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"In the Blossom of Our Sins"


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The following was written for presentation at the 1996 JFK Lancer conference, and published in "The Fourth Decade" in 1997. So yes, it is dated, and yes, I cringe at the less-than-artful language with which it often is plagued.

But I believe that the core questions herein raised remain unanswered.

If you struggle through, I would be most interested in your comments.

Charles

____________________________________________

In the Blossom of Our Sins:

An Eleventh Hour Plea for War and its Absolutions

by Charles R. Drago

(The Fourth Decade, Volume 4, Number 4, May 1997, pp. 3–8)

I say we had better look our nation searchingly

in the face, like a physician diagnosing some deep disease.

-- Walt Whitman

O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was also beautiful.

One knew nothing … And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired

was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing

happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew

old and look cunning … or wise … and still one knew nothing perhaps, was still

waiting and listening.

-- Hermann Hessse

* * *

INTRODUCTION

Why do we decline at all cost to know, and instead choose merely to believe – in seemingly limitless, mutually exclusive, self-serving variations – the truth about the genesis, planning, execution and cover-up of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy?

Why, 33 years after our initial self-anointings as investigators and court and jury of record in this case of 20th century regicide, do we remain incapable of defining, let alone serving, justice?

Are our sins, our indefensible failures of judgment and will, attributable to the subconscious fear that, as a consequence of the attainment of knowledge of truth and the effecting of justice, we shall bring about the destruction of the self? Destruction of the nation?

Are we prepared to declare total war on our blood enemies: the assassins and their accessories? Should we impose moral constraints on our strategies and tactics in such a war? What would constitute victory? Can we unite to overcome the egotism and greed that from the beginning have divided us and rendered us defenseless?

Who are we? Should we define ourselves as warriors? Scholars? Victims?

Whither our passions?

WHY DO WE DECLINE TO KNOW THE TRUTH AND FAIL TO EFFECT JUSTICE?

Know that I define justice in the case of the assassination of President Kennedy as the utilization of the attainable absolute truth to cleanse or, if necessary, literally deconstruct and rebuild the corrupted system responsible for the assassination and related crimes.

We must accept the notion that, as this late date, justice will not be served by sending anyone to prison. Indeed, I herein restate my original call for the extension of a broad and legally binding immunity to all surviving conspirators, contingent upon their coming forward and telling the truth (the offer to be made by an independent special prosecutor as appointed by the Congress of the United States; for reasons having nothing to do with the moral standing of that body, and in full recognition of the fact that I am asking the criminal system to investigate and indict itself, there yet can be no meaningful healing of America’s most grievous self-inflicted wound that is not self-administered).

Justice will come about only as a function of the revealed truth. And that truth is at once our last remaining weapon, our most powerful weapon, and the weapon we seem least willing to wield in the war in which we are engaged.

Why do we hesitate? When in the words of Vincent Salandria, one of the first Warren Commission critics, the truth has been “blatantly obvious … all the time.” Why?

Are our individual and collective identities symbiotically linked to the roles we play as Kennedy Assassination Researchers/Investigators/Gadflies to the degree that the termination of those roles, a certain consequence of our ultimate victory, is perceived to be tantamount to the termination of the self? As sufferers of such a fear, we would be in exalted company.

Writing in The End of Science of what he perceives to be scientists’ fear of reaching for absolute answers, John Horgan notes: “ … after one arrives at The Answer, what then? There is a kind of horror in thinking that our sense of wonder might be extinguished, once and for all time, by our knowledge. What, then, would be the purpose of existence? There would be none … Many scientists harbor a profound ambivalence concerning the notion of absolute truth. Like Roger Penrose, who could not decide whether his belief in a final theory was optimistic or pessimistic. Or Steven Weinberg, who equated comprehensibility with pointlessness. Or David Bohm, who was compelled both to clarify reality and obscure it. Or Edmund Wilson, who lusted after a final theory of human nature and was chilled by the thought that it might be attained. Or Freeman Dyson, who insisted that anxiety and doubt are essential to existence … ”

And if not death of the self, then what of that of the nation, a necrotic body politic that – as we witness in, among other tableaus, Zapruder film frame 313 – long ago suffered the demise of its moral authority to govern and command allegiance?

Allow me a metaphor that will take a moment to develop. The Mt. Rushmore National Monument is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. To the indigenous North American tribal peoples commonly referred to by their Caucasian conquerors as the “Sioux,” the Black Hills, or Paha Sapa in the language of the Lakota, remain the holiest of places – like the Vatican to Roman Catholics. Assayed and determined to be worthless wilderness by the high priests of Mammon-on-the-Potomac, the Black Hills were magnanimously acknowledged to be sovereign Sioux property in a formal, legally binding treaty ratified by Congress. Shortly thereafter, in 1874, a certain young conquistador named Custer led a U.S. Army expedition into the area for a second look. Two millionaire miners were with that merry band, and they discovered gold in them thar hills.

Faster than you can say Eureka! the treaty was unilaterally abrogated, war was manufactured , and the Sioux were cast out.

Then – this is rich – to add insult to the injuries of grand theft, genocide, and cultural annihilation, one of the most sacred peaks of Paha Sapa was desecrated with the carvings of the likenesses of the leaders of the cutthroats and thieves.

It is as if barbarians had occupied post-Renaissance Rome, put its citizens to the sword, looted the Vatican, and on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, over Michelangelo’s masterpiece, painted craven images of their chieftains.

