Friday, January 07, 2011

Does a JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theorist Have Anything Useful to Say About “Peace”?

Marquette’s Center of Peacemaking, an organization that opposes the use of military force by the U.S. and its allies (American’s enemies? No so much) is bringing to the campus one James Douglass.

We know a bit about Douglass, having reviewed his book on the JFK assassination for the website Washington Decoded.

Bottom line: it’s really bad.

Douglass, being a “peace activist,” sees America as under the control of the evil forces of militarism, an opaque nemesis he calls “The Unspeakable.” Those folks killed JFK, he believes. Since he is including Obama in the talk, we might wonder whether he believes that Obama is, like his mythical Kennedy, an opponent of the militarists, or their lackey.

His answer: “Obama has become an obedient servant to his national security state, and as a result, a source of despair to many of his supporters.”

His book on the JFK assassination gives a lot of insight into his thought processes, which are a jumbled, self-righteous, muddled mess.

His claim that Kennedy had decided that Vietnam was lost, and that the U.S. should pull out and let the Communists take over runs contrary not only to the best historical sources (one of which is Robert Kennedy’s statements in an April 1964 interview) but JFK’s own statements. In September 1963, Kennedy flatly told Walter Cronkite in a broadcast interview “I don’t agree with those who say we should withdraw. That would be a great mistake.”

Also in September, Kennedy was asked by Chet Huntley whether the U.S. should reduce aid to South Vietnam. His reply: “I don’t think that would be helpful at this time.”

When describing the supposed JFK conspiracy, Douglass buys a host of crazy theories that even most established conspiracy theorists reject.

He believes, for example, that there were multiple “Lee Oswalds” running around the countryside, leaving a trail of sightings that was supposed to implicate poor innocent Lee.

Douglass believes conspiracy witnesses that have long been discredited. For example, he accepts at face value the latter-day claims of one Dr. Charles Crenshaw, who was in the operating room when doctors were trying to save the life of Oswald after Jack Ruby had shot him.

In his book, Crenshaw claimed that Lyndon Johnson called and demanded that a confession be extracted from Oswald. But that wasn’t in the book when Crenshaw first tried to sell it to publishers. In the first version, he had LBJ calling and demanding that Oswald be killed (that doctors should “drown Oswald in his own blood,” that is, transfuse him until his lungs collapsed). When no publisher would buy that version, he changed his story to make it (barely) more plausible.

Yet for Douglass, Crenshaw has no credibility problems at all.

The Minds of “Peace Activists”

Douglass is thus all too typical of “peace activists” and their Manichean view of the world. The forces of evil are many and powerful, and the forces of righteousness few and beleaguered.

If this vision of the world requires one to suspend all critical thinking, and believe whatever reinforces ones own moral pretensions, so be it.

The Director of the Center of Peacemaking, one Simon Harak, spoke at Marquette in 2005, and asserted that depleted uranium anti-tank rounds used by U.S. forces in Iraq had resulted in numerous deformed babies. And indeed, he regaled the audience with photos of deformed infants.

Unfortunately, the World Health Organization has examined the issue, and concluded that DU munitions would produce only very minimal doses of radiation, and could not be responsible for the deformities that Harak showed.

But hey, why worry about those scientific trivialities when you are promoting “Peace.”

People who genuinely want to promote peace need to have some respect for logic and evidence.

People who genuinely want to promote peace need to beware of beliefs that make themselves feel very self-righteous.

And people who genuinely want to promote peace need to be careful of siding with Communist totalitarianism (which many of them did during the Cold War) or with terrorism (which they frequently do today).

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Blogger jimspice said...

It is just so difficult to take your opining on the merits if science, logic and evidence given your utter disdain for the same concerning global warming.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also difficult to take your positions seriously in light of your views on homosexuality.

12:39 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...


I don't think you actually know anything much about global warming except what the New York Times tells you.

1:20 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

It's also difficult to take your positions seriously in light of your views on homosexuality.

You can take my positions seriously or not, but if you don't know the distinction between a moral/religious issue and an empirical/historical issue, it's hard to take your views seriously.

1:21 PM  
Blogger jimspice said...

See, that's just it. How could you possibly know the extent of my knowledge of any given issue? You just pull it out of ... whole cloth. I would expect more from an academic.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Center for Peacemaking is a Marquette University organization. Marquette University is located in AMERICA. Therefore, their message of peace, although universal, has a special focus on OUR problems in America.

It's difficult to read your pieces after you write off a student organization that promotes worldwide peace headed by a Jesuit priest.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous G. Simone said...

What is the source that Dr. Crenshaw's first version was that LBJ demanded that Oswald be 'drowned' by the Parkland doctors?

(Surely I can see how an angry and distraught southerner like LBJ would've made an emotional outburst like that, but I doubt he meant it literally, IF he actually said something like that.)

8:28 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

It's difficult to read your pieces after you write off a student organization that promotes worldwide peace headed by a Jesuit priest.

Are you actually asserting that student organizations are always right?

Are you actually asserting that a "Jesuit priest" is alway right?

As for a "message of peace:" that's not what the organization is about. It's about left-wing politics, and hating America.

1:48 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Hi, G. Simone,

Two sources. The first is at the bottom of this page:

The second is Livingstone’s Killing the Truth, (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1993), 506. Livingstone cites as his source “Various discussions with Dr. Charles Crenshaw” (p. 607).

1:53 PM  

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