Nicholas Lezard: Who cares who killed Kennedy?

These are the nut-jobs who believe Obama is a Muslim and the Jews were behind 9/11

Share
Related Topics

I wonder how much this is going to tingle your intellectual palate. According to a book by Brian Latell, the CIA's former national intelligence officer for Latin America, Fidel Castro knew about the impending assassination of John F Kennedy. Apparently, Oswald, having been refused a visa for Cuba, offered to prove his determination and loyalty to the Communist cause by offering to kill the President. Storming out of the embassy which had denied him the relevant bumf, he shouted: "I'm going to kill Kennedy for this!"

My answer to my opening question is: not very much, I bet. I think we long ago passed the My-Eyes-Glaze-Over moment when it comes to JFK's assassination. My own such moment came in 1991, a third of the way through a screening of Oliver Stone's sprawling, incoherent epic, JFK, when I finally stopped wondering, once and for all, who killed Kennedy, and started wondering instead what I was going to have for dinner, if I managed to make it through the remaining two hours of the film.

Unless, of course, you are a diehard conspiracy theorist, one of those for whom the assassination of the warmongering, hypocritical and mendacious US President has something approaching the status of a creation myth. The compound adjective most often used to describe the people obsessed with grassy knolls and so on is "swivel-eyed", but these men (and they are, invariably, men) actually betray a terrible fixity of vision in which they see only what they would like to see.

This kind of thing would be harmless, sort of, if these people hadn't, somewhere along the way, mutated into the kind of nut-jobs who think Obama isn't an American citizen, or is a Muslim, or that 9/11 was a put-up job (although they can't agree on whether the job was put up by the Pentagon, the President, the Jews, or Mickey Mouse). They also poison the well for those who have legitimate grounds for doubting official versions of events – the most interesting at the moment being, for my money, the ongoing doubts about the conviction for the Lockerbie bombing.

Anyway, back to Cuba, and Castro. (I prop my eyelids open with matchsticks as I write this.) Conspiracy theorists tend to twist the question "cui bono?" – "who benefits?" – at the expense of the principle of Occam's razor – "don't make explanations more complex than they have to be". The explanation for this latest tale lies in the words "book by Brian Latell" above. The mystery to me, and to many others, is not so much the possible Cuban involvement in the assassination, the evidence for which here is neither robust nor very significant, but in the eternal obsession with, and paranoid hostility to, communist Cuba, both of which have made American governments do their best, for over half a century, to immiserate its populace. Someone explain that to me and then maybe I'll be interested.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
 

Al-Sweady Inquiry: An exercise in greed that blights the lives of brave soldiers

Richard Kemp
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum