Pre-WCR Reactions to the Assassination

    By "Pre-WCR Reactions," we mean reactions to the assassination before the Warren Commission issued its report. This covers the ten months from 22 November 1963 to September 27, 1964, which we might call "The First Year." While this period is often neglected when discussing the history of research into the JFK assassination, it is disproportionately important for two reasons: (a) the early opinions and positions on both sides of the question set the tone of those to follow, to an extent that could hardly have been predicted; and (b) this period offers a unique look into the groups of people who formed strong opinions before all the facts were released, i.e., in advance of official data that could justify those opinions. In other words, we can use events of this early period to see who was reacting in knee-jerk fashion, and maybe even why they were reacting so. There may be no better way to reveal the human foibles of JFK researchers than to study what happened during The First Year.
    We have divided the literature from The First Year into reactions of the Center, the Right, and the Left. The list below shows clearly that these reactions were dominated by the Left (as were the reactions after the Warren Report was issued). In fact, a quick count of the items on the list (as of December 2000) gives 2 from the Center, 3 from the Right, but a whopping 31 from the Left. Why was the Left so vociferous? As far as I know, there is no consensus on this question. Some people have proposed that the Left, having just survived the brutal attacks of Senator Joseph McCarthy and other ultra-Rightists in the Senate and the House, reacted defensively to ensure that they would not be accused of killing the President, too. Another possibility is that left-leaning observers tend to see conspiracies more than right-leaners do. A third possibility is that after eight years of Eisenhower and Nixon, the Left was so happy to have "their" Democrat in the White House that they overreacted out of general sensitivity when he was killed. Whatever the explanation, it is clear that the Left made far more noise about the assassination than the Right did, and continue to do so to this day.
    As you read these materials, you will see the Center (Daniel Patrick Moynihan in particular) warning about the rise of conspiratorial thought. You will then see exactly that happening, as the Myth of Conspiracy appeared on the Left immediately after the assassination. You will then begin to understand why The First Year was such an important period.
    The rest of this page first lists the full suite of materials provided for The First Year, as divided in to reactions of Center, Right, and Left. It then gives links to the three separate sections, where the individual articles and their authors are introduced in more detail.

Overall list of materials in "Pre-WCR Reactions to the Assassination"

A Poem
"November 26, 1963" (Wendell Berry, The Nation, 21 December 1963)

Reactions of the Center
    Editorial from The New Yorker (7 December 1963)
    "The Paranoid Style," (Daniel Patrick Moynihan in The Washington Post, reprinted in JFK: The Book of the Screenplay)

Reactions of the Right
    Revilo P. Oliver, of the University of Illinois
        Marxmanship in Dallas I (February 1964)
        Marxmanship in Dallas II (March 1964)
    Assassination and Its Aftermath, by Congressman Martin Dies (March 1964)
    The Far Left (Billy James Hargis, 1964)
    What Was Back of Kennedy's Murder? (Evangelist John R. Rice, 1964, shortly after the assassination)

Reactions of the Left

    The New Republic
        "Another Beginning" ( 7 December 1963)
        "How Could It Happen?" ( 7 December 1963)
    The Nation
        "John F. Kennedy" (14 December 1963)
        "The Climate of Violence" (14 December 1963)
        "The American Condition" (21 December 1963)
        "The Warren Commission" (28 December 1963)
         "Task of the Warren Commission" (20 January 1964)
        "Then How About Koch?" (2 March 1964)
        "The Dallas Rejoinder" (25 May 1964)
        "The Warren Commission: An Editorial" ( January 1964)

    The New Republic
        "When Castro Heard the News" (Jean Daniel, 7 December 1963)
        "Unofficial Envoy: An Historic Report from Two Capitals" (Jean Daniel, 14 December 1963)
        "Further Clarification: Interviews with Kennedy and Castro" (Jean Daniel, 21 December 1963)
         "Seeds of Doubt: Some Questions About the Assassination" (Jack Minnis and Staughton Lynd, 21 December 1963)
        "Seeds of Doubt" (Annotated version)
    The Minority of One
        "Who Killed Whom and Why?" (M.S. Arnoni, January 1964)
        "The Death of a President" (Eric Norden, January 1964)
        "16 Questions On The Assassination" (Bertrand Russell, September 1964)
    New Times
        "The Dallas Investigation" (11 December 1963)
        "Assassin or Fall Guy?" (23 September 1964)
    National Guardian
        "Oswald Innocent? A Lawyer's Brief" (Mark Lane, December 1963)
    The Nation
        "A Most Unstuffy Man" (H. Stuart Hughes, 14 December 1963)
        "The TV Image" (Paul T. David, 14 December 1963)
        "The Roots of the Agony" (Reece McGee, 21 December 1963)
        "'Manchurian Candidate' in Dallas" (Richard Condon, 28 December 1963)
        "Oswald and the FBI" (Harold Feldman, 27 January 1964)
        "Tussle in Texas" (Saul Friedman, 3 February 1964)
        "The Oswald Affair" (Leo Sauvage, March 1964)
    The New Leader
        "Thomas Buchanan, Detective" (Leo Sauvage, 28 September 1964)
        "In Defense Of A Theory" (Thomas G. Buchanan, 9 November 1964)
        "As I Was Saying" (Leo Sauvage, 9 November 1964)

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