Do you know who was really gunning for President Kennedy on that fateful day in Dallas in 1963?
The first tea partiers.
That’s the claim of University of Texas journalism Professor Bill Minutaglio in a scathing essay printed in the “National” section of the Washington Post online on the eve of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination titled, “Tea party has roots in the Dallas of 1963.”
According to Minutaglio, the same “hysterical fringe” alive today in anti-Obamacare protests was “waiting for Kennedy the day he died.”
Furthermore, Minutaglio claims, it’s another right winger from “nut country” – i.e. Texas – still leading the charge in the form of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
“Cruz would have been quite comfortable in Dallas 1963,” the Washington Post column claims.
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Ironically, however, Cruz wrote a column published by National Review Online the day after Minutaglio’s essay went to press praising Kennedy as a man who “fully embraced the American spirit and called on us to do the same.”
“President Kennedy understood that the essence of freedom and equality transcended politics,” Cruz writes. “The nostalgia so many of us feel for that time, when our nation was united in the defense of liberty and promise of America, should be celebrated. Honor President Kennedy by sharing those memories today.”
The basis of Minutaglio’s essay, adapted from his book, “Dallas 1963,” is that in 1963 a “band of zealots” fueled by billionaires, extremist lawmakers and “Bible-thumbing preachers” had hijacked the civic dialogue to brew a “boiling, toxic environment” in Dallas.
The professor then draws the parallel to modern day: “Here we are in 2013 and the echo is painfully clear: The ad hominem attacks against a ‘socialist president.’ The howling broadcasters. The mega-rich men from Texas funding the political action campaigns.”
Minutaglio compares talking points across the decades: “The president is a socialist. He is neutering the United States on the world stage. He is spending us into bankruptcy. He is hellbent on expanding national health care, which will surely lead to government death panels. … If today’s extremist rhetoric sounds familiar, that’s because it is eerily, poignantly similar to the vitriol aimed squarely at John F. Kennedy during his presidency.”
“To find the very roots of the tea party of 2013,” Minutaglio writes, “just go back to downtown Dallas in 1963.”
Nowhere in the column does Minutaglio actually suggest it was a tea partier who pulled the trigger on Nov. 22, 1963, but neither does he note that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was hardly the tea-party type. In fact, Oswald was declared by the investigating Warren Commission to have been motivated instead by “his commitment to Marxism and communism.”
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Instead, Minutaglio blames the alleged “roots” of the tea party for creating a dangerous place in Dallas, where something tragic was bound to happen.
“In the days leading to Kennedy’s fateful hour in Dallas, the city experienced one dark moment after another,” Minutaglio writes. “Swastikas were plastered on the high-end emporium Neiman Marcus. A bomb threat was made during a visit by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. A cross was burned on the lawn of a Holocaust survivor. U.N. Ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson II, in town for a speech, fled for his life after being surrounded by a spitting mob.
“It all occurred in a place where a few powerful people had marched far from the political center and erected a firewall against reasoned debate,” he concludes. “Fifty years after Kennedy’s death, it is as if nothing has changed.”