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Perspective: The consequences of the fringes

Walt Cisco, Dallas Morning News

November 22nd marks the 60th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I was born two days after his state funeral, and as such have had a long interest in what happened during those awful days in late November 1963.


If I come to know a person of that generation well enough, I often ask where they were when they learned of the assassination. Of those people, my Dad’s memory is the most troubling. He was 20 and working on the floor of a large equipment manufacturer in Milwaukee when he heard about JFK. A little later as word spread across the floor, he heard someone in management say, “They got him!” That person was a member of the John Birch Society, which at the time was on the far fringes of the far right. For that person, the assassination of the president was a victory, as it was for the unhinged Lee Harvey Oswald who was on the far fringes of the far left.


I have a suggestion for those who think political violence may sometimes be justified. Watch the films of what happened in Dealey Plaza and in the days afterward. See the actual, gruesome murder of a person. See the hundreds and hundreds of people who were there who had dropped to the ground in terror, shielding their children. See Jackie Kennedy’s pink outfit splattered with the blood and brain tissue from her dead husband. And then watch the funeral procession, listening closely to the sad and ominous beat of the drums.

Andrew Nelson has been involved in public education in northern Illinois for more than three decades.