New York City The slight boost in my reputation as an expert on all things Texan was about the only positive thing that emerged over the weekend of horrors that began with the shootings of President Kennedy and Dallas Patrolman J. D. Tippitt on Friday and ended Sunday when their accused assassin Lee H. Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby while the Dallas police force stood around under their Stetsons, stonily avoiding any difect glance at the TV camera. At my office Friday, while secretaries wept and editors and writers wandered from desk to desk or gathered in whispering groups, I had been occasionally approached and asked, not too truculently, just exactly what kind of city is this Dallas. Who could have done such a thing? I could answer the second question easily enough. A madman had killed Kennedy. No city can be blamed for that. No one disagreed. After a pause, everyone would just wander off. The first questionWhat kind of city is this Dallas?would, I knew, be-answered soon enough by Dallas, itself. I predicted as much that evening to friends while we sat around in numbed disbelief looking out on a strangely quiet New York City. “You can expect a keening note of self pity in any man-on-the-street interview from Dallas,” I said. “Too many there are going to look on the assassination as a blow to their civic pride first and a national upheaval secondif at all.” This brought a few protests, particularly from a remarkably fair-minded female from Boston, but I persisted. “Just wait. Everyone is going to ask, in effect, `What will you all think of us?’ As if that 12 The Texas Observer SUBSCRIBE OR RENEW THE TEXAS OBSERVER 504 West 24th Street Austin 5, Texas Enclosed is $5.00 for a oneyear subscription to the Observer for: Name Address City, State 0 This is a renewal. 0 This is a new subscription. mattered.” We closed the glum proceedings speculating on just how much due process this Oswald had left to him now that all the evidence had been made public before even an indictment. Everyone agreed that he had damn little left. “The Dallas police are trying to prove they’re the best,” I said. “Dallas will always come first, no matter what. It’s a monstrous civic pride, founded more on need than facts. A little thing like due process had damn well better move to one side if it’s impeding Dallas’ march to progress.” The Boston female phoned me Sunday to tell me about Oswald. “You were right about those Dallas statements,” she added. “Everyone I’ve seen just twangs away how awful the assassination was for Dallas and oh, yesKennedy. What are they going to say about this? I mean, the whole police force just standing there in those silly hats.” “About Oswald’s death? Why, nothing. Dallas would never acknowledge a flaw in its very own police department. Nothing that belongs to Dallas can be faulted. Oswald, after all, came over from Fort Worth. He could be crazy. But inefficiency or outright callous stupidity in Dallas? Never. Just wait.” Today, in its splendid coverage of every aspect of the President’s funeral, the Times quotes an ‘editorial of the Dallas News. This said no blame or guilt is necessary none at. all. “Our foundations are sound, our leadership solid, our aspirations high.” I think it’s safe to hazard my reputation as a prophet by predicting that Dallas will never learn the lesson in tragic drama taught 2,500 years ago in Atehns, a city of less than 600,000, that, without the help of Margo Jones or Paul Baker, produced decent enough theatre dealing with the tragic flaw of pridecivic or otherwise. Distant Observations Dallas from a Distance Harris Green
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