Tuesday, January 16, 2007

That Creepy Little Smile

Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone and without accomplices, shot and killed the President and wounded Texas Governor John Connally from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository Building in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. --Summary of the Warren Commission Report

There are many reasons for a reasonable man to agree with the Warren Commission findings on the assassination of John Kennedy. The best one is probably that, while there are a fair number of people who agree with the Warren Commission finding, it’s pretty hard to get two of the conspiracy theorists to agree to anything. Castro did it. No, it was the Mafia. No it wasn’t, it was the CIA. Yeah, but the FBI had to be involved. So the FBI co-operated with the CIA, with Russian support, to help Castro do it. No, it was a Secret Service man who killed Kennedy by accident. Wait a minute, Nixon was clearly part of it. No, you idiot, it was Johnson. Are you sure it wasn’t Onassis?


It’s also depressing that so many people think it matters at this late date, that if they could somehow prove that Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, or if he did it as part of some Grand Conspiracy, then we could somehow re-write the last 40 years of world history so it would Come Out Right This Time. Or, at any rate, make us something less than 40 years older.

Well, I’m certainly not going to convince any Kennedy Conspiracy Theorists (you know who you are, but I’d rather you didn’t let me know it, actually), and I’m certainly not going to spend the inordinate amount of time that would be necessary to go over each obsessive detail that has been enlarged to cosmic significance here. I will make a brief aside to note that, if evidence of police interference and evidence tampering were evidence of innocence, then O. J. Simpson is as innocent as any man on the planet.

However, I have something different to say here.

A few years ago, the teenaged daughter of a friend asked about the Kennedy assassination, since all she’d ever heard was from people who thought it obvious that there was a conspiracy behind it, many of them believing that Oswald was framed. Here’s what I told her:

They caught the Olympic bomber recently, Eric Robert Rudolph, and I saw him on television as they brought him in. He was smiling, and I couldn’t get that smile out of my head. I’ve seen it before. It wasn’t a big smile; you could barely see it. But it was there. Timothy McVeigh had it, and so did John Salvi, who killed those abortion doctors. I realized that I’d seen that smile a lot of times.

Lee Harvey Oswald had it, practically up to the moment he was gunned down by Jack Ruby. You can see a hint of that smile even in Jack Ruby’s mug shot.

I think they feed on it. They’re nobodies for their entire lives, and then they get the attention that they’re sure they deserve. Why shouldn’t they smile? They’re alive and better human beings are dead. They’ve gotten what they’ve always wanted. They’re winners now, in the only way they know, by killing the real winners, and even executing them now just feeds that sense of their now being important, because now they’re important enough to kill.

That’s why people so want it all to be grander, to better purpose. Our President dead? Scores of people buried in rubble? Brave men bleeding on the pavement? It can’t be this nebbish who did it. It can’t be that pointless. It can’t, it can’t it can’t.

But it can be that pointless. There is an infinite hunger in that creepy little smile.

I wrote the above essay last June, but I was reminded of it when I saw this.

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