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Good essay on the JFK Movie.


 



 
The J.F.K. Flap

by Murray N. Rothbard

   

    

This essay originally appeared in the May 1992 issue of The Rothbard-Rockwell 

Report.


 

 
The most fascinating thing about JFK, as exciting and well-done as it is, is not 

the movie itself but the hysterical attempt to marginalize, if not to suppress 

it. How many movies can you remember where the entire Establishment, in serried 

ranks, from left (The Nation) through Center to Right, joined together as one in 

a frantic orgy of calumny and denunciation. Time and Newsweek actually doing so 

before the movie came out? Apparently, so fearful was the Establishment that the 

Oliver Stone movie might prove convincing that the public had to be thoroughly 

inoculated in advance. It was a remarkable performance by the media, and it 

demonstrates, as nothing else, the enormous and growing gap between Respectable 

Media opinion and what the public Knows in its Heart.


 
You would think from the shock of the Respectable Media, that Stone's JFK was 

totally outlandish, off-the-wall, monstrous and fanciful in its accusations 

against the American power structure. And you would think that historical films 

never engaged in dramatic license, as if such solemnly hailed garbage as Wilson 

and Sunrise at Campobello had been models of scholarly precision. Hey, come off 

it guys!


 
 

Despite the fuss and feathers, to veteran Kennedy Assassination buffs, there was 

nothing new in JFK. What Stone does is to summarize admirably the best of a 

veritable industry of assassination revisionism  of literally scores of books, 

articles, tapes, annual conventions, and archival research. Stone himself is 

quite knowledgeable in the area, as shown by his devastating answer in the 

Washington Post, to the smears of the last surviving Warren Commission member, 

Gerald Ford, and the old Commission hack, David W. Belin. Despite the smears in 

the press, there was nothing outlandish in the movie. Interestingly enough, JFK 

has been lambasted much more furiously than was the first revisionist movie, Don 

Freed's Executive Action (1973), an exciting film with Robert Ryan and Will 

Geer, which actually did go way beyond the evidence, and beyond plausibility, by 

trying to make an H.L. Hunt figure the main conspirator.


 
 

The evidence is now overwhelming that the orthodox Warren legend, that Oswald 

did it and did it alone, is pure fabrication. It now seems clear that Kennedy 

died in a classic military triangulation hit, that, as Parkland Memorial autopsy 

pathologist Dr. Charles Crenshaw has very recently affirmed, the fatal shots 

were fired from in front, from the grassy knoll, and that the conspirators were, 

at the very least, the right-wing of the CIA, joined by its long-time associates 

and employees, the Mafia. It is less well established that President Johnson 

himself was in on the original hit, though he obviously conducted the 

coordinated cover-up, but certainly his involvement is highly plausible.


 
The last-ditch defenders of the Warren view cannot refute the details, so they 

always fall back on generalized vaporings, such as: "How could all the 

government be in on it?" But since Watergate, we have all become familiar with 

the basic fact: only a few key people need be in on the original crime, while 

lots of high and low government officials can be in on the subsequent cover-up, 

which can always be justified as "patriotic," on "national security" grounds, or 

simply because the president ordered it. The fact that the highest levels of the 

U.S. government are all-too capable of lying to the public, should have been 

clear since Watergate and Iran-Contra. The final fallback argument, getting less 

plausible all the time is: if the Warren case isn't true, why hasn't the truth 

come out by this time? The fact is, however, that the truth has largely come 

out, in the assassination industry, from books  some of them best-sellers  by 

Mark Lane, David

 Lifton, Peter Dale Scott, Jim Marrs, and many others, but the Respectable Media 

pay no attention. With that sort of mindset, that stubborn refusal to face 

reality, no truth can ever come out. And yet, despite this blackout, because 

books, local TV and radio, magazine articles, supermarket tabloids, etc. can't 

be suppressed  but only ignored  by the Respectable Media, we have the 

remarkable result that the great majority of the public, in all the polls, 

strongly disbelieve the Warren legend. Hence, the frantic attempts of the 

Establishment to suppress as gripping and convincing a film as Stone's JFK.


