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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February 3, 2015: American Conspiracy Theories: JFK

[Americans sure can believe some cray cray things. That’s right, I said cray cray. In this week’s series, I’ll AmericanStudy five such conspiracy theories, past and present. Please share your own conspiracy theories—ones you believe, or just ones you find interesting and worth studying—for a suspicious weekend post!]
On two ways to AmericanStudy the one assassination we can’t quite accept.
There have been lots of assassinations, successful and attempted, in American history, and as far as I can tell in every case but one we’ve collectively accepted the identity of the individual who pulled the trigger. From John Wilkes Booth to Leon Czolgosz, James Earl Ray to Sirhan Sirhan, Squeaky Fromme to John Hinckley, each of these assassins or attempted assassins was driven by his or her own unique and complex motivations, and some were certainly part of larger communal conspiracies—such as Booth and his cohort of Confederates or Fromme and the Manson family. Yet despite such connections, and notwithstanding the kinds of questions or uncertainties that surround any historical crime, I would argue that only one American assassination has been subject to consistent, comprehensive suspicions and conspiracy theories: Lee Harvey Oswald’s shooting of President John F. Kennedy.
So why has the Kennedy assassination been so singularly controversial? I think there are a couple AmericanStudies explanations for that trend. (To be clear, books—many, many books—have been written about the Kennedy assassination and its conspiracy theories, and I’m sure that the angles I’ll cover here are part of those existing conversations.) For one thing, as the famous 1960 televised debate between Kennedy and Richard Nixon demonstrates, this was a new era in American media, one in which television had just begun to change the way we received and understood our news and our society. Perhaps no single moment better illustrates that change than the live televised shooting of Oswald by troubled Dallas businessman Jack Ruby. And it seems to me that seeing such an event on live television might well lead to more visceral responses to and varied speculations about it than reading a report on the shooting in the next day’s newspaper, or hearing a reporter’s description of it on the radio. Ironically, that is, the end of the same presidency that began in no small measure because of the power of television and new media has been forever clouded by those same factors.
There’s another side to the media coverage of the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath, though: the power of one very determined, definitely extremist person to utilize the media to advance and perpetuate his ideas. I’m referring of course to Jim Garrison, the New Orleans District Attorney who became and has remained the leading proponent and symbol of the JFK conspiracy theories. As the pieces linked under “definitely extremist” and “perpetuate his ideas” indicate, Garrison seems to represent some of the most unlikely and even absurd sides to those theories—yet he was able to present them in media-savvy and convincing ways, to the point where he sufficiently swayed filmmaker Oliver Stone that Stone made Garrison (as played by Kevin Costner) the famous centerpiece of his controversial film JFK (1991). And in techniques like its blending of archival footage with “re-created” (fictionalized) scenes, Stone’s film extended this use of media images and narratives, making it that much harder to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the most prominent and enduring conspiracy theory in American history.
Next conspiracy theory tomorrow,

PS. What do you think? Other conspiracy theories you’d highlight?

1 comment:

  1. LHO SHOOT _ or was Others -in a COSPIRACY - Facts below.
    testimony of Mrs. Earlene Roberts was taken at 4:10 p.m., on April 8, 1964, She came forward with L H O came in _ changed his clothes,than she heard a cop car honk ,then L H O left to get on bus.Earlene Roberts is a sister of bertha Cheeks that Jack Ruby wanted to go in business with her .Earlene Roberts 1026 N Beckley.which is the same address : Lee Harvey Oswald and John Jack Carter Friend Wanda Joyce Killam Entertainer Carousel Club.That is 1.Earlene 2.Bertha 3.Jack 4.Wanda husband Henry Killam..That connect Lee Harvey Oswald to Jack Ruby Carousel Club. lot of people in Texas and New Orleans have stated they have seen Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald together.1.Anna Lewis (husband David Lewis,knew Jackmartin, guy banister,David Ferrie,ClayShaw,.2.Frances Irene Hise 3.Don Stewart 4.Charles Arndt 5.Robert K. Patterson Harrison daughter/neice7.Margaret Cartland Husband.8,Billy Briggs Ruby bandleader.9.Mr Mrs Dick Loomis 10.Wilburn Waldon Litchfield,11.Clyde Malcolm Limbough12.John Merrick 13.Emory the Barber,14.Dixie Lynn Stripper 15.Numerous Jack ruby strippers and Employees -even Mark Lane recorded some of them.16.Nancy Powell tammy True 17.Gene Davis Ship Ahoy
    18.Coffee house Drive In 5060 W Lovers Lane (people there)
    19.Clyde Malcolm Limbough 20.Leander D'Avery 21.EtC.
    They all cant be Wrong Someone must be Right -Above?
    Infor provided by John Armstrong Collection ..MaryFarrell,archiveOrg.(David Ferrie pictured LHo 1955CAP)
    LHO 126 ChangePlace Knew Edward Vogel,Beauregard Junior High School,Edward Vogel visit Oswald at his apartment cause
    he was in the area cause he supposed to take music lessons.
    David Ferrie interviewed he even knew Edward Vogel florist.
    Lee Harvey Oswald & Edward Vogel went civil air patrol together.