JFK’s assassination radicalized liberalism

Matt K. Lewis | Senior Contributor

James Piereson’s new book, “Camelot And The Cultural Revolution” argues that the assassination of John F. Kennedy dramatically altered liberalism, changing it from a practical and optimistic philosophy to a radical, paranoid, anti-American ideology.

In 1960 when Kennedy was elected, Piereson writes, modern liberalism featured “a sense that progress must be built on the solid achievements of the past, an awareness of the threat of Soviet totalitarianism, and a conviction that its domestic opponents were radicals at war with modernity…” But almost immediately after Kennedy’s assassination, “liberals would repudiate many of his central ideas, thereby paving the way for conservatives to claim them.”

(Listen to our full conversation here.)

“The liberalism of 1970,” Piereson writes, “had only a tenuous connection to the liberalism that Kennedy stood for when he ran for president in 1960.”

So what caused liberalism to undergo such a dramatic change–within such a short span of time? Piereson argues that the intentional misinterpretation of Kennedy’s assassination is to blame for the dramatic change.

If you’re intrigued by this, listen to my full conversation with Piereson here.

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