In the Blossom of Our Sins
An Eleventh Hour Plea for War and its Absolutions
by Charles R. Drago
This essay was first delivered as a speech to the November in Dallas conference on November 22, 1996. It later appeared in The Fourth Decade (Vol. 4 No. 4, May 1997).
I say we had better look our nation searchingly
in the face, like a physician diagnosing some deep disease.
-- Walt Whitman
O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was also beautiful. One knew nothing ... And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and looked cunning ... or wise ... and still one knew nothing perhaps, was still waiting and listening.
-- Hermann Hesse
* * *
PREFACE TO THE 2014 www.assassinationofjfk.net UPDATE
“[JFK harbored] an acute and anguished sense of the fragility of the membranes of civilization, stretched so thin over a nation so disparate in its composition, so tense in its interior relationships, so cunningly enmeshed in underground fears and antagonisms, so entrapped by history in the ethos of violence.”
-- Arthur Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, pp. 724-25
Half a century passes, yet our focus remains not on the moon but on the finger pointing to it.
As the 50th anniversary of the Dallas operation loomed, petitions were being signed to convince the praetorian guard of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s killers to stand down and allow the truth to be spoken and justice to be pursued during the official observance of the assassination scheduled to be staged – and I do mean “staged” – in Dealey Plaza at 12:30 PM CST on November 22, 2013.
And so it was that in the appointed place, at the appointed hour, the black mass was celebrated. Cracked bells tolled, crocodile tears flowed, deceit-driven litanies were regurgitated, truth and justice were banished, and sheets of foolscap bearing the names of self-anointed warrior-petitioners were cut into small, uniform squares with which the conspiracy’s contemporary Facilitators would wipe their pocked pink puckers.
Half a century passes ...
How can we look our nation searchingly in the face if we have neither the wisdom nor the courage to look searchingly at ourselves?
Anyone with reasonable access to the evidence in this case who does not conclude that a criminal conspiracy resulted in the murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy is cognitively impaired and/or complicit in the crime.
And yet ...
Why, with few exceptions to the contrary duly observed, do we decline at all costs to know, and instead choose merely to believe – in seemingly limitless, mutually exclusive, self-serving variations – the truth about the genesis, planning, execution and cover-up of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy? Why, fifty years after our self-anointing as investigators and court and jury of record in this case of twentieth century regicide, do we remain incapable of defining, let alone serving, justice? Are our sins, our failures of judgment and will, attributable to the sub-conscious fear that, as a consequence of the attainment of knowledge of truth and the effecting of justice, we shall bring about the destruction of the self? Destruction of the nation? Are we prepared to declare total war on our blood enemies: the assassins and their allies? Should we impose moral constraints on our strategies and tactics? What would constitute victory in such a war? Can we unite to overcome the egotism and greed that from the beginning have divided us and guaranteed our impotency? Who are we? Should we define ourselves as warriors? Scholars? Victims? Whither our passions?
WHY DO WE DECLINE TO KNOW THE TRUTH AND FAIL TO EFFECT JUSTICE?
I define justice in the case of the assassination of John F. Kennedy as the utilization of the attainable  absolute truth to cleanse or, if necessary, deconstruct and rebuild the system responsible for the assassination and related crimes.
We must accept the notion that, at this late date, justice will not be served by sending anyone to prison. Indeed, I herein restate my original call for the extension of blanket immunity – amnesty – to all surviving conspirators, contingent upon their coming forward and telling the truth (the offer to be made by an independent special prosecutor as appointed by the Congress of the United States; there can be no meaningful healing of America's most grievous self-inflicted wound that is not self-administered).
Justice will come about only as a function of the revealed truth. And that truth is our last remaining weapon, our most powerful weapon, and the weapon we seem least willing to wield in the war in which we are engaged.
Why do we hesitate? When, in the words of Vincent Salandria, one of the first generation of Warren Commission critics, the truth has been, "blatantly obvious ... all the time" . Why?
Are our individual and collective identities symbiotically linked to the roles we play as Kennedy Assassination Researchers/Investigators/Gadflies to the degree that the termination of those roles, a certain consequence of our ultimate victory, is perceived to be tantamount to the termination of the self? As sufferers of such a fear, we would be in exalted company.
