John F. Kennedy was a supply-side, tax-cutting president who was hawkish abroad and was murdered by a communist who had previously defected to the Soviet Union. But don’t be alarmed if that comes as a surprise — a lot of people haven’t heard that. Because the myth of JFK — liberal icon, victim of racist, right-wing America — is a veritable gospel of elite history, and a damn useful weapon against the rest of us.
Case in point: On Tuesday afternoon, The New Republic tweeted a 50 year-old picture of a crowd of Texans, including at least one protester, waiting to greet Mr. Kennedy at the Dallas Airport. “These JFK haters in 1960s Dallas look an awful lot like Obama haters today,” the tweeter opined.
Which is stupid. And juvenile. And revisionist. But why let that get in the way of a good story? It never has before. So we’ll just break down TNR’s logic here: “We saw a picture of a racist protesting a Democratic president 50 years ago, so protesting Democratic presidents is racist.”
We see this narrative in academia, where writers answer “Why JFK died in Dallas,” pointing to “the hatred, hysteria and fear that culminated in Kennedy’s death.”
We see this narrative in Hollywood, where directors insinuate that gay anti-Castro mercenaries were actually the ones behind the killing.
We see this narrative in The New Republic, where, tying the pieces of this revision together, the editors observe that “one thing that stands out today is how the era’s rhetoric—with a president from a new ethnic group derided as a socialist and a traitor—has in common with our own.” (Get it? Racism is why Kennedy died, just like racism is why people are against Obamacare.)
Unfortunately, what we don’t see here — or most places — are the facts.
Facts like Mr. Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union in 1959, where he offered up confidential information from when he was a Marine Corps radio operator. Facts like Mr. Oswald’s meeting with the Cuban consulate and his trip to Mexico City in an attempt to get to Cuba.
At the time of Kennedy’s death, nobody wanted talk about Oswald’s obvious and enthusiastic communism. To call 1963 a delicate time in international relations — even before the president was assassinated — would be an understatement. Catastrophic war loomed, and people were afraid. It wasn’t a good time for either the U.S.A. or the USSR to talk too much about Mr. Oswald’s loyalties, to stress the nature of his treason.
And today, it’s just plain inconvenient for the myth. Because today, the liberal daydream of Mr. Kennedy — Kennedy the progressive, Kennedy the dove — struck down by the “city of hate” clashes with the reality of Mr. Kennedy — Kennedy the moderate, Kennedy the hawk — struck down by a communist.
Which brings us back to The New Republic, and other self-appointed guardians at the gates, telling us that we Americans are a terrible, racist people — and we always were. That by criticizing President Barack Obama and his policies, Americans are simply carrying on that same evil. (RELATED: Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis goes nuclear on race-card wielding MSNBC contributor [VIDEO])
But while racism was a major problem in 1963, it didn’t kill Mr. Kennedy. And while the issue of racism still lurks today, the true foils for our twice-elected black president are his policies and his leadership — not racism. But what difference does this make? As they say, who controls the past controls the future.
P.S.: In five years, it will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy by a Palestinian opposed to his support for Israel. It will be interesting to see how The New Republic plays that one.