Some years later, a Polish immigrant decided to balance the books by carving on a nearby summit the gigantic likeness of the Lakota war leader Teshunka Witko, or Crazy Horse. Today the artist’s heirs struggle to complete his daunting project. Tourists visit the site each year, although in nowhere near the numbers who regularly flock to Mt. Rushmore. Which I’ve visited. Where the symbolism and savage irony hang thick and dank in the poisoned air.

As dusk falls, hundreds gather in the amphitheater at the foot of the monument to watch a documentary film about the great sculpture’s creation. At the appointed time all rise and sing their national anthem, and as the lyric “brave” echoes through Paha Sapa, immense searchlights illuminate what I prefer to appreciate as the memorialized prototype for a later, equally portentous (if understandably less overtly celebrated) summit meeting of true American power-brokers: the Appalachin Conference.

With the labors of our intellect and, I pray, the furious manifestation of our passions, we are sculpting a Crazy Horse Monument of our own: the popularly labeled “Conspiracy Theory.” We do so to counterbalance the suffocating psychic weight of the Mt. Rushmore of officially created and sanctioned assassination myths. But will we ever complete our work? Do we dare to complete it? Could we have achieved our goal years ago? Have we given sufficient consideration to the dynamiting of our Mt. Rushmore as the first in a series of actions that would perforce be described by targeted groups as “terrorist” in nature? Acts of war?

The illusion that is projected as Mt. Rushmore is a sine qua non for the survival of America as a morally defensible political entity. So too are the officially created and sanctioned assassination pulp fictions.

Without the succor offered by these and related lies-as-history – which is to say, with their long-denied counter-realities (the genocide of North American aboriginal populations by the developers of the USA, the disenfranchisement of the American electorate that took place on November 22, 1963, et al) broadly accepted in their stead – no rational, moral citizen could do less than plot the drastic overhaul, if not the overthrow, of a national entity clearly revealed to be without legal and moral justifications.

So perhaps our illusions are more important to that most sacrosanct of crusades, the preservation of the union, than is the truth. More important than is justice. Perhaps truth and justice once again must be sacrificed on the altar of National Security. – no matter the nation’s worth.

Not to worry. We can preserve the self and America with it while continuing to play the role of super sleuth in this case. And when, inevitably, push comes to shove, when belief must either metamorphose into knowledge and action or be abandoned, all we need do is scurry backward into our voting booths like light-panicked lobsters seeking the safety of the trap. Nothing sacred will have been damaged. And maybe, someday, if we manage to save enough blood money to afford a real vacation, we can visit Mt. Rushmore or make the pilgrimage to Dallas and get that oddly familiar, forbidden thrill – the kind experienced when, walking down Main Street with the spouse and kids, an almost forgotten extra-marital paramour appears on the next corner.

Or we can fight!

A PLEA FOR THE DECLARATION OF WAR

We are at war with the murderers of John F. Kennedy.

And I am sickened by the mercy we extend to a merciless enemy each time we treat with collegiality their disgraced surrogates.

But before we can know our enemy, we must know ourselves. Define ourselves. Be at peace and possess the courage of our convictions. Unite in a common crusade, the substance of which would render our superficial stylistic differences meaningless.

How many of you occupying high-profile positions in the community of assassination researchers are prepared to stake your professional reputations and, in certain cases, the reputations of the journals you edit and/or the organizations over which you preside, on your public endorsement of the following statement: CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY RESULTING IN THE DEATH OF JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY IS HISTORICAL TRUTH.

How should any of us who care about truth and justice in this case treat the well-respected newsletter editor who writes (I paraphrase), “We have to be prepared to accept the possibility that Oswald did it alone.”?

Or the influential and celebrated author, ostensibly on the side of the angels, who, at the Boston public meeting of the Assassination Records Review Board, graciously greets and caters to the needs of the infamous, wizened madam of the Warren whores?

Or the controversial writer/activist who is driven to slander and otherwise sabotage the work of researchers and organizations not under his influence?

We can condemn them as cowards, traitors and/or dupes. Or we can labor to find a common ground for all willing to accept the tenets of our crusade. Liberate ourselves from the debilitating manners, misconceptions, petty jealousies, and greed on which our enemy depends for advantage. Draw strength from the very diversities of intellect and passion that today factionalize us.

E pluribus unum the bastards to death.

Who are we? Who are our role models? A process of elimination prompts (troubling) answers.

I shall now put forth—only to dismantle—as fine an argument as I know for the perpetuation (and there’s the rub) of our collegial treatment of the enemy’s pimps, behavior that commonly characterizes “gentlemen’s disagreements” between scholars.

The historian Gordon Craig, in his New York Review of Books analysis of David Irving’s controversial biography of Josef Goebbels, wrote, “It is always difficult for the non-historian to remember that there is nothing absolute about historical truth. What we consider as such is only an estimation, based upon what the best available evidence tells us. It must constantly be tested against new information and new interpretations that appear, however implausible they may be, or it will lose its vitality and degenerate into dogma and shibboleth. Such people as David Irving, then, have an indisputable part in the historical enterprise, and we dare not disregard their views.

“Recently,” Craig went on, “when Christopher Hitchins talked with Raul Hilberg, author of the classic text The Destruction of the European Jews, he found him unambiguous on this point. ‘If these people want to speak,’ Hilberg said, ‘let them. It only leads those of us who do research to re-examine what we might have considered as obvious. And that’s useful for us. I have quoted Eichmann references that come from a neo-Nazi publishing house. I am not for taboos and I am not for repression.” [7]

Nor am I. But would Hilberg join or in any other way dignify an effort to “re-examine” the historical truth of the Holocaust that would compel him in advance to acknowledge the Deniers’ position as an intellectually honest, academically sound, reasoned point of view? Or is his point simply that the arguments of Holocaust-deniers are useful so many years after the established historical truth of the event insofar as they may unintentionally further reveal the nature of the beast?

