Submit your email address for notification of new posts:
SydWalker.Info is a personal website. I live in tropical Australia near Cairns. I oppose war, plutocracy, injustice, sectarian supremacism and apartheid. I support urgent action to achieve genuine sustainability and a fair and prosperous society for all. I rely upon - and support - free speech as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see below).
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers"
Unless otherwise indicated, material on this website is written by Syd Walker.
Anyone is welcome to re-publish material sourced from this site, as long as the source is acknowledged with a hyperlink.
Material from other sources reproduced here is presented on a 'Fair Use' basis. I try to cite references accurately. Please contact me if you have queries, comments, broken link reports, complaints - or just to say hello.
Against ‘Hate Speech’
Search this website
@SydWalker TweetsNo public Twitter messages.
Material from other sources reproduced here is presented on a 'Fair Use' basis. I try to cite references accurately. Please contact me if you have queries, comments, broken link reports, complaints - or just to say hello.
Against ‘Hate Speech’
Search this website
@SydWalker TweetsNo public Twitter messages.
Material from other sources reproduced here is presented on a 'Fair Use' basis. I try to cite references accurately. Please contact me if you have queries, comments, broken link reports, complaints - or just to say hello.
Against ‘Hate Speech’
Search this website
@SydWalker TweetsNo public Twitter messages.
The previous item published on this website was 16 Questions on the Assassination - a short essay written in 1964 by the world-famous philosopher and peace activist Bertrand Russell.
Why did Russell’s essay matter – then and now?
By 1964, when he wrote his list of queries about the report of The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy (to use the Warren Commission’s official name), Lord Russell was an octogenarian. His international reputation built over many decades, Russell was still quite remarkably active, intellectually and politically – and extremely well-connected.
In fact, Russell garnered an impressive number of prominent English intellectuals to help raise the alarm about JFK’s murder, highlight the inadequacies of the investigative process underway at that time and support a call for a thorough and credible re-investigation of the assassination. Russell’s “Who Killed Kennedy Committee’ included some of the best-known progressive intellectuals in Britain at the time, figures of note such as Herbert Read, John Arden, John Calder, Michael Foot, Victor Golancz, J.B. Priestley, Kingsley Martin, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Mervyn Stockwood and Kenneth Tynan.
Yet despite his prestige and fame – and the caliber of his associates – Russell’s concerns about the assassination didn’t penetrate deeply into the mass consciousness of British society at that time. Russell’s doubts about the Warren Commission - shared by many of his peers – weren’t widely echoed in the British press. How it was that the clearly stated concerns of such prominent intellects were downplayed to such an extent in the British media is indeed an interesting subject for further research.
Of course, the critical issue was how Russell’s alarm-raising would be received inside the United States itself. After all, it was the USA whose President had recently been assassinated, the Warren Commission was exclusively a US institution – and if there was to be any hope of restoring due process, American society had the decisive role.
Within the USA, some activists were indeed raising the same questions that Russell asked. He obtained much of his information from them. What Russell offered their cause was support from a voice with international reach – the enthusiastic endorsement of a man respected not only because of his unique career as a philosopher and historian of Western philosophy, but also for his peace and disarmament activism going back as far in time as the Great War.
Russell’s 16 points were circulated to a few recipients within the USA, but as far as I’m aware it was never published or reproduced by the left-wing media. Crucially, many more left-wing Americans would doubtless have read about Russell’s 16 Questions, not by reading the short document itself, but via a hostile critique by the very well-known activist – journalist I.F. Stone. On October 5th 1964, Stone’s widely-read weekly newsletter featured an article by Stone entitled ‘The Left and the Warren Commission Report
In the early 1960s Stone’s influence over the American Left was comparable to the prestige of Noam Chomsky today.
These two iconic figures of the American Left are not directly comparable, yet in some respects they are remarkably similar.
Stone was a declared Marxist; Chomsky, a generation later, eschewed Marxism and is commonly labelled an ‘anarchist’ (a rather odd political creed, given the US military has been a significant and ongoing source of funding for Chomsky’s academic linguistic work.
In the 1950s and 60s when his influence was so significant on the US Left, Stone’s Marxism was closer to the centre of gravity of leftist politics at that time – and both men had large followings within the Left Intelligentsia (Chomsky, of course, still has). Both, despite their apparently ‘extreme’ left-wing politics, were quite well-promoted by mainstream media. Both were popularly known for distrusting government and exposing US Government wrong-doing – domestically and overseas.
Hence when I.F. Stone’s weekly newsletter contained a barely courteous and quite damning critique of Russell’s 16 Questions, a lot of people on the American Left may well have found Stone’s analysis persuasive. Stone’s high profile as a ‘fearless muckraker’ and critic of government wrong-doing would have helped assuage the doubts of many of his readers. If Russell lit a fire with his 16 Questions, Stone helped to extinguish the flames. Clarity in questioning the official assassination narrative and subsequent investigative process was covered by a fog of confusion.
