November 22, 1963

This is the day, 47 years ago, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and C. S. Lewis died. Also Aldous Huxley, who wrote the prophetic dystopian novel Brave New World.

So the day can be seen as something of a watershed–the end of political idealism, the beginning of the post-Christian age, the entry into a new dystopian age, the day the music died, etc.

People of my generation remember where they were when they learned that Kennedy was shot. I was in study hall in Junior High. I guess I was 12. I was a big Kennedy fan and political idealist at the time. A few of my friends applauded at the news, whereupon I yelled at them. It was scary, since we thought (correctly) that the Communists were involved and the Russians might attack. Then seeing Lee Harvey Oswald get assassinated too blew our minds again. Watching the news was more dramatic than watching fiction.

Are any of you old enough to remember where you were and what you felt?

Was the day really a watershed?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    I knew this day marked the deaths of Kennedy, Lewis and Huxley but I’venever thgouht of their deaths being connected in the way you have here, Dr Veith – the death of political idealism, the beginning of the post-Christian world and increased dystopianism. Yes, I think it was a watershed day in modern history. You know, I think there may be a book in this for you! Seriously.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    I knew this day marked the deaths of Kennedy, Lewis and Huxley but I’venever thgouht of their deaths being connected in the way you have here, Dr Veith – the death of political idealism, the beginning of the post-Christian world and increased dystopianism. Yes, I think it was a watershed day in modern history. You know, I think there may be a book in this for you! Seriously.

  • http://puttingoutthefire.blogspot.com/ Frank Gillespie

    I would take issue with the idea that we entered “the beginning of the post-Christian age”. Christianity has been and always is counter cultural. From the time of Christ’s resurrection, his sheep have fought against a world that despises the Lord that created it. It’s true that Christians have changed western culture (through our vocations and caring for the poor and sick in ways that simply didn’t exist before 30AD) to a degree that few give them credit for but I don’t think we ever really created an age of Christianity to reject and move away from.
    For what it’s worth, I returned to the Church after 15 years of atheism precisely because I felt the utter despair of trying to serve my wife and neighbor apart from the faith. For me, a dystopia existed because there was nothing more than myself to believe in.

  • http://puttingoutthefire.blogspot.com/ Frank Gillespie

    I would take issue with the idea that we entered “the beginning of the post-Christian age”. Christianity has been and always is counter cultural. From the time of Christ’s resurrection, his sheep have fought against a world that despises the Lord that created it. It’s true that Christians have changed western culture (through our vocations and caring for the poor and sick in ways that simply didn’t exist before 30AD) to a degree that few give them credit for but I don’t think we ever really created an age of Christianity to reject and move away from.
    For what it’s worth, I returned to the Church after 15 years of atheism precisely because I felt the utter despair of trying to serve my wife and neighbor apart from the faith. For me, a dystopia existed because there was nothing more than myself to believe in.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I was a little older than you, Dr. Veith, sitting in a high school art class. I was ambivalent about Kennedy at the time (still am), but deeply outraged at the murder nevertheless. I don’t recall anyone else in my class expressing different feelings.

    I think it was a watershed date, not in the sense of _causing_ the world to change, but in the sense of losing ground we have not regained since.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I was a little older than you, Dr. Veith, sitting in a high school art class. I was ambivalent about Kennedy at the time (still am), but deeply outraged at the murder nevertheless. I don’t recall anyone else in my class expressing different feelings.

    I think it was a watershed date, not in the sense of _causing_ the world to change, but in the sense of losing ground we have not regained since.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Also the day that C.S. Lewis died, no?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Also the day that C.S. Lewis died, no?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Oops, now I see it in the main text……sorry about that. At any rate, I would suggest that the murder of Kennedy did a disastrous thing to our system of politics; it made a passable President (good; tax cuts, bad; Vietnam & Bay of Pigs) into a martyr and thus paved the way for his little brother to stay in politics for nearly half a century, which was an unmitigated disaster for the nation.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Oops, now I see it in the main text……sorry about that. At any rate, I would suggest that the murder of Kennedy did a disastrous thing to our system of politics; it made a passable President (good; tax cuts, bad; Vietnam & Bay of Pigs) into a martyr and thus paved the way for his little brother to stay in politics for nearly half a century, which was an unmitigated disaster for the nation.

