Heather Digby Parton doesn’t care much for Texans who exercise their constitutional rightsnotes Benny Huang.
The Salon columnist sounded like a true authoritarian this week when she penned a piece called “Texas Gun Nuts’ Scary Ritual: How Hatred of a President Turned Profane” decrying the fact that a number of gun rights activists rallied for open carry laws at Dallas’s Dealey Plaza.
Parton seems blithely unware that Dealey Plaza, while being the site of the 1963 Kennedy assassination, is also the center of metropolitan Dallas. Any connection to the events that transpired there fifty years ago is purely coincidental.
To Parton, the gun rights rally seemed eerily reminiscent of a time long ago when right-wing Texans gave President Kennedy a chilly “welcome.” Their crime, apparently, was voicing their opposition to the president’s administration and its policies. They took out a mean newspaper ad, carried mean signs, and demanded to “address their grievances [sic].” They even swore fealty to the Constitution, which has reduced Ms. Parton to a pants-wetting ball of nerves.
In other words, the dangerous right-wingers of early 1960s Dallas did nothing more than exercise the rights guaranteed in our Constitution to every American. Apparently it isn’t just the second amendment Parton hates but the first as well.
Ms. Parton isn’t very subtle with the inferences she draws. “The right-wing hatred for John F. Kennedy was in some ways as extreme as the hatred for Barack Obama and nowhere was it more energized than Dallas in 1963,” she writes.
Yeah. And Kennedy was murdered. Surely Obama is next, and we know who the culpable parties will be—conservatives like me. We’re already guilty of future crimes that exist only in Parton’s mind.
As if her smear weren’t clear enough, Parton continues, after spouting a laundry list of questions that right-wing meanies asked Kennedy: “You get the drift. And you probably recognize the tone. The subject may have changed somewhat but the arrogant attitude combined with the aggrieved victimization is a hallmark of right-wing politics even today. As we all know, later that day the president was gunned down in Dealey Plaza.”
Notice the use of the passive voice which avoids making an accusation against any particular person. Nowhere in the piece is Lee Harvey Oswald, or anyone else for that matter, identified as the assassin. Why not? Because it doesn’t matter. Oswald didn’t kill President Kennedy; Dallas did, with its love of firearms and its hideous reactionary vitriol. Kennedy was a beautiful man who fell victim to a lynching of sorts in the capital of Dixieland bigotry.
The problem with Parton’s analysis is that neither attitudes nor cities kill people. Human beings do. Further complicating her narrative is the fact that Oswald was a communist every bit as red as Kennedy’s blood. He was so enthralled with the Soviet system that he defected to Moscow hoping to trade military secrets for life in a worker’s paradise.
… all the boogeymen who haunt progressives’ nightmares were conveniently implicated in Kennedy’s murder. If that sounds like they’re projecting their own prejudices upon their analysis, that’s because they are.
They wish it had happened that way. They want an orderly world of good guys and bad guys, in which dashing liberal presidents with movie star good looks are murdered by people they can readily despise—rednecks, corporatists, militarists. Anyone but a communist!
Heather Digby Parton exploits the tragic murder of John F. Kennedy in order to stifle policy differences. Her insinuation that dissent is akin to murder is clear. We’re all guilty of Kennedy’s murder, and probably the hypothetical murder of Barack Obama too, if only because we entertain bad thoughts. The only way to exculpate ourselves is never to utter a disparaging word about the president, provided that he’s a liberal Democrat of course.