Writing in The End of Science of what he perceives to be scientists' fear of reaching for absolute answers, John Horgan notes: " ...after one arrives at The Answer, what then? There is a kind of horror in thinking that our sense of wonder might be extinguished, once and for all time, by our knowledge. What, then, would be the purpose of existence? There would be none ... Many scientists harbor a profound ambivalence concerning the notion of absolute truth. Like Roger Penrose, who could not decide whether his belief in a final theory was optimistic or pessimistic. Or Steven Weinberg, who equated comprehensibility with pointlessness. Or David Bohm, who was compelled both to clarify reality and obscure it. Or Edmund Wilson, who lusted after a final theory of human nature and was chilled by the thought that it might be attained. Or Freeman Dyson, who insisted that anxiety and doubt are essential to existence ... " 
And if not death of the self, then what of that of the nation, a necrotic body politic that – as we witness in, among other tableaus, Zapruder film frame 313 – long ago suffered the demise of its moral authority to govern and command allegiance?
Allow me a metaphor that will take a moment to develop. The Mt. Rushmore National Monument is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. To the tribe commonly referred to by its vanquishers as the "Sioux," the Black Hills, or Paha Sapa in the language of the Lakota peoples, remains the holiest of places – like the Vatican to Roman Catholics. Assayed and determined to be worthless wilderness by the high priests of Mammon-on-the-Potomac, the Black Hills were formally recognized as sovereign Sioux "property" in a legally binding treaty ratified by Congress. Shortly thereafter, in 1874, a certain young conquistador named Custer led a U.S. Army expedition into the area. Two millionaire miners were with that merry band. They discovered gold in them thar hills. And faster than you can say Eureka! the treaty was unilaterally abrogated. War was manufactured . The Sioux were cast out.
Then – this is rich – to add insult to the injuries of grand theft, genocide, and cultural annihilation, one of the most sacred peaks of Paha Sapa was desecrated with the carvings of the likenesses of the leaders of the cutthroats and thieves.
It is as if barbarians had occupied post-Renaissance Rome, put its citizens to the sword, looted the Vatican, and on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, over Michelangelo’s masterpiece, painted craven images of their chieftains.
Some years later, a Polish immigrant  decided to balance the books by carving on a nearby summit the gigantic likeness of the Lakota war leader Teshunka Witko, or Crazy Horse. Today the artist’s heirs struggle to complete his daunting project. Tourists visit the site each year, although in nowhere near the numbers who regularly flock to Mt. Rushmore. Which I’ve visited. Where a savage irony hangs thick and dank in the desecrated air.
As dusk falls, hundreds gather in the amphitheater at the foot of the monument to watch a documentary film about the great sculpture’s creation. At the appointed time all rise and sing their national anthem, and as the lyric “brave” echoes through Paha Sapa, immense searchlights illuminate what I prefer to appreciate as the memorialized prototype for a later, equally portentous (if understandably less overtly celebrated) summit meeting of true American power-brokers: the Appalachin Conference.
With the labors of our intellect and, I pray, the furious manifestation of our passions, we are sculpting a Crazy Horse Monument of our own: the popularly labeled “Conspiracy Theory.” We do so to counterbalance the suffocating psychic weight of the Mt. Rushmore of officially created and sanctioned assassination myths. But will we ever complete our work? Do we dare to complete it? Could we have achieved our goal years ago? Have we given sufficient consideration to the symbolic/virtual dynamiting of our Mt. Rushmore?
The illusion that is projected at Mt. Rushmore is a sine qua non for the survival of America as a morally defensible political entity. So too are the officially sanctioned assassination pulp fictions. 
Without the succor offered by these (and related) lies-as-history – which is to say, with their long-denied counter-realities (the genocide of North American aboriginal populations by the developers of the USA, the disenfranchisement of the American electorate that took place on November 22, 1963, et al) broadly accepted in their stead – no rational citizen of good character could do less than plot the drastic overhaul, if not the overthrow, of a system of government clearly revealed to be without legal and moral justifications.
So perhaps our illusions are more important to that most sacrosanct of crusades, the preservation of the Union, than is the truth. More important than justice. Perhaps truth and justice once again must be sacrificed on the altar of National Security. No matter the nation-in-question's worth.
