David Bernstein of The Volokh Conspiracy spots some remarkable magical thinking at work on both ends of the Northeast Corridor:
This is really amazing to me. The New York Times and the Washington Post each manages to publish a piece on the Kennedy assassination, by two different authors, focusing on what they see as the right-wing extremist environment in Dallas in 1963, and while never saying so directly, implicitly blaming Kennedy’s assassination on that environment. [UPDATE: The Washingtonian magazine is more explicit: "The city of hate had, in fact, killed the President."]
Look, guys. Lee Harvey Oswald murdered JFK. Oswald was a Communist. Not a small c, “all we are saying is give peace a chance and let’s support Negro civil rights” kind of Communist, but someone so committed to the cause (and so blind to the nature of the USSR) that he actually went to live in the Soviet Union. And when that didn’t work out, Oswald became a great admirer of Castro. He apparently would have gone to live in Cuba before the assassination if the Cubans would have had him. Before assassinating Kennedy, Oswald tried to kill a retired right-wing general. As near as we can tell, he targeted Kennedy in revenge for Kennedy’s anti-Castro actions.
The attempt to at best distract us from who the killer was and why he killed JFK, and at worst to pin the blame on entirely innocent people for inciting Dallas opinion against JFK (or perhaps to imply that the right-wingers plotted the assassination), even though those innocents were exactly the type of people Oswald hated, is just pathetic, and the Times and Post should be embarrassed for publishing these pieces. The Post piece is especially embarrassing because it explicitly links Dallas “right-wing extremism” circa 1963 to the modern “Tea Party,” as if to say, “if the Tea Party had been around in 1963, one of its members would have killed Kennedy.”
These articles seem to imply that Dallas was some sort of early-style giant Transformer robot, that could morph from sprawling city to tightly-coiled gunman at a moment’s notice. Using the Times article as a springboard, Sunny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon was spot-on earlier this week when he described these columns as “Op-Eds as Social Positioning: or, I’m Better than Those Hicks!”
As Christopher Caldwell noted a decade ago in the Weekly Standard, even otherwise thoughtful liberals who hail originally from flyover country are driven kind of nutty by their ignorant kin when it comes to politics. You should really read the whole thing—it’s extremely brief, and the bile so-called liberals direct at their families is something to behold—but here are Caldwell’s concluding paragraphs:
At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.
For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.
“A badge of certain social aspirations,” yes, but something else too. Liberalism and affiliation with the Democratic Party, for these people, is less a series of policy ideas than an almost-religious belief system. Distancing oneself from heretics thus takes on special importance. And how better to show your fellow believers that you are Good than to use the most important news outlet in the entire world to run down your relatives who believed Bad things?
The Left will get another shot at this style of trolling their relatives next week, at a Thanksgiving table near you. President Obama may have preferred skipping Gettysburg for a Wall Street fundraiser in Manhattan, but in Soviet America, president delivers Civil War to you:
As Troy Senik recently noted at Ricochet, our president is “Kind of a Jag” to pull these sorts of fratboy pranks on his supporters:
This sort of boxes in those young, hip Obama voters doesn’t it? I mean, you can either be a paragon of cool, detached sophistication or you can lobby your aunt about the importance of community rating over the cranberry sauce. You can’t really do both.
And by the way, if you try to pull this crap at my table, you better pray to whatever gender-neutral deity your side worships that all the utensils on the table are plastic. Otherwise, you’re going to be doing field research on the state of the American health care system in short order.
Heh. On the other hand, perhaps Roger L. Simon, our Maximum Pajamahadeen Emeritus (and happy 70th, Roger!) is right that Barack Obama is the ultimate “Libertarian Manufacturing Machine.” If kids have to listen to their parents expound the joys of socialized medicine as short term, they watch their beer fund and long term, their retirements go up in smoke, it could be the greatest recruiting drive ever for a new generation of young conservatives and libertarians.