The JFK administration’s public image has often been compared to that of Camelot, a mythical royal court. What’s more disturbing is that the people who apply such terms to this 20th century gang are almost always applying it in a positive sense. “What could be better,” say these waxing nostalgic imperialists, “than an administration which commands not only political authority but a submissive and docile common people?” I largely agree with this assessment of Kennedy and his legacy. He was indeed a member of royalty, of an elite aristocracy set up by a few for Americans to gawk at and appreciate. The actions taken that day by Oswald amount to an act of regicide and should be greeted with celebration, which is why I suggest every November 22nd be known as Regicide Day.
The result of this royalty status upon the mass psychology of Americans has been that they mourn the untimely deaths of the heads of a royal family responsible for the most unpopular U.S War of the 20th century, Vietnam. While memories of Vietnam haunt Americans, it is not the massacre of innocents which stings them most. Instead, it is the death of one of the great architects of the conflict. Many are willing to admit that Vietnam was an unmitigated and avoidable catastrophe of the 20th century, but, come the end of November, talking heads will shed crocodile tears for the would-be dictator responsible for pushing this slaughter forward.
The worship of Kennedy, like the worship of kings and princes, can be seen as a form of State religion. While Kennedy was in office, there was certainly no lack of criticism from all sides on his policies. Like the Obama administration, Kennedy sailed into the presidency on a platform of his personality over his politics, but soon enough the honeymoon was over. That was, until Kennedy passed from political demigod to fallen martyr for the cause of some vague, puritanical wet dream of America as a shining beacon of freedom.
The greatest piece of religious artwork dedicated to Kennedy was Oliver Stone’s JFK. In JFK, the president’s legacy is subverted by Stone and turned into one of a flower child cut down before he could unite the hard hats and the hippies of the 60s together in peaceful love and harmony. This is a vision of Kennedy disconnected entirely from reality, but it works because of his “tragic” death. Such an image of a modern presidency, one whose mistakes, lies and evils have been carefully documented is not understandable outside of a religious fervor and dedication to the state’s fallen icons.
Any decently informed and compassionate person must realize that this is all the Kennedy administration amounts to in terms of legacy, religious theater and monarch worship. Kennedy was the perfect icon to fall due to his public image as some sort of immaculate aristocrat here to give everyone a helping hand. We must not be duped. We must not shed tears or agonize over the deaths of our political overlords because mass media informs us it is the only human response. It is not. Humans can and often do rejoice when those who have done evil to them have evil visited upon their head. In this case, it just happened to be quite literal.
When men take shots at the handmaidens of the state, like TSA officers, there is a legitimate debate to be had about the morality of such an action. They are, after all, cogs in a system. While many of these cogs are willing participants, they are very often victimized in the same ways as those they abuse. The death of royalty, however, should be a celebration for those who consistently oppose war and oppression. As a result, the worst to come from the death of JFK, RFK and all other political elites is the ensuing waves of nationalistic pride and the brains that must be cleaned up. We ought to never shed a tear for men who knowingly sent military forces to do their slaughtering for them.
It’s true that the act of regicide is rarely an act initiated by principle. Most of the time it’s for greed, for revenge, for glory. It is unfortunate that the knives in the backs and the bullets in the heads of rulers are not the product of righteous vengeance, but that hardly makes it an act which we should take no joy in.
It’s also true that you can stain the streets of every American city with the blood and grey matter of its ruling class and not have changed a single policy. Vietnam not only continued, but the hopeless situation which Eisenhower and Kennedy sunk us into only degenerated under LBJ and Nixon. Indeed, the landmines placed there by military forces still claim the lives of innocents 50 years after the death of Kennedy. No bullets will eliminate the system that allowed for Vietnam, for Iraq. To think otherwise is wishful thinking. We must instead face the underlying problems that allow for such war crimes to occur.
But surely the glorification of Kennedy, of Lincoln, of Roosevelt, of Reagan and all others is in fact one of the greatest problems we face. How could it be that acts normally considered vicious can be seen as virtuous with the right amount of political authority and personal charm? The problem persists up until this very day with the highly anticipated and (un)surprisingly bloody presidency of Barack Obama. While the numbers dwindle, there are still many out there that see Obama as some sort of peacenik, as a genuinely concerned Leftist. This delusion is disintegrating, but one must wonder if Obama’s fate were to be the same as Kennedy’s, would we fondly remember him as a president set out to end all wars and instill a permanent, benevolent royal class within the executive branch? Would we forget about the assassinations he has carried out on American children? Would we choose not to acknowledge his record-setting deportations of immigrants?
We must not compromise when it comes to tyrants. We must not be sensitive to the feelings of those that mourn the death of nobility. To do so is to embrace the political halos that allow for unaccounted murder, rape and theft of innocents. The maudlin sentiments of otherwise decent people must be seen for what it is, political Stockholm syndrome. If you want to lash out and destroy your life in order to eliminate the aristocrats, know that your actions very often only fuels this dreaded syndrome.
The bullet in the head of Kennedy was, to my very fleeting interest, the result of Lee Harvey Oswald’s efforts and his alone. The source of the shot and the intentions behind the lead seem to me to be irrelevant, because it was more than just Oswald’s bullet. It was the bullet for all those killed in Vietnam before November 22nd 1963, and all those since. Shall we perpetually be concerned with the identity and motivations of those who did humanity a favor by eliminating a mass murderer? Or shall we simply be glad that the king has been slain, that justice has been served and that the next king’s head is just as susceptible to the same treatment?
We were once offered two potent forms of political action: The ballot and the bullet. Let us not look at those who chose the bullet anymore violent than those who assume they can legitimately rule over others with ballots, voting in aristocracy to rule at home and maim abroad. And remember that ballots in your hand will never be as effective as a bullet to the head. Death to all monarchs and ruling class war criminals.