Missing the point

Regardless of age or political affiliation, most thoughtful adult Americans will approach the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination with dignity and respect. But not George Will.

Most thoughtful Americans will approach and remember “November 22” with a profound sense of regret and loss, and national shame. But not George Will.

And a majority of thoughtful Americans will look back after half a century with a profound skepticism about “the official story” as provided by the Warren Commission. But not George Will.

Mr. Will’s ideological assignment over decades has been to reinforce the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was alone responsible for “the crime of the century.”

The pundit has preached from this pulpit in the face of evidence that the 24-year-old ex-Marine was framed by conspiratorial forces intent for a range of reasons to “eliminate” JFK.

For more than a quarter century national polls have indicated that three-quarters of the public takes a conspiratorial view of the Kennedy assassination.

Many of these citizens have actually studied the JFK case, which more than 700 books have addressed.

Will, an historian and conservative whose olympian rhetorical style fit him perfectly as the intellectual protege of William F. Buckley, Jr., writes in his column as follows:

“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 in order to validate their curdled conception of the nation marked a ruinous turn for liberalism, beginning its decline from political dominance.”

“Punitive liberalism” (a term provided by James Piereson of the Manhattan Institute), Mr. Wills tells us, “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.”

Only a week prior to the assassination, the Saturday Evening Post had published these admonitory words by the most prominent Protestant theologian of mid-century America, Reinhold Niebuhr:

“Perhaps our gravest fault as a nation is our exalted sense of American virtue. We see the United States as something unique in the world, a nation whose concerns soar above petty national ambitions, whose generosity and goodwill are unequaled. God, we assume, is invariably on our side, thanks to our special covenant with the Almighty.”

Thanksgiving of 1963, following close on “Dallas,” was a dark and demanding holiday in that it pressed on the American people en masse a profound self-examination in moral and political terms.

Fifty years later Will stoops to an ideological attack on “the scolds” of the progressive community who found in the political murder of the 35th president reason for grave concern about the national character, the national mood, the national dialogue, and the national future.

Among such people, ironically enough, was Chief Justice Earl Warren, who would hand to President Johnson the report of the commission that bears his name and has come to represent the most momentous cover-up in American history. Will for ideological purposes has been defending it ever since.

H.C. (Harry) Nash


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