Friday, November 22, 2013


Who could it be?  Who?
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the day President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, presumably by either a lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald or everyone else except Oswald.  Whole reams of copy have been printed since the President died, including the Warren Report, memoirs, conspiratorial who-dunnits, and a coffee-table breaker by Vincent Bugliosi of Charlie Manson fame that is supposed to finally debunk the tomfoolery of cranks and kooks.
Instead of diving into the absolutely useless debate over why someone would kill the President, I want to instead focus some minor discussion on the issue of JFK, RFK, and the Middle East.  Of course, this will in turn result in a discussion of Oliver Stone's classic mystery film JFK, which stands the test of time as a technically-brilliant work of editing and cinematography with an equally matched streak of homophobia that can only be attributed to the sort of un-reconstructed Stalinism that Stone subscribes to, as made obvious by his recent 10-hour documentary mini-series, The Untold History of the United States, and its companion volume by Peter Kuznick.
However, before we can discuss that element, we should perhaps begin in the middle of the film.  Halfway through the story, the heroic Jim Garrison, played by Kevin Costner, witnesses in horror the murder of Bobby Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan, attributing his slaying to RFK's promise to take us out of Vietnam.
Now, this is the point where Stone looses all grips on reality.  First, a decade prior to his brother's murder, RFK sat next to Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn on a daily basis, watching the junior Senator badger everyone about Commies under the bed and hiding in the closet.  A major element of that circus was emphasis that Indochina was a major part of the Domino Theory, and McCarthy referred to it often.  If either Kennedy was a dove, why not jump up then and proclaim their insights on Ho Chi Minh?  Furthermore, why, if they were so anti-war, would they have been involved in the Friends of Vietnam Committee, a group that not only supported but was responsible for the sustaining of the Diem regime in the South?  Simply put, they were not doves, they were merely pragmatists who understood the unsustainable nature of the war and how to curry votes with the issue, be it for or against peace.
Of course, this returns to the why of RFK's murder.  In reality, Sirhan Sirhan targeted Kennedy not because he won a primary but because it was the one year anniversary of the June 1967 war, a war that continues to define the realities of the Israel-Palestine conflict.  Sirhan himself was adamant in his confession, he chose the day and the target in revenge for the support RFK had shown for the IDF through a shipment of helicopters.
Stone and Kuznick do not devote any time in their work to Israel and Palestine, while they concentrate multiple chapters to the leadership of a variety of Marxist-Leninists who defined the Cold War.  Lenin is contrasted with Woodrow Wilson in the first section of the book, which deals with the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the Versailles Treaty.  Stalin and FDR are the co-stars of the chapters devoted to the Great Depression and World War II, with Winston Churchill serving an ancillary role somewhere on the end of the spectrum closer to Hitler, consistently foiling efforts to open a second front in Europe until eighteen months after the original proposed date of a landing in France so to engage in the African and Italian campaigns, a move which was seen as more focused on preserving the British colonial system than relieving pressure on the Red Army.  By the time FDR dies and is replaced by Truman, Stalin is shown as a desperate figure being betrayed by anti-Soviet machinations on the part of FDR's successors.  Khrushchev is a reformer and a moderate who is consistently being upstaged by the hawkish Eisenhower and the plain lunatic Nixon. By the time JFK is elected, Stone has created an image of public rivals who are secretly standing in solidarity against carnage-hungry military advisors in their respective cabinets, the Politburo and the Joint Chiefs.
However, lest the reader be deceived, the companion volume does devote all of one paragraph to the creation of Israel, a major move made by Harry Truman.  And in this paragraph, the adamant Old Leftist Kuznick has decided to hedge his bets.  Despite the fact that Ilan Pappe, a respected Israeli historian who also subscribes to Marxist-Leninism, has devoted entire books to the ethnic cleansing under Plan Daylet, Kuznick chooses to fall back on old Zionist propaganda that was dissembled more than a quarter century ago by respected academics and journalists, specifically the mythical 'radio broadcasts'.  For those just tuning in, a major lie in the founding narrative of Israel is that a variety of Arabic countries that attacked Israel in 1948 sent radio broadcasts across the airwaves, in Arabic, that instructed civilian Palestinians to abandon their homes and property and run into the dessert to get out of the crossfire between the nascent Israeli Defense Forces and the variety of Muslim jihadist hordes intent on pushing all the Jews into the sea.
