The world wants to know: what does Uncouth Reflections think of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, JFK’s legacy, JFK the man, JFK the womanizer, JFK the tax-cutting conservative, JFK the secretly emerging heroic liberal, and so forth.
Well, probably not. So on to the real issue: where were you when he got shot?
I was in a high school assembly. Oddly enough, some famous violinist had agreed to come to our nondescript suburban high school for a daytime recital for the kids (classmates recall it being Vladimir Horowitz but, as a commenter below noted, he was a pianist). Unreliable memories notwithstanding, there is also general consensus as to what happened. He came on stage acting irritated and complained about too much sound in the space. His behavior somehow prompted the unawed and unsophisticated high school crowd–who’s Horrorwish?–to start giggling and laughing. This got Horowitz even more irritated, and he began denouncing the audience, and quickly strode off stage before playing a note.
I was in the back of the auditorium and I turned to look out the back door leading to the corridor to see him angrily marching out to the street. The principal then came on stage and told us to return to our home rooms, where we got the news.
My first reaction, and that of many other of the freshmen: ohmigod that bad man Lyndon Johnson will be president. It was a kind of mirror image to the many stories of school kids in the south who were reported to have celebrated at the news. Recall, this was pre-Vietnam War LBJ. Whatever bile we felt as 9th graders to Lyndon would have been entirely due to a kind of regional bias inherited from our elders.
Reliable high school friends generally confirm this account, though no one really knows whether it was the news of the assassination that prompted Horowitz to be irritated, and to storm off stage. Probably.
As to more current manifestations of the JFK issue.
1. I continue to be amazed at how mainstream reporting so quickly resorts to the kind of hagiography that for the most part went the way of the dodo after Watergate. Diane Sawyer’s coverage on the ABC Nightly News was downright smarmy in an excruciating way. Here’s hoping that Peggy Noonan is right:
The television coverage has been excessive, and some have found it grating. Fair enough, but we’ll never do it like this again. There won’t be any such attention paid to the 60th and 70th; those who were there will be gone, as will be many of those who were not there but remember.
Though who knows? A Google search for “new generation Kennedy family” turns up 56 million hits, roughly one for each member of the new generation to whom the tawch will be pahsed.
2. While the MSM is sticking with its Oswald story for the most part, conspiracy stuff is, as always, just under the surface. Republican operative Roger Stone is saying that Oliver Stone’s account has a lot of truth to it, especially as regards the involvement of LBJ. And James Douglas is making the rounds with his account of CIA involvement.
3. As Steve Sailer and others have been fond of pointing out, the Dallas/Hate meme has been on bounteous display. And, further, how odd that that meme is so strong considering the official version is that of a lone Marxist assassin, a story that renders whatever right-wing anger existed in Dallas for Kennedy somewhat beside the point.
At one level I agree that the Oswald/Marxist and Dallas/Hate memes are in conflict, and that they might comprise an almost perfect form of Orwellian doublethink. On the other hand, though, might there be an Occam’s Razor-style argument that is capable of squaring this particular circle? Maybe.
Consider that the media constantly promote the lone assassin theory as gospel, and regularly “diagnose” skepticism as though it were a psychological ailment (see here and here). Yet almost since the beginning most Americans have been highly skeptical about that lone Marxist gunman. A lot of Americans seem to buy that Kennedy was in fact done in by powerful evil people–not necessarily John Birch style haters, but certainly forces arrayed against an emerging liberal impulse domestically and a softer tone internationally.
Now of course Dallas does not really own any collective guilt for its Hating Ways. But at the level of the collective unconscious it could well be a stand-in for those whom the American public consider to be the real murderers. In that sense, the irony disappears, as it often does, under the microscope.