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NYT: US Was Already Torn Before JFK’s Death

From the New York Times:

In Kennedy’s Death, a Turning Point for a Nation Already Torn

By SAM TANENHAUS | November 21, 2013

Fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the nation seems to be experiencing a kind of fairy tale about itself, alternately bright and dark.

This is certainly true. The JFK story has become a fairy tale. But not in the way the NYT means it. The fairy tale is that the right wing killed Kennedy. When he was killed by an avowed Communist.

It is inspiring, but also deflating, to see and hear again (and again) the handsome, vigorous president, the youngest ever elected to the office, as he beckons the country forth to the future, to the “New Frontier,” and its promise of conquest: putting a man on the moon, defeating sharply defined evils — totalitarianism, poverty, racial injustice.

This, we have been reminded, was the dream Kennedy nourished, and much of it died with him, when the sharp cracks of rifle fire broke out as his motorcade rolled through the sunstruck streets of Dallas.

And never mind that Kennedy was a supply sider, a fiscal conservative. And a rabid anti-Communist. Or that he believed that the best anti-poverty program was a job. And that cutting taxes would grow jobs.

With this horrific, irrational deed, a curse was laid upon the land, and the people fell from grace.

But this narrative and the anniversary remembrances have obscured the deeper message sent and received on Nov. 22, 1963. In fact, America had already become a divided, dangerous place, with intimations of anarchic disorder. Beneath its gleaming surfaces, a spore had been growing, a mass of violent energies, coiled and waiting to spring….

This is actually true. But only on the left.

This is not to say America wasn’t a more optimistic place than it is now…

One reason was that the nation’s most powerful institutions were widely seen as “fundamentally good and trustworthy — government, the military, religious institutions. People even trusted big corporations…

Who destroyed the trust in our institutions? Conservatives or leftists?

The tumult of the ’60s, including the unraveling of the Johnson and Nixon presidencies, came to be depicted, in part, as a disillusioned reaction to Kennedy’s death. But actually, the seeds had begun to sprout during his administration…

And while many today mourn the loss of the consensus politics of the Cold War era, the center was already collapsing in 1963. Left-wing groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Students for a Democratic Society, both impatient with the slow pace of social change, were formed at the time of Kennedy’s presidency…

As if there is any comparison between the SDS, who blew up buildings and killed people, and the John Birch Society. Which never did anything more violent than against fluoride.

Kennedy hatred was deepest, perhaps, in the South, where civil rights battles had grown increasingly tense…

Really? So are we supposed to believe that all of those people lining the street of Dallas on November 22, a work day, were waving and cheering because they hated Kennedy?

In fact, in the 1960 elections, Kennedy won Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware. It’s kind of hard to see the hatred there.

In “A Thousand Days,” published in 1965, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who worked in the Kennedy administration, described a president who had “peered into the abyss and knew the potentiality of chaos.” …

Mr. Schlesinger had predicted a new “politics of hope” with Kennedy’s election. But Kennedy’s own hopes were more tempered. While others basked in the excitements of Camelot, Mr. Schlesinger wrote, Kennedy himself had become acutely aware of the difficulties of governing “a nation so disparate in its composition, so tense in its interior relationships, so cunningly enmeshed in underground fears and antagonisms, so entrapped by history in the ethos of violence.”

Well, taking drugs will do that to you.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, November 22nd, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “NYT: US Was Already Torn Before JFK’s Death”

  1. captstubby says:

    only a matter of time ,it appears, that the Camelot Mythos (pre -November 22 Era.)

    will eventually overshadow the Great FDR Saga in the Book of Democrats, revised edition.

    perhaps the Cosmetologists Strong Anthropic principle ( “An ensemble of other different universes is necessary for the existence of our Universe.”)
    has a grain of validity.

    maybe when the Left remove the Tin Foil Hat shields,

    they are somehow attuned to a Bizzaro Multi Universe where such distortions could actually occur.

    it would explain a lot of things.

    (According to the multiverse theory, the appearance of “intelligent design” in our universe is the result of the pieces coming together just right, with no guidance/oversight from any Being. Rather, our universe being fine-tuned for life is simply a matter of chance – with millions or billions of universes, it was bound to happen.)

  2. Astravogel says:

    Of course, I recall where I was when the news came through. I also recall how
    well Barry Goldwater was doing in the polls, which was why Kennedy left Washington.

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