Sour Grapes Post Election 2012

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Revisiting the Kennedy Assassination: Frank Rich and the Paranoid Style

REF:  James Piereson
This guy is quite the conservative.....     kinda anti = me!!  the liberal!!!

There is an old saying in politics that "They don't scream unless you hurt them."  When your adversaries scream, it is a good sign that your measures have been effective. Judged by this standard, the Koch Brothers (David and Charles) have been very effective in recent years in advancing their causes of limited government and classical liberalism, much to the discomfort of liberal foes promoting business regulation, higher taxes, and ObamaCare.
The Koch brothers have been on the receiving end of non-stop attacks from liberal journalists and academics ever since Jane Mayer published a hit piece on them last year in The New Yorker purporting to show that their contributions were behind the rise of the “Tea Party” movement.  This wildly exaggerated claim was meant to cast the Koch brothers as great villains, but villains possessed of a satanic combination of power and tactical brilliance.  In a predictable course, Mayer’s fairy tale was circulated by the columnists and editorial writers of the New York Times and from there through a network of second-level columnists and political magazines until at length it came to the attention of the credulous foot soldiers of the liberal-left who have kept the pot boiling in recent months with ever more inventive and exaggerated versions of the original lie

Revisiting the Kennedy Assassination: Frank Rich and the Paranoid Style

By James Piereson

It has now been 48 years since President John F. Kennedy was cut down on the streets of Dallas by rifle shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, a self-described Marxist, recent defector to the Soviet Union, and ardent admirer of Fidel Castro. The evidence condemning Oswald was overwhelming: the bullets that killed President Kennedy were fired from his rifle, the rifle was found on the sixth floor of the warehouse where he worked and were he was seen moments before the shooting, and witnesses on the street described a man firing shots from that location. When a policeman stopped Oswald on foot to question him about the assassination, Oswald pulled out a pistol and shot him before fleeing to a nearby movie theater where he was arrested, still carrying the pistol with which he had killed the policeman. Two days later Oswald was himself assassinated while in police custody by a night club owner distraught over Kennedy's death. For understandable reasons, these events had a disorienting effect on the public mind.

For many who came of age during that era and were taken with Kennedy's style and idealistic rhetoric, his very public murder, recorded in amateur films and news photos, was a shock that they could never quite get over. Returning to it again and again as the years passed, they could not help but feel that the disasters that followed -- the war in Vietnam, the urban riots, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Nixon's election -- were somehow connected to that irrational act of violence that claimed President Kennedy's life. If somehow the act could be undone or understood, or blame for it fairly apportioned and punishment meted out, then the world might again be set right, or at least partly so. But it could not be undone, and it proved nearly as difficult to understand or explain, at least in terms satisfactory to the assumptions of the age. And so before long the JFK assassination came to be encrusted in layers of myth, illusion, and disinformation strong enough to deflect every attempt to understand it from a rational point of view.

The central myth of the JFK assassination was that a climate of hate inspired by the far right created the conditions for President Kennedy's murder. A single assassin may have pulled the trigger, but he was put up to it by an undercurrent of hatred and bigotry that President Kennedy tried but failed to subdue. On this view President Kennedy was a martyr, somewhat like Abraham Lincoln, to the causes of civil rights, racial justice, and an elevated liberalism. JFK's assassination was a tragic but richly symbolic event for many Americans who saw it as a vivid expression of an ongoing battle in American life between the forces of light and darkness.
This explanation for the assassination did not drop out of thin air but was circulated immediately after the event by influential leaders, journalists, and journalistic outlets, including Mrs. Kennedy, President Johnson, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, James Reston, Russell Baker, and the editorial page of the New York Times, columnist Drew Pearson, and any number of other liberal spokesmen. Mrs. Kennedy took the lead in insisting that her husband was martyred by agents of hatred and bigotry. Within days of the assassination, she elaborated the symbolism of Camelot and King Arthur's court to frame the Kennedy presidency as a special and near-magical enterprise guided by the highest ideals. The eternal flame she placed on his grave site invokes King Arthur's candle in the wind as imagined by T. H. White in his Arthurian novel, The Once and Future King, later the basis of a Broadway musical that was popular during the Kennedy years.

These were the myths, illusions, and outright fabrications in which the Kennedy assassination came to be encrusted. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they are still widely believed. In fact, the Kennedy legend, incorporating the myths about his assassination, is closely intertwined with the history of modern liberalism: JFK has come to represent a liberal ideal and his assassination the threat posed to it by the forces of the far right.

It is hard to fathom, in this age of secular rationality, that so many people can believe a tale so obviously contradicted by the facts. President Kennedy, to the extent he was a martyr at all, was a martyr in the Cold War struggle against communism. Oswald was not in any way, shape, or form a product of a "climate of hate" as found in Dallas or anywhere else in the United States. Nor was Oswald a bigot; he supported the civil rights movement and attended meetings in Dallas of the American Civil Liberties Union. Seven months before he shot President Kennedy, in April, 1963, he took a shot (and missed) at retired Gen. Edwin Walker, the head of the Dallas chapter of the John Birch Society. He married a Russian woman, and longed to return to the Soviet Union. In the months leading up to the assassination, he was active in a front group supporting Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba. Two months before the assassination, he travelled to Mexico City to visit the Soviet and Cuban embassies in pursuit of a visa that would allow him to travel to Cuba. In one of those visits he threatened the life of President Kennedy. His motives in shooting President Kennedy were undoubtedly linked to a wish to protect Castro against efforts by the Kennedy administration to overturn his government. It was not publicly known in 1963 that the Kennedy administration (in an expression of hard-headed real politik) was trying to assassinate Castro. But it is possible that Oswald was aware of these clandestine plans.
In the latest effort to recycle the Camelot myths, Frank Rich has published a delusional article in New York Magazine under the title, "What Killed JFK: The Hate That Ended His Presidency is Eerily Familiar" in which he draws a straight line from Kennedy's assassination to imagined threats against President Obama arising from conservatives and the tea party movement. 

The occasion for Mr. Rich's ruminations is a review of several recently published books about President Kennedy and the assassination, including one by Stephen King in which the novelest dispatches a time traveller on a mission to intercept Oswald before he can commit his deed so that history might be redirected on a more hopeful path. Mr. King, however is a writer of fiction and thus entitled to invent his facts. Mr. Rich, as a journalist, does not have the same license.

 Mr. Rich's depiction of "the right" as a menace and a public danger is not that far removed from the portrayal of communism as a threat to the republic among the followers of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. In keeping to this script, Mr. Rich invents a series of "facts" about the Kennedy assassination and then lists them in an indicment of conservatives as parties to the crime. It is a near textbook application of the paranoid style.

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