  • Dennis Peskey

    On November 22, 1963 I was thirteen years old. I do not recall my birthday earlier that year; I have no recollection of Christmas nor Easter; I can not speak to how cold the winter was nor how warm the summer. What I do recall is exactly where I was standing when told the news of the President’s assassination; I remember clearly what I was doing (attempting to outsmart a mortise and tenon joint in shop class); I still feel the fear and loss.

    This loss began in October, 1962 when the “peace on earth” was shattered, rent asunder by reality. Thirteen months later, any security in our country was shattered. As it was presented then, a single gunman could negate democratic ideals. This wound has never been closed nor can it be; it is a reality that we all will die and none of us knows (or should know) the time or place. There is no proper means to convey the image seared into time; the consequenses echo far into our country’s future even today.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    On November 22, 1963 I was thirteen years old. I do not recall my birthday earlier that year; I have no recollection of Christmas nor Easter; I can not speak to how cold the winter was nor how warm the summer. What I do recall is exactly where I was standing when told the news of the President’s assassination; I remember clearly what I was doing (attempting to outsmart a mortise and tenon joint in shop class); I still feel the fear and loss.

    This loss began in October, 1962 when the “peace on earth” was shattered, rent asunder by reality. Thirteen months later, any security in our country was shattered. As it was presented then, a single gunman could negate democratic ideals. This wound has never been closed nor can it be; it is a reality that we all will die and none of us knows (or should know) the time or place. There is no proper means to convey the image seared into time; the consequenses echo far into our country’s future even today.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • CRB

    I was an Army private at Ft. Dix, N.J. and was saddened by this news. As far as any particular concern about the country’s future, I was preparing to be a soldier so it was brought home to me more poignantly that my Commander-in-Chief had just been slain.
    On the day of JFK’s burial, our post scheduled an event to mark the
    passing of what many of us thought at the time was a dark day for
    the United States.

  • CRB

    I was an Army private at Ft. Dix, N.J. and was saddened by this news. As far as any particular concern about the country’s future, I was preparing to be a soldier so it was brought home to me more poignantly that my Commander-in-Chief had just been slain.
    On the day of JFK’s burial, our post scheduled an event to mark the
    passing of what many of us thought at the time was a dark day for
    the United States.

  • saddler

    I was but four years old and don’t remember the moment I heard the news, but I remember the aftermath. I became familiar with the pages of a book entitled, “A Torch Has Passed” as a very young child. The effect on the psyche of a nation was profound…having witnessed its very youthful president perish. It is always troubling when some one young dies, especially so when that young person is the POTUS (irrespective of political persuasion).

  • saddler

    I was but four years old and don’t remember the moment I heard the news, but I remember the aftermath. I became familiar with the pages of a book entitled, “A Torch Has Passed” as a very young child. The effect on the psyche of a nation was profound…having witnessed its very youthful president perish. It is always troubling when some one young dies, especially so when that young person is the POTUS (irrespective of political persuasion).

  • S Bauer

    I had just returned to my fourth-grade classroom from lunch recess. I remember how devastated some of my classmates were. I thought it was terrible but wasn’t as emotionally invested – probably because my parents had been Nixon supporters. I remember the playground taunt we used in second grade: “Nixon, Nixon, he’s our man; Kennedy goes in the garbage can.” I guess political discourse hasn’t improved much in the last 50 years.

  • S Bauer

    I had just returned to my fourth-grade classroom from lunch recess. I remember how devastated some of my classmates were. I thought it was terrible but wasn’t as emotionally invested – probably because my parents had been Nixon supporters. I remember the playground taunt we used in second grade: “Nixon, Nixon, he’s our man; Kennedy goes in the garbage can.” I guess political discourse hasn’t improved much in the last 50 years.

  • jim_claybourn

    I was in my 5th grade Social Studies class. Our principal, a gruff, no nonsense man, called the teacher to the door and told her the news. I can still remember the tears in his eyes as he talked to her.

