The murder of JFK in Dallas was to me the most traumatic national experience in my life and it negatively changed the destiny of our country. For many around my age this is also true, but it is now fifty-three years past and the majority of Americans have no real knowledge of it. The trauma of that day and the ensuing events of history have left me with an admittedly irrational repugnance towards the city of Dallas and I feel almost a shudder when I hear of Dealey Plaza, where the murder took place. These feelings are so intense that I doubt that I will ever visit Dallas in my lifetime, much less go to Dealey Plaza. An article at WhoWhatWhy.com some years back discussed the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. For those not steeped in the JFK assasination, the purported assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, supposedly shot JFK from that 6th floor. The article was a humorous look at the potential for Christmas gifts that might be available at the museum’s gift shop and of course provided a link to the museum’s website, which I then followed. Going to the website and perusing it caused me to muse about the ability in our country to turn even our most solemn national events into commercial enterprises, while we pretend that they provide an educational service.
As a good parent I’ve taken my children and grandchildren to various historical sites around the country as a part of trying to impress them with the heritage they’ve acquired by being born in the United States. I came to fatherhood rather late, so that there were many years that I spent also visiting these historical sites and museums in order to increase my own understanding of my culture. There have only been two places/museums that I’ve visited that aroused any emotion within me in all my eight decades of life, yet the emotions aroused weren’t because of the experience per se, but because of my own personal emotions that were specific to the event memorialized. The first place was the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.. My visit there, with my wife and young children, was both painful and cleansing emotionally. I found myself continually sobbing, as was my wife, as we watched our young girls wide eyed at the pictures and information of what can happen to Jews like us just because of our ancestry. As I remember it there was no gift shop on the way out for “Shoah Souvenirs” to commemorate the visit.
The one other historical site that touched me deeply, was the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, also in Washington D.C.. For me and many in my generation, after JFK was murdered everything seemed to go wrong as almost immediately we were entrenched in a murderous war in Southeast Asia, for no good purpose. This terrible war cost us more than 58,000 lives and literally uncounted hundreds of thousands of troops whose lives were forever traumatized. That many of those who fought were drafted into service, made their deaths and maiming all the more poignant, simply because they were forced to sacrifice themselves towards an insane goal, based upon false premises. The beautifully designed wall, listing all those who died in order of their deaths, was almost too much for me to bear and I had lost no one close to me. I sobbed as I walked the path and touched the names, while looking for those acquaintances of mine who died in Vietnam. What I found so moving was that as someone who had not been drafted due to my bad heart, but who had been part of the protest movement against the war, the deaths and harm of so many of my contemporaries was so terribly sad to contemplate. This doesn’t even begin to equate when you think of the millions of Vietnamese and other Southeast Asians who had their lives needlessly ended or disrupted by that terrible war. The memorial is outside and at its’ end there is no souvenir shop, nor bookstore to detract from its solemnity, although in true human commercial fashion, outside there were many people hawking merchandise.
So much of what we deem the ethos of our nation is merely steeped in hypocrisy as we raise memorials and have solemn ceremonies honoring the tragedies that have befallen our nation and its citizens. Politicians and dignitaries preside over our public memorials and the commercial sector also latches on seeing a good opportunity to make money and get good PR in the process. Thus we see the NFL always “honoring the troops”, while Congress keeps cutting their benefits. We see Walmart running commercials guaranteeing one of their ill-paying jobs to any veteran with an honorable discharge. We see slime like Rudy Giuliani using the trauma of 9/11 to promote himself and become fabulously wealthy. We used to honor George Washington with a National holiday and Abraham Lincoln as well. But two days off were “bad business” so their remembrance has morphed into one “President’s Day”, festooned with sales promotions using actors dressed in their costumes, selling automobiles made by foreign manufacturers. There once was a national holiday known as Thanksgiving, where most were given the day off to be with their families to engage in a family feast that hopefully allowed us to celebrate the bounty of our country. Now Thanksgiving merely marks the day before “Black Friday” and in our rush towards retail sales, stores are making their employees work through the holiday. The effect in the end is the gradual destruction of all that makes America a cohesive community and leaves us, its citizens, as merely consumers of endless crap to support the wealth of a few.
So now I return to the museum at Dealey Plaza. You can visit its website here: http://www.jfk.org/ and you can see the wares it sells in its gift shop here: http://store.jfk.org/category_s/44.htm . Think of all the fun and learning you and your family can have with this visit to where a famous murder took place? You can look out the window where presumably Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK. You can tour the exhibits that detail JFK’s life and times and then you can go to the gift shop and purchase appropriate souvenirs to remember your visit. For instance you can buy a Sixth Floor Museum Mini Tray with a JFK quote for only $44.
The book lauding the Warren Commission titled: History Will Prove Us Right for only $29.95.
Why bother with the historical stuff though when you can buy a Jackie Collection Kunzite Ring for $79.
Visit the site and I’m sure you will find something that you absolutely need to remind you of JFK’s murder. Be the first of your friends to have a souvenir, or maybe even start a JFK Murder Collection of your very own.
