How I became a mass murderer

A funny thing happened yesterday at the polling place which I didn't think was worth mentioning in my previous post on the so-called "election." As I approached the door, a woman asked me whether I wanted a Democratic Party voter's guide. I explained that I was a Republican, but that I'd take one anyway to give it to a Democrat friend, and we engaged in a brief but friendly discussion in which I mentioned my general lack of enthusiasm for either party. One thing she said really got me, though:

"You have allowed religious extremists to take over the Republican Party!"

"I haven't "allowed" ANYTHING!" was my defensive answer (although I don't think she saw the quotation marks around the word "allowed").

At the heart of the communitarian philosophy is a giant "we." Anything that happens, "we" are told that "we" did it. It always pisses me off, and while I'm always open to explanations as to how I did the various "we" things, libertarianism and communitarianism are like tar and water.

It's a "we" thing! "You" wouldn't understand!

I'm trying, I'm trying. . . .

But can "we" get along?

As part of my ongoing effort to understand what it is that makes wee me into a giant "WE," via a link from Ed Driscoll (from a Kennedy libertarian), I am beginning to finally understand why it is that I am responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy.

The nation itself, Reston implied, was ultimately responsible for Oswald’s murderous act.

Returning to this theme two days later in an article suggestively titled “A Portion of Guilt for All,” Reston asserted that there was “a rebellion in the land against law and good faith, and . . . private anger and sorrow are not enough to redeem the events of the last few days.” He went on to cite a sermon delivered on November 24 by a Washington clergyman who, linking President Kennedy with Jesus, told his congregation that “We have been present at a new crucifixion. All of us had a part in the slaying of the President.”

This idea, too—that the nation as a whole was finally to blame for the assassination—came to be repeated widely and incorporated into the public’s understanding of the event. Liberals in particular tended to see Kennedy’s death in this light, that is, as an outgrowth of a violent or extremist streak in the nation’s culture. Yet doing so required its own species of doublethink, for the fact is that Oswald was not in any way a representative figure. He played no role in any domestic extremist movement. His radicalism was wholly un-American and anti-American. Even as a Communist or radical, he was sui generis. There was nothing about Oswald that even remotely reflected any broader pattern in American life.

Something strangely similar to this act of mental contortion would occur five years later in response to the assassination in Los Angeles of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Once again, many pointed to a national culture of violence and extremism as the ultimate cause of the killing.

Ever since then, it's been the same mantra.

Which means I should confess.

I killed the kids at Columbine, and my collective guns regularly murder hundreds of children in Philadelphia. I have murdered millions of unborn babies. I tortured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib! I pulled the tube from Terri Schiavo! I also clubbed the baby seals, and probably helped Richard Speck murder all those nurses in Chicago in 1966.

(Oh, yeah, I also owned and transported lots of slaves. Lots and lots of genocide was committed by the "we." I am therefore guilty as charged!*)

For many years, I noticed a deep division among members of what "we" call the Baby Boom generation. The older ones (I use 1953 as the dividing year) tend to be far more steeped in angry liberalism of the sort which sees Kennedy assassins under every table. I've generally tended to assume that this was because the draft ended in 1971, but now I'm wondering: might some of it involve the extent to which it was possible to identify with the martyred JFK as a peer? I was only nine years old at the time of the assassination, so I saw him as a grown man, and I really couldn't understand the idea that I was culpable. Might that kind of self-flagellating guilt (described in the Commentary piece) have been felt mostly by the older Boomers? The ones old enough to identify with the youthful JFK and see his assassination in communitarian terms? (Unfortunately, I was too young, and I don't share this sense of guilt -- a crime which probably makes me more evil than guilty.)

If "we" are all guilty of murdering JFK, of course, it doesn't end there, because that's the nature of collective guilt.

To a communitarians who believe in the "we," the illogical is logical.

There's no winning this argument.

(That's why I'd like to enter my plea of guilty as charged, and carry on with the sociopathic existential crisis that I dare to call "my" life.)

* Almost forgot something! I'm a little Eichmann too! Mass murder is what it's all about. (And what I don't say doubtless reveals much about my guilt.)

UPDATE: Aleksander Boyd makes my confession look lame by comparison! (Via InstaPundit.)

So little time. So much to accomplish!

UPDATE: Thanks to Ed Driscoll for the link!

posted by Eric on 05.17.06 at 10:03 AM


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In 1973, Daniel Patrick Moynihan looked back on the decade which had recently concluded and said, "Most liberals had ended the 1960s rather ashamed of the beliefs they had held at the beginning of the decade". Back in January of... [Read More]
Tracked on May 18, 2006 2:41 PM

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