FOR 50 years, Dallas has done its best to avoid coming to terms with the one event that made it famous: the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. That’s because, for the self-styled “Big D,” grappling with the assassination means reckoning with its own legacy as the “city of hate,” the city that willed the death of the president. 
… Dallas — with no river, port or natural resources of its own — has always fashioned itself as a city with no reason for being, a city that triumphed against all odds, a city that validates the sheer power of individual will and the particular ideology that champions it above all else. “Dallas,” the journalist Holland McCombs observed in Fortune in 1949, “doesn’t owe a damn thing to accident, nature or inevitability. It is what it is … because the men of Dallas damn well planned it that way.”
Those “men of Dallas” — men like my grandfather, oil men and corporate executives, self-made but self-segregated in a white-collar enclave in a decidedly blue-collar state — often loathed the federal government at least as much as, if not more than, they did the Soviet Union or Communist China.  The country musician Jimmy Dale Gilmore said it best in his song about the city: “Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eye … a rich man who tends to believe in his own lies.”
For those men, Kennedy was a veritable enemy of the state, which is why a group of them would commission and circulate “Wanted for Treason” pamphlets before the president’s arrival and fund the presciently black-rimmed “Welcome Mr. Kennedy” advertisement that ran in The Dallas Morning News on the morning of Nov. 22. It’s no surprise that four separate confidants warned the president not to come to Dallas: an incident was well within the realm of imagination.
… The wives of these men — socialites and homemakers, Junior Leaguers and ex-debutantes — were no different; in fact, they were possibly even more extreme.  (After all, there’s a reason Carol Burnett pulls a gun on Julie Andrews at the end of the famous “Big D” routine the two performed before the assassination in the early 1960s. “What are ya,” she screams, pulling the trigger, “some kinda nut?!”)
… in the annals of my own family history, it was my charming grandmother, not some distant relation without a Neiman Marcus charge card, who nevertheless saw fit to found the “National Congress for Educational Excellence,” an organization that crusaded against such things as depictions of working women in Texas textbooks and the distribution of literature on homosexuality in Dallas public schools.
In a photograph taken not long after the assassination, my grandmother smiles a porcelain smile, poised and lovely in psychedelic purple Pucci, coiffure stacked high in what can only be described as a hairway to heaven. Her eyes, however, are intent, fixed on a target — liberalism, gender equality, gays.
Dallas is not, of course, “the city that killed Kennedy.” 
… For the last 50 years, a collective culpability has quietly propelled the city to outshine its troubled past without ever actually engaging with it. To be fair, pretending to forget has helped Dallas achieve some remarkable accomplishments in those years, like the completion of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the development of the astonishingly successful Cowboys franchise and the creation of what remains one of the country’s most electric local economies.
… This year Dallas has a chance to grapple with the painful legacy of 1963 in public and out loud.  Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen.