…how it is that both the Washington Post and the New York Times, in the days before the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, ran essays that link right-wing, radical, anti-liberal sentiment in 1963 Dallas with today’s conservative political positions? The Post, doing explicitly what the Times does slyly, even makes the connection direct. Its essay is called “Tea party has roots in the Dallas of 1963”—as in the implicit innuendos, ‘people like those in today’s tea party killed JFK’ and thus ‘the people who think like that probably want to kill this President too.’
We’re seeing a lot of liberal despair, nastiness and desperation these days, aren’t we? The instinct seems to be to lash out. Of course, one would think that competent, responsible and fair editors of the two most prestigious U.S. dailies would read this tripe, hand it back to the authors and say, “Hey, go home, have a drink, and take a nap. It’s not so bad, really. Obamacare may be all right. We’ve got Obama’s back. Now, I’m going to do you a favor and forget you wrote this.”
For 50 years the American Left has been trying to come to terms with the fact that a certified Leftist, a Communist in fact, killed liberal icon John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It hasn’t, so it keeps pushing the fabrication that it was Kennedy’s civil rights sympathies rather than his anti-Communist fervor that got him killed. More recently, it is furious that a grass roots movement opposing what it feels is oppressive big government wields political influence, while the Left’s current hapless leader founders. Since race-baiting is getting old (it was old years ago, in fact, but when that’s all you have…), the new tactic is apparently to suggest that the tea party is overrun with gun-toting killers—you know, like in the city 50 years ago “that willed the death of the president” [The Times].
Dallas didn’t kill Kennedy. Right-wing extremists didn’t, and the Tea Party didn’t. Lee Harvey Oswald did. As David Bernstein writes at the Volokh Conspiracy,
“The attempt to at best distract us from who the killer was and why he killed JFK, and at worst to pin the blame on entirely innocent people for inciting Dallas opinion against Texas (or perhaps to imply that the right-wingers plotted the assassination), even though those innocents were exactly the type of people Oswald hated, is just pathetic, and the Times and Post should be embarrassed for publishing these pieces.”
That’s not going to happen, obviously. But I’d like to think that at least some of the fair-minded progressives who keep insisting here against all logic and evidence that partisan voices like the Post and the Times are objective and neutral would accept reality, and stop ensuring that these kind of journalistic ideological hit-jobs continue without consequence. They should be embarrassed too.
* NOTE: The Kaboom!, the Ethics Alarms category designating such flagrantly unethical conduct that it makes my head explode, will usually be accompanied by an exploding head graphic. Given the topic, however, that seemed inappropriate.
Pointer: Volokh Conspiracy