Thursday, November 10, 2016

Nexus: The JFK Assassination's Place in History and a New Witness

David Denton, Author
Ever since that fateful day in Dallas, November 22, 1963, the assassination of John F. Kennedy remains both an open wound on the American conscience and an unresolved question in America’s past.  Teaching history to college students is both my profession and my passion. To those of us who have thoroughly examined the JFK case, getting our history correct is a higher form of justice. Fifty-three years later, this assassination remains a unique event in American history because of the variance between our main institutions’ established  portrayal of the events in Dallas and the opinion of the public, a majority of whom do not accept that portrayal, instead seeing the probability of conspiracy. According to public opinion polls over the years, anywhere from 60 to 90 percent reject the Warren Commission findings that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or at all. Many of these Americans see these findings as a flawed, if not a fraudulent history, even though since the assassination they have been constantly, and almost exclusively, bombarded with lone-assassin explanations by much of the nation’s media. 

Gordon Ferrie
Before dealing with the reasons why there is a gap between the institutional perception of this event and the public viewpoint, it is important for one to understand how “conspiracy” has come to be viewed in our culture. Without question, the JFK assassination has come to be considered the “mother” of all conspiracies. The problem with that is that the JFK assassination is now lumped into a generalized assumption, which institutions generally project, that most conspiracies are either fantasy or paranoid delusions. Furthermore, this assumption insinuates that conspiracy theories are always promoted by fringe types who have managed to dupe large  segments of our population who want to believe that greater, secretive powers are dictating events in our society. Conspiracy, by definition, is an act of criminal treachery by a combination of individuals or forces. We only need to look back in our recent history to political scandals such as Watergate or Iran-Contra to see the potential risk of assuming all conspiracies are baseless fantasies. It may be dangerous for those like Alex Jones or Glenn Beck to promote every wild conspiracy under the sun to enhance their own popularity, but it is equally dangerous to automatically dismiss every potential conspiracy theory as an unfounded hoax. To accept the notion of conspiracy in the death of JFK ultimately means embracing the likelihood of a coup d’├ętat, a possibility which many who hold positions at the highest levels of our nation’s institutions simply do not want to accept. Some in the media in particular believe it is ridiculous to even suggest that a violent overthrow like those which have occurred elsewhere in the world throughout history could occur in America because, after all, we are not a “banana republic.” This kind of thinking is a dangerous hubris and a condescending example of American exceptionalism. The reality, in the end, is that a coup d’├ętat occurred on 11/22/63, demonstrating that it could, in fact, happen in America. 

After the end of World War II, America would morph into a “national security” state, the result being the validation of secrecy and “plausible deniability” at the highest levels of our government. This mindset would allow people of power to conduct a Machiavellian pursuit of power, without accountability, under a cloak of darkness. It is not hard to understand the public’s perception of its leaders eroded from one of trusting that they would follow America’s highest principles to a cynical expectation of malfeasance and deceit. 

In addition, during this era, Americans would also see the subversion of the greatest watchdog of their liberties, the free press. Beginning in the late 1950s, the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird would successfully recruit leading American journalists to promote its point of view. This program would create the term “conspiracy buffs,” a derisive label given to anyone who dared question the Warren Report. This media infiltration goes a long way in explaining the press’s dismissive attitude concerning alternative explanations, an attitude which has persisted more than fifty years.


I, like many who have taken an interest in this case, was initially drawn in by a fascination with the facts of conspiracy which are apparent to anyone who takes more than a cursory look at the assassination, and by a hunger to understand the “who” and “why” behind the case. With the threads of evidence leading in many directions, some have engaged in theories about who the perpetrators were (The CIA? The mob? The military industrial complex? Texas oil and LBJ?) with varying degrees of legitimacy, leaving themselves open to the inevitable label of “conspiracy theorists.” But with, arguably, no legitimate investigation in fifty-three years, what are we left to do but to speculate about what happened in Dallas? In the end, justice will not likely prevail in this case, at least in a legal sense. The bad guys, whoever they were, have succeeded in subverting our democracy, although I am sure that many of them believed they were being “patriotic.” The best resolution we can pursue is a different form of justice, by coming to terms with the truth of our history.