We’re 11/12 of the way through a rather challenging year. I wonder what the last month will bring, not to mention the remaining 12.5 months of Obama’s presidency. Well, the future will be what it will be. Let’s use this round-up, which I compiled with a friend’s help, to focus on the present:
JFK’s assassination killed America
The 1950s had its economic ups and downs, its worries about a nuclear future, its Red scares, its Jim Crow/Civil Rights face-off, etc., but overall the 1950s was defined by its boundless optimism. People, including Democrats, believed that America was a wonderful, world-saving country, and that the future held immeasurable promise. In other words, the general outlook was a complete 180 from the dislike Progressives feel for America and the despair with which conservatives view it.
George Will says that Kennedy’s assassination did this. What Will adds to this bromide is important. It wasn’t Kennedy’s actual death that wrought the change, he says. Instead, in order to avoid admitting that a communist killed their hero, Democrats had to savage America:
Three days after the assassination, a Times editorial, “Spiral of Hate,” identified JFK’s killer as a “spirit”: The Times deplored “the shame all America must bear for the spirit of madness and hate that struck down” Kennedy. The editorialists were, presumably, immune to this spirit. The new liberalism-as-paternalism would be about correcting other people’s defects.
Hitherto a doctrine of American celebration and optimism, liberalism would become a scowling indictment: Kennedy was killed by America’s social climate whose sickness required “punitive liberalism.”
The bullets of Nov. 22, 1963, altered the nation’s trajectory less by killing a president than by giving birth to a destructive narrative about America. Fittingly, the narrative was most injurious to the narrators. Their recasting of the tragedy to validate their curdled conception of the nation marked a ruinous turn for liberalism.
Punitive liberalism preached the necessity of national repentance for a history of crimes and misdeeds that had produced a present so poisonous that it murdered a president. To be a liberal would mean being a scold. Liberalism would become the doctrine of grievance groups owed redress for cumulative inherited injuries inflicted by the nation’s tawdry history, toxic present and ominous future.
That’s as scathing an indictment of the Leftist mindset as one can imagine, as well as a sad eulogy for the end of the American dream at the hands of the people who claimed most to represent that dream.