POSTED BY MARTIN KICH
It’s 2017, and the last classified documents related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy are due to be released on October 26. In fact, about a quarter of those documents were already released several weeks ahead of time, as if to prime the pump.
As if it needs any priming.
Writing for The Conversation, Ken Drinkwater and Neil Dagnall report:
Ironically, author Jim Marrs, who wrote the bestselling book Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, sadly passed in August, and will be unable to add to this discussion. But of course like all good conspiracy theorists, Marrs is now at the centre of one. His death is one of several recent prominent conspiracy theorists, who are now the subject of intrigue, machination and conspiracy.
Drinkwater and Dagnall suggest the following explanation for the broad acceptance of conspiracy theories:
Conspiracies also frequently emerge during times of fear and uncertainty–- such as disasters, financial crisis, deaths. This suggests that conspiracy theories provide a sense of individual control by enabling people to make sense of the world. . . .
The persistence and generation of conspiracy theories demonstrates their individual and social significance, and people endorse conspiracies for a variety of reasons. This is usually, when either no definitive explanation for an event exists, or the official account appears inadequate.
I think that their explanation may have made more sense in 1963 but that we have now entered into another realm altogether, one in which conspiracy theories have become a sort of competing reality.
Drinkwater and Dagnall then survey a number of other prominent conspiracy theories and provide this tidbit:
But the JFK files aren’t the only thing to get conspiracy theorists excited in 2017. A number of other landmarks in conspiracy theories have also happened this year – August 16 was the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, and August 30 marked 20 years since the tragic passing of Diana Princess of Wales.
I am surprised that the fact that they died 20 years apart has not become the basis for a theory that some sinister force orchestrated both deaths.
As Drinkwater and Dagnall note, the conspiracy theories that have emerged over this past year do not require a great deal less suspension of disbelief:
New conspiracies have also emerged this year. The solar-eclipse was said to be the start of the end of the world, while the Charlottesville riots were purportedly orchestrated by the American liberal left to discredit President Donald Trump.
The first example is almost archetypal, but the second is very suggestive of our current political dysfunction.
What is most different now is that the conspiracy theories are not simply about the president but have their source with the president—Obama was born in Kenya and his birth documents were altered in order for him to become president, thousands of Muslims in New Jersey were celebrating the collapse of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and, of course, the suggestion that Ted Cruz’s father may have been involved in the Kennedy assassination simply because he appears in the background of a photo of Oswald.
Trump was not just a guest on Alex Jones’s radio show but praised him effusively for his lunacy. In contrast, although I cannot say this with absolute certainty, I am pretty sure that F.D.R. was never on Father Coughlin’s radio show.
The way in which Coughlin quickly turned from an ardent supporter to a vociferous critic of Roosevelt might be an object lesson for Trump. Within two years, Coughlin went from asserting “The New Deal is Christ’s Deal” to “denouncing Roosevelt as a tool of Wall Street.” In an incoherent sort of populism that should be very familiar today, he “saw Wall Street and Communism as twin faces of a secular Satan.”
I have taught an interdisciplinary Honors seminar on the political and cultural impact of the Kennedy assassination. But I am not anywhere close to an expert on the topic. John McAdams has long maintained the best website on the topic, called simply The Kennedy Assassination [http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/home.htm]. Two of the many sub-sections of the site are especially fascinating: “Best of Kennedy Assassination Web Sites” [http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/bestof.htm] and “A Half Century of Assassination Literature” [http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/halfcentury.htm]. Wikipedia also has very extensive coverage of the topic.
Drinkwater and Dagnall’s complete article is available at: https://theconversation.com/final-jfk-assassination-files-due-for-release-it-will-be-a-bumper-year-for-conspiracy-theorists-84082.