The first two paragraphs of Stone’s article contain the basics of his case:
All my adult life as a newspaperman I have been fighting in defense of the Left and of a sane politics, against conspiracy theories of history, character assassination, guilt by association and demonology. Now I see elements of the Left using these same tactics in the controversy over the Kennedy assassination and the Warren Commission Report. I believe the Commission has done a first-class job, on a level that does our country proud and is worthy of so tragic an event. I regard the case against Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone killer of the President as conclusive. By the nature of the case, absolute certainty will never be attained, and those still convinced of Oswald’s innocence have a right to pursue the search for evidence which might exculpate him. But I want to suggest that this search be carried on in a sober manner and with full awareness of what is involved.
It is one thing to analyze discrepancies. It is quite another to write and speak in just that hysterical and defamatory way from which the Left has suffered in the last quarter century or more of political controversy. I want to start with my dear and revered friend, Bertrand Russell. He owes it to all of us who have looked to him as a world spokesman of the peace movement, as a great philosopher and humanitarian, to speak more responsibly on this subject, It was not responsible, on the basis of a transatlantic phone call from Mark Lane, to attack the report as “a sorrily incompetent document” which “covers its authors in shame” without having first read it. This is on a par, in its febrile prejudgment, with Lord Russell’s earlier statement comparing Lane’s defense of Oswald with Zola’s defense of Dreyfus, and declaring, “There has never been a more subversive, conspiratorial, unpatriotic or endangering course for the security of the United States and the world than the attempt by the U.S. Government to hide the murderers of its recent President.” This assumes instead of proving. It is slander, not controversy.
Russell must have read Stone’s newsletter and groaned.
There’s no evidence, as far as I’m aware, that he considered Stone’s response to be other than an honest disagreement. Fierce disputes have long been the warp and weft of radical politics. Russell, a founder-member of the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, was well-used to the controversy and in-fighting that often surrounds new initiatives.
But unlike people reading this material for the first time nearlt 50 years ago, we have some benefit through hindsight.
Above all, we now know that Russell was essentially right – and Stone’s arguments were quite mysteriously fallacious. I.F. Stone – whose most famous quotation is “All Governments Lie!” – cashed in his popular credibility at a crucial time to assuage concern about JFK’s assassination on the American Left.
Why did he do that?
John Simkin, who runs a successful and impressive forum about the Kennedy Assassination, raised the question whether Stone was really working for the CIA in a thread entitled: “I. F. Stone and the Assassination of JFK”
A CIA guiding hand is possible – but no hard evidence has been adduced to support the contention.
However, a connection can be established between I.F. Stone in the late 1940s and the Zionist militia and forerunner of the Israeli Mossad.
Here’s a short extract from the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, Nov 29th 2001, as re-published by the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The son of ardent Labor Zionists, Zev Meir Siegel was a George Washington University student in 1946 when that school’s Hillel director contacted him about undertaking a mission on behalf of the Jewish people.
Rabbi Greenberg, the head of Hillel at George Washington University, was a recruiter for Haganah. It’s as simple as that,” Siegel said in a telephone interview this week with The Chronicle. “The crew of the Exodus came right out of his efforts.”
Siegel said that he and some others attended a meeting at the home of journalist I.F. Stone “and there was the future captain of the Exodus, Ike Aronowitz, and he and a few other people of the Mossad asked us to give up a year of lives to help Jewish people – to get them out of the camps”.
How did Stone respond to critics of his damning article?
We can get an insight from the reports of some who tried to persuade him to look again at the assassination case.
Raymond Marcus is one such case, In 1964, Marcus was an early critic of the Warren Commission as well as a long-standing subscriber to Stone’s newsletter. In 1995 he reminisced about his interactions with Stone over the JFK assassination in an article entitled ‘Comments on I. F. Stone‘.
Marcus’ article is short and so relevant it’s worth quoting here in full:
I.F. Stone was born Isidor Feinstein in 1907 in Philadelphia to Jewish immigrant parents from Russia. Raised in New Jersey, he started his journalistic career at age fourteen with a liberal neighborhood monthly. While attending University of Pennsylvania he worked full-time for the Philadelphia Inquirer editing and rewriting articles. He then write editorials for the New York Post, was an associate and then Washington editor for The Nation, and then worked for P.M., the New York Star, and the New York Daily Compass. After the successive collapse of these three New York liberal dailies, Stone launched his newsletter, I. F. Stone’s Weekly, with 5,300 subscribers in 1953, which he produced at his home in Washington, D. C. with the assistance of his wife, Esther (circulation eventually reached 70.000).
Although Stone’s most important work was done in Washington, he was not part of the political/journalistic establishment, and he had no wish to be so. Instead of cozying up to important insiders, he based his work primarily on the study of newspapers and documents, employing his exceptionally keen and probing intellect to slice through the fog of official positions on national and international affairs so as to expose the underlying truth to his readers with characteristic brevity and clarity.