    I remember the next couple days being glued to the TV watching the various searches and bulletins as Oswald was hunted down. I vividly remember watching a man be murdered in real time – as Jack Ruby shot Oswald.

    As an 11 year old, I was awash in emotions as I tried to make sense of a man killing a man who had killed another man.

  • jim_claybourn

    I was in my 5th grade Social Studies class. Our principal, a gruff, no nonsense man, called the teacher to the door and told her the news. I can still remember the tears in his eyes as he talked to her.

    I remember the next couple days being glued to the TV watching the various searches and bulletins as Oswald was hunted down. I vividly remember watching a man be murdered in real time – as Jack Ruby shot Oswald.

    As an 11 year old, I was awash in emotions as I tried to make sense of a man killing a man who had killed another man.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I was only 4 years old when Kennedy was assassinated, and our family didn’t even have a television set yet, so I have no recollection of the event at the time it happened. But it seems clear that event was a turning point in the American psyche. As Bubba wrote above, the assassination turned JFK into a martyr, and the RFK assassination in 1968 (which I do remember) cemented the Kennedy name itself into martyrdom, and has resulted in an irrational devotion to the Kennedy brand, even in the face of the obvious damage to our republic that has resulted.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I was only 4 years old when Kennedy was assassinated, and our family didn’t even have a television set yet, so I have no recollection of the event at the time it happened. But it seems clear that event was a turning point in the American psyche. As Bubba wrote above, the assassination turned JFK into a martyr, and the RFK assassination in 1968 (which I do remember) cemented the Kennedy name itself into martyrdom, and has resulted in an irrational devotion to the Kennedy brand, even in the face of the obvious damage to our republic that has resulted.

  • Porcell

    On that day I was an admissions officer for M.I.T. talking to a group of students in a Portsmouth New Hampshire high school. The students and I were stunned and deeply saddened, first by an announcement that the president had been shot and shortly later that he was dead. I remember driving home to Boston in traffic that was eerily silent and polite; then spending part of the next few days glued to the television, seeing Oswald shot on live television.

    The state funeral was superbly dignified; Jacqueline Kennedy proved strong and remarkably gracious.

  • Porcell

    On that day I was an admissions officer for M.I.T. talking to a group of students in a Portsmouth New Hampshire high school. The students and I were stunned and deeply saddened, first by an announcement that the president had been shot and shortly later that he was dead. I remember driving home to Boston in traffic that was eerily silent and polite; then spending part of the next few days glued to the television, seeing Oswald shot on live television.

    The state funeral was superbly dignified; Jacqueline Kennedy proved strong and remarkably gracious.

  • DonS

    I was only 4 years old, but have vivid memories of watching the solemn parade through Washington, D.C. and little “John-John”, who was about a year younger than me, I think. I also remember a train draped in black bunting and carrying the body back to D.C., but I’m not sure if that was JFK returning from Dallas or RFK returning from L.A. 4 years later.

    The juxtaposition of coincident death on that date is certainly interesting. I knew C.S. Lewis died the same day, but didn’t know Huxley had as well.

  • DonS

    I was only 4 years old, but have vivid memories of watching the solemn parade through Washington, D.C. and little “John-John”, who was about a year younger than me, I think. I also remember a train draped in black bunting and carrying the body back to D.C., but I’m not sure if that was JFK returning from Dallas or RFK returning from L.A. 4 years later.

    The juxtaposition of coincident death on that date is certainly interesting. I knew C.S. Lewis died the same day, but didn’t know Huxley had as well.

  • Booklover

    Like two other posters, I was 4 but don’t remember it. I do remember, quite vividly, the TV clippings of his murderer getting shot, and the day his brother was killed. Also I remember vividly the day in college when I was told that Reagan had been shot, and I thought how hurt my roommate would be because she loved him heart and soul.

    The point of JFK’s death did seem to mark a time in which authority was beginning to be more questioned.

  • Booklover

    Like two other posters, I was 4 but don’t remember it. I do remember, quite vividly, the TV clippings of his murderer getting shot, and the day his brother was killed. Also I remember vividly the day in college when I was told that Reagan had been shot, and I thought how hurt my roommate would be because she loved him heart and soul.

