Saturday, November 6, 2010

Supplying the Motive Behind the Murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Until reading James W. Douglass' JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, I had never given the assassination of the thirty-fifth president much thought. He was, I thought, just as much of an empty suit as our current president and just as much a philanderer as the last member of his party to occupy the Oval Office. Why would anyone besides a lone nut have wanted him dead?

Mr. Douglass, a theologian, proves beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Kennedy had a conversion experience after the Cuban Missile Crisis and became a heretic to what the author calls "Cold War theology." John F. Kennedy's co-conspirator was none other than Nikita Khrushchev, with whom he maintained a secret correspondance. Both leaders faced fierce opposition within their own governments; one was assassinated and the other ousted the following year.

Mr. Douglass, whose last chapter has 937 footnotes, delves into the conspiracy behind the presidential murder in great detail. It becomes clear that it was an inside job. (Either that, or Lee Harvey Oswald was at the head of a vast conspiracy involving hundreds of people, many of whom would sacrifice their own lives, organized to makes us believe he was the "pasty" he claimed to be.)

One of the most interesting features of the book is its structure: rather than a straight chronological narrative, the main events are revisited again and again, each time offering deeper insights. For example, while we learn early in the book about the above-mentioned secret correspondance, we do not learn of the bold proposal that would have effectively ended the Cold War (and put a lot of powerful people out of work) until the very last pages.

"A remarkable story that changed the way I view the world," said Flags of Our Fathers author James Bradley of the book. For me, this remarkable story confirmed the way I view the world, but changed the way I view President Kennedy, and I am thankful for that.

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OpenID danightman said...


I've been meaning to find this book for some time and recently purchased it at Books A Million. Interestingly enough they have lots of copies in stock, so it seems to be picking up interest.

One comment on the introduction is that I don't think the word "Martyr" is a consistent term for Kennedy's death. Perhaps, if it is the result of a confrontation with evil leading to death for justice, the best term would be the Orthodox one for the Royal family of Russia, Passion Bearer

The second was Thomas Merton's comments about his time. Douglas quotes Merton's warning to those "who are at present too willing to be reconciled with the world at any price must take care not to be reconciled with it under this particular aspect: as the nest of the Unspeakable. There are many who did not heed this warning to, I fear, their eternal cost, even in the Church (could the warning also refer to those in Vatican II, I wonder?).

Third, while truth has a force, no one should forget that its power is not as a Truth force. Truth is not a something, but a somebody, as Father Corapi correctly puts it.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

I don't really know what to say when faced with theories like this. I guess I don't have a conspiratorial cast of mind. The idea that there was a cabal within our government to kill President Kennedy is just a little bit hard for me to grasp.

I do think that Kennedy was growing in office, that he was moving in a more small-c conservative direction, that he was rethinking aspects of US foreign policy. This evolution was the result of a host of things: the Bay of Pigs, the missile crisis, the unraveling of democracy in South Vietnam, the death of Kennedy's infant son.

1:48 PM  
OpenID danightman said...

It wasn't just aspects of foreign policy in which he shifted from the liberal socialist camp that dominated American politics since at least Wilson. He appeared to give indications of shifting his support of the Federal Reserve, a small-c conservative stance that would have been a shock to the system of Wall Street elitists that put the thing in place in the first place.

In other words, it was a conversion, perhaps, to a small-c conservatism in general that might have got him killed. And that, contends Douglas, came from a conversion of heart to a more orthodox approach to the faith, which would (super)naturally move him to a more servant-based mode of leadership.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Francis Xavier said...

Assuming the hypothetical that this book is entirely accurate, if only for the sake of argument, at the time JFK died less than 10 years after the genocidal Stalin finally left us, any policy other than than "Peace through megatons" would have been foolish in the extreme.

Did the US have blemishes then? Human nature answers the question.

It is easy for those who watched to, at the end of the day, lambaste those who did.

11:04 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Mark in Spokane, it is interesting to note that JFK had been an America Firster in the years leading up to WWII, which Douglass does not mention.

danightman, some say it was his moves against the Fed that got him killed. Yoe will enjoy the book. If Father Corapi was right that truth is Somebody, Father Merton was also right that the Unspeakable was a somebody.

Francis Xavier, "less than 10 years after the genocidal Stalin finally left us" could also be read as "as much as 10 years after the genocidal Stalin finally left us." After all, we're talking about a man who, at his ouster said:

"I'm old and tired. Let them cope by themselves. I've done the main thing. Could anyone have dreamed of telling Stalin that he didn't suit us anymore and suggesting he retire? Not even a wet spot would have remained where we had been standing. Now everything is different. The fear is gone, and we can talk as equals. That's my contribution. I won't put up a fight."

Douglass's description of the moment of "grace" when the atheist Khrushchev turns back from the Cuban Missile Crisis is one of the most evocative of the book. (Another is the Soviet leader's proud display of the papal medal he received from Pope John XXIII, which Kennedy ironically envied; as a Catholic he had to distance himself from the Pope, while the communist premier did not.)

11:49 PM  
Blogger Francis Xavier said...

Russia had had centuries of despotic rule, and the worry that it might return was legitimate.

I haven't read the book. But if what you write is true, the book isn't. Look into Kagan "on the preservation of peace and origins of war" for the real history of the Cuba missile crisis.

JFK had given Khruschev the green light, and the whole missile scare was theater to save Kennedy's hide.

1:25 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Your view is supported by Ivan Eland's recent appraisal of the Cuban Missile Crisis: Ted Sorensen’s Death Should Cause Reflection.

Still, Douglass notes, while neither Kennedy nor Krushchev were saints, there may have been a "turning" at the brink. which not only saved humanity, but condemned both men.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Francis Xavier said...

Read Kagan - I highly recommend it.

The documents make clear that JFK was asked through back channels whether he'd object before the missiles were placed on Cuba, and the whole crisis was a CYA. In other words JFK and his lecher brother were daring Capitol Hill, the military and intelligence community to call his bluff and tell the entire country that the whole missile crisis was a sham to cover up his total incompetence. This is not how one makes friends.

If this is true, and the record seems to be clear, he really should have been impeached.

7:27 AM  
OpenID danightman said...

Francis Xavier,

That might have been an honest way to deal with the situation. Put it to the Congress and let people debate the issues honestly put.

Sad that the situation conspired to prevent this.

11:34 AM  

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