Honestly, I don’t know.
Last Friday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, and last night, my wife and I watched a History Channel presentation about the assassination. While they did a good job of presenting the facts of the events, the program was driven by statistics of what people thought about the assassination.
In the process, one of the most significant events of the 20th Century is turned into a parlor game: CIA operative X did it from the grassy knoll with a sledgehammer. At the end of the presentation, we were back where we started: another demonstration of the impotence of facts and reason. (There’s a reason for this that goes beyond the JFK assassination, but it’s a subject for another day.)
I was two years old when JFK was assassinated, so I don’t remember what happened. But there is an event of similar dimensions that occurred in my adult life: 11 September. There are many similarities in the two events, particularly in how the government acted to get its official version of the story out and suppress alternatives.
But there are essential differences:
- The official story of the JFK assassination is at least plausible. Some years ago, I watched a documentary of an effort to reconstruct the trajectory of the ‘magic bullet’ that struck both JFK and Texas governor John Connally. The effort succeeded. On the other hand, while I can believe that the Twin Towers would collapse from being struck by airliners, it strains the imagination that they would fall into neat little piles. Moreover, 7 World Trade Center was not struck by airplanes. It sustained damage that should have left it standing. But it, too, collapsed into a neat little pile.
- The Warren Commission that investigated the JFK assassination believed they had gotten to the truth of the matter. I don’t know what the 9/11 Commission thought they were doing, but it wasn’t the same.
- From the official explanation, it follows that the assassination of JFK could not have been avoided. The President was protected with the normal security measures of the time, and it seemed implausible that someone could accurately shoot and kill the President in a moving vehicle. But the coming events of 11 September cast their shadows beforehand, and yet we did nothing to forestall the events.
- The assassination of JFK led to some changes of policy direction, but all of these were within the realm of normal politics. 11 September led to the unfolding police state.