The Cathedral and Kennedy’s Assassination

Mencius Moldbug often remarks that hardly anyone understands the history of the 20th century. Here’s an example of historical misunderstanding.

President Kennedy was shot by a lone Communist, who had defected to the Soviet Union, on November 22, 1963.

But the occasion of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination has prompted a series of essays in which the organs of mainstream liberalism expose their deeper understanding. Here is Wade Goodwyn on NPR:

After the assassination, a grieving nation turned its anger upon Dallas. The feeling was that if the city leaders didn’t actually pull Lee Harvey Oswald’s trigger, they practically loaded the gun. For the first time in its swaggering existence, Dallas was ashamed of itself.

And here is the New York Times’s Manny Fernandez (H/T):

DALLAS — When President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade left the airport here shortly before noon on Nov. 22, 1963, the man seated in the lead car was the county sheriff, Bill Decker, 65, a storied Texas lawman who led the hunt for Bonnie and Clyde. Fifty years later, the badge belongs to Lupe Valdez, 66, the daughter of Mexican migrant farmworkers. She is the only sheriff in America who is an openly gay Hispanic woman. Voters re-elected Sheriff Valdez, a Democrat, to a third term last year.

In the early 1960s, a small but vocal subset of the Dallas power structure turned the political climate toxic, inciting a right-wing hysteria that led to attacks on visiting public figures. In the years and months before Kennedy was assassinated, Lyndon B. Johnson; his wife, Lady Bird; and Adlai E. Stevenson, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, were jostled and spat upon in Dallas by angry mobs. In sermons, rallies, newspapers and radio broadcasts, the city’s richest oil baron, a Republican congressman, a Baptist pastor and others, including the local John Birch Society, filled Dallas with an angry McCarthyesque paranoia.

And here is the New York Times again, with an opinion article by one James McAuley (H/T):

FOR 50 years, Dallas has done its best to avoid coming to terms with the one event that made it famous: the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. That’s because, for the self-styled “Big D,” grappling with the assassination means reckoning with its own legacy as the “city of hate,” the city that willed the death of the president.

It will miss yet another opportunity this year. On Nov. 22 the city, anticipating an international spotlight, will host an official commemoration ceremony. Dallas being Dallas, it will be quite the show: a jet flyover, a performance from the Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club and remarks from the historian David McCullough on Kennedy’s legacy.

But once again, spectacle is likely to trump substance: not one word will be said at this event about what exactly the city was in 1963, when the president arrived in what he called, just moments before his death, “nut country.”

Having established that Dallas’s Hate is responsible for Kennedy’s murder, McAuley continues:

Dallas — with no river, port or natural resources of its own — has always fashioned itself as a city with no reason for being, a city that triumphed against all odds, a city that validates the sheer power of individual will and the particular ideology that champions it above all else.

The city has the gall to have inferior geography and not hate itself for that! But it gets worse:

And in the annals of my own family history, it was my charming grandmother, not some distant relation without a Neiman Marcus charge card, who nevertheless saw fit to found the “National Congress for Educational Excellence,” an organization that crusaded against such things as depictions of working women in Texas textbooks and the distribution of literature on homosexuality in Dallas public schools.

In a photograph taken not long after the assassination, my grandmother smiles a porcelain smile, poised and lovely in psychedelic purple Pucci, coiffure stacked high in what can only be described as a hairway to heaven. Her eyes, however, are intent, fixed on a target — liberalism, gender equality, gays.

It isn’t just Dallas of 1963 that is to blame, but conservatives in 2013 are also responsible for the assassination. “The enemy at last in view, huge and hateful, all disguise cast off…”

The left’s fixation with Dallas as the cause of Kennedy’s assassination is obviously ridiculous. But why would such ostensibly respectable organs as NPR and the New York Times commit such amateurish historical mistakes?

My guess is this: to the modern liberal establishment, the only true problem is the American Right, especially as exemplified by the Vaisya Tea Party. All problems are to be blamed on the Right. And the more clearly a problem has nothing to do with the Right, the more absurd the Left’s explanation must become.

Liberalism’s delusions about the events surrounding Kennedy’s assassination just show how much the Left’s thinking is warped by this Manichean worldview. Who? Whom?

This is also one reason (among others) that Moldbug’s epithet for the establishment, The Cathedral, is so apt. Among other things, it is the established secular religion of the United States.

Mark Steyn on Veterans Day

Mark Steyn reposted his annual Veterans Day column. It’s a good read.

This was originally written after the September 11 attacks in 2001. One point of emphasis is the West’s inability to understand war on a scale of World War I anymore:

Sacrifice on the scale McCrae witnessed is all but unimaginable in the west today — in Canada, in Britain, even apparently in America, which instead of sending in the cavalry is now dropping horse feed for the Northern Alliance, in the hope they might rouse themselves to seize an abandoned village or two, weather permitting.

The best part:

So for many of us “sacrifice” is all but incomprehensible. Responding to Robert Putnam’s recollections of “civic community” in World War Two — “victory gardens in nearly everyone’s backyard, the Boy Scouts at filling stations collecting floor mats for scrap rubber, the affordable war bonds, the practice of giving rides to hitchhiking soldiers and war workers” – Katha Pollitt in the current edition of The Nation sneers: “Those would be certified heterosexual, Supreme-Being-believing scouts, I suppose, and certified harmless and chivalrous hitchhiking GIs, too – not some weirdo in uniform who cuts you to bits on a dark road.” Somehow I don’t think poor paranoid Ms Pollitt has met that many fellows in uniform, weirdoes or otherwise.

People like Katha Pollitt run our schools now.

Have a great day, and thank a veteran.

Cass Sunstein’s bizarre article.

I love this piece by Cass Sunstein. In it he limns the history of the Alger Hiss case, in which a paragon of 20th century liberalism was revealed to be a Soviet spy. Hiss couldn’t have been any more of a mainstream liberal:

Hiss’s career (including after he was accused of being a spy and after being in jail) included stints at: the State Department, the United Nations, clerking for Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, the Justice Department, some Senate Committees, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and – naturally – Harvard Law.

During and after the revelations, all the other organs of mainstream liberalism continued to defend Hiss’s actions.

And Sunstein’s conclusion is that the Tea Party is irrational to distrust liberals.

 

 

There’s a better discussion about the article here.