|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.
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.