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An American Danse Macabre
Loudmouths and celebrity riffraff from the right and the left are uniting around crazy new twists in JFK conspiracy theories - A guest post, by Fred Litwin.
Real Story subscribers will remember my friend Fred Litwin from a guest post he wrote last summer, Grovelling at the feet of Le Grand Complotiste. It was a withering rebuke of the cultural grandees of Quebec City and the swooning journalists from Radio-Canada and the Montreal Gazette who laid out every Film Festival tapis rouge for the yesteryear Hollywood homophobe and high-society crackpot Oliver Stone.
Dimly-remembered for his years-ago blockbuster feature films Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, and of course, JFK (the dramatized account of what movie-goers were never told was in real life an ugly plot to pin President Kennedy’s assassination on an innocent gay man), Stone had by last summer long since turned to documentary-style hagiographies of absolutely terrible people. Among them was Stone’s four-hour 2017 sycophancy devoted to genocidal Russian warmonger Vladimir Putin, and another was 2021’s Qazaq: History of the Golden Man, an eight-hour celebration of Kazakhstan’s greasy strongman, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
But there he was, star of the Quebec Film Festival. And of course Stone took the opportunity of his lavishly-subsidized accommodations in Quebec to showcase the absurdly revisionist documentary, JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass. How edgy! Such a controversial artiste!
Fred was having none of it, so last June, Fred gave ‘em what for. And he’s back with us today.
Fred’s just published a new book, out only days ago, titled: Oliver Stone's Film-Flam: The Demagogue of Dealey Plaza, a merciless and exhaustively researched debunking of Stone’s imbecilities. Fred’s weblog can be found right here. Fred’s also the author of the wickedly amusing I Was A Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak, the similarly uproarious Conservative Confidential - Inside the Fabulous Blue Tent, and On the Trail of Delusion, an important multi-megaton demolition of Oliver Stone’s hero, the New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who claimed to have ‘solved’ the JFK assassination in 1967.
Fred’s Real Story inquiry today is of immediate relevance in light of the persistent mayhem made of North American politics and culture by the Trumpist far-right and the avant-garde left. Having mostly moved on from 911 conspiracy theories into darkly elaborate Covid-19 delusions, some of the best-known personalities in the leftwing-rightwing brainrot alliance are now congregating around a new iteration of the mother of all conspiracy theories: Who killed John F. Kennedy?
So put your feet up. It’s going to be a fun.
The Undead Walk Among Us Again.
By Fred Litwin
There was always a zombie undercurrent at the fringes of the Democratic Party and liberal popular culture where it was commonplace to encounter people who simply could not bring themselves to believe that the assassination of the dashing and beloved young American president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was carried off by a lone Castro-loving Marxist.
Nowadays you’re just as likely to encounter a crowd of similarly confident disbelievers on the Trump-fancying right, where it’s all the rage to bang on about the waste of American taxpayers’ dollars in defence of Ukraine, and to casually remark that Vladimir Putin might be a bit nasty but he’s got a point, and after all what about Big Pharma and its hoax Covid vaccines?
Who killed JFK? Must have been the same “deep state” thing that engineered the theft of the 2020 election that put that communist Joe Biden in the White House, right?
Only a few weeks ago, the rightist JFK obsessives hit the jackpot.
On December 15, the influential Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson aired a segment on the JFK assassination claiming he’d spoken to an unnamed source allegedly familiar with unreleased CIA documents who told him: “I believe they [the CIA] were involved. It’s a whole different country from what we thought it was. It’s all fake.” Apart from his usual viewers, Carlson’s JFK segment has already pulled in 1.5 million views on YouTube.
This was not some joke segment. Carlson, notorious for “trolling” impressionable American liberals to provoke attention-grabbing outrage, scored a hard hit in the House of Commons last week. New Democrat Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre) took the bait and called for a unanimous House of Commons condemnation of Carlson’s on-air remark to the effect that Americans should invade Canada to liberate the country from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“That kind of language is exactly what lead to the failed violent January 6 insurrection in Washington,” Green said. “Tucker’s brand of hate isn’t welcome in Canada” and so on. The NDP gave Carlson what he wanted, the NDP got what it wanted in an opportunity to slam the Conservatives for not going along with Green’s motion, and an excuse to launch an impromptu fund-raising blitz over it in the bargain.
