Shot by a Commie, not a Bircher


Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,' in

The other week my friend Bruce Newbury asked me on his radio show (WADK-AM -- 1540)  what I was doing on Nov. 22, 1963 when shots were fired in Dallas.

I was cutting open a dead white rat soaked in formaldehyde in my high-school bio lab when some kid rushed in to say that “some {John} Bircher shot Kennedy.’’

The John Birch Society (still around) is a radical-right wing organization far more famous then than now. (Among other things the society asserted that the fluoridation of public water supplies was a Communist plot and that Dwight Eisenhower was a Commie fellow traveler. The Birchers in the ‘60s were sort of proto-Tea Partiers.)

My lab mate and I went to find a TV set in a common room. As we got there Walter Cronkite, then the CBS News anchorman,  looking stunned and near tears, took off his glasses for a few seconds, and announced that Kennedy was dead.

In fact, of course, it was the Communist Lee Harvey Oswald, a former resident of the Soviet Union, who shot Kennedy. I increasingly think that others were involved in the assassination, too.

I was never a huge Kennedy fan, but the horrific way in which his administration, and in 1968 his brother Robert’s presidential campaign, ended have scarred American politics to this day. And we would have done better without the Camelot myth and the cults of personality that went with it.