 
Conservatives, as well as centrists, are smearing JFK because Stone is a 

notorious leftist. Well, so what? It is not simply that the ideology of the 

teller has no logical bearing on the truth of the tale. The case is stronger 

than that. For in a day when the Moderate Left to Moderate Right constitute an 

increasingly monolithic Establishment, with only nuanced variations among them, 

we can only get the truth from people outside the Establishment, either on the 

far right or far left, or even from the highly non-respectable supermarket 

tabloids. And it is no accident that it is an open secret that the heroic "Deep 

Throat" figure in JFK is Colonel Fletcher Prouty, who is certainly no leftist. 

And one of the outstanding Revisionist writers is the long-time libertarian Carl 

Oglesby.


 
 

One particularly welcome aspect of JFK, by the way, is its making Jim Garrison 

the central heroic figure. Garrison, one of the most viciously smeared figures 

in modern political history, was simply a district attorney trying to do his job 

in the most important criminal case of our time. Kevin Costner's expressionless 

style fits in well with the Garrison role, and Tommy Lee Jones is outstanding as 

the evil CIA-businessman conspirator Clay Shaw.


 
 

All in all, a fine movie, for the history as well as the cinematics. There are 

some minor problems. It is unfortunate that the founding Kennedy Revisionist, 

Mark Lane, felt that he had to leave the movie-making early, with the result 

that the film does not bring out the crucial testimony of Cuban ex-CIA agent 

Marita Lorenz, who has identified right-wing CIA operative E. Howard Hunt, Bill 

Buckley's pal and control in the CIA, as paymaster for the assassination. (See 

the brilliant new book by Lane, Plausible Denial.) According to Lane, heat from 

the CIA during the filming led Stone to underplay the CIA's role by spreading 

the blame a little too thickly to the rest of the Johnson administration.


 
As the case for revisionism piles up, there is evidence that some of the more 

sophisticated members of the Establishment are preparing to jettison the Warren 

legend, and fall back on an explanation less threatening than blaming E. Howard 

Hunt or the CIA: that is to lay blame solely on the Mafia, specifically on Sam 

Giancana, Johnny Roselli, and Jimmy Hoffa, none of whom are around to debate the 

issue. A convincing attack on the Mafia-only thesis was leveled by Carl Oglesby 

in his Afterward to Jim Garrison's book of a few years back (which formed one of 

the bases for JFK) On the Trail of the Assassins. The Mafia simply did not have 

the resources, for example, to change the route or call off military or Secret 

Service protection.


 
Many conservatives and libertarians will surely be irritated by one theme of the 

film: the old-fashioned view of Kennedy as the shining young prince of Camelot, 

the great hero about to redeem America who was chopped down in his prime by dark 

reactionary forces. That sort of attitude has long been discredited by a very 

different kind of Revisionism  as tales have come out about the sleazy Kennedy 

brothers, Judith Exner, Sam Giancana, Marilyn Monroe, et al. Well, OK, but look 

at it this way: a president was murdered, for heaven's sake, and good, bad, or 

indifferent, it is surely vital to get to the bottom of the conspiracy, and 

bring the villains to justice, if only at the bar of history. Let the chips fall 

where they may.


 
One happy result of the film was the conclusive Stoneian argument: if everything 

is on the up and up, why not open up all the secret government files on the 

assassination? It looks as if the pressure for opening will win out, but once 

again, phony "national security" will prevail, so we won't get the really 

incriminating stuff. And some of the crucial material is long gone, e.g., the 

famed Kennedy brain, which mysteriously never made it into the National 

Archives.


 
Reprinted from Mises.org.


 

 
Murray N. Rothbard (19261995) was dean of the Austrian School, founder of 

modern libertarianism, and academic vice president of the Mises Institute. He 

was also editor  with Lew Rockwell  of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, and 

appointed Lew as his literary executor. See his books.


 

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