Stone was an independent leftist. Although it is probably true that in the earlier years of the Cold War he sometimes tended to minimize Moscow’s misdeeds while maximizing Washington’s, and that he was certainly wrong in concluding his 1953 book The Hidden History of the Korean War that South Korea and the U.S. were the aggressors, he was no friend of Communist dictators. He bitterly denounced the Soviet bloc after his trip to the Soviet Union in 1956, and wrote, “The worker is more exploited than in Western welfare states. This is not a good society, and it is not led by honest men.”
I was a charter subscriber to the Weekly. Having earlier subscribed to George Seldes’ “In Fact,” I found Stone’s newsletter a worthy successor and looked forward to each issue. The Weekly undoubtedly reached a readership for more influential than its small circulation would indicate.
In the months following the assassination I eagerly awaited Stone’s critical analysis. With his long demonstrated ability to demolish official falsehoods, I had little reason to doubt he would make mincemeat of the just released Warren Report; whose no-conspiracy conclusions had been leaked to the press and public for many months, and whose questionable veracity in many crucial instances had already been amply demonstrated.
Then came I. F. Stone’s Weekly of October 5, 1964, headed “The Left and the Warren Report.” It was a paean of praise for the Warren Commission and its conclusions. He chastised the Left on whose behalf, and for sane policies, he said he had been fighting all his adult life, accusing it of the same kind of slander, character assassination, guilt by association, an demonology of which it had frequently been the victim in the past. He praised the Report for criticizing the Secret Service and FBI by saying “There was insufficient liaison…between the Secret Service and the other Federal agencies…” He attempted to defuse the few items he mentioned questioning the official version by highlighting them in boxes “refuted” by his quotes from the “Speculation and Rumors” section of the Warren Report. He said, “…the Commission has done a first-rate job, on the level that does our country proud and is worthy of so tragic an event.” He regarded the case against Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone killer as “conclusive.”
Of the Commission members he indicated they were all honorable men. Of Cong. Gerald Ford, “He denies any association with the FBI, and there is no evidence of any such link” (later it was shown beyond question that Ford was reporting regularly to the FBI about proceedings of secret Commission meetings). He said Senator John Sherman Cooper had made a principled speech against the Anti-Communist Act passed in 1954. He said he knew John J. McCloy during the war as an unusually competent public servant. He said he had “…criticized Allen W. Dulles constantly over the years. But I would not impute to him or any other member of the Commission conduct so evil as to conspire with the secret services to protect the killers of a President.” And finally, of Warren himself. he said, “This is also to assume that Chief Justice Earl Warren, whom the right hates for his decisions protecting the Negroes and radicals, would be a party to a conspiracy to protect a cabal of rightist assassins.” He said those who, by rejecting the official conclusions could believe otherwise, “…belong in the booby hatch.”
What was totally lacking in I.F. Stone’s comments was any evidence of the kind of critical analysis he normally employed in assessing official statements. The Warren Report was made public just a few days prior to his October 5th issue . It is extremely doubtful that Stone had time to do more than glance through it. The Volumes were not even published until almost two months later. It was obvious that I.F. Stone, for whatever reason and completely contrary to his usual working methods, had accepted official handouts and published them uncritically. I was shocked, dismayed, and angered. I wrote a lengthy letter to Stone listing fifteen highly improbably separate sets of circumstances surrounding the case, all of which would nevertheless have to be true for the official conclusions to be true. I urged him to study the questions and reconsider his position. I received no response to my letter.
In September 1966, I was planning a trip to the east coast to meet in person with other critics with whom I had been corresponding. I also planned to visit the National Archives in Washington to view the Zapruder film.
From L.A. I phoned Stone at his home in Washington. I told him I had previously written to him about his position on the case, and requested a meeting with him so that I could present to him some important evidence, primarily photographic, during my trip. His answer was immediate, loud (very loud), and clear: “I DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT ASSHOLE CASE!,” he bellowed, and then hung up. The thought occurred to me that had he written in his Weekly, instead of the actual contents of his October 5, ’64 issue, that he didn’t care about the case (with or without the expletive deleted), it would at least have had the virtue of being honest, and incapable of misleading his readers; despite being an uncharacteristic position for I.F. Stone to take on so vital a matter of national interest.
Three years later, in his March 24, ’69 issue, Stone expressed his belief that the killing of Martin Luther King was the result of a conspiracy. He said, “J. Edgar Hoover, who hated and once insulted King, should be challenged to explain on what basis he announced within 24 hours of the killing that there was no conspiracy. How could he possibly have known so quickly?” He called for pressure on the White House for a complete investigation “…independent of the FBI and its chief,” adding that “The only virtue of the Memphis deal (Attorney Percy Foreman’s arrangement in which he persuaded James Earl Ray to plead guilty, ostensibly in order to avoid the death penalty) was that it keeps Ray alive someday to tell the full story.”
I again wrote to Stone, and suggested that Hoover (and Attorney General Ramsey Clark) “knew” within 24 hours that there was no conspiracy just as the federal establishment “knew” within 5 hours following JFK’s murder that a number of prominent individuals, including Walter Lippman and Harrison Salisbury, had changed their original views and were now calling for a compete new investigation (although very little media attention had been paid to their new position). Again Stone did not deign to respond.