Could Messrs. Craig or Hilberg or any of us, in good conscience, have entertained the arguments of apologists for Goebbels and the rest of the Bunker Boys at a time when the gas yet hissed and the piano wiring yet tightened?

In our time we dare not be about the historical enterprise, except as a tactic in a greater campaign. Unless, of course, we are willing to concede that the battle for justice in the case cannot be won. Unless we are willing to concede that the case has indeed, as Anthony Summers feared, “toppled over the boundary between current affairs and history.” [8]

I for one make no such concessions. We are fighting a war about which future historians can in good conscience argue with professional detachment. But be advised: Their judgments of our acts today will be harsh and even damning if we do not comport ourselves as warriors engaged in what is truly a life-and-death struggle. If, instead of making a stand, we fade away without commotion, with all of our failures and all of our sins in full blossom.

I am decidedly not about the cold study of history when I ponder the murder of John F. Kennedy. And I am not, by the way, advocating the elimination from our arsenal of the potent weapons of the historian. Rather, I am pleading for our reconsideration of the collective self, and for our unanimous adoption of a more contextually valid and at the same time emotion-driven self-image.

Who are we?

We are the Lakota—of AIM. We are the Jews—of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. We are the Viet Cong—of Tet.

We must know ourselves to be freedom fighters. [9] We are warriors who will not hesitate to use pages of the Geneva Convention treaties as kindling for the execution pyres for our enemies. With victory will come the spoil of defining “war crimes.”

Let us not fear to know our enemy with equal certainty, even if the enemy too closely resembles us. America is not the enemy. America is the enemy’s victim. Your patriotism is suspect only if you decline to do battle with the brute wrapped in your flag.

We are at war, yet consider: Who do we most often choose to engage? When we level our guns on the Warren/HSCA apologists, proceed to annihilate their arguments to the smug satisfaction of our little squad of irregulars, and then insanely decline to press the advantage, we are in effect shooting the messengers while allowing the true enemy to escape unscathed. Worse, we permit the enemy unimpeded use of its most powerful weapon: time.

Journalists did not kill John Kennedy. Historians did not kill America. Contrary to what you are asked to believe, our enemy is not Gerald Posner and his ilk. How many divisions does Posner have?

Posner’s masters did not set out to sway public sentiment with their manufacture of Case Closed. At least not directly. Rather, their immediate objective was to conscript (and in many cases re-up) into the ranks of lone assassin touts a majority of the world’s most influential journalists and scholars, whose own co-opted “opinions” could in turn continue to preserve and encourage the impotent beliefs of, and deny knowledge to, an undereducated, hapless citizenry.

In essence, this operation was a variation on the intelligence operative’s classic so-called “honeypot” blackmail maneuver, wherein a target is “doubled” after having been lured into a compromising situation (most often sexual in context, but in this case intellectual).

To wit: Once on record as a proponent of the no conspiracy fiction, any one of these movers and shakers inspired to recant by a confrontation with the truth would in effect be confessing prior professional incompetence and personal naiveté. Further, such an act (requiring, alas, reserves of courage and conviction not exactly overflowing from the ranks of the Fourth Estate and academia) would be construed as treason by compromised colleagues left behind in the enemy camp. Retribution no doubt would be swift and terrible.

The degree to which this strategy has succeeded may be measured by cataloging Posner’s dust jacket endorsers. Who should know better. But those original testimonials remain unrescinded (at least publicly). No matter that Peter Dale Scott, Harold Weisberg and others have proven Posner to be a xxxx, plagiarist and traitor to his Constitution.

Once stuck in the honeypot, there is almost never a way out.

But I say that, as the first campaign in our newly declared war’s secret theater, we can and should “redouble” these agents. The truth is on our side. The truth is the most powerful of weapons. Let us hold it, safety off and round in the chamber, to a few temples.

If this tactic is to succeed, our bellicose posturings must leave no doubt as to our mission, strength and will. And they must be backed up by the application of creditable threat: Be warned! We know the truth, and with it we intend to empower former victims who will not find charity in their hearts for their tormentors’ propagandists.

At the same time, we promise meaningful reward: Be saved! All prior sins can be forgiven. If not forgotten.

We extend our own form of blanket immunity to William Styron and Stephen Ambrose and Tom Wicker, not to mention Norman Mailer, Dan Rather and the rest. We rehabilitate them. We commiserate with them, let them off the hook. Stipulate that they were “jobbed” by the most fiendishly clever of foes, that anyone in their position would have behaved similarly. We educate them. Then we force them to choose a side. In other words, we use them. Shamelessly.

Imagine the strategic advantage afforded by a press conference at which Posner’s early champions come forward en masse to tell the world not just that their initial endorsements of Case Closed were the wrongheaded products of gross manipulations, but also that they now will devote themselves tirelessly, on behalf of the public they have served so poorly for so long, to the search for the whole truth in the open case of President Kennedy’s assassination.

The most important benefit of this campaign? We will have established a precedent for the adoption of that tactic most unpalatable, yet indispensable to victory, in armed conflict with a ruthless foe: utilization of the enemy’s own darkest methods. For total war cannot be waged victoriously by a combatant whose actions are burdened by self-imposed moral restraints not suffered by the opposition.

