to know who killed J.R." Down here, that's progress.

3 comments:

  1. Steve Johnson11/23/13, 9:54 AM

    In 1983 opponents of the left were real and still had some sway. If the reporting was about how Dallas hated JFK and murdered him then it looks like a nice rallying point and focus for opposition.

    By 2013 the victory of the left is total. Now the priority is to keep progressives worried about imaginary enemies - so they don't notice that the left is a failure at any stated goal (because those goals are contrary to reality). Hence, the reporting emphasizes how southerners / Texans / Dallasites (?) are the real enemy and should be hated. Those are the wreckers that are stopping true communism!

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  2. The whole situation is ludicrous, and you and Mr. Sailer hit the nail on the head. In 1951, were they making a big deal about McKinley's assassination? I'm curious.

    I called my mom and asked her sarcastically if she knew Kennedy was killed 50 years ago today. It's unavoidable.

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  3. We saw the same outburst of piety when Reagan expired almost a decade ago. I don't recall any major protests from the left then either.

    Speaking of authority-worship, the American public didn't idealize the military in the 80's or 90's, with the exception of the period around Operation Desert Storm.

    Pew polls had the percentage of the public at 'very favorable' in the 20's and 30's in this period. It really only shot up after 9/11 and it hasn't come back down since. In the last decade the figure has been close to 50%.

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