Belmont Club

The First Marine

Ed Epstein, who has written more about the JFK assassination than anyone I know, observed that Lee Harvey Oswald was distinguished, if you could call it that, in more ways than one. Ed sent a link to an article which says in part:

Oswald became the first Marine to defect to the Soviet Union. In Moscow, he delivered a letter stating: “I affirm that my allegiance is to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”

Not only did he publicly renounce his American citizenship but he told the U.S. consul that he intended to turn over to the Soviet Union military secrets that he had acquired while serving in the Marines, adding that he had data of “special interest” to the Russians. Since he indeed had exposure to military secrets such as the U-2 spy plane and radar identification system, and since he may have collected data while on active duty, his defection had serious espionage implications. …

Before disappearing into the Soviet hinterland for a year, Oswald spelled out his operational creed in a long letter to his brother. From Moscow, he wrote presciently of his willingness to commit murder for a political cause: “I want you to understand what I say now, I do not say lightly, or unknowingly, since I’ve been in the military…. In the event of war I would kill any American who put a uniform on in defense of the American Government–,” and then ominously added for emphasis, “Any American.” Although his letter was routinely intercepted by the CIA and microfilmed, no discernible attention was paid to the threat contained in it.

Oswald told his wife he planned to hijack an airliner to Havana, suggesting, as the summer progressed, that he might even earn a position in Castro’s government. On September 9th, in a report that appeared on the front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Castro himself warned that if American leaders continued “aiding plans to eliminate Cuban leaders… they themselves will not be safe.”

Coincidentally another friend posted a picture of on my Facebook page, which looked so much like another famous picture that I have juxtaposed them below. “History,” Mark Twain noted, “does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

iworeverse

Lee Harvey Oswald was the first Marine to defect to Russia, however that’s not what most of them do. Oswald’s choice was exactly that. Some make the choice above. Some make the choice below.

oswaldrifle

Oswald would have been surprised to learn that despite his best efforts he won’t be remembered as he wished.  Popular culture has thrown up an almost unrecognizable, ahistoric Oswald, someone who worked for Nixon and the CIA, and who knows perhaps, even the Tea Party. The first lie was that he was a ‘loner’. Ed writes that “Oswald was never a ‘loner’ in the conventional sense.” He belonged to every left wing organization you could shake a stick at.

Ever since he was handed a pamphlet about the Rosenberg prosecution at the age of 15, he had sought out affiliations with political organizations, front groups and foreign nations that opposed the policies of the U.S. When he was 16, he wrote the Socialist Party, “I am a Marxist and have been studying Socialist Principles for well over five years” and he requested information about joining their “Youth League.” He also attempted to persuade a friend to join the youth auxiliary of the Communist Party. He subsequently made membership inquiries to such organizations as the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Labor Party, The Gus Hall-Benjamin Davis Defense Committee, the Daily Worker, The Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the Communist Party, USA — correspondence that brought him under surveillance by the FBI.

Lee Harvey wanted to shoot JFK. Whether he did so unaided or with accomplices remains unsettled. Fifty years after that Day in Dallas not everyone remembers that Lee Harvey Oswald was an avowed Communist and that the main issue surrounding the assassination was whether Oswald was acting under the direction of a foreign power. He is viewed rather as the despoiler of paradise.

Someone, perhaps it was Napoleon, perhaps it was Voltaire — remarked, “toutes les histoires anciennes, comme le disait un de nos beaux esprits, ne sont que des fables convenues“. ‘History is a fable agreed upon’.  Some would prefer however to know which is the fable and which is the fact.  It’s comforting to believe that JFK’s Washington was Camelot and Lee Harvey Oswald was the product of a right wing hatred that despised the sight of youth, happiness and vigor. But it’s not really true.

There is some irony however in the circumstance that Oswald failed in his attempts to become a Communist martyr. Even in death, the Narrative covered him like a shroud. In Ed Epstein’s JFK Assassination Diary, an account of his attempts to unravel the mystery over the course of half a century,  Epstein recounts being on the stage with Oliver Stone, the director of the famous movie, to discuss JFK.

Oliver Stone arrived promptly at 7:30 PM, accompanied by two comely assistants, Jane Rusconi, researcher on JFK, who sat next to him on stage, and Kristina Hare, his production assistant, who sat in the an almost ten-minute long standing ovation. It was clearly his audience. …

Mailer spoke first. He began by saying that the JFK assassination should be “seen not as history but as a myth in which the gods warred and a god fell.” He remarked about Stone, “Of course, like many a movie man beforehand, he mislabeled the product. He did not make cinematic history, and in fact, to hell with that. He’s dared something more dangerous. He entered the echoing halls of the largest paranoid myth of our time: the undeclared national belief that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by the concentrated forces of maligned power in the land.” … he sketched out his view that JFK was killed as part of an apocalyptical struggle to change history, so I was not totally surprised at his deification of Kennedy as a “god.”

Epstein rose and pointed out that everything was represented on the stage but the facts.

So it fell to me to point out that Stone’s JFK had diverged so far from the facts of the case that it was nothing short of an organized misrepresentation of reality. I had prepared the night before by jotting down the issues on two 3×5 cards. The first dealt with the general problem of mixing fact and fiction, It read: “Although they may aim at the same purpose of finding truth, non-Fiction and fiction are two distinct forms of knowledge. The writer of non-fiction is limited by the universe of discoverable fact. He cannot make up what he does not know– no matter how strong his intuition or suspicion. The writer of fiction knows no such boundary: He can fill in whatever gaps exist with his imagination.”

The second card dealt with the falsity of one specific scene in JFK in which David Ferrie (played by Joe Pesci), Garrison’s original suspect, confesses to Garrison that he had been involved in the assassination along with the CIA, Lee Harvey Oswald (played by Gary Oldman), and Clay Shaw (played by Tommy Lee Jones.) Ferrie is then found mysteriously dead. noted on the card, “In the factual universe, Ferrie confessed to no such thing. Contrary to Stone’s version, Garrison never claimed that he made any confession. In his own book Trail of the Assassin. Garrison acknowledged that Ferrie insisted he had no connection whatsoever with Oswald, Shaw or the assassination. So the key scene in JFK is pure invention. Yet, audience has no way of knowing this, and once the fictional confession is added, the audience is irretrievably misled.”

But now surveying the audience, I realized I needed a more winning approach. So I took another tact. “ I’m going to be in the minority,” I began, “but I believe there is a difference between nonfiction and fiction.”

Foolish him. Epstein may have had the facts on his side, but Oliver Stone probably has history’s. The audience gave Stone, when he gave his rebuttal, another standing ovation. So you might as well get used to it.  Nixon had JFK shot, at the behest of the Tea Party, then embryonic in young George W. Bush. And Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania.


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