JFK + 50 - II

Saturday, November 23, 2013

JFK + 50 - II

Dallas 1963

...being a continuation, if not a conclusion.

I think the first conspiracist to capitalize on the JFK As­sassination was attorney Mark Lane with Rush to Judgment, a 1966 volume highly critical of the Warren Commission Report's con­clusion that Lee Harvey Os­wald acted alone and not in concert with others when he fired three rounds into Dealey Plaza at 12:30pm, 22 November 1963.

While I have always loved a good conspiracy1 theory, I was dubious about Lane's thesis... was not the Commission com­prised of good and honorable men?

(This was the mid-'60s, and I was possessed of a cer­tain political naïveté. I shiver at the recollection.)

I wanted to trust those who gainsaid the Warren Com­mis­sion Report because it seemed so unfair that a "one gun­man" with a cheap war surplus rifle2 could so alter history... but then I thought of Gavrilo Princip and what he did to the world with a .380 pistol.

For decades I had my doubts about the official report, es­pecially after the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1978 that there was a high probability of a conspiracy in the killing of the President.

In January 1989, the big Oirish gal who consumed much of my '80s, and I went to Dallas for three days so I could at­tend3 the annual SHOT Show.

By close of the exhibits on Saturday I'd gathered enough catalogues and press packets to keep me in material for months, so Sunday morning we ditched the Convention Center and headed to Dealey Plaza with no specific plan of action... we just wanted to see it in person.

We parked on North Record Street and walked around the corner down to the intersection of North Houston and Elm streets... and immediately separated, both so overcome with emotion neither of us could speak, something I had never experienced before and haven't since.

It was an extraordinary feeling to be in the grip of something that powerful, and it was several minutes before I could recover.

Then I began to look around for elements which had been described in so many reports and narratives: the grassy knoll, the sixth floor window of the Texas Book Depository, the triple underpass and the fence which could have con­cealed a shooter.

While I had been completely unprepared for the surge of emotion which had virtually paralyzed me, my second sur­prise came when I realized just how small Dealey Plaza ac­tu­ally was... it was half the size as I had been led to believe from the photographs and television coverage, and the famous Zapruder film.

Standing in front the fence, I looked up just in time to snap a photo of my companion from a familiar point of view...

Maureen Anne McCarthy, Dealey Plaza, January 1989 from the Grassy Knoll

...and later realized that the degree of difficulty of multiple accurate rifle shots into a slow-moving vehicle was not as great as I had always imagined.

Suddenly, the Warren Commission Report gained some credibility that I'd never thought possible prior to physically visiting the scene.

I still don't think we have all the answers to what really oc­curred that day in November 1963... it's always bothered the bejabbers out of me that there's still sealed files out there which probably won't be made public in my lifetime.

And I'm bothered by the shooting death of Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit approximately 20 minutes following that of JFK, allegedly by the same person, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Very compelling evidence has been presented that Oswald was, in fact, the direct instrument of both men's deaths... but 50 years later I'm still unclear how they are otherwise related. It just feels strange, is all.

And I think that's all I've got to say about any of these matters and any lingering doubts.

It's still difficuly for me to get my mind around what hap­pened in Dallas half-a-century ago... or even that it's been that long.

Notes
  1. The most terrifying movie I've ever seen was 1974's "The Parallax View," which The Guardian calls "a JFK conspiracy film that gets it right."

    I first saw it on August 9, 1974, the date on which Warren Commission member Gerald Ford was ap­pointed President of the United States.
  2. Something the report absolutely had wrong was the firearm recovered from the schoolbook depository: a 6.5 mm Carcano Model 91/38 carbine, not a Mann­licher-Carcano!
  3. I was just getting established in the "gunzines," so SHOT Show attendance was de rigueur if one wanted anything new to write about during the ensuing year!

Comments

1. EastEnd68 said...

I admitted to someone this weekend that 50 years later I'm still "undecided."

Hope you're still around for the big unsealing.
Dean

2. EastEnd68 said...

The unsealing will not happen in our lifetime.
I long suspected that the original 75-year embargo meant that there was evidence that Lyndon Johnson had been involved, and the Government didn't want to cause an armed insurrection.

Dean

3. Hampton West said...

Done a lot of reading on this one over the years, Dean, both conspiracy and non-conspiracy - I have concluded that yep, Oswald did it on his own but there are still a number of unsettling issues,

I suspect the CIA and/or the FBI were more involved with Oswald than has been admitted. The whole involvement with anti-Castro forces and the trip to Mexico City and the CIA producing a picture of Oswald in Mexico City who clearly is not Oswald is bewildering.

Norman Mailer's book on Oswald does a great job of trying to get into the man's mind - worth seeking out.

Will we ever really know?

Mailer's "Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery" is, self-admittedly, "a work of fiction." And as skilled a writer as Mailer is, without offense, I place scarcely more stock in his view of that historical event that I do that of Oliver Stone.

As I've noted elsewhere, not in my lifetime.
Dean

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