The tragedy of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination remains one of the most significant and dissected events of the past century.
From pop culture, to Hollywood, to academia, to old-fashioned conspiracy theories, the legend of Camelot has been ingrained in our cultural and national identity. And there’s no sign that the fascination is going away anytime soon, especially now that thousands of once-secret documents will be revealed to the public.
President Donald Trump authorized the release of 2,800 records connected to the JFK assassination last week, following the Presidential John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
In a series of tweets, the president voiced his intention to authorize all remaining documents, but in a controversial move, the CIA delayed the full release, citing national security concerns.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2017
Thx for kennedy files release Ridiculous that CIA wants to review to redact YeGods u had fifty yrs NOW CIA WANTS FURTHER COVERUP/POTUS STOP
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) October 27, 2017
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) October 27, 2017
54 yrs since #JFK assassination, 25 yrs since mandated release TODAY, and we’ll have to wait another 6 months to MAYBE see the good stuff.
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) October 26, 2017
— Clint Hill (@ClintHill_SS) October 23, 2017
In a memo, Trump stated that the remaining withheld documents will be reviewed once more, with a deadline of April 26 for agencies to demonstrate a need to prevent disclosure.
Even with the full release of the files, many questions will still likely surround Kennedy’s murder, but one thing isn’t a mystery.
It wasn’t “right-wing hate” that killed the president on Nov. 22, 1963. Instead, it was almost certainly a far-left radical, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had ties to the American Civil Liberties Union and was an avowed communist. He was about as far from the American right as one could be.
Oswald had been involved in socialist and communist politics from a young age. When he was in the U.S. Marine Corps, his fellow soldiers called him “Oswaldskovich” because of his obsession with the USSR.
Immediately after being discharged in 1959, Oswald made a visit to the Soviet Union and unsuccessfully tried to defect.
In his letter announcing his intentions, Oswald wrote, “I want citizenship because I am a communist and a worker. I have lived in a decadent capitalist society where the workers are slaves.”
Soon thereafter, Oswald murdered the president.
Given these facts, Oswald’s political persuasions should be fairly clear cut.
But the left has repeatedly tied JFK’s assassination to right-wingers in Dallas and various other sordid groups. This entirely false but persistent narrative was popularized not even a day after Kennedy was killed.
On the night of the murder, The New York Times printed an editorial titled “Why America Weeps: Kennedy Victim of Violent Streak He Sought to Curb in the Nation.”
“He was in Texas today trying to pacify the violent politics of that state,” read the editorial.
The Times continued:
From the beginning to the end of his administration, he was trying to damp down the violence of the extremists on the right. It was his fate, however, to reach the White House in a period of violent change, when all nations and institutions found themselves uprooted from the past.
This view continued to resurface over the years, but became particularly prevalent again around the 50th anniversary of the murder.
The New Yorker’s George Packer explained how the “potent brew of right-wing passions, much of it well organized and well funded—Bircher anti-Communism, anti-Catholicism [and] racism” led to Kennedy’s death.
While acknowledging that Oswald was a communist, Packer wrote that this didn’t absolve the “city’s right wing of any responsibility.”
That’s right, angry right-wingers somehow made a communist assassinate the president, not the virulent anti-Americanism or unstable mind of the man who pulled the trigger.
Another New Yorker piece at that time took the narrative a step further, and drew comparisons between the “climate of hate” in Dallas and the tea party.
This narrative just won’t go away.
But it’s important to correct this record and correct the pseudo-history that tarnishes people who had no connection to the ghastly murder of the president.
Not only is this extremely irresponsible, it does a great disservice to the powerful lessons that can be found in our nation’s vast history, including those found in the life, presidency, and death of JFK.
As we approach the 54th anniversary of JFK’s death, a quote from his 1960 inaugural address is especially poignant in this political climate: “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”