John F. Kennedy

Move Over, Oswald: Salon Says Tea Party Types Killed Kennedy

Wasn't Kennedy murdered by a self-described Marxist?

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Kennedy
Wikimedia Commons

Salon (the "real" news website, not the hilarious parody Twitter account), published an infuriating piece on the Kennedy assassination that adds some unbelievably off-kilter context to the president's murder: It was all the fault of gun-toting right-wing proto-Tea Partiers.

That's the argument put forth by Heather Digby Parton, a progressive opinion blogger and winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis. Texas conservatives were very mad at President Kennedy, she writes, and then he was killed, and now we should be afraid that maybe conservatives are trying to hurt President Obama. What else are they going to do with their guns?

Read Digby's history lesson for yourself:

The morning of Nov. 22, the Dallas Morning News featured a full-page ad "welcoming" the president to Dallas.  After a preamble in which they proclaimed their fealty to the Constitution and defiantly asserted their right to be conservative, they demanded to be allowed to "address their grievances."  They posed a long series of "when did you stop beating your wife" questions asking why Kennedy was helping the Communist cause around the world. …

You get the drift. And you probably recognize the tone. The subject may have changed somewhat but the arrogant attitude combined with the aggrieved victimization is a hallmark of right-wing politics even today.

As we all know, later that day the president was gunned down in Dealey Plaza. The entire world was shocked and traumatized by that event and the course of history was changed.

So why bring this up today? That was a long time ago and we've moved on from those days, right?  The John Birch Society is a relic of another time.  Anti-communism is still a rallying cry on the right, but without the Soviet threat, it's lost much of its power.

Unfortunately, the venom, the incoherent conspiracy-mongering, the visceral loathing still exist.  In fact, in one of the most obliviously obtuse acts of sacrilege imaginable, Dealey Plaza is now the regular site of open-carry demonstrations.  That's right, a group of looney gun proliferation activists meet regularly on the site of one of the most notorious acts of gun violence in the nation's history to spout right-wing conspiracy theories about the president while ostentatiouslywaving around deadly weapons.

Emphasis added to highlight the part where maybe Digby missed something. I'm not sure—I'm not a Hillman Prize winner, or anything—but wasn't Kennedy murdered by a self-described Marxist and communist sympathizer who had attempted to defect to the Soviet Union?

Lest you think I'm exaggerating the extent to which Digby lays the blame for the Kennedy assassination on the right, she actually chides Second Amendment supporters for organizing at the site of the assassination, a place that "should be a monument to right-wing ignominy," according to Digby. (As if limited-government and gun-rights supporters had killed the president, rather than a Marxist assassin!)

Digby's false accusations call to mind the rush to blame Sarah Palin and right-wing "violent rhetoric" for the Gabby Giffords shooting, even though the would-be assassin turned out to be a weird conspiracy theorist with zero connection to Palin, Republicans, or any identifiable political ideology.

Not that that matters to Salon. If Michael Moore blew up the White House tomorrow, Digby and her ilk would express vindication that Tea Party activists had finally, violently risen up to take back their country.