Interest in JFK conspiracies dwindling as other fantasies get online attention
A majority in a recent poll still do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. But the figure is lower than at any point since John F Kennedy’s assassination. What’s going on?
Lee Harvey Oswald. “The sad preponderance of other lone nuts with guns may have helped sway opinions. Barely a week goes by without some maniac causing unimaginable tragedy for no good reason. The theory that great conspiracies must surround significant crimes no longer carries quite so much weight.” Photograph: Reuters
Why has so little been said about the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination? Yes, there have been 20 or 30 documentaries on the telly. True, newspapers have published the odd weighty supplement. Films such as Parkland and The Butler feature in our cinemas. But that’s all. Doesn’t that strike you as a little odd? It’s almost as if THEY are trying to hide something from us.
There is a dangerous theory abroad about that notorious incident. It was raised briefly 50 years ago. But, in the intervening years, other less emotionally threatening orthodoxies have bullied the worrying notion aside. Here it is. A lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald – acting without any direct assistance from the CIA, the Mafia, the Cubans or the North Vietnamese – shot John F Kennedy from the Texas School Book Depository. THEY don’t want you to know this.
A few decades ago this notion was the preserve of deranged crackpots. Everybody “knew” that at least one shot came from the front (it didn’t). Everybody “knew” that the arrest of several tramps in a nearby railway siding threw up further suspicions (it didn’t).
Anybody who, while admitting the sloppiness of the Warren Commission’s methodologies, agreed with that body’s eventual findings was, at best, a hopelessly naive bumpkin or, at worst, a reactionary stooge in hock to the military-industrial complex (I may be the former, but I’m certainly not the latter).
But the mad premise stated above is slowly gaining traction. A majority of those recently polled by Gallup still do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. But the figure – some 61 per cent of US respondents – is lower than at any point since the assassination. What’s going on?
Time is a factor. After five long decades, not one believable conspirator has come out of the woodwork. The chaotic bungling that, a decade later, characterised the Watergate fiasco confirmed just how hard it is to successfully cover up even the pettiest of conspiracies.
Richard Nixon’s “plumbers” couldn’t plant a few bugs without bringing down the president. How much trickier would it be to suppress details of a complex plan to assassinate the commander-in-chief?
The sad preponderance of other lone nuts with guns may also have helped sway opinions. Barely a week goes by without some maniac causing unimaginable tragedy for no good reason. The theory that great conspiracies must surround significant crimes no longer carries quite so much weight.