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Frank Rich Is Wrong: Hate Didn't Kill Kennedy, But It Is Killing Civil Discourse in America

Today marks the 48th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The slain president's wife, his successor, and the liberal media blamed the murder on Dallas' "climate of hate." That smear cast a pall on the innocent citizens of that city for decades. I know, because I grew up in the shadow of Big D and in the shadow of Kennedy's killing. For decades after Nov. 22, 1963, you could go anywhere in the country, tell anyone you were from Dallas, and if you spent enough time with that person, Kennedy's assassination would inevitably come up.

Frank Rich chose to mark the 48th anniversary by smearing Dallas, again, and by extension conservatives of the present. It's a column which should get him ridiculed and fired; no one who is so irresponsible with the hard facts of life has any place in the commentariat.The title gives Rich's game away. It's "What Killed JFK?" not "Who Killed JFK?" as it should be. A "what" is much easier to abstract, isolate, and attack than a "who" who had inconvenient opinions and motivations, and a madness to move.

The cold, hard fact of that day in Dallas is this: Whether Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman or by a conspiracy that included others, Dallas' "climate" had nothing to do with it. Dallas was the scene of the crime but wasn't responsible for it. Lee Harvey Oswald was not a mainstream Dallas man. He would not have been a Tea Partier. Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist. He had defected to the Soviet Union, become disillusioned, and returned. He had tried to travel to Cuba and failed. If hate was Oswald's motive in Kennedy's killing, the hate lived in the chest of a man who had failed at life, had rejected the freedoms of his country, and used bullets to write himself into the history books. Lee Harvey Oswald was an America-hating leftist.

Or, alternatively, Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy to stop his Vietnam policy or whatever the Oliver Stones of the world think. You make the call. Either way, Dallas is not collectively guilty of Kennedy's death anymore than Washington DC is collectively guilty of Lincoln's.

To the extent that his politics are relevant today, Lee Harvey Oswald belongs to the same ideological strain that later gave us Pentagon bomber Bill Ayers. That same strain of politics can be traced through a certain church in Chicago, right to the camps in Oakland, Los Angeles and Wall Street. People who subscribe to this strain of thought blame others for their feelings of powerlessness. They reject American freedom and damn America. They accept some violence as a legitimate political tactic. They despise America and want to bring her down to create a moment in which they can rearrange power to their benefit.