Adrienne BoettingerMonday,25 November 2013

The Snap:

With a world fascinated by anniversaries of dramatic events and the expression of odd analogies, this past Friday was always gonna be nuts. It was the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, AKA the Pearl Harbor/9-11 of the 1960’s. Even those who doubt the awesomeness of Camelot admit America was forever changed that day in Dallas. But why? And why do the majority of Americans still believe the official account of the assassination is a lie and that the government colluded in a cover-up of massive proportions?

The Download:

Like most 13-year-olds in 1990, I was obsessed with the JFK assassination. In my spiral notebook, I recorded conspiracy theories and “facts” of the death of America’s youngest, most beautiful, and highly Catholic president. My obsession started with a visit to see my dad’s best friend; he had scads of books on the assassination and had even purchased a rifle like the one Oswald reportedly used, saying that he couldn’t hit the side of a barn with that gun. I was convinced. Something shady had gone down and armed with my notebook, the complete Warren Commission Report and the compellingly sweaty Kevin Costner’s portrayal of District Attorney Jim Garrison, I would definitely solve this mystery.

Sadly, I got distracted; the onset of hormones, panic induced by my first weeks of high school, and the sheer denseness of the Warren Commission Report decimated my interest in the assassination. I also felt like I was missing out by having no good answer to “where were you when Kennedy was shot” since I was technically pre-embryonic.

What does it say about our government that so many people still believe there was an official cover-up? What does it say about us that we’re so suspicious of the government’s role in his death? And what does it say about the state of mental health in the U.S. that some people believe a soul-sucking alien life-form was present at the assassination?

Is the answer that we’re lazy and crazy? Maybe. Or is it that so many people were swept up in the idea and promise of Kennedy rather than the man himself. For a nation that had just gotten used to viewing its leaders on TV and seeing daily clips of a young, beautiful family at the White House, watching news coverage of the assassination must have been a terrifying, but unifying experience. People were united in their grief, in the disbelief that someone so powerful could be taken so quickly.

Thank God this was before the 24-hour noose cycle. Could you imagine the breathless coverage on CNN and Fox “News”? They’d be hyperventilating. When today they compare the Affordable Care Act to the Fugitive Slave Act and the toll the act’s roll-out has taken on the President to the self-inflicted wounds of the crack-smoking, binge-drinking pile of poo that is the Mayor of Toronto, I fear what they would do with an actual cataclysmic event like the Kennedy assassination. We’d be scraping Wolf Blitzer off the ceiling.

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Hat Tips:

ABC NewsCNNThe Times-Picayune of Greater New OrleansLA TimesWashington PostForeign PolicyHuffington PostThe Colbert Report, Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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