The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Saying goodbye to papa President

JFK is America’s daddy complex.

I’ve been obsessed with JFK since I wrote an essay on him in the fourth grade, and in that first assignment my only takeaway was that oft-repeated quote on asking what you as a citizen can do for your country. The dark side of that administration was lost on me for years.

It’s troublesome for me to wrangle with that side and the contradictions inherent in JFK’s legacy almost make it more enticing than a “pure” presidency.

Let’s forget the assassination for the next two paragraphs (just grit your teeth and try, I know it’s hard). Why do we truly love to geek out over JFK?

Kennedy was smooth, sexy, and well-dressed. Kennedy rocked Ray Bans. Kennedy rescued a fellow Navy man from a capsized boat during WWII by swimming for miles with his companion’s lifejacket straps clenched in his teeth. Yes, JFK saved a man’s life with his mouth. JFK inspired the nation with his youthful vitality and set us on track to shuttle through the Space Race.

But JFK was an alleged adulterer. Accusations abound that Kennedy bought the presidency with money from his father’s bootlegging days.JFK was a playboy and in many ways more of a pop culture icon than a president.

Is it possible for a great man to do terrible things? Is it possible for terrible people to achieve greatness? These are the questions we face when confronting JFK’s legacy, and the problems we encounter going back to that sunny day in ’63 are almost innumerable.

For nearly three years, Kennedy was the country’s father. We felt betrayed by daddy. We felt inspired by daddy. And before we could resolve any of those emotions, daddy died in front of our eyes.

You don’t want to see the therapist’s bill to solve those kinds of issues.

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