Right Wing Nut House

11/21/2004

ASSASSINATION MYTHS AND FANTASIES

Filed under: General — Rick Moran @ 5:01 am

Forty-one years ago tomorrow, Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots in 8.2 seconds from the six floor of the Texas School Book Depository wounding the Governor of Texas and killing the then President of the United States John F. Kennedy.

These are the facts of history. No amount of wishful thinking, twisting of reality, or outright falsification will change this.

For thirty five years, I have devoured every major book postulating a conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy. I’ve waded through the fever swamps of the hard left, the hard right, and everywhere in between. I’ve read the Warren Report, the House Select Committee on Assassinations Report, the Report by the National Academy of Sciences, which debunked the House Committee contention of a second gunman.

And I managed to sit through Oliver Stone’s “JFK.”

No…I will not link to this movie. If it were up to me, this piece of trash like its sister tissue of lies and distortions “Fahrenheit 9/11″ would be consigned to the ash heap of history and both of its makers sued for damaging the American psyche.

For Oliver Stone to make a hero of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, as he did in “JFK” is as big a disservice to history as Michael Moore trying to destroy the reputation of the President of the United States in F9/11. In Stone’s case, his motivations were unclear. I would guess that, like many Americans, Stone’s perspective has been poisoned by the conspiracy theorists…who turn out to be the oddest, the strangest bunch of gadflys, malcontents, and misanthropes to ever try to place an imprint on history. The fact that Stone gave free reign to these nuts says more about Stone and his beliefs than anything else.

Stone’s lionization of Garrison needs to be clarified. Jim Garrison was a homophobic, self promoting, politically ambitious DA who saw his prosecution of Clay Shaw as his ticket to the governorship of Louisiana. Don’t believe me? Here’s Jim Phelan of the Saturday Evening Post who interviewed Garrison for an article on the prosecution:

“In an effort to get Garrison’s story into focus, I asked him the motive of the Kennedy conspirators. He told me that the murder at Dallas had been a homosexual plot.

“They had the same motive as Loeb and Leopold, when they murdered Bobbie Franks in Chicago back in the twenties,” Garrison said. “It was a homosexual thrill-killing, plus the excitement of getting away with a perfect crime. John Kennedy was everything that Dave Ferrie was not — a successful, handsome, popular, wealthy, virile man. You can just picture the charge Ferrie got out of plotting his death.”

I asked how he had learned that the murder was a homosexual plot. “Look at the people involved,” Garrison said. “Dave Ferrie, homosexual. Clay Shaw, homosexual. Jack Ruby, homosexual.”

“Ruby was a homosexual?”

“Sure, we dug that out,” Garrison said. “His homosexual nickname was Pinkie. That’s three. Then there was Lee Harvey Oswald.”

But Oswald was married and had two children, I pointed out.

“A switch-hitter who couldn’t satisfy his wife,” Garrison said. “That’s all in the Warren Report.” He named two more “key figures” whom he labeled homosexual.

“That’s six homosexuals in the plot,” Garrison said. “One or maybe two, okay. But all six homosexual? How far can you stretch the arm of coincidence?”

Garrison had conducted several high profile sweeps of the French Quarter rounding up gay men and prosecuting them. The sweeps were conducted prior to his re-election campaigns and designed to bolster his image as being tough on “morality crimes.”

His prosecution of Clay Shaw is considered to be one of the most egregious examples of prosecutorial misconduct in the history of American jurisprudence. For months, Garrison had been telling the press he was “close” to cracking the JFK conspiracy. He tried to entrap various people by planting evidence, including anti-castro Cubans and two men loosely connected to the FBI-David Ferrie and Jack Martin. When it became clear that he would have to charge someone or look like a fool, he latched on to Mr. Shaw, a prominent citizen in New Orleans, who led a secret life as a homosexual.

Mr. Garrison’s one “witness” was a 25 year old insurance salesman with a history of mental illness. It took less than an hour for Shaw’s attorney’s to destroy his credibility and it took the jury 52 minutes to find Shaw not guilty. (One of the jurors said afterward that the reason it took so “long” to reach a verdict was that most of them had to go to the bathroom before they deliberated.)

Below, I’ve listed some books that I believe are fairly representative of the conspiracy mindset as well as books that support the Warren Commission’s findings.

One note on the Commission: There’s no doubt the Commission did some sloppy work and that they were programmed by Johnson to whitewash, to some extent, any conspiracy ideas. The reason was simple and, fairly innocent: Johnson believed that there WAS a conspiracy and it involved either Moscow or Havanna. If the Commission had found such evidence, Johnson would have been forced by an outraged country to act on that information, i.e. go to war.

DEATH OF A PRESIDENT by William Manchester

One of the preeminent historians of the 20th century, Manchester’s book is THE STARTING POINT for anyone who wishes to investigate the assassination. Manchester found himself shadowing the Warren Commission; interviewing witnesses sometimes before and sometimes after the Commission attorneys. His description of that weekend is, to my mind, the most moving of any I’ve read. Absolutely essential to understand the death of Kennedy and put it in historical context.