Were any pieties in evidence in Dealey Plaza that day?

Next, we must become master shapers of public opinion. Noam Chomsky has observed that propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship. We must appeal to the hearts and minds—in that order—of the people. We need another JFK, another great work of propagandistic art to get the juices flowing. But this time, instead of contenting ourselves with Take that! victory celebrations, premiere galas, and public television debates of semiotic minutiae, we must storm through the gates that such art will have battered down. Use the truth to liberate the townsfolk. Demonstrate kinship with them. Educate them. Enlist them in our crusade. Promise, and be prepared to deliver, great rewards for their service, including meaningful re-enfranchisement and true ownership of their country.

Thus armed with a terrible resolve, certain of our enemy, emboldened by our newfound allies, let us take the initiative and choose the field. And that field is not Dealey Plaza, where the enemy would have us fight ad infinitum the conspiracy/no conspiracy battle. Which we have won, but which will not amount to a true victory until we demonstrate the courage to accept it as such and press the strategic advantage it offers.

We outnumber the enemy. We outgun the enemy. We can be defeated only by our closely held fears and self-deceptions. And by our unwillingness to feel.

A CALL FOR PASSION

We must understand that, as far as our work is concerned, the repression of passion assures ultimate failure.

In his memoir, A Drinking Life, Pete Hamill recalled the reactions of the Irish to the news of President Kennedy’s death. Hamill was touring Ireland when the word came.

“I let out a wail, a deep scary banshee wail, primitive and wounded, mariachi wail, Hank Williams wail, full of fury and painkids were wailing nowbut I turned, ashamed of my pain and my weeping, and rushed into the night. All through the Catholic neighborhood called Andersontown, doors were opening and slamming and more wails came roaring at the sky, wails without words, full of pagan furies as old as bogs. I wanted to find my father, wanted to hug him and have him hug me. But I careened around dark streets, in the midst of the wailing. I saw a man punch a tree. I saw a stout woman fall down in a sitting position on a doorstep, bawling. I ran and ran, trying to burn out my grief, my anger, my consciousness. I found myself on the Shankill Road, main avenue of the Protestant district. It was no different thereI saw a man kicking a garbage can over and over and over again in primitive rage. I saw three young women heading somewhere, dissolved in tearsThere was a documentaryabout Kennedy’s trip to Ireland in May, smiling and laughing and amused, promising at the airport to come back in the springtime and I thought of the line from Yeats, What made us think that he could comb gray hair?” [10]

We are as obliged by our special knowledge—and by the very fact that we are alive to comb gray hair—as was John Fitzgerald Kennedy obliged by his privilege, to do the good that others have not the power to do.

We can begin by looking the nation searchingly in the face. By treating its deep disease.

By kicking over a garbage can.

1. A word may be in order concerning Keats’ currently fashionable Negative Capability “of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts without irritable reaching after fact or reason.” The usefulness of this quality as an editing medium for the refinement of our investigative focus is defensible: so many possibilities, so little time. Yet it is the very discomfort of which the poet wrote that gives rise to the resolve required to overcome the clever bastards who would mire us in false mystery. And since both “fact” and “reason” as Keats would accept the terms remain firmly within our reach, the adoption of Negative Capability as a defining principle of our efforts would be morally unacceptable. We have no right to the luxury of not knowing.

2. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation. (New York: Thunders Mouth Press, 1993, p.29).

3. John Horgan, The End of Science. (New York: Addison-Wesley Melix, 1996, p. 266).

4. Was there a “Gulf of Tonka” resolution?

5. Korczak Ziolkowski, a self-taught sculptor who had worked on the Mt. Rushmore abomination. The idea for the Crazy Horse monument originally was proposed to him in 1939 by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear. Work began in June, 1948, and continues today, more than 20 years after Korczak’s death, under the direction of Ruth Ziolkowski and seven of their 10 children. With some of the $20 million raised through donations and tourist fees, they have purchased the mountain and 328 surrounding acres from a semiotically-challenged U.S. government. Yet continued funding is by no means assured. Korczak twice declined $10 million in federal funds, unwilling to give up the nonprofit status of his work and thus jeopardize plans for a medical training center and university for Native Americans envisioned for the base of the fully realized monument. Not to mention the fact that to have taken the cash would have permitted the original thieves to assume legal control of the project. Estimated time of completion: 2050.

6. It should be painfully obvious by now that public debates of multiple version of the Kennedy murder please the murderers no end. The State ultimately is as well-served by fostering the Mob-did-it, Castro-did-it, and/or even CIA-did-it fables as it is by propping up the lone gunman lie. These straw man scenarios amount to so much firewater – grossly effective soporifics that numb the mild but potentially ominous discomforts of an increasingly skeptical electorate and keep all but the most incorrigible of renegades on the reservation. Where they can grow old, look cunning and wise. And know not a damn thing.

7. Gordon A. Craig, The Devil in the Details. The New York Review of Books, September 19, 1996, p. 8.

8. Anthony Summers, correspondence, 1994.

9. Then againRiffing on the Contras, George Carlin mused, “If crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fires, what do freedom fighters fight?”

10. Pete Hamill, A Drinking Life. (New York: Little, Brown, 1994, pp. 241–242).

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The following was written for presentation at the 1996 JFK Lancer conference, and published in "The Fourth Decade" in 1997. So yes, it is dated, and yes, I cringe at the less-than-artful language with which it often is plagued.

