There probably isn’t an American over 55 years-old who does not remember exactly where they were and what they were doing at 2 PM on November 22, 1963. At this moment, of course, the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was gunned down in the streets of Dallas.
Lest any American, of any age, miss the commemoration of this mournful anniversary the mass media has done its best to deliver it, front and center. This year alone there have been hundreds of new books, movies, TV shows, and newscasts on every conceivable platform, including the “JFK Twitter Takeover,” an hour by hour account of the event as if it was unfolding live, right now on social media.
While far more than half of all Americans—60 to 80%, according to various polls— do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing the President, the vast majority of these pop culture recreations, including an alternate reality fantasy novel by Stephen King, follow the gospel of the Warren Commission, which has been accused of producing so many falsehoods that a number of them, such as the Lone Gunman Theory and the Magic Bullet Theory have become popular tropes which are synonymous with far-fetched ideas.
In fact, the assassination of President Kennedy attracts theories of conspiracy precisely because the most basic evidence in the record points directly to multiple shooters. Even the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations, convened in 1976, concluded that there was “probably” a conspiracy.
Nevertheless, there are no shortage of them and figuring it all out is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with a blindfold on. You’ve got so many pieces you have no idea how they fit together because you can’t see the big picture.
You’ve got anti-Castro Cubans working with a factions of CIA that are furious Kennedy pulled the plug on the Bay of Pigs invasion. You’ve got members of the mafia who made a deal with old Joe Kennedy to help win the presidential election but felt betrayed when Attorney General Bobby Kennedy went after them in court. There are the Texas oil billionaires who stood to lose a fortune if JFK ended the oil depletion allowance. There are members of military intelligence who suspected that JFK was cooling to its commitment to the war in Vietnam.
And if you’re having trouble fitting all those pieces together there are people who say that one man did just that, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had the motive, the means, and the opportunity to mastermind the plot to kill the president. Johnson, according to a new book by a Washington insider, was about to be indicted by for financial crimes and ultimately dumped from the 1964 presidential ticket. In fact, the night before the shooting, LBJ purportedly told his long-time mistress, “After tomorrow those goddamn Kennedy’s will never embarrass me again—that’s no threat—that’s a promise.”
I grant how threatening all this is to believe, which is one reason why it’s so easy to deny. Scientists have long marveled at the human brain’s ability to suppress apparent danger.
And what could be more dangerous than a coup d’état –the overthrow of the government by a small group within the government. It’s preposterous. It’s outrageous. That stuff happens in third world banana republics, not the United States of America. You’d have to be nuts to believe something like that.
You’d have to think that as citizens we really don’t have a voice. You’d have to think that our government is run by higher powers than our presidents; powers with agendas of their own; and that if a principled president stood in their way, he could simply be rendered powerless…or eliminated.
If you can’t bring yourself to believe that there are forces within our government that will do whatever it takes to get their way…then you have to believe in a deranged lone gunman, a lucky marksman with a magic bullet…and then the world will be good again and we’ll live happily ever after.
I’m Ira Wood…and that’s not necessarily my opinion.
Matters of Opinion are Ira Wood’s short, personal, often rather odd takes on current events. They wrap up the WOMR News on most Fridays at 12:30 PM and are available as podcasts HERE. Feel free to email Ira to tell him what you think.