CASE CLOSED by Gerald Posner

Posner has done an enormous service to historians as his book debunks both Stone’s movie and the major conspiracy theories that Stone based his movie on. What’s remarkable, is that Posner started his 5 year investigation by believing in a conspiracy of some kind to kill Kennedy. What he found was, that while the Warren Commission made several glaring errors in accuracy and omission, to still holds up well to this day. I might mention that Posner has some admiration for some of the more serious conspiracy theorists and only faults their conclusions.

ENEMIES WITHIN by Robert Goldberg

A major work on the history and motivations of conspiracy theories in western society, Goldberg’s work deals with the JFK conspiracy theories from a scholarly point of view. I found this book fascinating because it reveals WHY people WANT to believe in conspiracies.

FATAL HOUR: THE ASSASSINATION OF KENNEDY BY ORGANIZED CRIME by Robert Blakely

Blakely, who as Chief Counsel for the House Select Committee has written a thoughtful book fingering both Ruby and Oswald as having ties to organized crime, specifically the Marcello family in New Orleans.

Like the other conspiracy books I’ll list below, it suffers from one major flaw; no evidence to support the facts. In this case, the links between Ruby/Oswald and Marcello are tenuous at best. And other investigators who specialize in organized crime have categorically denied the mob would have been so stupid as to use two losers like Oswald and Ruby for ANYTHING.

BEST EVIDENCE by David Lifton

Lifton’s 800 page tome is a perfect example of an author’s enthusiasm for his subject matter getting the better of his common sense. Extremely well researched, Lifton’s book falls short for a variety of reasons, too many to list here. The book postulates that Kennedy’s body was spirited away (At the hospital? Maybe. Before it boarded AF 1? Perhaps. On the way to Bethesda? Could be) and “surgically altered” to make the wounds appear to have come from behind.

The entire premise for the book rests on one assumption; that Kennedy’s body was left alone long enough for it to be stolen. Members of the Military who read this will know that wasn’t possible. General Godfrey McHugh, Kennedy’s air force aid, stayed with his fallen CIC from the time he was pronounced dead until the honor guard received the casket in front of the White House. How does Lifton get around this? He says that McHugh is “mistaken.”

CROSSFIRE: THE PLOT THAT KILLED KENNEDY by Jim Marrs

There’s something for everyone in this conspiracy book that Oliver Stone relied on so heavily to write the screenplay for JFK. The CIA, the FBI, Lyndon Johnson, big business, even the secret service. The only thing I’ll say about this book is refer the reader to two other books written by Marrs: Alien Agenda: Investigating the Extraterrestrial Presence Among Us and Inside Job: Unmasking the Conspiracies of 9/11.

‘Nuff said?

RUSH TO JUDGEMENT by Mark Lane

Lane is the grandaddy of conspiracy theorists. Rush to Judgment was a runaway best seller and inspired an entire generation of buffs, not to mention Jim Garrison himself. He was the first serious researcher who pointed out problems with the Warren Commission. Lane does not offer any final conclusions. He only offers evidence for two claims; 1.) that if Oswald killed JFK, he couldn’t have done so alone, and 2.) the Warren Commission was a scam, dedicated to finding only Oswald’s guilt, more concerned with “healing an ailing nation” than with presenting the facts.

We know now that Lane’s contention that the Warren Commission was a “whitewash” is not entirely accurate (see above). And his “evidence” about a conspiracy involving Oswald has largely been discredited. But if you want to know where many of the ideas for conspiracies came from, look no further than this book.

I’m sure you assassination buffs out there have your own favorites. And, if you leave a note in the comments section, I’ll gladly read whatever book you think would convince me otherwise.

But facts are stubborn things. And unless you’ve got something besides strange coincidences or nebulous dots that are connected with something other than hard evidence, I’ll probably take the belief to my deathbed that Oswald acted alone.

UPDATE: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CRITICAL THINKING?

Dean at Dean’s World has a post on a new JFK assassination video game as well as some thoughts from “Bull Durham.” I must say it’s refreshing to find someone who is equally passionate about the truth involving the assasination.

What makes the conspiracy buffs so implacable in their beliefs has a lot to do with their counterfactual claims about a second Kennedy Administration and how Viet Nam, civil rights, and every crackpot moonbat idea of a socialist paradise would have come about if only JFK had lived. I’ll deal with this issue tomorrow.

ARE YOU BAD?

The Dante’s Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell! (HT: Llama Butchers)
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Level Score
Purgatory (Repenting Believers) Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers) Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful) Extreme
Level 3 (Gluttonous) High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious) Very High
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics) Very High
Level 7 (Violent) High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers) High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous) Moderate

Take the Dante’s Inferno Hell Test

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