But I believe that the core questions herein raised remain unanswered.

If you struggle through, I would be most interested in your comments.

Charles

____________________________________________

In the Blossom of Our Sins:

An Eleventh Hour Plea for War and its Absolutions

by Charles R. Drago

(The Fourth Decade, Volume 4, Number 4, May 1997, pp. 3–8)

I say we had better look our nation searchingly

in the face, like a physician diagnosing some deep disease.

-- Walt Whitman

O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was also beautiful.

One knew nothing … And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired

was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and look cunning … or wise … and still one knew nothing perhaps, was still waiting and listening.

-- Hermann Hessse

* * *

INTRODUCTION

Why do we decline at all cost to know, and instead choose merely to believe – in seemingly limitless, mutually exclusive, self-serving variations – the truth about the genesis, planning, execution and cover-up of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy?

Why, 33 years after our initial self-anointings as investigators and court and jury of record in this case of 20th century regicide, do we remain incapable of defining, let alone serving, justice?

Are our sins, our indefensible failures of judgment and will, attributable to the subconscious fear that, as a consequence of the attainment of knowledge of truth and the effecting of justice, we shall bring about the destruction of the self? Destruction of the nation?

Are we prepared to declare total war on our blood enemies: the assassins and their accessories? Should we impose moral constraints on our strategies and tactics in such a war? What would constitute victory? Can we unite to overcome the egotism and greed that from the beginning have divided us and rendered us defenseless?

Who are we? Should we define ourselves as warriors? Scholars? Victims?

Whither our passions?

WHY DO WE DECLINE TO KNOW THE TRUTH AND FAIL TO EFFECT JUSTICE?

Know that I define justice in the case of the assassination of President Kennedy as the utilization of the attainable absolute truth to cleanse or, if necessary, literally deconstruct and rebuild the corrupted system responsible for the assassination and related crimes.

We must accept the notion that, as this late date, justice will not be served by sending anyone to prison. Indeed, I herein restate my original call for the extension of a broad and legally binding immunity to all surviving conspirators, contingent upon their coming forward and telling the truth (the offer to be made by an independent special prosecutor as appointed by the Congress of the United States; for reasons having nothing to do with the moral standing of that body, and in full recognition of the fact that I am asking the criminal system to investigate and indict itself, there yet can be no meaningful healing of America’s most grievous self-inflicted wound that is not self-administered).

Justice will come about only as a function of the revealed truth. And that truth is at once our last remaining weapon, our most powerful weapon, and the weapon we seem least willing to wield in the war in which we are engaged.

Why do we hesitate? When in the words of Vincent Salandria, one of the first Warren Commission critics, the truth has been “blatantly obvious … all the time.” Why?

Are our individual and collective identities symbiotically linked to the roles we play as Kennedy Assassination Researchers/Investigators/Gadflies to the degree that the termination of those roles, a certain consequence of our ultimate victory, is perceived to be tantamount to the termination of the self? As sufferers of such a fear, we would be in exalted company.

Writing in The End of Science of what he perceives to be scientists’ fear of reaching for absolute answers, John Horgan notes: “ … after one arrives at The Answer, what then? There is a kind of horror in thinking that our sense of wonder might be extinguished, once and for all time, by our knowledge. What, then, would be the purpose of existence? There would be none … Many scientists harbor a profound ambivalence concerning the notion of absolute truth. Like Roger Penrose, who could not decide whether his belief in a final theory was optimistic or pessimistic. Or Steven Weinberg, who equated comprehensibility with pointlessness. Or David Bohm, who was compelled both to clarify reality and obscure it. Or Edmund Wilson, who lusted after a final theory of human nature and was chilled by the thought that it might be attained. Or Freeman Dyson, who insisted that anxiety and doubt are essential to existence … ”

And if not death of the self, then what of that of the nation, a necrotic body politic that – as we witness in, among other tableaus, Zapruder film frame 313 – long ago suffered the demise of its moral authority to govern and command allegiance?

Allow me a metaphor that will take a moment to develop. The Mt. Rushmore National Monument is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. To the indigenous North American tribal peoples commonly referred to by their Caucasian conquerors as the “Sioux,” the Black Hills, or Paha Sapa in the language of the Lakota, remain the holiest of places – like the Vatican to Roman Catholics. Assayed and determined to be worthless wilderness by the high priests of Mammon-on-the-Potomac, the Black Hills were magnanimously acknowledged to be sovereign Sioux property in a formal, legally binding treaty ratified by Congress. Shortly thereafter, in 1874, a certain young conquistador named Custer led a U.S. Army expedition into the area for a second look. Two millionaire miners were with that merry band, and they discovered gold in them thar hills.

Faster than you can say Eureka! the treaty was unilaterally abrogated, war was manufactured , and the Sioux were cast out.

Then – this is rich – to add insult to the injuries of grand theft, genocide, and cultural annihilation, one of the most sacred peaks of Paha Sapa was desecrated with the carvings of the likenesses of the leaders of the cutthroats and thieves.

It is as if barbarians had occupied post-Renaissance Rome, put its citizens to the sword, looted the Vatican, and on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, over Michelangelo’s masterpiece, painted craven images of their chieftains.

Some years later, a Polish immigrant decided to balance the books by carving on a nearby summit the gigantic likeness of the Lakota war leader Teshunka Witko, or Crazy Horse. Today the artist’s heirs struggle to complete his daunting project. Tourists visit the site each year, although in nowhere near the numbers who regularly flock to Mt. Rushmore. Which I’ve visited. Where the symbolism and savage irony hang thick and dank in the poisoned air.