The article at WhoWhatWhy by its proprietor Russ Baker titled Fun Last-Minute Gift Ideas From Dallas’s Sixth Floor Museum, is of course mordant satire. Satire though is usually on point with reality, only viewed with a skewed lens. Now I realize that it is too late to get gifts for this past Christmas, but I hope you will keep Baker’s following suggestions for future gift ideas in mind for next Christmas, or perhaps the significant birthday of a loved one. This is presented in the spirit of the Museum’s mission statement:
“The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history”
Please note that Russ Baker, as do I, believes that the JFK murder was a put up job. and I will link Baker’s theories at the end of this piece. I will also link to Baker’s own articles on the JFK murder, which comes from his book about the Bush Family. Given Baker’s viewpoint needless to say his take on the museums gift shop is a jaundiced one, rightfully so.
“Now, we enjoy a sanitized version of history as much as anyone else, so we tried to imagine what other kinds of gifts the museum could offer, consistent with its mission. Here are some possibilities—sure to please one and all:
• “Oswald did it” T-shirts: available from Super Tiny to XXL, in over 100 different shades. Closeout.
• Copies of the most popular books supporting the Warren Commission findings—whether you prefer Vincent Bugliosi, Gerald Posner, or Professor Bill O’Reilly, we’ve got ‘em all! With every purchase, we’ll toss in the booklet, “Why the 99 percent of books that say the opposite are just not worth your time—or ours.”
• “Serious Ho Ho Ho”: Framed poster of former CIA chief Allen Dulles as Santa Claus, with cuddly little corporate executives on his lap, telling him what they secretly wished for a month before Christmas, 1963.
• “Cover-ups” Gift Box Edition: Give your loved ones our handy, semi-transparent “cover-ups”. Perfect for preventing fingerprints from ruining surfaces.
• “Lone nuts”—your favorite almonds, cashews, pecans and other nuts, packaged individually for the discriminating eater with a small appetite.
• “We’re High on Dallas High Society” – an 800-page look at the exciting lives and selfless charitable acts of Dallas’s most powerful families. With each order, we’ll toss in a list of our museum benefactors and supporters, and you can have fun matching names.
• “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” paperweights
• “Coincidence Theory,” the board game. You’ll have hours of fun with your kids, rearranging facts so they seem downright silly.
• Bumper stickers: “Who Killed JFK? Well, Who Killed JR?”
• Jar of Pickled Red Herrings. Domestically produced!
• Our 50th Anniversary pamphlet: “How to Throw a Big Event Without Embarrassing Yourself.” Closeout.
• Warm, fuzzy socks festooned with the image of our 41st president, George H.W. Bush, and the caption: “I Can’t Remember Where I was on 11/22/63 Either”
• DELUXE: Special visit to the “sniper’s nest.” Although we’ve had to cordon off access to the actual spot from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy—for National Security reasons—we’re making it available, for a limited time only. For just $500, you’ll get to spend a solid five minutes in Oswald’s shoes. Copies of Das Kapital and other communist literature will be on hand if you get bored. Note: this offer not open to forensic marksmanship examiners of any kind.
• Speed Game, complete with obstacles. Get Lee Harvey Oswald from the sixth floor to the second floor lunch room where he was observed calmly drinking a soda just a couple of minutes after Kennedy was hit. Show off your skills.
• Magic Bullet Fun. See if you can make a bullet go through two different people, turn, and go back into one of them, then emerge almost in pristine shape. The entire family will enjoy this challenge.
Don’t wait—supplies limited!”
The purpose of propaganda is to take historical happenings and skew the way they are seen in the minds of the public being propagandized. Thus the ruling class of Germany after the First World War blamed their ignominious defeat on traitors and Jews. Hitler marched to this drum beat and the minds of the public were turned away from the actual causes of WWI, which was their corrupt monarchy backed by an inherited class of military leadership and towards scape-goats. Hitler and Goebbels merely took the material already available and expanded it. The cabal that murdered JFK and proceeded with what was in effect a coup against the Constitution has also covered up their treason albeit by only scape-goating one person, Lee Harvey Oswald. Now admittedly this differs from the German General’s and the NAZI’s approach because it limits the victims of the scape-goating.
The first move to cover what really happened when JFK was murdered was the exhaustive and exhausting Warren Commission Report led by Allen Dulles and J. Edgar Hoover, both of them men who hated JFK and thought him a bad person. Those who have literally trashed the report have been propagandistically turned into lunatics, while their telling points are ignored and disparaged. Beyond the Warren Commission Report many techniques have been used to ostensibly memorialize JFK, that really only serve to trivialize the impact of his death. So they named public schools, airports and space centers after him. This Dealey Plaza Museum is another example of memorialization by trivialization and incidentally brings many tourist dollars into the city where JFK was murdered. The museum also serves as a propaganda tool, because people such as Russ Baker and me, don’t believe that the Sixth Floor of the Texas Book Depository was the only shooting site, while the Museum institutionalizes the propaganda.
There are some who believe that life, our society and our country are only about money and power. There are some that believe that commercial/financial interests are the only valid objects for a society and that those who control those interests are the only people of importance. I’m not one of those people and I must admit that it saddens me to see people’s lives and our country so trivialized.
Below are Russ Baler’s theories on the JFK murder which you can follow in order: