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The Kennedy Conspiracy in Plain Sight
Dallas isn’t responsible for JFK’s death; Lee Harvey Oswald is.

Lee Harvey Oswald in custody after the Kennedy assassination.

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Rich Lowry

For all these years, they’ve hidden the truth about the Kennedy assassination.

It didn’t require a conspiracy. It just took repeating a falsehood until it became conventional wisdom. The myth about the Kennedy assassination is that President John F. Kennedy, at great personal risk, traveled to Dallas, aka the City of Hate, and was somehow murdered by an atmosphere of intolerance. The truth is that he was shot by a Communist.

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As James Piereson writes in his brilliant book Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, liberals had the choice after the assassination to make Kennedy a martyr to civil rights or admit that he was a casualty of the Cold War. They found the notion of Kennedy dying for racial progress much more congenial and useful, even though it depended on a rank distortion.

The interpretive misdirection began in the immediate aftermath of Lee Harvey Oswald’s act of murder. Pundits and analysts still follow the well-worn script, often boiling down their indictment to one word: Dallas. The epigraph of the new book Dallas 1963 is a letter to the mayor at the time: “Dallas, the city that virtually invited the poor insignificant soul who blotted out the life of President Kennedy to do it in Dallas.”

Slate calls a letter to Kennedy’s press secretary warning JFK not to visit Dallas because he might be killed by a right-wing mob “eerily prophetic,” which would be unassailably true . . . if Kennedy had been killed by a right-wing mob.

In a New York Times op-ed, history scholar James McAuley calls Dallas “the city that willed the death of the president.” Who knew that municipalities had such frightening powers? George W. Bush is lucky he wasn’t killed in office by Burlington, Vt., or Berkeley, Calif.

In a news report, Timesman Manny Fernandez writes of the “painful, embarrassing memories of the angry anti-Washington culture that flourished here 50 years ago — and now seems a permanent part of the national mood.”

Get it? The rancid political culture of Dallas that was responsible for the death of Kennedy lives on today in the Tea Party, which needs to be stopped before it kills again.

There are at least two problems with all this. The first is that cities don’t kill people. Neither does political hostility. There was plenty of kookery, racism, and ugliness in Dallas circa 1963 — and much derision and abuse of Kennedy — but none of those things picked up a rifle and shot the president of the United States.

The second — and amazingly enough, saying it still carries a subversive hint of revisionism — is that Oswald was a thoroughgoing Communist.

As Piereson recounts, Oswald tried to defect to the Soviet Union. He told a reporter that his reasons were “purely political.” Trying to renounce his citizenship, he gave a note to an official at the U.S. Embassy in the Soviet Union that said, “I affirm my allegiance to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” and “I am a Marxist.”

Eventually, he returned to the United States and grew disillusioned with the Soviet Union but not with the idea of revolution as exemplified by Fidel Castro’s Cuba. He subscribed to The Militant, published by the Socialist Workers Party, and the Daily Worker, published by the Communist Party. He posed for a photograph holding both publications and the rifle he would use to shoot Kennedy.

Oswald had hoped to travel to Cuba and serve in Castro’s government. To establish his bona fides, he set up a chapter of the “Fair Play for Cuba” committee during a stay in New Orleans. He traveled to Mexico City and visited the Cuban and Soviet embassies in his bid to get to Cuba. He was still trying to navigate the bureaucracy when he heard Kennedy would be visiting Dallas.

The Kennedy assassination has always invited elaborate theories about a cover-up of the truth about that awful day. But it’s not complicated. The lie has always been in plain sight.

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: [email protected]. © 2013 by King Features 


JFK Remembered
As the nation remembers the presidency of John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his death on November 22, here’s a look back at images of Kennedy from his 1960 campaign and during his time as the 35th President of the United States.
THE CAMPAIGN: Kennedy arrives at Los Angeles International Airport on his way to the Democratic Party convention.
Kennedy announces his candidacy for president to convention delegates at the Los Angeles Coliseum, July 15, 1960.
Kennedy aboard his campaign plane.
Kennedy talks with a farmer during a campaign visit to Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Kennedy speaks to garment workers at a factory in downtown Los Angeles, Calif.
Kennedy with Republican nominee Richard M. Nixon during one of their historic presidential debates.
Kennedy (lower right) greets a rally of some 20,000 supporters outside a hotel in Minneapolis, Minn.
John and Jacqueline during a ticker-tape parade in New York City.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Kennedy delivers his inaugural address in Washington, D.C.
John and Jacqueline share a moment in the Capitol Hill rotunda shortly after he was sworn in as president.
The First Couple attend the inaugural ball.
Attorney General Robert Kennedy and President Kennedy talk during escalating tensions with the Soviet Union over missile emplacements in Cuba.
Kennedy stands before a large map of Laos during a televised news conference on foreign policy.
Vice president Lyndon Johnson (left), President Kennedy, and Jacqueline stand in the White House secretary’s office as they watch news coverage of astronaut Alan Shepard becoming the first American in space.
News crews fill the Oval Office for a presidential address on Kennedy’s talks with Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev and French President Charles de Gaulle.
Kennedy at his desk in the Oval Office after signing a presidential proclamation concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Kennedy with Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev at the Vienna Summit in Austria.
Kennedy speaks to a cheering crowd at City Hall in West Berlin, Germany.
Kennedy delivers his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in West Berlin, Germany.
Kennedy (third from right) meets with civil rights leaders prior to the March on Washington in August, 1963. The Reverend Martin Luther King is seen at left.
FAMILY MAN: The First Family and their dogs at Hyannis Port, Mass.
Kennedy in the Oval Office with Caroline and John Jr.
Kennedy and three-year-old daughter Caroline exit a White House elevator.
John and Jacqueline watch the 1962 America’s Cup competition aboard USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., off Newport, R.I.
The Kennedy Clan (from left): Robert, Edward, and John Kennedy in Washington, D.C.
PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS: Kennedy on the tarmac in West Palm Beach, Fla., on his way back to Washington after a tour of Latin America.
Kennedy with Mexican president Adolfo Lopez Mateos during a ticker-tape parade in Mexico City.
Kennedy greets residents of Galway during a visit to Ireland.
Kennedy inspects the Friendship 7 Mercury-program space capsule with astronaut John Glenn (left) and Vice President Johnson at Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Kennedy watches a Polaris missile launch in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Kennedy prepares to throw the ceremonial first pitch in Washington, D.C.
Kennedy speaks at a Democratic Party dinner at the National Guard Armory in Washington, D.C., in front of a birthday cake in his honor.
Kennedy in the Oval Office.
A 16-year-old Bill Clinton shakes Kennedy’s hand during an American Legion Boys Nation event.
Kennedy cracks a smile during an interview with CBS Television.
Kennedy jokes with reporters in the White House Rose Garden.
The Kennedys greet well-wishers at Houston International Airport before travelling to Dallas the next day.
The Kennedys arrive at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
The Kennedys, joined by Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, depart Love Field in the presidential motorcade, November 22, 1963.
Updated: Nov. 21, 2013

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