But Carlson’s December 15 segment claiming evidence implicating the deep state in Kennedy’s assassination was no joke. It was replayed approvingly in its entirety by neo-Stalinist demagogue George Galloway, the disgraced former British MP who spent the first decade of this century as an “anti-war” darling of the CBC, the Toronto Star and the NDP’s substantial “Bu$h Lied People Died” wing.
Back in the 1960s, the loudest critics of the 1964 Warren Commission and its 888-page report on Kennedy’s assassination were people of “the left.” They posited a right-wing conspiracy to get rid of the handsome young Boston Irishman. The crusading civil rights activist Mark Lane, author of Rush to Judgment and Last Word: My Indictment of the CIA in the Murder of JFK, was an impeccably-credentialed man of the left.
The Warren Commission had found that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone, and Jack Ruby - the sketchy nightclub owner who managed to find his way into the Dallas Police Headquarters just in time to shoot Oswald at point blank range as he was being taken to the nearby county jail - also acted alone. It was considered bad manners in many left-wing circles to accept the Commission’s findings.
Oliver Stone hero Jim Garrison, the creepy New Orleans prosecutor who tried and failed to frame local businessman Claw Shaw, also claimed there was a right-wing plot in play involving the Central Intelligence Agency.
The basic leftist proposition was that the military-industrial complex decided to rub out Kennedy because he was going to bring the troops home from Vietnam and usher in the Age of Aquarius, with world peace and détente with Soviet Russia.
The American right first got drawn into conspiracy-theorizing about the JFK assassination a decade ago by Roger Stone, the clownish campaign strategist, political adviser and publicity hound who was one of Donald Trump’s earliest backers in the Republican Party. Stone’s contribution to alternative-reality literature was his 2013 book The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, which pinned the assassination on Lyndon Baynes Johnson, Kennedy’s vice-president and successor in the White House.
The book is a compendium of factoids and falsehoods. JFK assassination witnesses died mysteriously; Lee Harvey Oswald knew Jack Ruby; Oswald was a CIA pawn and an FBI informant; conspirators planned the motorcade route; Oswald was a poor shot. As a bonus, Stone throws in the anti-Zionist conspiracy theory that Lyndon Johnson coordinated the 1967 sinking of the USS Liberty with the Israelis. “If a reader doesn’t let facts get in the way, the journalist Hugh Aynesworth suggested, “it could be an interesting adventure.”
Stone’s story was picked up by the Daily Caller – a conservative news and opinion website the Fox News fabulist Carlson founded in 2010. Then it hit InfoWars, a manic platform hosted Alex Jones, whose wild tales about a vast government “inside” job behind the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre - the 1969 moon landing was faked too, says Jones - ended up with his declaration of bankruptcy last month after court rulings awarded nearly $1.5 billion in damages to first responders and family members he’d told lies about.
Fox News character Sean Hannity hosted Stone on his show in 2013 - all kid gloves, no serious questioning - and then Stone was also platformed by the eccentric Larry King on the now-banned Kremlin network RT.
By 2016, Donald Trump himself jumped on the JFK bandwagon when he said the father of Republican Ted Cruz helped Lee Harvey Oswald hand out pro-Castro leaflets in New Orleans in 1963. Of course there was no truth to the story. Oswald once hired a couple of guys from the Louisiana State Employment Service to help him him hand out leaflets, but neither of them was Rafael Cruz, a well-known anti-Castro Cuban.
Trump’s hammering of the “deep state” formulation drew several “libertarian” websites aboard the JFK-assassination express. It fits as neatly with leftish Flower Power nonsense as it does with latter-day libertarian notions of a malignant, out-of-control government.