As dusk falls, hundreds gather in the amphitheater at the foot of the monument to watch a documentary film about the great sculpture’s creation. At the appointed time all rise and sing their national anthem, and as the lyric “brave” echoes through Paha Sapa, immense searchlights illuminate what I prefer to appreciate as the memorialized prototype for a later, equally portentous (if understandably less overtly celebrated) summit meeting of true American power-brokers: the Appalachin Conference.

With the labors of our intellect and, I pray, the furious manifestation of our passions, we are sculpting a Crazy Horse Monument of our own: the popularly labeled “Conspiracy Theory.” We do so to counterbalance the suffocating psychic weight of the Mt. Rushmore of officially created and sanctioned assassination myths. But will we ever complete our work? Do we dare to complete it? Could we have achieved our goal years ago? Have we given sufficient consideration to the dynamiting of our Mt. Rushmore as the first in a series of actions that would perforce be described by targeted groups as “terrorist” in nature? Acts of war?

The illusion that is projected as Mt. Rushmore is a sine qua non for the survival of America as a morally defensible political entity. So too are the officially created and sanctioned assassination pulp fictions.

Without the succor offered by these and related lies-as-history – which is to say, with their long-denied counter-realities (the genocide of North American aboriginal populations by the developers of the USA, the disenfranchisement of the American electorate that took place on November 22, 1963, et al) broadly accepted in their stead – no rational, moral citizen could do less than plot the drastic overhaul, if not the overthrow, of a national entity clearly revealed to be without legal and moral justifications.

So perhaps our illusions are more important to that most sacrosanct of crusades, the preservation of the union, than is the truth. More important than is justice. Perhaps truth and justice once again must be sacrificed on the altar of National Security. – no matter the nation’s worth.

Not to worry. We can preserve the self and America with it while continuing to play the role of super sleuth in this case. And when, inevitably, push comes to shove, when belief must either metamorphose into knowledge and action or be abandoned, all we need do is scurry backward into our voting booths like light-panicked lobsters seeking the safety of the trap. Nothing sacred will have been damaged. And maybe, someday, if we manage to save enough blood money to afford a real vacation, we can visit Mt. Rushmore or make the pilgrimage to Dallas and get that oddly familiar, forbidden thrill – the kind experienced when, walking down Main Street with the spouse and kids, an almost forgotten extra-marital paramour appears on the next corner.

Or we can fight!

A PLEA FOR THE DECLARATION OF WAR

We are at war with the murderers of John F. Kennedy.

And I am sickened by the mercy we extend to a merciless enemy each time we treat with collegiality their disgraced surrogates.

But before we can know our enemy, we must know ourselves. Define ourselves. Be at peace and possess the courage of our convictions. Unite in a common crusade, the substance of which would render our superficial stylistic differences meaningless.

How many of you occupying high-profile positions in the community of assassination researchers are prepared to stake your professional reputations and, in certain cases, the reputations of the journals you edit and/or the organizations over which you preside, on your public endorsement of the following statement: CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY RESULTING IN THE DEATH OF JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY IS HISTORICAL TRUTH.

How should any of us who care about truth and justice in this case treat the well-respected newsletter editor who writes (I paraphrase), “We have to be prepared to accept the possibility that Oswald did it alone.”?

Or the influential and celebrated author, ostensibly on the side of the angels, who, at the Boston public meeting of the Assassination Records Review Board, graciously greets and caters to the needs of the infamous, wizened madam of the Warren whores? Or the controversial writer/activist who is driven to slander and otherwise sabotage the work of researchers and organizations not under his influence?

We can condemn them as cowards, traitors and/or dupes. Or we can labor to find a common ground for all willing to accept the tenets of our crusade. Liberate ourselves from the debilitating manners, misconceptions, petty jealousies, and greed on which our enemy depends for advantage. Draw strength from the very diversities of intellect and passion that today factionalize us.

E pluribus unum the bastards to death.

Who are we? Who are our role models? A process of elimination prompts (troubling) answers.

I shall now put forth—only to dismantle—as fine an argument as I know for the perpetuation (and there’s the rub) of our collegial treatment of the enemy’s pimps, behavior that commonly characterizes “gentlemen’s disagreements” between scholars.

The historian Gordon Craig, in his New York Review of Books analysis of David Irving’s controversial biography of Josef Goebbels, wrote, “It is always difficult for the non-historian to remember that there is nothing absolute about historical truth. What we consider as such is only an estimation, based upon what the best available evidence tells us. It must constantly be tested against new information and new interpretations that appear, however implausible they may be, or it will lose its vitality and degenerate into dogma and shibboleth. Such people as David Irving, then, have an indisputable part in the historical enterprise, and we dare not disregard their views.

“Recently,” Craig went on, “when Christopher Hitchins talked with Raul Hilberg, author of the classic text The Destruction of the European Jews, he found him unambiguous on this point. ‘If these people want to speak,’ Hilberg said, ‘let them. It only leads those of us who do research to re-examine what we might have considered as obvious. And that’s useful for us. I have quoted Eichmann references that come from a neo-Nazi publishing house. I am not for taboos and I am not for repression.” [7]

Nor am I. But would Hilberg join or in any other way dignify an effort to “re-examine” the historical truth of the Holocaust that would compel him in advance to acknowledge the Deniers’ position as an intellectually honest, academically sound, reasoned point of view? Or is his point simply that the arguments of Holocaust-deniers are useful so many years after the established historical truth of the event insofar as they may unintentionally further reveal the nature of the beast?