The public record of public individuals, for reason of fairness and historical accuracy, should be judged in their entirely, weighing both their positive and negative contributions.
I.F. Stone was typically a fearless tribune for truth; a tireless fighter for civil rights and civil liberties; a consistent advocate for racial justice; a strong and principled opponent of the McCarthyites and other enemies of constitutionally guaranteed freedoms; a clear and constant voice against our military involvement in Vietnam, first under Eisenhower and Kennedy, and then during the escalating madness perpetrated by Lyndon Johnson. For all this he deserves to be remembered with honor, for it is the major part of his legacy.
But I.F. Stone, for whatever reason or reasons, willingly chose to endorse uncritically the Warren Report, and to excoriate and denigrate those of his fellow citizens, including those of his own readers, who chose instead to subject the Warren Commission’s findings to critical analysis and to draw reasonable conclusions, i.e., to treat this important official pronouncement as I.F. Stone himself normally treated such pronouncement. Buy so doing he lend his name, prestige, and considerable influence to the most monumentally fraudulent document ever foisted on the American public by its government. That also is and will remain an important part of his legacy.
This type of behaviour from Stone will be familiar to those who’ve followed the seemingly astonishing irrationality of Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and other prominent “intellectuals” of our times regarding concerns raised by many others about the 9-11 official story.
Stone’s seemingly irrational intolerance for hard questions about the Kennedy assassination was a prototype for their own fatuous dismissal of similar concerns regarding 9/11. In Chomsky’s case (he was already prominent in the late 1960s), it was also the template for his dismissive attitude to people raising concerns about JFK’s assassination.
Surely it’s reasonable to speculate that all these prominent intellectuals are not exactly what they seem – quite likely for similar reasons?
Left-wingers and ‘progressives’ turned to well known opinion leaders on the same side of politics for honest and dispassionate analysis of the most important issues of the day.
By serving as gatekeepers on behalf of the planet’s most heinous killers, these ‘leaders’ betrayed our trust.
The official version of the assassination of President Kennedy has been so riddled with contradictions that it is been abandoned and rewritten no less than three times. Blatant fabrications have received very widespread coverage by the mass media, but denials of these same lies have gone unpublished. Photographs, evidence and affidavits have been doctored out of recognition. Some of the most important aspects of the case against Lee Harvey Oswald have been completely blacked out. Meanwhile, the F.B.I., the police and the Secret Service have tried to silence key witnesses or instruct them what evidence to give. Others involved have disappeared or died in extraordinary circumstances.
It is facts such as these that demand attention, and which the Warren Commission should have regarded as vital. Although I am writing before the publication of the Warren Commission’s report, leaks to the press have made much of its contents predictable. Because of the high office of its members and the fact of its establishment by President Johnson, the Commission has been widely regarded as a body of holy men appointed to pronounce the truth. An impartial examination of the composition and conduct of the Commission suggests quite otherwise.
The Warren Commission has been utterly unrepresentative of the American people. It consisted of two Democrats, Senator Russell of Georgia and Congressman Boggs of Louisiana, both of whose racist views have brought shame on the United States; two Republicans, Senator Cooper of Kentucky and Congressman Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, the latter of whom is a leader of his local Goldwater movement and an associate of the F.B.I.; Allen Dulles, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Mr. McCloy, who has been referred to as the spokesman for the business community. Leadership of the filibuster in the Senate against the Civil Rights Bill prevented Senator Russell from attending hearings during the period. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Earl Warren, who rightly commands respect, was finally persuaded, much against his will, to preside over the Commission, and it was his involvement above all else that helped lend the Commission an aura of legality and authority. Yet many of its members were also members of those very groups which have done so much to distort and suppress the facts about the assassination. Because of their connection with the Government, not one member would have been permitted under U.S. law to serve on a jury had Oswald faced trial. It is small wonder that the Chief Justice himself remarked that the release of some of the Commission’s information “might not be in your lifetime” Here, then, is my first question:
(1) Why were all the members of the Warren Commission closely connected with the U.S. Government?
If the composition of the Commission was suspect, its conduct confirmed one’s worst fears. No counsel was permitted to act for Oswald, so that cross-examination was barred. Later, under pressure, the Commission appointed the President of the American Bar Association, Walter Craig, one of the supporters of the Goldwater movement in Arizona, to represent Oswald. To my knowledge, he did not attend hearings, but satisfied himself with representation by observers.
In the name of national security, the Commission’s hearings were held in secret, thereby continuing the policy which has marked the entire course of the case. This prompts my second question:
(2) If, as we are told, Oswald was the lone assassin, where is the issue of national security?
Indeed, precisely the same question must be put here as was posed in France during the Dreyfus case:
(3) If the Government is so certain of its case, why has it conducted all its inquiries in the strictest secrecy?