Lew Rockwell, chief of staff to the batty Congressman Ron Paul from the 1978 to 1982 and contributing editor of many of Ron Paul’s racist newsletters, runs a popular website that has published hundreds of ridiculous articles on the JFK assassination. No topic is too crazy for Rockwell - the strange deaths of witnesses; the alteration of the famous Zapruder film of the assassination; a fake JFK autopsy; and the standard far-right claims that LBJ had JFK killed.
The virulently anti-Israel Veterans Today website has climbed aboard too. Already a habitual trafficker in “9/11 Truth” yarns and propaganda provided by the Khomeinist regime’s English language Press TV platform, Veterans Today’s archive of antisemitic conspiracy theories is a perfect fit with JFK assassination loopiness.
The Future of Freedom Foundation claims its mission is to “present an uncompromising moral, philosophical, and economic case for the free society.” FFF also produces videos and books on the JFK assassination with the usual fictions: the Zapruder Film was altered, there was massive fraud in the medical evidence following Kennedy’s death, and of course it was the “national security establishment” that orchestrated the assassination.
In late 2017, when President Donald Trump decided to keep some JFK files secret, Roger Stone said this was because of “an effort by “deep state” policies to cover their “asses.” He went on InfoWars to plead his case with Alex Jones and they both cast the intelligence community as the big player in a secret cabal bent on exerting its control of democracy.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is one of JFK’s nephews and the son of U.S. senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was himself assassinated in 1968. Bobby Junior has always been a bit of an oddball, and in recent years it’s all been a bit too much for the environmental organizations associated with him - until 2017 RFK Jr. was the senior lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He’s also a bit of a nutter when it comes to vaccines, going back well before Covid-19 came along.
This is what Kennedy had to say about Tucker Carlson’s claim to have spoken with an unnamed official familiar with certain unspecified CIA documents implicating the U.S. government in JFK’s killing: It was “the most courageous newscast in 60 years.”
Two years ago, Instagram barred Kennedy “for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.” Make of that what you like, but he sure likes JFK conspiracy theories.
Carlson’s JFK segment was also tweeted approvingly by Max Blumenthal, one of coterie of ostensibly left-wing and “anti-imperialist” pseudo-journalists whose primary audiences are among readers of the progressive magazine The Nation, the liberal New York Times, the Kremlin’s various propaganda channels and The Intercept, a digital alt-left publication funded by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar.
Another prominent left-wing digital pamphleteer, Glenn Greenwald, also boosted Carlson’s CIA-plot claims on several of his platforms.
Greenwald may be best remembered in Canada for a talk he gave in Ottawa in the aftermath of ISIS enthusiast Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s 2014 murder of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. Greenwald said that Zehaf-Bibeau’s rampage, which ended with a bullet fired by House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers, was “blowback” for Canada “wallowing in war glory, invading, rendering and bombing others.”
Carlson went deeper into Lalaland last month on a January 19 segment, claiming that the CIA was behind the removal of President Richard Nixon, and that intelligence agencies also took down Nixon’s vice-president, Spiro Agnew. It was all a plot to put Gerald Ford in the Presidency, Carlson claimed, the same Gerald Ford who served on the Warren Commission which “absolved the CIA of responsibility” for President Kennedy’s murder.
Carlson’s conspiracy theory even takes in Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, whose effort with colleague Carl Bernstein on the Watergate break-in story is widely credited with being the main work of journalism that led to Nixon’s resignation. Carlson pegs Woodward as a deep-state operative brought into the Post to carry out Nixon’s take-down.
So, there you have it.
The JFK conspiracy theory began with left-wingers who could never accept that a dashing young liberal president could have been assassinated by a leafleteer who set up his own Fair Play for Cuba Committee in the Deep South. In New York, the committee’s members included the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, the novelists Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, and the peacenik poets Alan Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Now there are right-wingers who could never accept that Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election fair and square, so they’ve convinced themselves that the “deep state” must have been up to the devil’s work back in 1963, too. And they’ve made bedfellows of themselves with leftists who can’t accept that Ukrainians are engaged in a righteous defensive war against the invaders of Vladimir Putin’s genocidal war machine.
And so here we are.
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