I was six years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. We were running around the playground at Willow Street Elementary when the news shot through the crowds of kids playing on the macadam. I remember standing there shocked for a few moments. Then it sunk in how bad it really was that someone could shoot the president.
Nothing in life that has happened since has changed that view. The shootings that followed the death of JFK included Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These were civil rights leaders. Someone was out to get them.
Wikipedia describes the King murder this way:
“The King family and others believe that the assassination was carried out by a conspiracy involving the U.S. government, as alleged by Loyd Jowers in 1993, and that (James Earl) Ray was a scapegoat. In 1999 the King family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jowers for the sum of $10 million. During closing arguments, the Kings’ attorney asked the jury to award damages of $100, to make the point that “it was not about the money”. During the trial both the family and Jowers presented evidence alleging a government conspiracy. The government agencies accused could not defend themselves or respond because they were not named as defendants. Based on the evidence, the jury concluded that Jowers and others were “part of a conspiracy to kill King” and awarded the Kings $100. The allegations and the finding of the Memphis jury were later rejected by the United States Department of Justice in 2000 due to lack of evidence.”
The parallels between the JFK and MLK murders are rather spooky, specifically the notion that James Earl Ray was the scapegoat at the front of a conspiracy to kill King. The same could be said about Lee Harvey Oswald, whose story may be illuminated further by the release of files associated with the JFK case. But don’t hold your breath.
Like everyone I have my beliefs about the motives and methods behind the killing of JFK, RFK and MLK. I also deeply mourned the murder of John Lennon, and yes, the shooting of President Ronald Reagan. I admit that I was one who despised Reagan’s politics and everything he stood for, but gun violence is not the solution to anything. Ever. It is significant that one of his protectors, James Brady, went on to become a strong gun control advocate.
Actually being shot and nearly losing your life sheds an interesting light on what the current interpretation of the Second Amendment actually delivers in terms of personal freedom. Ask John Lennon if his personal freedom was protected, or any one of the thousands killed by gun violence every year.
I’ve had guns pointed at me several times in life. There is no freedom in that at all. Nor is there freedom in the idea that I should be required to carry a weapon in order to feel free in this world. It’s a farce, and a conspiracy based on lies to enrich a very small segment of this nation while impoverishing the national spirit with vigilantism.
The open conspiracy in America right now is the patent dismissal of the first phrase in the Second Amendment (A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…) in favor of a highly liberal interpretation of the second phrase of the Second Amendment. “The right to bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Light it up
I will credit the daft and blithe shallowness of Reaganism for lighting a political fire under my lifelong liberalism. I was 22 when Ronnie was elected, and saw through his reputation as the Great Communicator right from the start. I distrusted the Reagan Youth in their Polo shirts with popped collars. They were nasty conformists for the most part, desperate to get along and go along in hopes of being swept up in some promise of trickle-down riches and prosperity. Which proved that Reagan was nothing more than a Great Resonator, capable of saying things that a rabidly selfish America longed to hear. His perverse echo lives on today with the likes of Donald Trump.
When Reagan was elected, I was just starting out in the work world. My college education included a healthy mix of biology, religion, literature and art. I also ran my guts out in mile after mile of training for track and cross country. During all those miles, I’d ponder the subjects at hand, including one semester of study in existentialism, the irreversibility of time and the disturbing notion of Sartre that “hell was other people.”
That’s pretty true, just not all the time. I actually love and crave the company of other people. Even when I’m out riding on country roads west of town, reveling in the solitude or thin companionship with one or two other riders, I relish the return to civilization too. The jokes and messing around. The commiseration of mutual suffering. The sweat.
But some people in society sink so low into personal isolation they cannot grip reality any more. That’s how so many turn into assassins. They find a target for their loneliness and hate, and then pull the trigger on their anger. The media wonders aloud, “What was the shooter’s motive?” the headlines cry. But there is no motive needed any more. Guns are the motive. They are the fulfillment of an isolated destiny, which is why so many shooters turn the guns on themselves. They are finishing off their anger and loneliness, their disenfranchisement with society, or their heroes.