Not to fear. We can preserve the self and America with it while continuing to play the role of ace detective in this case. And when, inevitably, push comes to shove, when belief must either metamorphose into knowledge and action or be abandoned, all we need do is scurry backward into our voting booths like light-panicked lobsters seeking the safety of the trap. Nothing sacred will have been damaged. And maybe, someday, if we manage to save enough dough to afford a real vacation, we can visit Mt. Rushmore or return to Dallas and get that familiar, forbidden thrill, the kind experienced when, walking down Main Street with the spouse and kids one day, an almost forgotten extra-marital paramour sashays around the next corner.
Or we can fight!
A PLEA FOR THE DECLARATION OF WAR
We are at war with the murderers of John F. Kennedy and the murderers of America.
And I am sickened by the mercy we extend to a merciless enemy each time we treat with collegiality their disgraced surrogates.
But before we can know our enemy, we must know ourselves. Define ourselves. Be at peace with and possess the courage of our convictions. Unite in a common crusade, the substance of which renders our superficial stylistic differences meaningless.
How should any of us who care about truth and justice in this case treat the well-respected JFK newsletter editor, ostensibly on the side of the angels, who wrote (I paraphrase), "We have to be prepared to accept the possibility that Oswald did it alone"?
Or the influential and celebrated researcher, ostensibly on the side of the angels, who, at the Boston public meeting of the Assassination Records Review Board, graciously greeted and patronized the infamous, wizened madam of the Warren whores?
Or the widely praised journalist, biographer, and FOIA lawsuit-bringing blog owner, ostensibly on the side of the angels, who refuses to acknowledge the truth of conspiracy because he cannot name the conspirators?
Or the founder/figurehead of a JFK assassination carnival production house, ostensibly on the side of the angels, who, true to her ONI (Overly Nice Individual) status, publicly blessed the operation launched by conspiracy Facilitators to banish truth and justice from Dealey Plaza on the 50th?
Who are we? Who are our role models? A process of elimination prompts troubling answers.
I shall now put forth – only to dismantle – as fine an argument as I know for the perpetuation (and there's the rub) of our collegial treatment of the enemy's pimps, behavior that commonly characterizes "gentlemen's disagreements" among scholars.
The historian Gordon Craig, in his New York Review of Books analysis of David Irving's controversial biography of Josef Goebbels, wrote, "It is always difficult for the non- historian to remember that there is nothing absolute about historical truth. What we consider as such is only an estimation, based upon what the best available evidence tells us. It must constantly be tested against new information and new interpretations that appear, however implausible they may be, or it will lose its vitality and degenerate into dogma and shibboleth. Such people as David Irving, then, have an indispensable part in the historical enterprise, and we dare not disregard their views."
"Recently," Craig went on, "when Christopher Hitchens talked with Raul Hilberg, author of the classic text The Destruction of the European Jews, he found him unambiguous on this point. 'If these people want to speak,' Hilberg said, 'let them. It only leads those of us who do research to re-examine what we might have considered as obvious. And that's useful for us. I have quoted Eichmann references that come from a neo-Nazi publishing house. I am not for taboos and I am not for repression." 
Nor am I. But could Hilberg, Craig, or any of us, in good conscience, have entertained the arguments of apologists for Goebbels and the rest of the Bunker Boys at a time when the gas pellets yet tumbled and the piano wires yet tightened?
In our time we dare not be about the historian’s cold work, except as a tactic in a greater campaign. Unless, of course, we are willing to concede that the battle for justice in this case cannot be won. Unless we are willing to concede that the case has indeed, as Anthony Summers feared, "toppled over the boundary between current affairs and history." 
I for one make no such concessions. We are fighting a war about which future historians can in good conscience argue with professional detachment. But be advised: Their judgments of our acts today will be harsh and even damning if we do not comport ourselves as warriors engaged in what is truly a life-and-death struggle. If, instead of making a stand, we fade away without commotion, with all of our failures and all of our sins in full blossom.
I am decidedly not about the cold study of history when I ponder the murder of John F. Kennedy. And I am not, by the way, advocating the elimination from our arsenal of the potent weapons of the historian. Rather, I am pleading for our reconsideration of the collective self, and for our unanimous adoption of a more contextually valid and at the same time emotion-driven self-image.
Who are we?
We are the Lakota – of AIM. We are the Jews – of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. We are the Viet Cong – of Tet.
