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People's Preference for Conspiracy Theories in Jfk Assassination

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Name: Chenwei Wu

Teacher: Laura Whitebell

Class: WRT 105E Truth is Out There

Date: October 23, 2016

Assignment: FA-2 Final Draft

Preference for conspiracy theories in JFK assassination

         The Warren Commission came to the conclusion that Oswald acted alone in shooting Kennedy, and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald before he could stand trial. However, the society seemed not to be satisfied at all: Quantities of conspiracy theories referring to Cuban communists, Soviet government and even Texas oil magnates as conspirators sprang up. Despite Warren Commission’s authority, millions of Americans prefer those theories that seemed to be “on the fringe”. In fact, even today, majority –according to the 2003 Gallup Poll 75% -of Americans don’t believe in the Lone Gunman hypothesis. (Art Swift,1)So how can we explain this strange phenomenon, where two-thirds of people from a country known for freedom and democracy, choose to believe in the conspiracy theories when there are already official theories? The social atmosphere where hostility and skepticism against foreign enemies prevail, the long existing public distrust in the government and the different kinds of propagation by the media, are the three deciding factors for this preference for conspiracy theories.

 First of all, the skeptic and hostile social atmosphere at that time leads to both people’s sensitivity towards conspiracies and their suspicion of the official theory, making them prefer conspiracy theories to official ones. President JFK’s term was at the peak of Cold War, when the tension and hostility against communism rose to the climax. Several failed foreign policies, such as the Invasion of Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis, greatly worsened the international relationships. The 13-day confrontation between superpowers over the Soviet missile deployment in Cuba, was the closest time in cold war to escalate into a full-scale nuclear war, as US bombers full-loaded with nuclear bombs were already over the borderline and ready to attack. These events were televised to the whole country and Communist countries like Soviet Union, Cuba and China all openly announced that they would stand in the opposite to US. The direct witness to these terrifying clashes with communism cultivates deep hostility into the American citizens’ mind. Such hatred could be directly told from the critics’ words after JFK’s assassination and naturally makes people tend to relate the assassination to the abominated. Revilo P. Oliver, when analyzing the causes for assassination, frankly despised Oswald as “a young punk who defected to the Soviet” and proposed his guess that JFK was a Bolshevik himself who “disarm us and make us the helpless prey of the affiliated criminals and savages”. (Davis, 5) His thoughts seemed even paranoid and thus proves that the social background had a profound effect on people’s mind. This paranoid also leads to the dislike for official theories and makes people skeptic of everything related to communism. As is quoted, “It was integrated by persons who at one time or other defended the travel of students to Communists Cuba...the Commission certainly was not wise in hiring them.”(Donald T. Critchlow, 4), people are suspicious of the reliability of Warren Commission’s report as they prefer conspiracy theories blaming communists to the official ones written by people suspected of supporting communism. Moreover, the deeply rooted image of bad communists in American people’s minds make people easily assume communists as the conspirators behind the assassination. For instance, shortly before Kennedy was shot, he addressed in public about his opposition to Cuban communism and determination to bring freedom back to Havana. The connection between JFK’s anti-communist standpoint will remind Americans of the benefits for Castro to kill JFK, making the conspiracy theories more logical and convincing. For these reasons, the social atmosphere contributed a lot to people’s inclination to believe in unofficial conspiracy theories.

  Secondly, the public’s distrust in government due to its former misconducts drives people to believe in conspiracy theories because they might have fear for internal government collusion and be more skeptic and critical about the government theories. Conspiracies conducted by the government before and revealed to the public make the public distrust the government. In March 1962, the military Chief suggested that the army should secretly commit horrible crimes like exploding bombs and homicide meanwhile framing Castro as guilty to justify military operations against Cuba(Olmsted,2), which was a huge shame for the government. Also, the Pig Bay’s invasion in 1961 made the Kennedy government lose prestige as the government secretly but not carefully implemented the failed invasion. These stains create an image of lacking credibility and being controlled by the conspirators for the US government. This long present distrust for the government will create fear for people that government is so powerful that it might carry filthy conspiracies against its own people and even its own president. Such fear puts a lot of people into suspicion that government will hurt them and disappointment that they were not getting the truth from authority. Under this circumstance they would easily turn to those theories claiming CIA or Lyndon government as real murderers, because these theories are the only ones that confirm their inner fear for the government by stating benefits for these groups to murder Kennedy. Besides, with distrust for the government, believers in conspiracy theories tend to be more sensitive to the abnormalities in the government reports while ignoring errors in the conspiracies. For instance, the destroyed or lost evidence such as the car Kennedy was on and Oswald’s military record, turns out to be powerful claims for the supporters of conspiracy, who said that the government intentionally destroyed the evidence the cover the conspiracy up. Meanwhile, they ignore and never talk about the most obvious and basic fallibility for the conspiracies: it is too big a conspiracy to conduct and cover up. (Fred Litwin, 1) Suspicion and sensitivity also makes it hard for them to believe that a lonely gunman killed the US president in a major city in Texas under daylight, which is too simple an answer for those who think the government was complicated and colluding. Therefore, people’s distrust about the government make them tend to accept the theory that JFK was the victim of a large-scale conspiracy instead of Oswald’s personal crime.



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