Looking back today with new information and new insights, it is possible to put together an informed historical speculation of what happened to President Kennedy and why. I believe that what happened at Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963, was a coup d’état. I believe it was instigated and planned long in advance by fanatical anticommunists in the United States intelligence community …
Those words are taken from Jim Garrison’s book On the Trail of the Assassins. I first read that book in 1988, and have been intending to re-read it for some time now. I purchased a copy at Powell’s Books in Portland last year and mailed it to myself at home, but the package arrived half-empty, probably ending up in a postal warehouse floor somewhere. Finally I ordered a copy from Amazon a couple of weeks ago.
It’s a well-written and easily readable book assembled in narrative fashion following Garrison’s own awakenings. The Kennedy assassination is more than just the death of a man, but rather a portal. Once through it, once it is realized the machinations required to pull off that monstrous crime and then cover it up, one loses patriotism, faith in our government, even love of our country. For that reason, I don’t recommend it. Maybe you are better off not knowing how they make sausage.
I cited Garrison’s words above because I remember reading them 26 years ago. I cringed. I was an anticommunist, and the idea that my people would do this awful thing was unacceptable! No one, and I mean no one, misunderstood the world more deeply than I, save perhaps Swede. But I was Swede back then through and through, smug and sure of it all even though clueless.
I decided that I’d have to set it right and so set out to solve the Kennedy murder. This led me on a course of reading and questioning, wanting to know more about Vietnam and Cuba … A person cannot read with such vigor and still hold on to a misshapen world view. I had to crack. It was a little thing, a mere passage in a book wherein it was proven beyond doubt that in a matter of minor importance the US State Department publicly lied, as did the Cuban-American community in Florida, while the Fidel Castro government in Cuba was telling the world the truth.
One little thing. I often say to my kids (who think I am delusional about such matters as this) and others that perhaps one day one reed of truth will find its way to them, and they will slowly begin to change, to see more, understand more, and finally see the logs roll from their eyes. But it does not happen. Far from it. These days all our government need do to tell a lie and have it believed is to move its lips. There seems no guile among the public, among journalists, teachers, academics, public officials. The country seems so dumbed down, and so utterly corrupt.
Has it always been this way? Have I just come of age while others were watching football and Dancing With the Stars? I suppose so. I suppose that trying to understand the world better has its drawbacks, one of which is that one might actually understand the world better.
Ted Turner, speaking of other things, referred to this activity, this pursuit of truth, as kicking the shins of power and ending up with a broken toe. He’s right. Why do we do it? Why do we bother? The legions of Swedes and Talbots and Conners and Pogies of this world will never get it, and worse yet, will never know they don’t get it. There’s no vindication in store, no dramatic final act before the closing curtain. There is no point in knowing what is true.
Except to satisfy myself, my own conscience, my own manhood and intelligence. The truth is worth pursuing even if it means that we who do so must endure some indignities. In the end, we who do it have our sacred honor, our integrity.
Is that enough? Tonight I am not sure.
Tomorrow we head off on a five-day hike towards Milford Sound, no Internet. If someone had told me twenty-six years ago that I’d be living in Colorado with a different (and beautiful) wife and traveling the whole world, hiking the Alps and Himalayas and Andes and now New Zealand, I’d not have believed it. But for a little thing here and there, it all might have worked out differently.