November 22, 1963 is thought of by many as the day that America lost its innocence.
Dallas is planning a major public memorial ceremony on November 22, 2013 to mark the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination at Dealey Plaza.
Another murder that same November 1963 day was the killing of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, who was on patrol in the nearby community of Oak Cliff looking for the president’s killer. Witnesses said Lee Harvey Oswald gunned Tippit down before Oswald was eventually arrested at the Texas Theater. Nearly 49 years later, a memorial to Officer Tippit was unveiled Tuesday at the corner of 10th Street and Patton Avenue in Oak Cliff where the shooting occurred.
The Ever Unsolved Mystery
Within days of the shooting, pollster George Gallup asked people, “Do you think that the man who shot President Kennedy acted on his own, or was some group or element also responsible?” Just more than half thought others were involved. After the release of the Warren Commission report a year later, 87% said they believed the official version that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
On the heels of the 1970s Watergate case and the first broadcast of Abraham Zapruder‘s home movie of the shooting, there was a near total reversal of public opinion – 81% told Gallup they believed the assassination was the result of a conspiracy. Even 40 years later, 75% said they believed this, and and in Gallup’s 2003 poll, nearly 90% of 18- to 29-year-olds said they believed in a conspiracy.
Congressional hearings in the 1970s confirmed that there were indeed secret U.S. plots to assassinate foreign leaders, and even President Lyndon Johnson (the subject of a few conspiracy theories himself) was said to harbor suspicions of a Cuba connection. In his memoir, Webster Hubbell wrote that President Clinton offered to appoint him to a top Justice post so he could find the answer to a question of who killed JFK.
The Warren Commission originally sealed much of its work for 75 years — until 2039. In 1992, Congress gave a five-member commission the power to overrule intelligence agencies and release even top secret documents, with the president having the final say. Clinton sided with the commission and, as a result, 1,100 of the 5 million records — or about 0.02% — are still sealed, while others have portions blacked out, according to Martha Murphy, chief of the special access staff at the National Archives. The original autopsy photos are available to qualified researchers, though they must first get permission from the Kennedy family.
Lindsay Porter, author of Assassination: A History of Political Murder believes there will never be a resolution. She says: “The more alleged data that’s accumulated, the more muddled things become.”
Today, we no longer harbor illusions about the purity of the United States government. We know that Nixon furtively worked to prevent President Johnson from ending the Vietnam War to help assure his own election, that Reagan prevented American hostages from being released ahead of his own election, and that GWB stole the 2000 presidential election. We have recently witnessed how Republican governors tried unsuccessfully to suppress the vote in the 2012 presidential elections, and how they gerrymandered congressional districts nationwide to keep control of the House of Representatives even though Democratic congressional candidates won more votes than Republicans. So it’s no longer so shocking to see that the facts surrounding the JFK assassination were kept from the public. At the very least, we now know that they would have uncovered some unsavory ties between national intelligence and organized crime.
And yet, despite the loss of innocence, and the cynicism of the times, we see widespread partisan blindness, ideological confirmation bias and mass misinformation. There is a lack of agreement on the basic facts of the political and economic realities that the nation faces, fueled by the ideological extremism of the right wing and a surreptitious and corrupt corporatist agenda. As the 1% continue to consolidate their wealth and power, we are an ideologically divided populace, which serves the purpose well.
The Future Belongs To A New Demographic
But the shattering of our innocence as a nation isn’t nearly enough for us to take a realistic assessment of the hard facts. The stream of erroneous propaganda of Fox News and AM radio pollutes the minds of people and turns them against themselves.
However, don’t despair. If the 2012 presidential election told us anything, it is that the public is beginning to see through the facade of the corporate propaganda machine. As divided as we are, we are not nearly as much divided as the nation that Lincoln was called upon to preserve. The regressive policies and tactics of the Republican Party have now been repudiated and new demographics are changing the face of politics. Our future remains uncharted, and our youth have the opportunity to correct the failings of our generation.
Those are my thoughts.
What are your thoughts on that fateful event?