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A Genuine Page-Turner
on February 6, 2014
I was an impressionable 15-year-old when President Kennedy was assassinated, so the content and sequence of events of this story are part of my life. When I first went to Dallas on a business trip in 1978, I drove immediately to Dealey Plaza; it was like a pilgrimage. Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down.
I spent the better part of the 1980s traveling dozens of times to Dallas and it became one of my favorite cities; dynamic, prosperous, courteous, and proud of itself in a way I didn't find offensive. I was surprised when a business friend of mine there said he thought Dallas was just then coming out of its shame over the assassination; I didn't understand what he was saying.
But after reading Bill Minutaglio's story I now know what he was trying to explain. I remembered, of course, the story of the "Wanted for Treason" flyer, and the attack on Adlai Stevenson a few weeks before the assassination. But these were snippets of information that got lost to me in the overwhelming amount of news and emotion surrounding this event.
So Minutaglio puts these snippets into perspective as part of a seething hatred of the Kennedy's and a distain for the Federal government that were deeply embedded in much of the Dallas culture at the time. This included open hostility and disrespect from Ted Dealey, the owner of the "Dallas Morning News". It included virulent anti-Catholic rants from W.A. Creswell, Senior Pastor of Dallas's First Baptist Church, the largest all-white (this was 1963) Baptist church in the country. And it included H.L. Hunt, one of the wealthiest men in the world and an ultra-conservative bigot.
In a recent YouTube interview with Minutaglio, who is a Dallas native, he says he thinks things have changed and Dallas is a far different city today. My own assessment of Dallas in the 1980s was very positive, so I'm sure things have indeed changed.
But I confess at the same time to be taken aback when the Governor of Texas claims (in 2012) that Texas uniquely has the right to secede from the U.S. if it wants to; or to hear the junior senator from Texas wonder aloud if the nominee for Secretary of Defense (Chuck Hagel) might have received secret payments from the government of North Korea (2013); or to hear some of the utterly senseless, and often hateful, assertions from Texas's Representative from its 1st District, a guy named Louie Gohmert.
Sometimes it's easiest to just let these things slide and concede that politics is a rough business. But Minutaglio's riveting story behind the story of the Kennedy assassination reminds us that these irrational and unconstrained hatreds have consequences. I'm afraid Texas still has a ways to go.