At the outset the Commission appointed six panels through which it would conduct its enquiry. They considered:
(1) What did Oswald do on November 22, 1963?
(2) What was Oswald’s background?
(3) What did Oswald do in the U.S. Marine Corps, and in the Soviet Union?
(4) How did Ruby kill Oswald?
(5) What is Ruby’s background?
(6) What efforts were taken to protect the President on November 22? This raises my fourth question:
(4) Why did the Warren Commission not establish a panel to deal with the question of who killed President Kennedy?
All the evidence given to the Commission has been classified “Top Secret,” including even a request that hearings be held in public. Despite this the Commission itself leaked much of the evidence to the press, though only if the evidence tended to prove Oswald the lone assassin. Thus, Chief Justice Warren held a press conference after Oswald’s wife, Marina, had testified. He said, that she believed her husband was the assassin. Before Oswald’s brother Robert testified, he gained the Commission’s agreement not to comment on what he said. After he had testified for two days, the newspapers were full of stories that “a member of the Commission” had told the press that Robert Oswald had just testified that he believed that his brother was an agent of the Soviet Union. Robert Oswald was outraged by this, and he said that he could not remain silent while lies were told about his testimony. He had never said this and he had never believed it. All that he had told the Commission was that he believed his brother was innocent and was in no way involved in the assassination.
The methods adopted by the Commission have indeed been deplorable, but it is important to challenge the entire role of the Warren Commission. It stated that it would not conduct its own investigation, but rely instead on the existing governmental agencies—the F.B.I., the Secret Service and the Dallas police. Confidence in the Warren Commission thus presupposes confidence in these three institutions.
(5) Why have so many liberals abandoned their own responsibility to a Commission whose circumstances they refuse to examine?
It is known that the strictest and most elaborate security precautions ever taken for a President of the United States were ordered for November 22 in Dallas. The city had a reputation for violence and was the home of some of the most extreme right-wing fanatics in America. Mr. and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson had been assailed there in 1960 when he was a candidate for the Vice-Presidency. Adlai Stevenson had been physically attacked when he spoke in the city only a month before Kennedy’s visit. On the morning of November 22, the Dallas Morning News carried a full-page advertisement associating the President with Communism. The city was covered with posters showing the President’s picture and headed “Wanted for Treason.” The Dallas list of subversives comprised 23 names, of which Oswald’s was the first. All of them were followed that day, except Oswald.
(6) Why did the authorities follow many persons as potential assassins and fail to observe Oswald’s entry into the book depository building while allegedly carrying a rifle over three feet long?
The President’s route for his drive through Dallas was widely known and was printed in the Dallas Morning News on November 22. At the last minute the Secret Service changed a small part of their plans so that the President left Main Street and turned into Houston and Elm Streets. This alteration took the President past the book depository building from which it is alleged that Oswald shot him. How Oswald is supposed to have known of this change has never been explained.
(7) Why was the President’s route changed at the last minute to take him past Oswald’s place of work?
After the assassination and Oswald’s arrest, judgment was pronounced swiftly: Oswald was the assassin, and he had acted alone. No attempt was made to arrest others, no road blocks were set up round the area, and every piece of evidence which tended to incriminate Oswald was announced to the press by the Dallas District Attorney, Mr. Wade. In such a way millions of people were prejudiced against Oswald before there was any opportunity for him to be brought to trial. The first theory announced by the authorities was that the President’s car was in Houston Street, approaching the book depository building, when Oswald opened fire. When available photographs and eyewitnesses had shown this to be quite untrue, the theory was abandoned and a new one formulated which placed the vehicle in its correct position. Meanwhile, however, D.A. Wade had announced that three days after Oswald’s room in Dallas had been searched, a map had been found there on which the book depository building had been circled and dotted lines drawn from the building to a vehicle on Houston Street, showing the alleged bullet trajectory had been planned in advance. After the first theory was proved false, the Associated Press put out the following story on November 27: “Dallas authorities announced today that there never was a map.”
The second theory correctly placed the President’s car on Elm Street, 50 to 75 yards past the book depository, but had to contend with the difficulty that the President was shot from the front, in the throat. How did Oswald manage to shoot the President in the front from behind? The F.B.I. held a series of background briefing sessions for Life magazine, which in its issue of December 6 explained that the President had turned completely round just at the time he was shot. This too, was soon shown to be entirely false. It was denied by several witnesses and films, and the previous issue of Life itself had shown the President looking forward as he was hit. Theory number two was abandoned.
In order to retain the basis of all official thinking, that Oswald was the lone assassin, it now became necessary to construct a third theory with the medical evidence altered to fit it. For the first month no Secret Service agent had ever spoken to the three doctors who had tried to save Kennedy’s life in the Parkland Memorial Hospital. Now two agents spent three hours with the doctors and persuaded them that they were all misinformed: the entrance wound in the President’s throat had been an exit wound, and the bullet had not ranged down towards the lungs. Asked by the press how they could have been so mistaken, Dr. McClelland advanced two reasons: they had not seen the autopsy report—and they had not known that Oswald was behind the President! The autopsy report, they had been told by the Secret Service, showed that Kennedy had been shot from behind. The agents, however, had refused to show the report to the doctors, who were entirely dependent on the word of the Secret Service for this suggestion. The doctors made it clear that they were not permitted to discuss the case. The third theory, with the medical evidence rewritten, remains the basis of the case against Oswald at this moment.
