Far Right Rhetoric and the Kennedy Assassination

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas. There are all sorts of books coming out about it claiming that he was killed by this person or that person and it’s all a big conspiracy, blah blah blah. But I’d like to highlight the similarities between anti-JFK rhetoric from the far right (the John Birch Society then) and anti-Obama rhetoric today. Thousands of copies of this flier were distributed in Dallas on the day JFK was killed:

jfk flier

Looks familiar, doesn’t it? The claims are identical to what we hear from the far right today. Both Kennedy and Obama were, according to the wingnuts, communists who were destroying American sovereignty, handing the country to the UN, causing blacks to riot, appointing “anti-Christians” to government positions and more. Nothing has changed in the last 50 years. The far right that was at least party purged from conservatism in the late 60s has come back with a vengeance and is now once again pushing the same agenda they were then.

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  • John Kruger

    Change “Communist” to “Muslim” and it would be nearly completely ready for the far right websites.

    I have to think they mean “Alien” as in foreign national and not lizard person, but who can be sure with such extremists?

  • jnorris

    OMFG!!!!!! Its TRUE – JFK is Pres Obama’s real Father!!!!*

    *Tell me the truth: too many or too few capital letters and exclamation points?

  • Alverant

    And recently on Faux News, they tried to claim Kennedy was a conservative. So in another 50 years are they going to do the same to President Obama.

  • tbp1

    @#3: Of course, by real world standards, President Obama is fairly conservative, just not an insane one.

  • daved

    So in another 50 years are they going to do the same to President Obama.

    Given the way the Overton window is sliding, I can’t understand the claim about Kennedy. He was at least as liberal as Obama.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1017276335 Strewth

    daved – it might be a ploy or overture to the Catholics, I suspect.

  • jonathangray

    Was President Kennedy assassinated by someone on the Far Right?

  • jakc

    Flipping around the channels I saw a headline on Fox News. “Karl Rover’s memories of the JFK Assassination”. Didn’t watch but I imagine it started out like “It was a lovely day on the grassy knoll when …”

  • jonathangray

    From La Wik:

    The Warren Commission concluded that on April 10, 1963, Oswald attempted to kill retired U.S. Major General Edwin Walker, firing his rifle at Walker through a window, from less than 100 feet (30 m) away, as Walker sat at a desk in his home; the bullet struck the window-frame and Walker’s only injuries were bullet fragments to the forearm.[81] (The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations stated that the “evidence strongly suggested” that Oswald carried out the shooting.)[82]

    General Walker was an outspoken anti-communist, segregationist, and member of the John Birch Society. In 1961, Walker had been relieved of his command of the 24th Division of the U.S. Army in West Germany for distributing right-wing literature to his troops.[83][84] Walker’s later actions in opposition to racial integration at the University of Mississippi led to his arrest on insurrection, seditious conspiracy, and other charges. He was temporarily held in a mental institution on orders from President Kennedy’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, but a grand jury refused to indict him.[85]

    Marina Oswald testified that her husband told her that he traveled by bus to General Walker’s house and shot at Walker with his rifle.[86][87] She said that Oswald considered Walker to be the leader of a “fascist organization.”[88] A note Oswald left for Marina on the night of the attempt, telling her what to do if he did not return, was not found until ten days after the Kennedy assassination.[89][90][91][92]

  • smrnda

    On 5, which is that? Are they referring to the Vietnam war (ongoing) or the bay of pigs invasion? Either way, it seems like with military action you can’t win with conservatives. If you don’t blow someone up, you’re being soft on communism/Islamic terrorism. If you go, you’re endangering US lives and invading sovereign nations. If you don’t remove troops already engaged, you’re wrong, but if you pull the US out we now look weak to our enemies.

  • laurentweppe

    I have to think they mean “Alien” as in foreign national and not lizard person, but who can be sure with such extremists?

    Oh come on: everyone knows that Obama is a Culturnik: I mean, he’s a Hippie with Killer Drones, what more proof do you need?

  • jonathangray

    they tried to claim Kennedy was a conservative

    Not exactly.

  • Michael Heath

    Good post Ed.

    The other night on AC360 I heard a sitting Republican congressman on TV make the case he admired JFK because he was a conservative, i.e., his tax cuts and his building up the military. The latter reveals this congressmen’s idiotic ignorance when it comes to U.S. liberalism and militarism from JFK’s time going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. The former also reveals his ignorance when it comes to the relationship between marginal tax rates and the effective rate people actually pay.

    And as others have noted, given the fact President Obama frequently advocates and governs from a center-right position on a number of issues, there’s little doubt that future conservatives will also falsely claim him for their tribe. Because that’s an attribute of conservatism and one appears to me to be getting progressively worse.

  • colnago80

    I posted the following on Mano’s blog a few days ago.

    I think the fascination with JFK is because of the controversies over what really happened in Dallas on 11/22/1963. The number of conspiracy themed books on the subject is mind boggling.

    Many folks consider it off the wall that a non-entity like Oswald could assassinate a president, forgetting that the assassins of Garfield and McKinley were equally non-entities.