The potential for murder used to be confined to single-shot weapons, and handguns still commit the bulk of gun crimes. But semi-automatic weapons now enable solo assassins to act like their own personal army. Now, one could argue that a person with certain type of gun is an army of one.
The army of one
But consider this, if Lee Harvey Oswald truly acted alone, he did more to defeat the spirit of America with a single rifle than the Soviet Union and Cuba combined. But if Oswald did not act alone, and I do not believe he did, there was something much more disturbing going on. There was a conspiracy to kill the President.
Kennedy had made enemies with the Mob, threatened to rip the CIA apart and was pulling the country toward racial equality which was not a happy subject with millions of bigoted minds. So there were plenty of people that hated John F. Kennedy. That same brand of hatred has lived on in conspiratorial fashion and dog-whistle politics in the fifty-plus years since JFK was shot. Donald Trump just brought it back into the light.
Yet it’s interesting that Donald Trump is also openly suspicious of what he calls the Deep State. That would be people acting within government to undermine elected officials, including the President. So he’s proudly announced that he’s allowing release of the JFK files…as if it was his own personal idea. Actually the approval was given long before his election, but Trump thinks it his right to claim ownership of everything he sets eyes on, or anything that can help his frequently twisted cause.
Facts and conspiracies
I’ve played in enough team sports and functioned in enough professional capacities to understand how groupthink develops and how it functions. I’ve seen people quickly turn into “winner-take-all” advocates who forget that they’re supposed to play by the rules. That happens in American government quite frequently, and even the deeply conservative icon Ronald Reagan had to confess to the backroom conspiratorial works of Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy who orchestrated highly illegal arms deals in the Iran-Contra affair.
Likewise the conspiracy to attack Iraq in the wake of 9/11 was hatched in conspiratorial fashion by a Bush regime following a blueprint mapped out long before the Republican Party took office. These are facts, not conspiracies.
Facts are nothing more than yesterday’s conspiracies that have come into the light of day. Every plan on earth is a secret until someone else finds out about it. Personally I’ve hatched plots to win running races on my own, making plans long in advance that I would share with no one. At its most extreme, conspiracy is nothing more than one’s darkest wishes and fervent hopes eventually acted upon.
So the files that are released about the assassination of JFK may hold nothing new. But if they do reveal the tendency of governments to obscure and hide the truth from the public as a rule, that would be a watershed moment for the nation.
Then it remains for the country to address the fact that
- collusion is a form of conspiracy that is active across a broad spectrum
- that it was highly manipulated data & info, not facts that actually drove the election
- the propagation of conspiracies as facts now threatens our nation and our world.
- calling something ‘fake news’ is a propagandistic attempt to gaslight the populace
So it’s no longer the terrorists we most have to worry about. It is people who cannot be honest about their intentions, who try to pass health care bills without budgetary scrutiny or peer review. Who operate with singular intent for self-benefit only, and claim to represent the interests of all. And who make a habit of lying in order to avoid true responsibility or accountability.
The prime example of authoritarian defiance
That little kid who heard about the death of John F. Kennedy way back on the playground already knew many things about the laws of relationship and survival in this world. That’s what playgrounds are for. It’s amazing how much our instincts are formed by that age, and so early. We only need experience to confirm them, and a mind open to the realities of how the world works, for good or bad.
I still have faith in this world, but not in the sense that I trust people of supposed authority to do the right thing. None other than Jesus Christ was a bold opponent of the religious authorities of his day. That “brood of vipers” and “hypocrites” that Jesus accused of abusing God’s trust were those who conspired to have him captured and killed.
Do we thus call the death of Christ a conspiracy theory? If so, be prepared for some bad treatment. The keepers of authoritarian religion are some of the most murderous bastards in all the universe. They consider the whole world their playground, and engage in mad crusades and murderous holocausts to rule their turf. They are the playground bullies who force their will on others.
In the scope of that history, the mere killing of a President by a conspiracy of CIA operatives and Mob buddies seems like small potatoes.
But we’ll see what the JFK files say if anything, about all that.