Friday will be the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
, our nation's 35th President. There will be remembrances and memorials, and of course numerous rehashings of theories about how he died and who killed him. Count on ALL mainstream media to support the official version, that a "lone gunman," Lee Harvey Oswald
, committed the crime.
Maybe, maybe not. Credible evidence
exists that the Mafia and/or the CIA were involved in Kennedy's death, in addition to or instead of Oswald. We'll likely never know, and at this point would have doubts no matter what we are told. The one thing we do know is that our President was murdered, and the country has not been the same since.
Of course, it wasn't going to be the same anyway. The march of history is unstoppable, and most of the changes since Kennedy was alive would be happening anyway. Still, we can muse. PBS's Frontline is airing a couple of old documentaries about Oswald, and I responded to one of them
Like the Warren Report, piles and piles of information can be put out about every aspect imaginable related to the Kennedy assassination. None of it will resolve anything, because by this time nothing is trusted.
It doesn't matter greatly what the truth is at this point. If there was a plot to assassinate Kennedy, it was successful. Whatever result was intended has come about. Or not. We don't know.
The country certainly has taken a downward direction since November 22, 1963. There likely wouldn't have been a President Johnson or a President Nixon. The Vietnam war likely wouldn't have been escalated, and we may have gotten out completely. Without a Nixon presidency there wouldn't have been a Watergate.
We probably wouldn't have had a President Reagan, and others that followed, no Iran-Contra, no 911, no invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq,
no 2008 meltdown. No Patriot Act, no Bush regime, no ALEC, Karl Rove, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Keystone XL Pipeline.
One can dream. Kennedy's health may have prevented a second term. The predicament we are now in with climate change and a declining empire and economy would have happened with or without Kennedy. It could be worse.
I think one thing is safe to say: that presidents ever since have looked over their shoulders when considering policy options, especially the current one. Indeed, there has been no president since Kennedy that broke a cultural taboo until Obama. Kennedy had to overcome the prejudice against Catholics. Obama has had the much harder task of overcoming racial bigotry. It has to have affected his choices.
On Frontline's Facebook page
they posed the question "Do you believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, or that he was he part of a conspiracy?" I answered that too:
Belief is in the realm of religion. I don't know if Oswald even acted, much less acted alone. A better question is if Santo Trafficante acted alone. Or E. Howard Hunt. "Reverse engineering" is a term that emerged during the Bush II regime. If we reverse engineer from where we are now to November 22, 1963 we can conclude that the direction the country has taken is pretty clear evidence that something more than a "lone gunman" took place.
Of course, that borders on belief. I believe that the truth is known, that it is different from what we have been told, and that we are unlikely to find out any time soon. I also believe that the answer is somewhat irrelevant.
What difference would it make to the "American" people if the truth were known? Would the country move in the direction that Kennedy was apparently going? Not likely. The country is hooked on various forms of escape, and fair game for manipulation. Combine that with massive ignorance and laziness, and the factual knowledge of how Kennedy died would be just another piece of pop trivia. It would come and go like the wind.
The upshot, for me at least, is that who killed Kennedy is a moot question at this point. We have the present and the future to deal with. We have an infinite growth, fossil fuel based economic system on a finite planet, in a condition of increasingly severe climate change. We have enough difficulty getting the public and elected officials willing to face this reality. No need to overload them with ghosts from the past. In the immortal words of that great sage Jack Nicholson, they can't handle the truth.
The Zapruder film
of the assassination can be seen here
Scientist James Lovelock believes
humans are too stupid to handle the truth.
's Jack Nicholson shouting his classic line.
's another great shout, from Jim Morrison.
Johnny Cash wondered about truth
many years ago.
's another Jim Morrison observation.
might have been inspired by the Warren Report
A year before the assassination the Kingston Trio
had an album called The New Frontier
, kind of a Kennedy homage. I couldn't find a video of it, but here
's the song's author and former trio member John Stewart. You can get a short listen here
. The song that made them famous was Tom Dooley
, in 1959. Original member Dave Guard
joined the Siddha Yoga cult
later in life, long after I had left. He stayed with it until he died in 1991. Here
's an interview with him in about 1989 or so, where he talks about Siddha Yoga.
A couple of weeks after the assassination the Chad Mitchell Trio
performed this medley
at a concert where I was in college. A couple of years later the Byrds recorded this update
of a traditional folk song. Their lead singer and guitarist Roger McGuinn used to be the backup musician for the Chad Mitchell Trio. He used the name Jim instead of Roger.
Most people are familiar with this song
's his biggest hit, in a style known these days as doo-wop. We never called it doo-wop
. We didn't call anything rockabilly
either. Genre dividing-up didn't come about until years later, when wise men needed new categories to talk about and sound like wise men. It also came in handy as a way to make the Grammys more interesting by adding music styles.
I almost forgot this song
are some more songs remembering Kennedy. Some more can be accessed here
When this song
started playing on the radio in February, 1964, the energy shifted, and the country came out of its stupor. I can still remember the first time I heard it. Without being told, I knew intuitively that this was that new group from England that was taking Europe by storm. The sound was so cheerful and refreshing that it made me and millions of others optimistic and ready for some fun.