So many will ask this question, because like many events of history it is so far in the past its relevance to today can be only limited to being a case study in the mistakes made. Of course, such a thing will never happen again, will it?
It would be foolish of any of us to ignore the lessons of history and for many of us the fact that this event occurred during our lifetimes means it is all too recent. So what lessons can be learned?
The United States of America is the greatest democracy on the planet, or so we are told, but just how much are they not telling us? In the early part of the 1960’s, just 15 years from the end of the war, various organisations had a life of their own with limited accountability to elected officials. The FBI, the CIA, the military, the Secret Service, etc; these organisations we now know had become involved in activities that they could justify to themselves at the time as necessary to protect US interests at home and abroad. To what extent would this end up being their justification for removing an elected official, even a president?
There are so many books, articles, films, television programmes and web sites from which you can research more on the subject. Detailed assessments range from in-depth, intelligent analysis to mindless ramblings by the ill-informed.
Texts usually fall into one of two camps; the "Warren Commission Apologists" and the "Conspiracy Theorists". Both are meant to be pejorative terms formulated by the opposite camp. This has become more a war of words on the subject with each faction fiercely defending its firmly held beliefs.
With the vast quantity of evidence around today surely the truth should be self-evident. However, the evidence collected over such a long time is often self-contradictory. However, I would suggest a rule of thumb:
Evidence produced within the first few months following the Assassination may well be constrained in nature but is generally less clouded by poor memory and suggested ideas;
Much of what exists in the exhibits of the Warren Commission is good, despite witnesses being led or intimidated, evidence being presented selectively and inappropriately and general poor practice. What is in question is more to do with the interpretation of the evidence;
Commonsense should prevail. When you read some of the ridiculous theories expounded, just ask yourself, does this make sense? Is it probable? In order to do this however, I think you have to suspend the basic assumption that the Government does not lie.
Some books are worth reading because they give a good perspective on some particular aspect of the Assassination, some because they are interesting accounts to put things into context. Some would be interesting too if you simply accept they are nonsense. Only too many are over-complicated and detailed, trying to place far too much emphasis on specific aspects of Oswald and his life prior to the Assassination to be placed on the essential reading list. Some books expound worthless theories that were the only basis upon which the book had any hope of being published. Publishers won’t publish unless you have something new to say.
For those inclined to the conspiracy theory.
For those inclined to the official version of events.
There are so many web sites dedicated to the Assassination and, like all publications, they have their good, bad and the ugly. Some are essential viewing as they put forward the academic perspective and allow decent study of the subject by serious historians.
Some web sites worth visiting:
I hesitate to refer to Oliver Stone’s film JFK, because although I think it started out as a fair representation of Garrison’s story and portrayed him accurately as a stubborn, obsessed man who handled things badly, its rather ridiculous climactic court scene was just so over the top to be embarrassing at times. Not only that, I find it hard to refer anyone favourably to any film with Kevin Costner, the most wooden actor in Hollywood. Not Stone’s best film by a long way.
For a thorough evaluation of the Zapruder Film
Image of an Assassination - A New Look at the Zapruder Film, MPI Teleproductions - a thorough and absorbing analysis of the Zapruder film with high definition renditions