    The point of JFK’s death did seem to mark a time in which authority was beginning to be more questioned.

  • Ryan

    I was not born for a few decades yet when this happened – why is the JFK assassination so big of an event compared to Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley? Is it because it is in living memory, much like Pearl Harbor and 9-11, as opposed to ‘Remember the Maine!’?

  • Ryan

    I was not born for a few decades yet when this happened – why is the JFK assassination so big of an event compared to Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley? Is it because it is in living memory, much like Pearl Harbor and 9-11, as opposed to ‘Remember the Maine!’?

  • EGK

    I was a high school junior. We were in pep club, celebrating an upcoming game. Our principal had given the usual pre-game pep talk. Then, just as we in the band were getting ready to play a rousing exit tune, the principal comes back to the mic with the shocking news. And I heard the news about Oswald’s killing in church on Sunday morning, when an usher brought a note to our pastor, who then made the announcement immediately.

    Ryan, the significance for us is two-fold. First, for us, it is the watershed event, like Pearl Harbor was for our parents and the twin towers event for this current generation. Second, it was the first national tragedy that unfolded on TV, so we became immersed in the event. When asked when modernism ended and post-modernism began, I will point to this as one of the possible dates. Certainly it was the day that the optimism of the fifties came to a grinding halt and the sixties began with a vengeance.

  • EGK

    I was a high school junior. We were in pep club, celebrating an upcoming game. Our principal had given the usual pre-game pep talk. Then, just as we in the band were getting ready to play a rousing exit tune, the principal comes back to the mic with the shocking news. And I heard the news about Oswald’s killing in church on Sunday morning, when an usher brought a note to our pastor, who then made the announcement immediately.

    Ryan, the significance for us is two-fold. First, for us, it is the watershed event, like Pearl Harbor was for our parents and the twin towers event for this current generation. Second, it was the first national tragedy that unfolded on TV, so we became immersed in the event. When asked when modernism ended and post-modernism began, I will point to this as one of the possible dates. Certainly it was the day that the optimism of the fifties came to a grinding halt and the sixties began with a vengeance.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Too young, by over a decade.

    “It was scary, since we thought (correctly) that the Communists were involved and the Russians might attack.” Hmm.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Too young, by over a decade.

    “It was scary, since we thought (correctly) that the Communists were involved and the Russians might attack.” Hmm.

  • Philip

    I was at lunch in 5th grade. The teacher kept an upright radio in the classroom through which she listened to the noon news. When we realized the importance of the news several of us pushed the radio down a hall to the lunch room where we plugged it in.
    I remember (or was told) that several of the seniors cheered when they heard the news of Kennedy’s death. In light of near sainthood Kennedy was given after his assination its easy to see how myths are made. Kennedy wasn’t very popular but became a saint and the country made a violent turn upon his death.
    History is such a subjective thing.

  • Philip

    I was at lunch in 5th grade. The teacher kept an upright radio in the classroom through which she listened to the noon news. When we realized the importance of the news several of us pushed the radio down a hall to the lunch room where we plugged it in.
    I remember (or was told) that several of the seniors cheered when they heard the news of Kennedy’s death. In light of near sainthood Kennedy was given after his assination its easy to see how myths are made. Kennedy wasn’t very popular but became a saint and the country made a violent turn upon his death.
    History is such a subjective thing.

  • Porcell

    Bike, at 4, C.S. Lewis did die on 22 November ’63. I was, also, saddened by his death, though blessedly from natural cause.

    Lewis, while not an accomplished theologian, was the preeminent Christian apologist of the twentieth century. Lewis, Tolkien, and T.S. Eliot had much influence on the part of the twentieth-century mind that came to understand the limits of modernism and the truth of Christ. Until I read Lewis and Eliot, I was a nominal Christian.

    Given that in the long run religion is more important to a culture, over time Lewis will be regarded as more important than JFK.

  • Porcell

    Bike, at 4, C.S. Lewis did die on 22 November ’63. I was, also, saddened by his death, though blessedly from natural cause.

