The JFK Assassination And The Validity Of The Lone Gunman Theory Essay Examples
One of the defining moments in U.S. history was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and it has created a robust industry of manufacturing conspiracy theories. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs warned young people not to be tricked into believing any piece of anecdotal evidence, and advised them that “when you're young, you look at television and think, there's a conspiracy. But when you get a little older, you realize that's not true. The media is in business to give people exactly what they want” (“Steve Jobs”). There is great deal of conjecture on what happened on November 22,, 1963, but here is what we do know. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) was shot by a sniper during a campaign stop in Dallas Texas (Posner 8). JFK was in Texas for a reason. In the next election he wanted to carry a state that was experiencing Democratic party infighting. He wanted to unite the Democratic party in Texas, and get out the White House and into the public sphere where he could use his personal charisma to encourage solidarity (Talbot 28). He was in a presidential procession of cars, and sitting with his wife Jacqueline. They were joined by Texas Governor John Connally, and his wife Nellie. As the motorcade slowly drifted down Elm street towards Dealey Plaza, JFK was murdered and a suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald, was almost immediately arrested (Posner 14). A lengthy investigation by the Warren Commission, it was concluded that Kennedy was shot by a local man named Lee Harvey Oswald, who was acting alone. However, the suspect was assassinated two days later, by a local nightclub owner named Jack Ruby. The official story was that JFK was assassinated by a lone gunman, who acted alone (Talbot 17). There were many unanswered questions, a ripe landscape foe the cultivation of conspiracy theories.
President Kennedy was a charismatic and beloved American president, and the public wanted answers (Wicker). One week after the incident, President Johnson created the Warren Commission to investigate and report on the assassination. The investigational committee, headed by Chief Justice Earl Warrant concluded Oswald acted alone (Posner 17). The Commission's findings have been analyzed and attacked for over forty years. The JFK assassination is the mother of all conspiracy theories, and many believe there was more than one shooter. In 1964, an overwhelming majority of Americans believed the Warren Commissions findings that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. As the Vietnam War and Watergate eroded public trust in the government, the landscape of American political discourse changed (Talbot 34-35). Fewer Americans trusted the government, and by 2003, a majority of Americans believe that there was a conspiracy to conduct and cover up the assassination (Talbot 34). However, the facts have not changed. The single bullet theory, endorsed by the Warren Commission and supported by medical examination, postulate that the bullet hit President Kennedy in his back and exited out of his throat. Governor Connally was seated in front of Kennedy, and was struck by the same bullet (Talbot 38).
There are multiple alternative theories about what really happened, and who was behind the assassination (Hersch 14). Many critics of the single bullet theory believe the government covered up information surrounding the assassination. The government, and particularly the CIA are often cited as potential conspirators. The mechanics of this conspiracy vary widely, however there are some common themes. One theory explore Kennedy’s peacemaking efforts. He had been mediating tensions between the U.S and communist powers, including the Soviet Union and Cuba. Most importantly, Kennedy was interested in avoiding further U.S involvement in the Vietnam War (Posner 66). The argument is that pro-Cia, and anti-Communist provocateurs wanted to eliminate Kennedy to pursue a CIA agenda to pursue an aggressive involvement in Vietnam. Some theories revolve around the idead that Kennedy wanted to reorganize the CIA. Kennedy allegedly told a member of his administration that he wanted to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds" (Wicker). To feed fuel to this fire, the CIA were not transparent in the wake of the assassination. The CIA regularly ignored journalists and censored important information. When journalists filed Freedom of Information Act requests, the CIA reported that there were over 2,000 pages of information related to the JFK assassination that could not be released because of national security (Talbot 214).
Other theories focus on Kennedy’s involvement with organized crime. In his book Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, John H. Davis describes how a Sicilian mafia boss named Carlos Marcello threatened to kill Kennedy to punish or intimidate his brother, Robert Kennedy, who as Attorney General wanted to stamp out the mafia in the U.S. In 2006, information from the FBI led to speculation that Macello allegedly confessed to a cellmate that he ordered the assassination and the FBI covered-up the crime to further their own agenda (Davis 14). The connection between Oswald’s killer Jack Ruby to organized crime has also been explored as potential evidence of Mafia involvement.More credible sources also concluded that there were connections between Kennedy, Oswald, Ruby and organized crime. Respected investigative reporter Jack Anderson argued that Fidel Castro worked with the Mafia to assassinate Kennedy.
There are many reasons why the JFK assassination is such a hotly contested issue fifty years after it happened. Forensic science, medical technology and media coverage were much different in 1963. Today, it is easy to speculate what happened, and use the internet to blast theories out into cyberspace. Despite information that has been released since the assassination, the single bullet lone gunman theory is the most persuasive. It is too easy to analyze all the information and project modern biases and speculation on a case that was not ignored or covered-up. If there was some scrap of evidence that Kennedy was murdered, someone would have definitively stood up and exposed the conspiracy by now. Almost everyone involved is dead, and no one has ever come forward with any substantial or conclusive evidence.
When it comes to the JFK assassination, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that points towards conspiracy. In Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, David Talbot meticulously describes the Kennedy’s world, and was told by attorney general Nicholas Katzenbach that "I'm as certain as one can be that there was no other gun shot But it's not silliness to speculate that someone was behind Oswald I'd almost bet on the Cubans." (Talbot, 290) It is only “conspiracy theorists” that believe that something strange was going on behind the scenes during the Kennedy administration. However, anecdotal evidence will not suffice to reach a definitive conclusion on the JFK assassination.
Davis, John F. Mafia Kingfish. Signet Book, 1989.
Hersh, Seymour M., and John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The dark side of Camelot. London:
Posner, Gerald. Case closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of JFK. Open
Road Media, 2013.
"Steve Jobs on the Next Great Big Thing." Wired Magazine. N.p., 01 Feb. 1996. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/4.02/jobs_pr.html>.
Talbot, David. Brothers: The hidden history of the Kennedy years. Simon and Schuster,
Wicker, Tom; John W. Finney; Max Frankel; E. W. Kenworthy (April 25, 1966)."C.I.A.: Maker of Policy, or Tool? Survey Finds Widely Feared Agency Is Tightly Controlled". The New York Times (New York). p. 20
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