We must know ourselves to be freedom fighters . We are warriors who will not hesitate to use pages of the Geneva Convention treaties as kindling for the execution pyres of our enemy. With victory will come the spoil of defining "war crimes."
Let us not fear to know our enemy, even if the enemy too closely resembles us. America is not the enemy. America is the enemy's victim. Your patriotism is suspect only if you decline to do battle with the brute wrapped in your flag.
We are at war, yet consider: Who do we most often choose to engage? When we level our guns on the Warren/HSCA apologists, proceed to annihilate their specious arguments to the smug satisfaction of our little squad of irregulars, and then insanely decline to press the advantage, we are in effect shooting the messengers while allowing the true enemy to escape unscathed. Worse, we permit the enemy unimpeded use of its most powerful weapon: time.
Journalists did not kill John Kennedy. Historians did not kill America. Contrary to what you are asked to believe, our enemy is not Gerald Posner and Vincent Bugliosi and their ilk. How many divisions do Gus Russo, David Guyatt, Larry Dunkel, and Magda Hassan have?
John Kennedy was shot in the street like a mad Sochi dog. The conspiracy was observed and the cover-up initiated before the echoes of gunfire had faded from Dealey Plaza. Conspiracy in the assassination of JFK is historical truth – beyond all reasonable doubt and to the degree of metaphysical certitude.
But fifty-plus years later the conspiracy-lone nut “debate” rages on – to the sweet satisfaction of the cover-up’s Sponsors and Facilitators. For it never was and never shall be their intention to convince an overwhelming majority to endorse the lie.
Rather, their intention – the sacred mission upon which their lives and hegemony depend – is to prolong the mind-numbing uncertainty and paralysis-inducing sense of powerlessness that are engendered by the faux debate and that render moribund the global democratic body politic.
A CALL FOR PASSION
We must understand that, as far as our work is concerned, the repression of passion assures ultimate failure.
In his memoir A Drinking Life, Pete Hamill recalled the reactions of the Irish to the news of President Kennedy's death. Hamill was touring Ireland when the word came.
"I let out a wail, a deep scary banshee wail, primitive and wounded, mariachi wail, Hank Williams wail, full of fury and pain ... kids were wailing now ... but I turned, ashamed of my pain and my weeping, and rushed into the night. All through the Catholic neighborhood called Andersonstown, doors were opening and slamming and more wails came roaring at the sky, wails without words, full of pagan furies as old as bogs. I wanted to find my father, wanted to hug him and have him hug me.
"But I careened around dark streets, in the midst of the wailing. I saw a man punch at a tree. I saw a stout woman fall down in a sitting position on a doorstep, bawling. I ran and ran, trying to burn out my grief, my anger, my consciousness. I found myself on the Shankill Road, main avenue of the Protestant district. It was no different there ... I saw a man kicking a garbage can over and over and over again in primitive rage. I saw three young women heading somewhere, dissolved in tears ... There was a documentary ... about Kennedy's trip to Ireland in May, smiling and laughing and amused, promising at the airport to come back in the springtime and I thought of the line from Yeats, What made us think that he could comb gray hair?" 
We are as obliged by our special knowledge – and by the very fact that we are alive to comb gray hair – as was John Fitzgerald Kennedy obliged by his privilege, to do the good that others have not the power to do.
We can begin by looking the nation searchingly in the face. By treating its deep disease.
By kicking over a garbage can.
POSTCRIPT – 2014
My re-evaluation of this work nearly 18 years after its initial publication continues. It has been deeply enriched by the historical scholarship and spiritual insights of James Douglass and, of course, my friend and mentor, my confidante and comrade-in-arms, George Michael Evica.
Today I am uncomfortable with and mistrustful of the emotions that drive and would justify my bellicose imagery and attitudes. I am exploring, through the works of Douglass and others, Satyagraha and the non-violent resistance that “truth force” inspires.
But I am imperfect. I cannot claim the right to be thought of as a satyagrahi. Far from it. My blood still boils, my fists still clench, and my righteous indignation still prompts me to savage verbally – but savage nonetheless – those who would carry the conspirators’ water or otherwise stymie our quests for truth and justice for John Fitzgerald Kennedy and for the millions collaterally damaged by his assassins.
Perhaps my original, long-shelved idea for the creation of a formal, government-run JFK assassination Truth and Amnesty Commission modeled after the South African body of the same name has become timely again. For details, please review at:
Or am I just asking one and all to sign my version of the Dealey Plaza petition?
