Saturday, November 22, 2008

45 years ago today

Forty-five years ago today, an event happened in Dallas that forever changed American history and inspired the new age of conspiracy theories.

President John F. Kennedy traveled to Texas in November of 1963 to mend some political ties as his 1964 re-election campaign loomed. Kennedy was a Democrat, but he stood for tax cuts and for a strong national defense. As President of the United States, Kennedy called for sending a man to the moon and called for challenging the American people to tackle hard things to prove themselves better competitors than the Soviets. Some conservative pundits argue that President Kennedy would be a Republican today. I will let them argue that.

Instead, I will just note that John F. Kennedy was, on November 22, 1963, a President of the United States simply doing his job when he arrived on a beautiful fall morning in Dallas, Texas. President Kennedy rode in an open air limosuine that wound its way through the downtown streets of Dallas. It was on those streets that President Kennedy met his death from an assassin's bullet. Governor Connelly of Texas was wounded.

Things that day forty-five years ago were in a panic. Upon news of the shooting, telephones in Washington, D.C. were overwhelmed, resulting in the system temporarily failing. The stock markets were shut down. School classes were hushed. Numerous accounts from that day state that the nation just halted.

When the nation learned that President Kennedy was dead, all sorts of rumors flew. Those rumors were compounded when the alleged assassin, John Harvey Oswald, was gunned down himself outside a Dallas police station by a distraught bar owner, Jack Ruby. Rumors hit a fever pitch. President Johnson appointed the Warren Commission, a bipartisan group of respected leaders to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy. However, the Warren Commission's report was never fully embraced by the American people.

As a result, books were sold, movies were made, and learned individuals and nutcases alike chimed in on who really had President Kennedy killed. It created an conspiracy atmosphere that still exists today. At all levels of government activity, there remains a distinct and vocal minority that thinks government or big business or big mafia is plotting against the people. It all goes back to the events of that day in 1963.

Do I know what really happened in Dallas that day? Nope. If I did, I would write a book. But, I do know that whatever happened and its immediate aftermath forever changed American politics and opened the door, so to speak, for conspiracies to become the explanation behind all things, like the War in Iraq or increased local property taxes. Like most conspiracy theories, those who harp on the JFK assassination like to fit the fact to their views.

Here are some videos about that day:

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