    Lewis, while not an accomplished theologian, was the preeminent Christian apologist of the twentieth century. Lewis, Tolkien, and T.S. Eliot had much influence on the part of the twentieth-century mind that came to understand the limits of modernism and the truth of Christ. Until I read Lewis and Eliot, I was a nominal Christian.

    Given that in the long run religion is more important to a culture, over time Lewis will be regarded as more important than JFK.

  • CRB

    Speaking of T.S. Eliot, I love this quote from “Thoughts after Lambeth”:
    “The world is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting it’s collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the world from suicide.”

  • CRB

    Speaking of T.S. Eliot, I love this quote from “Thoughts after Lambeth”:
    “The world is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting it’s collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the world from suicide.”

  • Arfies

    I was a first-year seminary student on that day. On my way to work in the campus bookstore I encountered a crowd of students gathered in the Commons area watching TV coverage of the assassination aftermath, and that’s how I learned JFK had been shot. Kennedy was the first president for whom I had voted, and his death was in some sense a watershed for us all. It put Johnson in the White House, first of all, and it cut short any legislative program that JFK had hoped to get adopted. It certainly cut off the high hopes that many of us had for the things he espoused, toward which we expected him to lead us. Beyond that, we really can’t say what a difference Kennedy’s death made because history tends to follow its own course, and hardly ever, in the long run, does it take the path we thought it would.

  • Arfies

    I was a first-year seminary student on that day. On my way to work in the campus bookstore I encountered a crowd of students gathered in the Commons area watching TV coverage of the assassination aftermath, and that’s how I learned JFK had been shot. Kennedy was the first president for whom I had voted, and his death was in some sense a watershed for us all. It put Johnson in the White House, first of all, and it cut short any legislative program that JFK had hoped to get adopted. It certainly cut off the high hopes that many of us had for the things he espoused, toward which we expected him to lead us. Beyond that, we really can’t say what a difference Kennedy’s death made because history tends to follow its own course, and hardly ever, in the long run, does it take the path we thought it would.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    What are you hmmmming for, tODD? Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist. Are you saying he wasn’t? He left the USA to live in the Soviet Union and Cuba for awhile out of his Marxist conviction. That was back in the Cold War when we really worried about Russian takeovers and nuclear annihilation.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    What are you hmmmming for, tODD? Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist. Are you saying he wasn’t? He left the USA to live in the Soviet Union and Cuba for awhile out of his Marxist conviction. That was back in the Cold War when we really worried about Russian takeovers and nuclear annihilation.

  • http://www.semicolonblog.com Sherry

    I was in first grade, and they came and told us about the president being shot in my class. The strange part is that I remember being in my second grade classroom with my second grade teacher when the announcement was made. Memories are strange things.

  • http://www.semicolonblog.com Sherry

    I was in first grade, and they came and told us about the president being shot in my class. The strange part is that I remember being in my second grade classroom with my second grade teacher when the announcement was made. Memories are strange things.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith, yes Oswald was a communist at some level, but what you’d said was that you “thought (correctly) that the Communists were involved and the Russians might attack.” Which appears to conflate “the Communists” and “the Russians”, meaning that the Russians were behind the assassination. But even if that wasn’t your intent, you pluralized (and capitalized) “Communists”, suggesting that it wasn’t just Oswald involved in the assassination. Again, I say: Hmm.

    Also, I’m not sure how “communist” Oswald really was. Yes, he defected to the Soviet Union. And he defected right back to the US after writing in his diary, “I am starting to reconsider my desire about staying. The work is drab, the money I get has nowhere to be spent. No nightclubs or bowling alleys, no places of recreation except the trade union dances. I have had enough.” Doesn’t sound like he fully appreciated Communism to me.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith, yes Oswald was a communist at some level, but what you’d said was that you “thought (correctly) that the Communists were involved and the Russians might attack.” Which appears to conflate “the Communists” and “the Russians”, meaning that the Russians were behind the assassination. But even if that wasn’t your intent, you pluralized (and capitalized) “Communists”, suggesting that it wasn’t just Oswald involved in the assassination. Again, I say: Hmm.