In closing, I share the following slightly amended excerpt from my Introduction to Professor Evica’s A Certain Arrogance. Thus I take you back to a late November afternoon in Dallas ...
George Michael and I, frantic exiles from the high-spirited hijinks of yet another JFK carnival, had found ourselves in Dealey Plaza at dusk, suddenly far from the madding crowd. Light was filtered thinly through brittle leaves and sorrow. And I asked if he too sensed the presence of unquiet spirits.
As usual, George Michael was years ahead of me. He had indeed experienced the same feelings on many occasions in that place. And he spoke at length, his voice subdued yet redolent with conviction, about his certainty that the fight against the forces that struck John Kennedy, the same forces that today prowl the killing fields of the Middle East and Africa and Asia and the Americas, endures into the next world.
The quietude of Saint John’s churchyard where his mortal remains rest represents but a temporary respite.
The novelist James Lee Burke showed us that he understands this immutable truth when he wrote the following ruminative passage for his fictional Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux:
“Down the canyon, smoke from meat fires drifted through the cedar and mesquite trees, and if I squinted my eyes in the sun’s setting, I could almost pretend that Spanish soldiers in silver chest armor and bladed helmets or a long-dead race of hunters were encamped on those hillsides. Or maybe even old compatriots in butternut brown wending their way in and out of history – gallant, Arthurian, their canister-ripped colors unfurled in the roiling smoke, the fatal light in their faces a reminder that the contest is never quite over, the field never quite ours.”
Anyone with reasonable access to the evidence in this case who does not conclude that a criminal conspiracy resulted in the murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy is cognitively impaired and/or complicit in the crime.
Copyright © 2014, CHARLES R. DRAGO
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
- A word may be in order concerning Keats currently fashionable Negative Capability "of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts without irritable reaching after fact or reason. The usefulness of this quality as a medium for the refinement of our investigative focus is defensible: so many possibilities, so little time. Yet it is the very discomfort of which the poet speaks that gives birth to the resolve required to overcome the bastards who would mire us in mystery. And since both "fact" and "reason" remain firmly within our reach, the adoption of Negative Capability as a defining principle for our efforts would be at least stupid, if not immoral. We have no right to the luxury of not knowing.
- Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation. (New York: Thunders Mouth Press, 1993, p. 29
- John Horgan, The End of Science. (New York: Addison-WesleyMelix, 1996, p. 266)
- Was there a "Gulf of Tanka" resolution?
- Korczak Ziolkowski, a self-taught sculptor who had worked on the Mt. Rushmore abomination. The idea for the Crazy Horse monument originally was proposed to him in 1939 by Sioux Chief Henry Standing Bear. Work began in June, 1948, and continues today under the direction of Ruth Ziolkowski and seven of their 10 children. With some of the more than $20 million raised through donations and tourist fees, they have purchased the mountain and at least 328 surrounding acres from a semiotically- challenged U.S. government. Yet continued funding is by no means guaranteed. Korczak twice declined $10 million in federal funds, unwilling to give up the nonprofit status of his work and thus jeopardize plans for a medical training center and university for Native Americans envisioned for the base of the fully realized monument. Not to mention the fact that to have taken the cash would have allowed the original thieves to assume control of the project. Estimated time of completion: midway through the 21st century (although June 25, 2076 would be the ideal date).
- It should be painfully obvious by now that public debates of multiple versions of the Kennedy murder please the murderers no end. The State ultimately is as well-served by fostering the Mob-did-it, Castro-did-it and/or even CIA-did-it fables as it is by propping up the lone gunman fantasy. These straw man scenarios amount to effective soporifics (firewater, if you will), numbing the mild but nonetheless ominous discomforts of an increasingly skeptical "electorate,H keeping all but the most incorrigible of renegades on the reservation. Where they can grow old. Look cunning and wise. And know not a damn thing.
- Gordon A. Craig, "The Devil in the Details." The New York Review of Books, September 19, 1996, p.8
- Anthony Summers, correspondence, 1994
- Then again ... Riffing on the Contras, George Carlin mused, "If crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fires, what do freedom fighters fight?"
- Pete Hamill, A Drinking Life. (New York: Little, Brown, 1994, pp. 241-242)