Could Messrs. Craig or Hilberg or any of us, in good conscience, have entertained the arguments of apologists for Goebbels and the rest of the Bunker Boys at a time when the gas yet hissed and the piano wiring yet tightened?

In our time we dare not be about the historical enterprise, except as a tactic in a greater campaign. Unless, of course, we are willing to concede that the battle for justice in the case cannot be won. Unless we are willing to concede that the case has indeed, as Anthony Summers feared, “toppled over the boundary between current affairs and history.” [8]

I for one make no such concessions. We are fighting a war about which future historians can in good conscience argue with professional detachment. But be advised: Their judgments of our acts today will be harsh and even damning if we do not comport ourselves as warriors engaged in what is truly a life-and-death struggle. If, instead of making a stand, we fade away without commotion, with all of our failures and all of our sins in full blossom.

I am decidedly not about the cold study of history when I ponder the murder of John F. Kennedy. And I am not, by the way, advocating the elimination from our arsenal of the potent weapons of the historian. Rather, I am pleading for our reconsideration of the collective self, and for our unanimous adoption of a more contextually valid and at the same time emotion-driven self-image.

Who are we?

We are the Lakota—of AIM. We are the Jews—of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. We are the Viet Cong—of Tet.

We must know ourselves to be freedom fighters. [9] We are warriors who will not hesitate to use pages of the Geneva Convention treaties as kindling for the execution pyres for our enemies. With victory will come the spoil of defining “war crimes.”

Let us not fear to know our enemy with equal certainty, even if the enemy too closely resembles us. America is not the enemy. America is the enemy’s victim. Your patriotism is suspect only if you decline to do battle with the brute wrapped in your flag.

We are at war, yet consider: Who do we most often choose to engage? When we level our guns on the Warren/HSCA apologists, proceed to annihilate their arguments to the smug satisfaction of our little squad of irregulars, and then insanely decline to press the advantage, we are in effect shooting the messengers while allowing the true enemy to escape unscathed. Worse, we permit the enemy unimpeded use of its most powerful weapon: time.

Journalists did not kill John Kennedy. Historians did not kill America. Contrary to what you are asked to believe, our enemy is not Gerald Posner and his ilk. How many divisions does Posner have?

Posner’s masters did not set out to sway public sentiment with their manufacture of Case Closed. At least not directly. Rather, their immediate objective was to conscript (and in many cases re-up) into the ranks of lone assassin touts a majority of the world’s most influential journalists and scholars, whose own co-opted “opinions” could in turn continue to preserve and encourage the impotent beliefs of, and deny knowledge to, an undereducated, hapless citizenry.

In essence, this operation was a variation on the intelligence operative’s classic so-called

“honeypot” blackmail maneuver, wherein a target is “doubled” after having been lured into a compromising situation (most often sexual in context, but in this case intellectual).

To wit: Once on record as a proponent of the no conspiracy fiction, any one of these movers and shakers inspired to recant by a confrontation with the truth would in effect be confessing prior professional incompetence and personal naiveté. Further, such an act (requiring, alas, reserves of courage and conviction not exactly overflowing from the ranks of the Fourth Estate and academia) would be construed as treason by compromised colleagues left behind in the enemy camp. Retribution no doubt would be swift and terrible.

The degree to which this strategy has succeeded may be measured by cataloging Posner’s dust jacket endorsers. Who should know better. But those original testimonials remain unrescinded (at least publicly). No matter that Peter Dale Scott, Harold Weisberg and others have proven Posner to be a xxxx, plagiarist and traitor to his Constitution.

Once stuck in the honeypot, there is almost never a way out.

But I say that, as the first campaign in our newly declared war’s secret theater, we can and should “redouble” these agents. The truth is on our side. The truth is the most powerful of weapons. Let us hold it, safety off and round in the chamber, to a few temples.

If this tactic is to succeed, our bellicose posturings must leave no doubt as to our mission, strength and will. And they must be backed up by the application of creditable threat: Be warned! We know the truth, and with it we intend to empower former victims who will not find charity in their hearts for their tormentors’ propagandists.

At the same time, we promise meaningful reward: Be saved! All prior sins can be forgiven. If not forgotten.

We extend our own form of blanket immunity to William Styron and Stephen Ambrose and Tom Wicker, not to mention Norman Mailer, Dan Rather and the rest. We rehabilitate them. We commiserate with them, let them off the hook. Stipulate that they were “jobbed” by the most fiendishly clever of foes, that anyone in their position would have behaved similarly. We educate them. Then we force them to choose a side. In other words, we use them. Shamelessly.

Imagine the strategic advantage afforded by a press conference at which Posner’s early champions come forward en masse to tell the world not just that their initial endorsements of Case Closed were the wrongheaded products of gross manipulations, but also that they now will devote themselves tirelessly, on behalf of the public they have served so poorly for so long, to the search for the whole truth in the open case of President Kennedy’s assassination.

The most important benefit of this campaign? We will have established a precedent for the adoption of that tactic most unpalatable, yet indispensable to victory, in armed conflict with a ruthless foe: utilization of the enemy’s own darkest methods. For total war cannot be waged victoriously by a combatant whose actions are burdened by self-imposed moral restraints not suffered by the opposition.

Were any pieties in evidence in Dealey Plaza that day?