    Also, I’m not sure how “communist” Oswald really was. Yes, he defected to the Soviet Union. And he defected right back to the US after writing in his diary, “I am starting to reconsider my desire about staying. The work is drab, the money I get has nowhere to be spent. No nightclubs or bowling alleys, no places of recreation except the trade union dances. I have had enough.” Doesn’t sound like he fully appreciated Communism to me.

  • Porcell

    Interesting that after JFK’s assassination the media and conventional “wisdom” assumed it was the result of a right-wing conspiracy in the heart of that Dallas bastion of conservatism.

    To this day, the Left has a hard time understanding that Oswald was a disaffected leftist American who emigrated to the Soviet Union and after returning to the U.S. had some relation to Cuba that has yet to be fully explained. The fact that he didn’t appreciate the austerity of Russian life hardly proves that he didn’t remain a leftist at the core.

  • Porcell

    Interesting that after JFK’s assassination the media and conventional “wisdom” assumed it was the result of a right-wing conspiracy in the heart of that Dallas bastion of conservatism.

    To this day, the Left has a hard time understanding that Oswald was a disaffected leftist American who emigrated to the Soviet Union and after returning to the U.S. had some relation to Cuba that has yet to be fully explained. The fact that he didn’t appreciate the austerity of Russian life hardly proves that he didn’t remain a leftist at the core.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    tODD, one can have Communism plus bowling alleys. That Oswald didn’t like the Soviet nightlife doesn’t mean he was only a communist “at some level.” He spent lots of time in Cuba–which does have pretty good nightlife–and was involved with an organization to promote Castro’s Cuba in this country. We don’t know if other communists were involved, so perhaps I misspoke, but there may have been.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    tODD, one can have Communism plus bowling alleys. That Oswald didn’t like the Soviet nightlife doesn’t mean he was only a communist “at some level.” He spent lots of time in Cuba–which does have pretty good nightlife–and was involved with an organization to promote Castro’s Cuba in this country. We don’t know if other communists were involved, so perhaps I misspoke, but there may have been.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith (@26), I’m pretty certain he never spent any time in Cuba, much less “lots of time”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith (@26), I’m pretty certain he never spent any time in Cuba, much less “lots of time”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The fact that he didn’t appreciate the austerity of Russian life hardly proves that he didn’t remain a leftist at the core” (@25). Why hello, Straw Man, and welcome to our conversation! Actually, we were discussing Oswald’s relationship to communism (or Communism), not whether he was a “leftist at the core”.

    The fact that “one can have Communism plus bowling alleys” doesn’t affect that fact that Oswald was disaffected with the actual implementation of Communism and found American life preferable in contrast. Oswald would not have been the first American to experience conflict between anti-capitalist rhetoric on the one hand and reality on the other.

    Also, I thought Cuba’s “pretty good nightlife” declined heavily due to Communism, not thrived in spite of it, though tourists can still get a taste of an ersatz version, even if the locals can’t afford it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The fact that he didn’t appreciate the austerity of Russian life hardly proves that he didn’t remain a leftist at the core” (@25). Why hello, Straw Man, and welcome to our conversation! Actually, we were discussing Oswald’s relationship to communism (or Communism), not whether he was a “leftist at the core”.

    The fact that “one can have Communism plus bowling alleys” doesn’t affect that fact that Oswald was disaffected with the actual implementation of Communism and found American life preferable in contrast. Oswald would not have been the first American to experience conflict between anti-capitalist rhetoric on the one hand and reality on the other.

    Also, I thought Cuba’s “pretty good nightlife” declined heavily due to Communism, not thrived in spite of it, though tourists can still get a taste of an ersatz version, even if the locals can’t afford it.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    You’re right, tODD. It does look like he didn’t spend any time in Cuba. But according to this biographical site, it was his interest in Castro’s revolution that turned him into a Marxist while he was in the army. After he came back to the U.S. after his defection to the Soviet Union, he tried to start a chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. The site also includes an excerpt from his diary in which he blames the Soviet Union and the American Communist Party for betraying the ideals of Communism.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    You’re right, tODD. It does look like he didn’t spend any time in Cuba. But according to this biographical site, it was his interest in Castro’s revolution that turned him into a Marxist while he was in the army. After he came back to the U.S. after his defection to the Soviet Union, he tried to start a chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. The site also includes an excerpt from his diary in which he blames the Soviet Union and the American Communist Party for betraying the ideals of Communism.