There are two falsehoods to deal with here.  First, while Palestinians are a majority Muslim, those exiled from their homes included Orthodox Christian, Catholic, Anglican, and Druze Arabs.  Therefore, the idea that the hordes of invading Turks were bent on an insane jihadist mission melts like wax next to a blowtorch.  For the family of Edward Said, it was not a holy war, it was being forcefully and violently removed from their property by an invading army.
Second, more notably, it is impossible for any academic, from any country on earth, to locate transcripts, tapes, or even oral histories from anyone about these alleged radio broadcasts.  It would seem that, given the severity of the situation, these broadcasters would have simply created a tape recording to loop continuously on the air, because anyone would have been hoarse from merely repeating these line ad infinitum.  And, to be clear, 1948 was a year when all major intelligence agencies on both sides of the Cold War had concentrated intelligence operations in Palestine.  The British were exiting a former colonial holding, and they had a whole division of intelligence officers dedicated to securing shipping and trade routes for King and Country.  The American CIA was mindful of the geo-political issues that were to arise in the future, and were dedicated to keeping the new Jewish state within the capitalist sphere.  By contrast, Stalin himself saw the benefit of giving recognition to Israeli sovereignty, especially because the kibbutz movement was based on socialist models that could easily be subverted into Bolshevik collectives, many Jews emigrating to Palestine were from Eastern Europe, including the USSR, and were devoted to a variety of socialist lines of thinking, including Marxism.  But the archives of these three super powers fail to not just transcribe these broadcasts, they fail to even mention them.  In an era when fleas on a camel were given utmost attention and notice by these intelligence agencies, it seems very odd to leave out such a huge event, the voluntary exit of Palestinians and the creation of the world's longest-running refugee problem.  The fact this point comes from Benny Morris and Christopher Hitchens, men who later devolved into full-blown conservatives when the leadership in their countries took a swing to the Right, is the biggest validating point here.  WHOOPS!
In exchange for the truth, we get a lunatic conspiracy based in vicious bigotry against homosexuals.  In Oliver Stone Land, homosexuality is a symptom of bourgeois corruption.  Here's a typical screed from the Stalinist era, issued by a CPUSA member:
The spread of fascism is an exquisite demonstration that the era of reform has come to an end, and has given way to an age of punishment. The punishment is complete and all-embracing. The population is thrown into the dungeon of medieval practice. It is compelled by methods of the Inquisition to swear to superstitious creeds, and mystic vagaries, and utopian schema. Like a scorpion which strikes its own head with its tail, humanity is being knocked senseless by the physical tortures meted out to it by the rotting dregs and social scum fascism raises to power. The d’eclass’es are taking their revenge on the classes. The narcotic, the homosexual, the paranoiac, the sadist, the syphilitic, are enthroned in power. Fascism is not genius become insane but mediocrity become mad.  -THE CONQUEST OF POWER, Albert Weisbord, 1937
Stone's thesis is basically that a cabal of lunatic queers, linked to the CIA, Cuban exiles, the Mob, and the Joint Chiefs, murdered JFK so they could turn Vietnam into a capitalist haven.  This is nothing but pure Stalinist homophobia, and even the most 'anti-revisionist' of modern Stalinist parties rebuke this idea as putrid.  Why Stone decided to fall back on such tropes is hard to decide, we see his homophobia tempered but not totally purged in the quasi-sequel to JFK, his extremely well-acted NIXON.
What Stone fails to mention, however, is the extremely problematic nature of his hero, Jim Garrison.  Since the film was released, huge gaps in the credibility of the District Attorney have come forth.  The witnesses he called on were actually drugged with sodium pentothal.  What's more, after Garrison's death, one man has come forward that claim the great prosecutor sexually victimized him as a child while at a country club sauna.  The link between pedophilia and homosexuality has been thoroughly disproven, but it is interesting to think that perhaps Garrison targeted Clay Bertrand for prosecution because of a line of logic which might deflect inquiries into the DA's perversion.
This sort of insanity is far more than any kind of decent human being should be able to tolerate.  Stone himself cannot muster an apology for this blatant homophobia, saying in the director's commentary track of the DVD that "hey, this is how they really behaved".  The fact that he cannot also say this about the Kennedy brothers and how they behaved towards the Vietnamese and the Palestinians is not the sign of artistic integrity, merely a deeply confused scoundrel who fails to grasp the true harm he does to LGTBQQ youth and the national liberation movements he allegedly supports.

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