For the last several weeks now, print, digital and broadcast media have overflowed with coverage of today’s 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination . I certainly have nothing new to add, but in today’s post I’ll repeat something that I read this morning and that I found interesting.
Today’s New York Times carries an article by Sam Tanenhaus, the gist of which is this: while many Americans remember Kennedy’s death as a loss of innocence, an event that set the country on the path to ‘the tumult of the ’60s’, Tanenhaus reminds us that, on 22 November 1963, “America had already become a divided, dangerous place, with intimations of anarchic disorder. Beneath its gleaming surfaces, a spore had been growing, a mass of violent energies, coiled and waiting to spring.”
To underscore that point, he tells us that historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (who had served as a former assistant to, and speechwriter for, JFK) reported, in his book “A Thousand Days”, that Kennedy was mindful of the ‘potentiality of chaos’, and once ended an informal talk with these lines from Shakespeare’s play King John:
The sun’s o’ercast with blood: fair day, adieu!
Which is the side that I must go withal?
I am with both: each army hath a hand;
And in their rage, I having hold of both,
They swirl asunder and dismember me.