(8) Why has the medical evidence concerning the President’s death been altered out of recognition?
Although Oswald is alleged to have shot the President from behind, there are many witnesses who are confident that the shots came from the front. Among them are two reporters from the Forth Worth Star Telegram, four from the Dallas Morning News, and two people who were standing in front of the book depository building itself, the director of the book depository and the vice-president of the firm. It appears that only two people immediately entered the building: the director, Mr. Roy S. Truly, and a Dallas police officer, Seymour Weitzman. Both thought that the shots had come from in front of the President’s vehicle. On first running in that direction, Weitzman was informed by “someone” that he thought the shots had come from the building, so he rushed back there. Truly entered with him in order to assist with his knowledge of the building. Mr. Jesse Curry, the Chief of Police in Dallas, has stated that he was immediately convinced that the shots came from the building. If anyone else believes this, he has been reluctant to say so to date. It is also known that the first bulletin to go out on Dallas police radios stated that “the shots came from a triple overpass in front of the presidential automobile.” In addition, there is the consideration that after the first shot the vehicle was brought almost to a halt by the trained Secret Service driver, an unlikely response if the shots had indeed come from behind. Certainly Mr. Roy Kellerman, who was in charge of the Secret Service operation in Dallas that day, and travelled in the presidential car, looked to the front as the shots were fired. The Secret Service has had all the evidence removed from the car, so it is no longer possible to examine it.
(9) What is the evidence to substantiate the allegation that the President was shot from behind?
Photographs taken at the scene of the crime could be most helpful. One young lady standing just to the left of the presidential car as the shots were fired took photographs of the vehicle just before and during the shooting, and was thus able to get into her picture the entire front of the book depository building. Two F.B.I. agents immediately took the film which she took.
(10) Why has the F.B.I. refused to publish what could be the most reliable piece of evidence in the whole case?
In this connection it is noteworthy also that it is impossible to obtain the originals of photographs bearing upon the case. When Time magazine published a photograph of Oswald’s arrest—the only one ever seen—the entire background was blacked out for reasons which have never been explained. It is difficult to recall an occasion for so much falsification of photographs as has happened in the Oswald case.
The affidavit by Police Office Weitzman, who entered the book depository building, stated that he found the alleged murder rifle on the sixth floor. (It was first announced that the rifle had been found on the fifth floor, but this was soon altered.) It was a German 7.65 mm. Mauser. Late the following day, the F.B.I. issued its first proclamation. Oswald had purchased in March 1963 an Italian 6.5 mm. Mannlicher-Carcano. D.A. Wade immediately altered the nationality and size of the weapon to conform to the F.B.I. statement.
Several photographs have been published of the alleged murder weapon. On February 21, Life magazine carried on its cover a picture of “Lee Oswald with the weapons he used to kill President Kennedy and Officer Tippitt [sic].” On page 80, Life explained that the photograph was taken during March or April of 1963. According to the F.B.I., Oswald purchased his pistol in September 1963. The New York Times carried a picture of the alleged murder weapon being taken by police into the Dallas police station. The rifle is quite different. Experts have stated that no rifle resembling the one in the Life picture has even been manufactured. The New York Times also carried the same photograph as Life, but left out the telescopic sights. On March 2, Newsweek used the same photograph but painted in an entirely new rifle. Then on April 13 the Latin American edition of Life carried the same picture on its cover as the U.S. edition had on February 21, but in the same issue on page 18 it had the same picture with the rifle altered.
(11) How is it that millions of people have been misled by complete forgeries in the press?
The authorities interrogated Oswald for nearly 48 hours without allowing him to contact a lawyer, despite his repeated requests to do so. The director of the F.B.I. in Dallas was a man with considerable experience. American Civil Liberties Union lawyers were in Dallas requesting to see Oswald and were not allowed to do so. By interrogating Oswald for 48 hours without access to lawyers, the F.B.I. created conditions which made a trial of Oswald more difficult. A confession or evidence obtained from a man held 48 hours in custody is likely to be inadmissible in a U.S. court of law. The F.B.I. director conducted his interrogation in a manner which made the use of material secured in such a fashion worthless to him. This raises the question of whether he expected the trial to take place.
Another falsehood concerning the shooting was a story circulated by the Associated Press on November 23 from Los Angeles. This reported Oswald’s former superior officer in the Marine Corps as saying that Oswald was a crack shot and a hot-head. The story was published widely. Three hours later AP sent out a correction deleting the entire story from Los Angeles. The officer had checked his records and it had turned out that he was talking about another man. He had never known Oswald. To my knowledge the correction has yet to be published by a single major publication.
