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Ed Driscoll

‘Lee Harvey Oswald has Left the Building’

January 20th, 2011 - 9:59 am

The Reclusive Leftist spots a sentence curiously missing from RFK Jr’s recent essay on the death of President Kennedy in 1963:

The past week has been full of bizarre responses to the Arizona shooting, and if I weren’t so tired and depressed I’d grace you all with a 10,000 word essay on the subject. But I am tired and depressed, so I’ll just pick the one moment that continues to intrigue me. It was this: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s essay in the Huffington Post. It’s a fine essay, and RFK Jr.’s personal reminiscences of the impact of the JFK assassination on his family are poignant. I also share his repugnance for right-wing vitriol, both then and now.

But the essay is missing a sentence. I was so sure the sentence had to be there that I read the entire piece three times, and then started doing page searches to find the missing words. Surely the sentence was there and I was just somehow not seeing it. It’s the sentence that goes something like, “Ironically, despite the atmosphere in Dallas, it turned out that Uncle Jack’s assassin was a misguided pro-Castro Marxist.” Because that, of course, is what actually happened. That was the great irony of the JFK assassination. Dallas was infested with wingnuts (though they weren’t called wingnuts back then), and at first everybody thought that’s who killed the president. But lo and behold, it was just Lee Oswald, delusional Communist blowhard. As Jackie Kennedy remarked bitterly, JFK didn’t even have the “satisfaction” of dying for his liberal ideals; instead his assassin was just a “silly little Communist.”

In fact, that’s the point I thought RFK Jr. was going to make when I started reading the essay. Everybody in Dallas in 1963 thought it was a right-wing hit, and they were wrong; that’s the parallel with Tuscon. But no, that wasn’t the point RFK Jr. wanted to make. He just wanted to talk about the dangers of right-wing hate. Okay, fine. That’s cool. Let’s talk about it. But still: how do you leave out the sentence about Oswald? As a writer, how do you do that? I couldn’t. It feels obligatory. You write this highly-charged essay, you make a big deal about how ugly the right-wing stuff was in Dallas, you evoke the horror of the president’s death; even if you want your takeaway message to be about the dangers of superheated rhetoric, how do you leave out the undeniable historical reality that Oswald was cut from an entirely different bolt of cloth? Even if you tuck it in as a parenthetical throwaway (”of course, ironically…”), you still have to acknowledge it. Don’t you?

I had just about persuaded myself to forget about it—chalk it up to a single editorial decision not to muddy the main point—when I learned today that Eric Boehlert wrote an extremely similar essay in 2009: A President was killed the last time right-wing hatred ran wild like this. It’s exactly the same argument RFK Jr. makes, and with exactly the same stunning omission. No Oswald! Oswald has simply disappeared. He’s gone. And everything that motivated the man is gone. No Cuba, no Fidel, no Soviet Union, no Marxism, no Communism, no nothing. There’s not even a nod to Oswald’s real motive, which was the inchoate longing to be somebody, to be a great man, to be important.

So is this what we do now? Is this the program? Fifty years later, we just make it be about whatever we want it to be about? (Mr. Derrida, white courtesy phone. White courtesy phone, Mr. Derrida.)

Ironically, people will accuse me of having an ulterior motive for even saying this. So you’re defending right-wing hatred? So you’re arguing that the left is just as bad? Blah blah blah. Actually, here’s my ulterior motive: truth. I like truth. I like facts. I like knowing what really happened.

At the American Spectator, Jeffrey Lord adds:

“We’re heading into nut country today,” President Kennedy said to his wife on the morning of November 22.As it turned out, President Kennedy had no idea how right he was.

America entered nut country that November 22. The nut country of left-wing violence and its left-wing media enablers from the New York Times to MSNBC to commentators Matthews, Krugman, Kennedy, Frank Rich and the violence celebrated by such as the poster “Blueboy” at the Daily Kos (the latter of whom posted of Gabrielle Giffords before the shooting: “My CongressWOMAN voted against Nancy Pelosi! And is now DEAD to me!”).

The door to nut country was opened barely three years after John F. Kennedy was inaugurated with such glittering hope. That door was opened by Lee Harvey Oswald. A Marxist. A man of the Left. The American Left in this instance. Waiting in the shadows of the immutable trademark violent tradition of leftists in America and around the globe.

An American leftist targeting the most famous American liberal of the day pulled the trigger that killed John F. Kennedy. Murderously ending a presidency that began with such golden promise fifty years ago this week.

The American Left’s descent into madness had begun.

Disturbingly, as Paul Krugman, Chris Matthews, Frank Rich, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others in the liberal media have so vividly and recently illustrated, many who should know better have gone along for the ride.

While never mentioning it by name (and I’m not sure of the cause of that omission), Lord’s essay brings James Piereson’s Camelot and the Cultural Revolution up to the present day.

But will the left’s efforts at making the right complicit in a horrific shooting succeed as well as they did in 1963?

“Operation Demoralize Is Working,” William A. Jacobson writes at the Legal Insurrection blog.

(Via that blogger to the stars, Tim Blair)

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