Next, we must become master shapers of public opinion. Noam Chomsky has observed that propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship. We must appeal to the hearts and minds—in that order—of the people. We need another JFK, another great work of propagandistic art to get the juices flowing. But this time, instead of contenting ourselves with Take that! victory celebrations, premiere galas, and public television debates of semiotic minutiae, we must storm through the gates that such art will have battered down. Use the truth to liberate the townsfolk. Demonstrate kinship with them. Educate them. Enlist them in our crusade. Promise, and be prepared to deliver, great rewards for their service, including meaningful re-enfranchisement and true ownership of their country.

Thus armed with a terrible resolve, certain of our enemy, emboldened by our newfound allies, let us take the initiative and choose the field. And that field is not Dealey Plaza, where the enemy would have us fight ad infinitum the conspiracy/no conspiracy battle. Which we have won, but which will not amount to a true victory until we demonstrate the courage to accept it as such and press the strategic advantage it offers.

We outnumber the enemy. We outgun the enemy. We can be defeated only by our closely held fears and self-deceptions. And by our unwillingness to feel.

A CALL FOR PASSION

We must understand that, as far as our work is concerned, the repression of passion assures ultimate failure.

In his memoir, A Drinking Life, Pete Hamill recalled the reactions of the Irish to the news of President Kennedy’s death. Hamill was touring Ireland when the word came.

“I let out a wail, a deep scary banshee wail, primitive and wounded, mariachi wail, Hank Williams wail, full of fury and painkids were wailing nowbut I turned, ashamed of my pain and my weeping, and rushed into the night. All through the Catholic neighborhood called Andersontown, doors were opening and slamming and more wails came roaring at the sky, wails without words, full of pagan furies as old as bogs. I wanted to find my father, wanted to hug him and have him hug me. But I careened around dark streets, in the midst of the wailing. I saw a man punch a tree. I saw a stout woman fall down in a sitting position on a doorstep, bawling. I ran and ran, trying to burn out my grief, my anger, my consciousness. I found myself on the Shankill Road, main avenue of the Protestant district. It was no different thereI saw a man kicking a garbage can over and over and over again in primitive rage. I saw three young women heading somewhere, dissolved in tearsThere was a documentaryabout Kennedy’s trip to Ireland in May, smiling and laughing and amused, promising at the airport to come back in the springtime and I thought of the line from Yeats, 'What made us think that he could comb gray hair?' ”[10]

We are as obliged by our special knowledge—and by the very fact that we are alive to comb gray hair—as was John Fitzgerald Kennedy obliged by his privilege, to do the good that others have not the power to do.

We can begin by looking the nation searchingly in the face. By treating its deep disease.

By kicking over a garbage can.

1. A word may be in order concerning Keats’ currently fashionable Negative Capability “of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts without irritable reaching after fact or reason.” The usefulness of this quality as an editing medium for the refinement of our investigative focus is defensible: so many possibilities, so little time. Yet it is the very discomfort of which the poet wrote that gives rise to the resolve required to overcome the clever bastards who would mire us in false mystery. And since both “fact” and “reason” as Keats would accept the terms remain firmly within our reach, the adoption of Negative Capability as a defining principle of our efforts would be morally unacceptable. We have no right to the luxury of not knowing.

2. Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation. (New York: Thunders Mouth Press, 1993, p.29).

3. John Horgan, The End of Science. (New York: Addison-Wesley Melix, 1996, p. 266).

4. Was there a “Gulf of Tonka” resolution?

5. Korczak Ziolkowski, a self-taught sculptor who had worked on the Mt. Rushmore abomination. The idea for the Crazy Horse monument originally was proposed to him in 1939 by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear. Work began in June, 1948, and continues today, more than 20 years after Korczak’s death, under the direction of Ruth Ziolkowski and seven of their 10 children. With some of the $20 million raised through donations and tourist fees, they have purchased the mountain and 328 surrounding acres from a semiotically-challenged U.S. government. Yet continued funding is by no means assured. Korczak twice declined $10 million in federal funds, unwilling to give up the nonprofit status of his work and thus jeopardize plans for a medical training center and university for Native Americans envisioned for the base of the fully realized monument. Not to mention the fact that to have taken the cash would have permitted the original thieves to assume legal control of the project. Estimated time of completion: 2050.

6. It should be painfully obvious by now that public debates of multiple version of the Kennedy murder please the murderers no end. The State ultimately is as well-served by fostering the Mob-did-it, Castro-did-it, and/or even CIA-did-it fables as it is by propping up the lone gunman lie. These straw man scenarios amount to so much firewater – grossly effective soporifics that numb the mild but potentially ominous discomforts of an increasingly skeptical electorate and keep all but the most incorrigible of renegades on the reservation. Where they can grow old, look cunning and wise. And know not a damn thing.

7. Gordon A. Craig, The Devil in the Details. The New York Review of Books, September 19, 1996, p. 8.

8. Anthony Summers, correspondence, 1994.

9. Then againRiffing on the Contras, George Carlin mused, “If crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fires, what do freedom fighters fight?”

10. Pete Hamill, A Drinking Life. (New York: Little, Brown, 1994, pp. 241–242).

*****************************************************************

Thank you, Mr. Drago.

I've taken the liberty of bolding and high-lighting the areas I find most pertinent and meaningful in relation to my views. Especially, when coming across a document as well written and well thought out as this one. I copy and paste my "emphasized" version into an e-mail for myself in order that I may keep it for my files. I hope you don't mind.

With gratitude,

TM

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