The Dallas police took a paraffin test on Oswald’s face and hands to try to establish that he had fired a weapon on November 22. The Chief of the Dallas Police, Jesse Curry, announced on November 23 that the result of the test “proves Oswald is the assassin.” The Director of the F.B.I. in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in charge of the investigation stated: “I have seen the paraffin test. The paraffin test proves that Oswald had nitrates and gunpowder on his hands and face. It proves he fired a rifle on November 22.” Not only does this unreliable test not prove any such thing, it was later discovered that the test on Oswald’s face was in fact negative, suggesting that it was unlikely he fired a rifle that day.
(12) Why was the result of the paraffin test altered before being announced by the authorities?
Oswald, it will be recalled, was originally arrested and charged with the murder of Patrolman Tippitt [sic]. Tippitt was killed at 1:06 p.m. on November 22 by a man who first engaged him in conversation, then caused him to get out of the stationary police car in which he was sitting and shot him with a pistol Miss Helen L. Markham, who states that she is the sole eye-witness to this crime, gave the Dallas police a description of the assailant. After signing her affidavit, she was instructed by the F.B.I., the Secret Service and many police officers that she was not permitted to discuss the case with anyone. The affidavit’s only description of the killer was that he was a “young white man.” Miss Markham later revealed that the killer had run right up to her and past her, brandishing the pistol, and she repeated the description of the murderer which she had given to the police. He was, she said, “short, a little heavy, and had somewhat bushy hair.” (The police description of Oswald was that he was of average height, or a little taller, was slim and had receding fair hair.) Miss Markham’s affidavit is the entire case against Oswald for the murder of Patrolman Tippitt, yet District Attorney Wade asserted: “We have more evidence to prove Oswald killed Tippit than we have to show he killed the President.” The case against Oswald for the murder of Tippitt, he continued, was an absolutely strong case.
(13) Why was the only description of Tippitt’s killer deliberately omitted by the police from the affidavit of the sole eye-witness?
Oswald’s description was broadcast by the Dallas police only 12 minutes after the President was shot. This raises one of the most extraordinary questions ever posed in a murder case:
(14) Why was Oswald’s description in connection with the murder of Patrolman Tippitt broadcast over Dallas police radio at 12:43 p.m. on November 22, when Tippitt was not shot until 1:06 p.m.?
According to Mr. Bob Considine, writing in the New York Journal American, there had been another person who had heard the shots that were fired at Tippitt. Warren Reynolds had heard shooting in the street from a nearby room and had rushed to the window to see the murderer run off. Reynolds himself was later shot through the head by a rifleman. A man was arrested for this crime but produced an alibi. His girl-friend, Betty Mooney McDonald, told the police she had been with him at the time Reynolds was shot, according to Mr. Considine. The Dallas police immediately dropped the charges, even before Reynolds had time to recover consciousness, and attempt to identify his assailant. The man at once disappeared, and two days later the police arrested Betty Mooney McDonald on a minor charge and it was announced that she had hanged herself in the police cell. She had been a striptease artist in Jack Ruby’s nightclub, according to Mr. Considine.
Another witness to receive extraordinary treatment in the Oswald case was his wife, Marina. She was taken to the jail while her husband was still alive and shown a rifle by Chief of Police Jesse Curry. Asked if it were Oswald’s, she replied that she believed Oswald had a rifle but that it didn’t look like that. She and her mother-in-law were in great danger following the assassination because of the threat of public revenge on them. At this time they were unable to obtain a single police officer to protect them. Immediately after Oswald was killed, however, the Secret service illegally held both women against their will. After three days they were separated and Marina has never again been accessible to the public. Held in custody for nine weeks and questioned almost daily by the F.B.I. and Secret Service, she finally testified to the Warren Commission and, according to Earl Warren, said that she believed her husband was the assassin. The Chief Justice added that the next day they intended to show Mrs. Oswald the murder weapon and the Commission was fairly confident that she would identify it as her husband’s. The following day it was announced that this had indeed happened. Mrs. Oswald, we are informed, is still in the custody of the Secret Service. To isolate a witness for nine weeks and to subject her to repeated questioning by the Secret Service in this manner is reminiscent of police behavior in other countries, where it is called brainwashing. The only witness produced to show that Oswald carried a rifle before the assassination stated that he saw a brown paper parcel about two feet long in the back seat of Oswald’s car. The rifle which the police “produced” was almost 3½ feet long.
(15) How was it possible for Earl Warren to forecast that Marina Oswald’s evidence would be exactly the reverse of what she had previously testified?
After Ruby had killed Oswald, D.A. Wade made a statement about Oswald’s movements following the assassination. He explained that Oswald had taken a bus, but he described the point at which Oswald had entered the vehicle as seven blocks away from the point located by the bus driver in his affidavit. Oswald, Wade continued, then took a taxi driven by a Daryll Click, who had signed an affidavit. An inquiry at the City Transportation Company revealed that no such taxi driver had ever existed in Dallas. Presented with this evidence, Wade altered the driver’s name to William Whaley. The driver’s log book showed that a man answering Oswald’s description had been picked up at 12:30. The President was shot at 12:31. D.A. Wade made no mention of this. Wade has been D.A. in Dallas for 14 years and before that was an F.B.I. agent.
