Get Off My Lawn: Fort Worth Honors JFK Without Trampling on Free Speech. How Do Those Guys Do it?

April 18, 2012

By Jim Schutze Tue., Feb. 28 2012

​Work has started on the Fort Worth JFK tribute, a memorial plaza to be dominated by a larger-than-life statue of President John F. Kennedy with his hand extended for a friendly shake. What a difference a half-hour drive makes.

When complete, the Fort Worth memorial will serve as stark contrast to the one in Dallas — an inscrutable Phillip Johnson-designed concrete bunker modeled on a German war memorial but puffed up bigger to look like a urinal for French giants.

Isn’t it remarkable that the president who was killed in our city is still so invisible here? Maybe Fort Worth can afford to look at him without feeling guilty.

I wonder what the Kennedy family’s relationship with the Fort Worth tribute will be? Will they show up? You know they won’t touch Dallas, The Sixth Floor Museum or its director, Nicola Longford, with a 10-foot pole — a posture I have always admired.

With the 50th anniversary of the assassination coming up next year, Longford and the Sixth Floor are in league with the city of Dallas to achieve a virtual clamp-down on speech at Dealey Plaza during the week of the anniversary, a move in line with their habit of seeking the arrest and jailing of anybody who expresses a non-sanctioned or unofficial view of the assassination.

 

jfk-fort-worth-speech.jpg
National Archives
Kennedy in Fort Worth

​ Even though by now most of us probably think Oswald did it, the people who think otherwise are still interesting. But not to The Sixth Floor. The message of that institution is loud and clear: Nobody from Dallas did it, and nobody better say we did.

I assume that’s why The Sixth Floor applied for and the city granted them a license to take over Dealey Plaza completely for the week of the anniversary, even though they have yet to say what they plan to do with it.

It’s not just that other people won’t be allowed to occupy Dealey Plaza and make speeches. Other groups that wanted to observe a moment of silence have already been told the moments of silence are all taken. They can’t even go out there and stay mum.

At any rate, once again Fort Worth is showing itself to be an open-handed, genial kind of place, while Dallas, once again, is going to look like a clenched-fist, teeth-gritting jerk. There’s nothing to do about it. It’s destiny.

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