John F. Kennedy was shot by what today we would call a self-radicalized terrorist, a “lone wolf” acting on his own but in the name of a larger movement. Part nut job, part ideologue, Oswald might have been an unfamiliar figure in 1963, but we are quite familiar with the type today.
Members of the center-Left who identified with Kennedy wanted badly to pin the assassination on the American Right and make Kennedy a martyr. Unfortunately for them Oswald was a Marxist, a partisan of the far-Left.
Facts be damned, they blamed the assassination on the Right anyway.
In what in retrospect seems an embarrassing bit of hagiography, James Reston editorialized in the New York Times the morning after the horrible assassination:
America wept tonight, not alone for its dead young President, but for itself. The grief was general, for somehow the worst in the nation had prevailed over the best. The indictment extended beyond the assassin, for something in the nation itself, some strain of madness and violence, had destroyed the highest symbol of law and order.
In other words, America was to blame, not a deranged partisan of America’s geopolitical enemies. In case you were wondering where the “strain of madness and violence” mostly resided, the editorial fills you in:
And from the beginning to the end of his Administration, he was trying to damp down the violence of the extremists on the Right.
Too bad Kennedy didn’t pay more attention to the violent extremists on the left, amirite folks?
The same sort of claims were made by other Kennedy partisans like Arthur Schlesinger. Despite it’s pious tones the editorial is a deeply partisan attempt at blood libel. I doubt the attempt is calculated, it is more an exercise in self-delusion.