This week marks the 43rd anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination by a pro-Castro Marxist moonbat in Dallas, Tex. Well, that’s if you believe little things like photographs, eyewitnesses, spousal testimony, ballistics, fingerprints, personal history, the suspect’s pattern of assassination attempts, motive, opportunity, and an incriminating flight complete with cop killing.
For the rest of America, especially the tinfoil hat crowd, this week is the 43rd anniversary of JFK being killed by Castro, right-wing extremists opposed to Castro, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, the mafia, the Soviets, the Elks’ Lodge, magic bullets, the second gunman, the third gunman, the grassy knoll, the Klan, the CIA, the FBI and quite possibly public television viewers like you.
I used to believe that the strange and mutually contradicting conspiracy theories that sprang up around the JFK assassination like a cottage industry in a nuthouse were a unique phenomenon. Such wild-eyed fantasy resulted, I thought, only because the killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was himself assassinated before his trial and conviction under a mountain of evidence that far surpasses that in 99% of murder cases.
But events since then have convinced me that Oswald could have confessed, wrote a book called “I Did It!” and presented film of himself actually pulling the trigger on international television and it would have made very little difference to those who peddle and purchase conspiracy pulp like so much mental junk food. What the JFK conspiracy culture really owes its existence to is an innate human will to believe in conspiracies. September 11 convinced me of that—or, more specifically, the conspiracy theories that have grown up around September 11.
None of the 9/11 hijackers claimed to be “patsies.” There is no dispute over their desire to commit the act, for which they planned and trained for years. Many left wills and martyrdom statements. The leaders of the organization to which they belonged, including Osama Bin Laden, have admitted on video that al Qaeda planned and executed the attacks. Victims on the planes made cell phone calls describing the hijackings in real time. The impacts of the two of the hijacked planes were caught on numerous videotapes, and witnessed by thousands in person. Yet hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans believe that the attacks were perpetrated by … George W. Bush.
To these people, the terrorists are fictional, the planes were drones, the twin towers were collapsed in a controlled implosion, and the CIA planned it all, as did Halliburton—all to create a war for oil in Afghanistan which has no oil, so that George W. Bush could use the war as an excuse to end democracy and remain in power forever by invading Iraq and thus controlling the outcome of the elections that the GOP just lost in a landslide.
Well, that’s the American nut version.
In the Muslim nut world, the hijackers are heroes for blowing up the towers, but the Muslim world cannot be blamed since the towers were blown up by the Mossad, after all Jews were carefully and quietly evacuated.
In Chavez’s nut run Venezuela, the parliament recently passed a resolution declaring as historical fact that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by Bush to justify imperialism against the good people of the world, such as Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Ayatollah Khamenei, and Fidel Castro.
Then there is the halfway house of paranoid moderates who believe that the attack was perpetrated by the terrorists that claim it, but who think that Bush and Cheney knew about it in advance and let it happen anyway to justify their war for no oil—just as FDR knew all about Pearl Harbor but let that happen to justify his aggressive war for Toyotas. Depending on your perspective, such middling nuts either have the good sense to be embarrassed by their beliefs, or lack the balls to admit what they really wish to believe.
And as I’ve said, conspiratorial bizarro-history is all about the will to believe. It must say something about people that, presented with a straightforward (if shocking) story, they ignore it and substitute one that they find more emotionally satisfying. Although what, exactly, such self-delusion says about our species is a little unclear to me still.
Perhaps, for some, there is a basic insecurity in the idea that a group of hateful primitives could topple towers in Manhattan using simple box cutters and bravado, or that a loser incapable of holding a steady job could strike down a great man with three shots from a cheap surplus rifle. Imagining a bigger, more powerful, perpetrator might be comforting in a strange way—a means of relegating the bogeyman back to improbability.
For others, the obvious perpetrator might be unacceptable, ungratifying, or self-incriminating. I’m sure that the “blame America first” crowd finds 9/11 a challenge to their self-loathing predisposition to sympathize with the foreign adversary. This is a challenge some have resolved by hallucinating a domestic adversary instead. Likewise, much of the mainstream left in the 1960s must have found it hard to admit that it was a committed leftist that killed President Kennedy. So they imagined that he was a false leftist created by the CIA or Jimmy Hoffa or the John Birch Society or someone—anyone but the radical fringe of their own movement.
Still others accept the truth in their hearts but find an alternative explanation more useful. “’They’ shot Bobby” is a rallying cry more relevant in domestic politics than “A Palestinian terrorist obsessed with Israel got a lucky break and assassinated Robert Kennedy over foreign policy.” The fact that RFK’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, was caught, confessed, and convicted is thus simply brushed over by many, while the real nuts believe Sirhan was a helpless meat puppet hypnotized by the right-wingers at the CIA, who spotted his susceptibility to hypnosis when he volunteered at a hypnotist’s stage show. “Cluck like a chicken.” “Good. Now go kill RFK!” Very believable.
But for many, I think the will to believe in the grand conspiracy has decidedly non-ideological motivations. It just feels good to believe that one is part of the initiated minority that knows the actual story. For this group, history is a Gnostic phenomenon in which the real truth is passed from believer to believer outside the official scripture. Let the common fools believe the pabulum they are fed by the history books, you and I know what really happened.
That’s what makes us so smart. We know that JFK was actually assassinated by a 17-year-old George W. Bush in order ensconce fellow Texan Lyndon Johnson in the White House, thus laying the historical background necessary to facilitate Lady Bird Johnson’s highway beautification scheme years later—a scheme that encourages oil consumption by brainwashed pleasure drivers entranced by the wafting aroma of beautiful mind-controlling uber-poppies. Oh, and Halliburton.
Sometimes you’ve just got to be proud to be Homo sapiens. We’re the smartest apes ever. My sympathy to the chimpanzees.