Foothill Technology High School

Opinion: Release of JFK files won’t end conspiracy theories

Since President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, questions challenging the Warren Commission’s conclusion leave the crime shrouded in conspiracy theories. The JFK files, released Oct. 26, beg more questions than answers while unmasking an old administration’s clandestine motives. Their true impact, regardless of the files’ content, will be in ensuring that the legacy of tinfoil hat-wearers lives on.

Be aware that proven conspiracies like Project MKUltra and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident alone are reasons to distrust government. This holds up through present day, what with all the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance and intrusion of internet privacy rights. The official story of JFK’s death doesn’t satisfy most Americans, unless experts manage to travel back in time and capture the shots from a more revealing angle. President Trump puzzlingly agreed to release the files “in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest following a back-and-forth with state intelligence.

The irony behind Trump’s purpose for these files is that they expose the government almost as much as they do Lee Harvey Oswald, the man deemed by the Warren Commission to be Kennedy’s killer. Exposed plans to pin the killing of refugees on Fidel Castro, stage bombings in Miami and wage biological warfare on Cuban agriculture speak volumes about the ethics of America’s state intelligence in the 1960’s. Even someone who wasn’t swayed by “JFK” director Oliver Stone’s masterful filmmaking can understand the perspective of conspiracy theorists. Atrocious government proposals found in the files, combined with the extended amount of time it took to make them public should draw eyeballs.

A smoking gun likely won’t arrive as incriminating evidence against any alternative suspect in the story. That includes driver Bill Greer, the Badge Man and yes, Jackie Kennedy. No matter what new stuff is dug up, self-proclaimed “ballistics experts” on YouTube will continue their tired nitpicks of the Zapruder film. People who subscribe to flat earth, moon landing and 9-11 conspiracies will fall back on their go-to maneuver: absolute distrust of authority. It doesn’t matter if we have pictures of the spherical earth or the Apollo landing sites, because theorists will always cherry pick.

The same maneuver will apply in the case of the JFK files. Yes, Oswald’s connections to foreign powers are present, but thus far there aren’t any major bombshells that add to the existing mountain of evidence that proves his guilt. If more appears, skeptics will still degrade evidence—new or old—that favors the single-gunman theory so long as it’s procured by the government. It’s possible that most skeptics’ rejection of reason is simply the inability to fathom how some maniac, wielding a rifle that possessed quality comparable to a Soviet-manufactured car, could kill a beloved president.

The exact number of accurate claims of government conspiracy and whether they include the one about Kennedy’s death is irrelevant. That’s not the overarching point. The point is that it’s deluded to believe any JFK file released by the government will quell conspiracy theory absolutists, especially when a share of the documents confirm their suspicions of the “deep state” all along.

–Alex Dodos

Featured Image Credit: Popperfoto/Getty Images used under CC BY 2.0

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