  • Porcell

    Todd, you miss the point that the media and conventional “wisdom” regarded Oswald after the Kennedy assassination as a Texan from the Dallas heart of the right. Whether he was a leftist or communist is irrelevant.

    Oliver Stone’s deleterious film on the assassination makes the rightist CIA the culprit, completely ignoring Oswald’s leftist predilection. The cupidity of the left including your rather meager effort is rather amusing.

  • Porcell

    Todd, you miss the point that the media and conventional “wisdom” regarded Oswald after the Kennedy assassination as a Texan from the Dallas heart of the right. Whether he was a leftist or communist is irrelevant.

    Oliver Stone’s deleterious film on the assassination makes the rightist CIA the culprit, completely ignoring Oswald’s leftist predilection. The cupidity of the left including your rather meager effort is rather amusing.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith mentions (@29) “an excerpt from [Oswald's] diary in which he blames the Soviet Union and the American Communist Party for betraying the ideals of Communism.” All the more reason, isn’t that, for us to be careful in defining our terms? A communist who blames the Communists for not being communist enough! So when you originally said “the Communists were involved” in the assassination, to which group were you referring?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith mentions (@29) “an excerpt from [Oswald's] diary in which he blames the Soviet Union and the American Communist Party for betraying the ideals of Communism.” All the more reason, isn’t that, for us to be careful in defining our terms? A communist who blames the Communists for not being communist enough! So when you originally said “the Communists were involved” in the assassination, to which group were you referring?

  • helen

    Are any of you old enough [ ;) ] to remember where you were and what you felt?
    Was the day really a watershed? –GV

    I was on a Port Authority bus on my way to NYC for a rare “night out” at a company reception with hope of a play to follow. I’d gotten a sitter, found a nice dress that hadn’t been “burped on” yet,
    and was looking forward to the evening.
    At the entrance to the tollway, the bus driver was told that Kennedy had been shot, so we had the trip to NYC to be apprehensive and wonder who and why. At the exit, the driver and we passengers were told that Kennedy was dead.
    The company party was cancelled; Broadway went dark, which was eerie. We were fortunate to find a place to eat before the restaurants also closed. And then we went home to watch TV about Dallas, etc.
    I was not grateful to Lee Harvey Oswald.
    [I am trying to answer the question. If I sound egocentric, you have never lived in a four room flat over an unhappy landlady & family, with Sunday church the usual break in the routine.]

    I had the next day and following weeks to consider the effect on the country. Besides the TV, the New York Times came in the morning.

    Re a “watershed”: I remember standing in a room in the Minnesota farmhouse, listening to the radio saying that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. We had just gotten home from church. (I can describe every piece of furniture and where it was then.) I didn’t really know why but I knew that action changed the world.

  • helen

    Are any of you old enough [ ;) ] to remember where you were and what you felt?
    Was the day really a watershed? –GV

    I was on a Port Authority bus on my way to NYC for a rare “night out” at a company reception with hope of a play to follow. I’d gotten a sitter, found a nice dress that hadn’t been “burped on” yet,
    and was looking forward to the evening.
    At the entrance to the tollway, the bus driver was told that Kennedy had been shot, so we had the trip to NYC to be apprehensive and wonder who and why. At the exit, the driver and we passengers were told that Kennedy was dead.
    The company party was cancelled; Broadway went dark, which was eerie. We were fortunate to find a place to eat before the restaurants also closed. And then we went home to watch TV about Dallas, etc.
    I was not grateful to Lee Harvey Oswald.
    [I am trying to answer the question. If I sound egocentric, you have never lived in a four room flat over an unhappy landlady & family, with Sunday church the usual break in the routine.]

    I had the next day and following weeks to consider the effect on the country. Besides the TV, the New York Times came in the morning.

    Re a “watershed”: I remember standing in a room in the Minnesota farmhouse, listening to the radio saying that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. We had just gotten home from church. (I can describe every piece of furniture and where it was then.) I didn’t really know why but I knew that action changed the world.


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