“Does it really matter who shot JFK and from what rooftop?
- Donald Sutherland to Kevin Costner in Oliver Stone’s JFK
Now that the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has passed, perhaps the answer is no. But a final thought about human nature is in order.
The event, like all the wars and tragedies before it, will soon recede into the past. One day, all those with first-hand knowledge will be dead and the caviling among conspiracy theorists and people who believe that Lee Harvey Oswald alone killed JFK may linger for a brief while. Eventually, however, it will end, probably not with a bang but a whimper. The assassination will be relegated to the vagaries of history books – the moving hand writes and having writ moves on.
The majority of Americans who believe a probable conspiracy recently received a late boost from a high-ranking source, Secretary of State John Kerry, who sent a Parthian shot and weighed in on his belief in a conspiracy. Pace Sutherland, Kerry advanced no theory on what person indeed shot JFK or from what rooftop, the hallmark of the conspiracy. Without facts, how can one know how the CIA actually engineered the crime.
In this respect, circumstances have created questions apart from the actual crime, questions that involve the aforementioned human nature, something most conspiracy theorists put little faith in. The passage of fifty years means those intellectually honest conspiracy theorists, as opposed to the ideologues, the ignorant, paranoid, the fortune and fame seekers, ultimately have an obligation to address not simply the events of 11/22/63, but what has happened since –things that involve the way ordinary people behave.
Conspiracies demand cover-ups. They could not happen otherwise. Many, if not most, JFK assassination theories require involvement by many people, who either deliberately participated in a cover-up or deliberately lied. Some theories extend to highest levels of government and others involve our most trusted members of society - doctors, lawyers, military officials. Over five decades some of these people must have told family members or friends confidentially about their involvement in the crime of the century. In fifty years, that means hundreds, possibly more, who might have guilty knowledge. But no one, including family and friends, has ever come forward with a credible admission they covered up or willingly lied to cover-up; not a single son, daughter, lover or friend has ever followed his or her conscience and opened up. How could that be?
Two families in particular have much to gain from providing evidence to debunk the Warren Commission narrative - the Kennedys and the Oswalds. Yet no one from either family has ever done so. Robert Kennedy, the country’s top law enforcement official, had more incentive and means at his disposal than anyone; JFK was his brother and best friend. But RFK never did anything to disprove the official report. Why?
In the next half century, the entire Kennedy family, including brothers, children and grandchildren, with virtually unlimited resources, has never advanced any concrete proof the official theory was wrong (they are curiously reluctant to speak publicly). Some, including Robert Kennedy Jr., say they disbelieve the official report but evidence to that effect is never forthcoming. Likewise Lee Oswald’s brother would want to demonstrate his brother’s innocence, or at least mitigate it. But he never has. Nor has Oswald’s wife. In all that time, nothing from either family. The same for the families of Jack Ruby and Lyndon Johnson. What possible reason other than there is nothing there?
Likewise, no one has ever advanced a coherent alternative narrative to the official story that could withstand even the most casual scrutiny. No credible counter-theory that actually explains the actual physical evidence - not simply the true identity of an alternative assassin, but no alternative theory with specific details how the crime was actually carried out that matches the wounds, bullet trajectories, forensics, and ballistics of the crime. Despite all those years and all those millions of pages written, amazingly, not a single consistent narrative among all the claims of Government involvement, triangulation of fire, grassy knoll shooters, and umbrella men.
Among all the lawyers with the assassination investigation, from those on the Warren Commission to those on the House Committee to some of the most brilliant conspiracy theorists, not one in fifty years has ever brought a successful case into court actually challenging any major aspect of the assassination story. People with extensive investigative and legal expertise are willing to speak in forums, write books, and go on television but curiously they have stayed out of court for fifty years. Again, does that make sense? In general, conspiracy theorists are inclined to tailor facts to fit personal preconceptions. Minds are made up to believe something and if facts contradict that preconception, facts are beaten into submission till they are silenced. In this case, there remains the further advantage of being able to cite unreleased Government documents, some of which will not be released in our lifetime.
Perhaps these documents contain the Rosetta Stone - they will show a small band of CIA conspiratorial masterminds or maybe a group of Castro agents who coerced Oswald and knew he would not talk if captured. Possible, but not likely. More likely, the released documents would just encourage even more theories.
So Donald Sutherland’s question remains viable for all conspiracy theorists, “Does it matter who and from what rooftop?” And the answer to that depends on your view of human nature. .:
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