    The interesting thing about the conspiracy tomes is that hardly any two agree with each other. Oswald was a patsy Oswald was innocent, Oswald was one of several shooters, Oswald was hired to perform the assassination by the Mafia, the CIA, Castro, J. Edgar Hoover, Texas oilmen, the Mossad, Palestinian terrorists, Clay Shaw, the KGB, Lyndon Johnson etc. The fact that no two of the books agree with each other doesn’t seem to bother those who refuse, for whatever reason, to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin.

  • colnago80

    Here’s another opinion on the Kennedy Assassination from one Fidel Castro. Ole Fidel is also a Warren Commission denier.


  • colnago80

    Here’s another opinion from then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, apparently another Warren Commission skeptic.


  • elusedated

    @10 by smrnda:

    The fifth bullet point is more likely talking about states’ rights rather than a foreign, sovereign state. It is most likely referring to JFK’s mobilization of the National Guard to ensure the integration of the University of Mississippi. The point is meant to evoke the right-wing idea that states are sovereign governments, not under the direct control of the federal government.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi


  • suttkus

    The primary difference I see between then and now? No Photoshop to make the pictures of Kennedy look sinister.

  • jakc


    You can use more than one exclamation point !!!!!!!

  • http://timgueguen.blogspot.com timgueguen

    One difference is that Kennedy actually was an openly acknowledged member of a strange, foreign religion, Roman Catholicism. They didn’t have to endlessly speculate he was pretending not to be, unlike today’s Obama paranoids.

  • stever

    My opinion is that so many people, each with his own agenda, did such a thorough job of muddying the water that the truth will never be known. If I had to pick one of the conspiracy theories, I’d go with LBJ. He inherited the Presidency, instead of having to run against a Republican Party that had not yet been hijacked by the Religious Reich. Meanwhile, the plan to abolish the middle class advances, no matter which party’s flag flies over the White House.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    jakc “@modusoperandi You can use more than one exclamation point !!!!!!!”


    *1. SOCIALISM!!!

    *2. SOROS!!!

  • http://saltycurrent.blogspot.com SC (Salty Current), OM

    …handing the country to the UN…

    So much for that.

  • smrnda


    Thanks, that makes some sense. All said, I think the constitution needs a rewrite because I think the whole ‘state sovereignty’ thing is a bad idea and needs to be actually defined out of existence. States’ rights only seem to be invoked in order to justify some state being backwards in some way. Of course, there have been some rare exceptions with marriage equality, but I’d say if marriage equality were something we decided on a national level, it would have been legal earlier and its legality would have been *IMPOSED* on the hold-out states.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    smrnda “States’ rights only seem to be invoked in order to justify some state being backwards in some way.”

    Pah! This country was founded on the right to be a backwards, small-minded, spiteful son-of-a-bitch who chafed at the bridle others tried to put on him while insisting that it was for the best the bridles he put on others was really for the best! A strong federal government would, and has(*1), muscled in on the state’s rights to treat portions of their own citizenry as though they weren’t citizens. As such, a federal government too weak to hinder state’s rights(*2) is the best and only way to go, as the Founding Fathers intended!

    *1. With wars of Northern Aggression and carpetbaggery and the Voting Rights Act (which we don’t need anymore, and in evidence of this look at all the ex-Confederate states rushed to disenfranchise minority voters the second the VRA was stripped) and the Civil Rights Act (which Republicans voted for and are proud of that fact and also Don’t Tread on Us and the South will Rise Again!)

    *2. And also we need a Federal Marriage Amendment to stop The Gays from unsanctifying marriage!

  • http://terribletruth-beautifullie.blogspot.com/ Jimmy_Blue

    stever @22:

    We do know the truth. Oswald did it, on his own. No conspiracy.

    The fact that people have spent decades making stuff up about it doesn’t change that.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    All of the groups mentioned by other, delusional, conspiracy theorists* ignore the glaringly obvious culprit in the plot. It was JOE DIMAGGIO. He never got over what the Kennedy’s did to his beloved Marilyn.

    “I’d say if marriage equality were something we decided on a national level, it would have been legal earlier and its legality would have been *IMPOSED* on the hold-out states.”

    You mean that we might have fought the War of Southern Treachery over sexual orientation instead of the right to own people? Well, the Union would have had the best unis!

    @23: Sorosolism!!!!!!

    * Yes, I am that other sort, a non-delusional conspiracy theorist.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “Kennedys”, obviously not, “Kennedy’s”.

    I hate it when some niggling typo like that allows people to discount my otherwise brilliant reasoningableness.

  • howardhershey

    Although Kennedy’s primary victory in W. Virginia indicated that most of the country were willing to ignore the alien papist threat to the country, the far right was not quite as willing to ignore that threat.

  • conway


  • martinc




    I see right-wing inability to spell-check has been constant over half a century.

  • dingojack

    conway – The FoAW is your friend.


  • sunsangnim

    Some things that are different today:

    1. Number 5 on the list would be “He REFUSED to illegally invade a sovereign state with federal troops, and instead talked to our enemies (Iran).”

    2. I’m always amazed by the stories of the nation united in its mourning for the President. Today, the conservatives would be partying in the streets if anything happened to Obama. Then it would slowly dawn on them that Biden was president.