Conspiracists and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy
By Dr. Cory Franklin via ChicagoTribune.com
The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy approaches, and debate begins anew. The evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK, and nearly as overwhelming that Oswald acted alone. However, history is never completely settled, and the conspiracy theorists are out and about. Many, motivated by profit or fame, are more eager to engage in ad hominem tactics than discuss facts. But some are honest and intelligent, and they deserve a hearing. How to separate them? Ten rules to follow when engaging a conspiracy theorist. Avoid anyone who:
1. Cites Oliver Stone‘s “JFK” as a source
Oliver Stone is an accomplished film director, and his 1991 film “JFK” is powerful. However, it is far removed from historical accuracy. Whatever Stone’s motives, the movie is full of distortions and outright falsehoods. The result features real historical characters in a crime-fiction fantasy, essentially a propaganda piece meant to demonize a covert, evil, right-wing paramilitary group.
2. Cites Jim Garrison as a source
In 1967, Garrison, the New Orleans prosecutor, launched the only prosecution arising out of the assassination. He gained worldwide attention with his accusations. The courtroom is the actual crucible, and Garrison’s prosecution of the Louisiana businessman he suspected of involvement was quickly laughed out of court. Today, most conspiracy theorists have disowned Garrison.
3. Claims the Secret Service accidentally killed JFK
A documentary on cable television this fall, based on a 1992 book, revives the theory that a Secret Service agent in a trail car accidentally discharged his weapon and fired the fatal shot. Despite its implausibility — nine people, including agents and Kennedy aides, were present and no one testified that the agent’s weapon was fired — the theory has gained new currency. Supporters include popular New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell and baseball savant Bill James. Before he died, the agent vehemently denied the allegation and filed a libel suit against the book’s publishers. Rather than go to court, the publishers paid him a confidential monetary settlement.
4. Claims the limo driver killed JFK
There are actually people who believe the Secret Service agent driving the JFK limo turned around, pulled a gun and killed him. Such people should not be trusted with sharp objects. Watch the Zapruder film.
5. Ties the murders of JFK and RFK together
I once rented a copy of “JFK,” and the teenager at Blockbuster (in his mid-30s by now) assured me of the movie’s accuracy. I engaged him by referring to Robert Kennedy, the attorney general who also happened to be the president’s brother. I asked, “How could all these conspirators have escaped undetected when the top law enforcement officer in the country, with every investigative tool at his disposal, was the president’s brother? Wouldn’t he have wanted this uncovered?” Without a hint of irony, the teenager looked at me earnestly and said, “Don’t forget, they killed Robert Kennedy, too.”
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