Blogs > Liberty and Power > Who Killed JFK? The Conservative “Climate of Hate”!

Jan 12, 2011 4:41 pm

Who Killed JFK? The Conservative “Climate of Hate”!

According to Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and other Kennedy-friendly biographers, the young president was a victim of the political atmosphere, not Marxist Lee Harvey Oswald. Conservative criticism of Kennedy led a disturbed young man (Oswald) to kill Kennedy and The Dream. Man, this is an old left-liberal script:

Go straight to Schlesinger’s A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (1965).

He quotes a local: “’the spirit of assassination’ had pervaded the city.” Dallas was inhabited by ‘”people who have hate in their hearts and who seem want to destroy.”

For other sixties-era, “conservative hate killed Kennedy” accounts see here.

Search this book for “hate” and you’ll find other biographers echoing the theme.

This fit with the Liberal Establishment’s psychoanalysis of conservatism: Richard Hofstadter’s Paranoid Style in Politics found paranoid conspiracies under every conservative bed (to steal the phrase about communists under every bed). Yet left-liberals seem to possess their own paranoid style, not that they would ever admit such.

At any rate, here is today’s history lesson:

Oswald did not kill Kennedy, “hate” in Dallas did!

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Arnold Shcherban - 1/16/2011

is that the USA is the most violent (domestically and abroad) country among all democratic and economically developed countries in the world, American Gentlemen of History.

William J. Stepp - 1/12/2011

It was Krugman who brought up the "climate of hate." Which of course he blames on Republicans.
You can bet your last nickel that he wouldn't have written what he did if Bush had been a shooting victim.
Where did I say that Krugman claimed that violent rhetoric was the cause?

Daniel P Kuehn - 1/12/2011

Sorry man, people can't anticipate how you're going to react to everything. If you thought Krugman was saying that violent rhetoric caused this I'm not sure what to say.

The other guy you cite sounds like one of those people that I was talking about that are much closer to (irresponsibly) laying causal blame on the rhetoric. Even he avoided coming out and saying that though. If that's the sort of thing you're worried about, I'm not very convinced.

When people don't come out and directly say "rhetoric pulled the trigger" maybe you need to consider the prospect that they didn't say it because they don't think it, but they don't think it's completely unrelated either and they're sick of an atmosphere where these sorts of calls to violence are considered normal.

I've tried a couple ways of framing it and I still don't quite know how to express that frustration without someone getting their panties in a twist over it. I'm sick of it. You all aren't the victims. Normal people don't like the fact that this way of talking is normative.

William J. Stepp - 1/12/2011

John Steele Gordon refuted Krugman and provided some good history relating to the events of Saturday in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.
As an historian, Krugman is a pretty good economist.

I'm on the side of those who see the cluster of shootings as a random event by a non-political disturbed person.

Holman W. Jenkins Jr. has a good article in today's Wall Street Journal:

John Markley - 1/12/2011

Daniel P. Kuehn,

I spent less than ten minutes looking and found this by Paul Krugman:;partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

and this in my hometown paper, the Chicago Sun-Times:

I limited myself to major publications and excluded a far greater number of people and publications making statements that are quite clearly laying blame at the feet of conservatives or libertarians but contain enough weasel words for the speaker/writer to claim he didn't mean it, or are clearly intended to encourage the belief that critics of liberals are to blame but have some sort of Glenn Beckian "just asking questions" hedge.

The point about JFK, I would think, is that the way so many liberals leapt to blame the shooting on right-wing "hate" on the basis of absolutely no evidence other than their own desire for it to be true in order to paint the opposition as dangerous, violent, or crazy and use the tragedy as a club to beat dissenters over the head with is not some isolated fluke. There is a larger historical pattern of American centrists and left-liberals seeking to delegitimize and demonize opposition in this way, and that's worth noting.

Daniel P Kuehn - 1/12/2011

I'm not sure if that was overly cryptic...

JFK probably didn't have to do with political climate.

MLK certainly did

Reagan didn't

Lincoln did

Daniel P Kuehn - 1/12/2011

And then I'll get raised a Reagan (attempt) and then someone else will raise a Lincoln.

What is this intended to prove exactly? Climates that cater to political violence can contribute to political violence. Violence can certainly occur without such climates as well. What precisely is this point about JFK supposed to prove?

This whole discussion has long since run out its usefulness in my mind. I've heard very, very few people actually claim that the political climate "caused" the shooting. Conservatives and libertarians react as if it was offered as a "cause". And now sound bites that get reported are all over the map (some speaking in terms of "causes" in response to conservative defensiveness, some more sensibly not).

The point is the heated political climate that is more heated than normal because of its appeal to violence is (1.) real, and (2.) dangerous and disconcerting, and (3.) especially so after an acutal incident of political violence. Lee Harvey Oswald doesn't change that.