The 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination stressed the familiar themes that his shocking murder meant a “loss of innocence” for the nation, followed by a new mood of cynicism and fearfulness that’s persisted to this day. In fact, such change is owed less to loss of Kennedy’s charismatic leadership than to the toxic conspiracy theories that spread within days of his death.
Pundits promptly blamed the tragedy on “right wing hate” in Dallas rather than the assassin’s mental illness or Communist ties. After five decades, there’s still no evidence Oswald conspired with anyone on anything, and persistent notions of an arrogant establishment covering up dark forces and bloody secrets profoundly undermines national sanity and self-confidence. The real tragedy of Dallas wasn’t just the death of a president, but the birth of a horde of America-hating distortions and exploitative lies surrounding that death.