(16) How does a District Attorney of Wade’s great experience account for all the extraordinary changes in evidence and testimony which he has announced during the Oswald case?
These are only a few of the questions raised by the official versions of the assassination and by the way in which the entire case against Oswald has been conducted. Sixteen questions are no substitute for a full examination of all the factors in this case, but I hope that they indicate the importance of such an investigation. I am indebted to Mr. Mark Lane, the New York criminal lawyer who was appointed counsel for Oswald by his mother, for much of the information in this article. Mr. Lane’s enquiries, which are continuing, deserve widespread support. A Citizen’s Committee of Inquiry has been established in New York, at Room 422, 156 Fifth Avenue, New York. N.Y. (telephone YU9-6850) for such a purpose, and comparable committees are being set up in Europe.
In Britain, I invited people eminent in the intellectual life of the country to join a “Who Killed Kennedy Committee,” which at the moment of writing consists of the following people: Mr. John Arden, playwright; Mrs. Carolyn Wedgwood Benn, from Cincinnati, wife of Anthony Wedgwood Benn, M.P.; Lord Boyd-Orr, former director-general of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and a Nobel Peace Prize winner; Mr. John Calder, publisher; Professor William Empsom, Professor of English Literature at Sheffield University; Mr. Victor Golancz, publisher; Mr. Michael Foot, Member of Parliament; Mr. Kingsley Martin, former editor of the New Statesman; Sir Compton Mackenzie, writer; Mr. J.B. Priestley, playwright and author; Sir Herbert Read, art critic; Mr. Tony Richardson, film director; Dr. Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark; Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University; Mr. Kenneth Tynan, Literary Manager of the National Theatre; and myself.
We view the problem with the utmost seriousness. U.S. Embassies have long ago reported to Washington world-wide disbelief in the official charges against Oswald, but this has scarcely been reflected by the American press. No U.S. television program or mass circulation newspaper has challenged the permanent basis of all the allegations—that Oswald was the assassin, and that he acted alone. It is a task which is left to the American people.
* Editorial note
This reproduction of Russell’s largely unanswered and ignored 16 Questions on the Assassination (of US President John F Kennedy) has been sourced from a page the website of Dr. Kenneth A. Rahn.
It’s reproduced here because I was surprised to find I couldn’t locate a copy elsewhere on the web – and the typography and layout of this material on Dr Kahn’s site is rather poor.
If anyone is aware of inaccuracies in the text, please contact me.
Having taken a year off from blogging, I realize the last article I posted, prior to my 12 month break, might convey the misleading impression that I favour the election of the Liberal-National Coalition at the forthcoming Australian Federal election.
I don’t. Just in case anyone out there cares a hoot about my opinion, I shall NOT be voting for the Coalition at the coming Federal election. For me, the prospect of wall-to-wall Tory governments around Australia is very unappetizing.
Using the power of Australia’s preferential voting system to select my most preferred candidates – while ensuring this choice does not, in effect, favour my least preferred – I shall put the Coalition last on my ballot papers.
Soon after the election was called, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) launched a new feature on its website called Vote Compass.
My ABC Compass Election Rating
It’s a simple online questionnaire, developed in conjunction with two of Australia’s leading universities, which quizzes participants on their policy positions and eventually places them on the ‘political compass’.
I subscribe to a few email lists on topics such as privacy and cyber-security, and I noticed a few people querying whether this is an underhand attempt to extract identifiable information from participants about their political views.
Personally, I doubt that. Compared with things most of us do everyday using Google’s ubiquitous services, data extracted from this test is rather tame. Spooks in this and other nations already have a lot more information about me and my views than they’ll ever get from my responses to this short multiple-choice questionnaire. In any case, I actually prefer that all and sundry DO know my political views. That’s why I maintain a blog about politics..
At the coming election, I shall look for credible, intelligent independents. If I find any, they’ll get my first preference. After that, I’ll vote Green – and I’ll ensure my effective preference goes to Labor before the Coalition. The ABC’s Compass assessed my voting intention with reasonable accuracy.
It’s unfortunate the ABC Compass is two dimensional. Political analysis can and should be more sophisticated than that – especially when the choice of major parties is between three major groupings, not two.
For decades, many mainstream political scientists have recognised that the ‘Green’ dimension of political opinion merits it’s own axis. It’s not a subset of the old ‘left-right’ axis.
I favour more (intelligent) regulation on environmental policy issues. All of us – including future generations – depend on successful environmental management. But I’m not in favour of more government interference across the board. I’d like government to butt out of other policy areas such as free speech and so-called ‘drug laws’ – and let individuals decide what’s best for themselves. Those views – if they have a home at all in the political landscape of today – are more commonly associated with the libertarian right-wing.
If the 2-D compass was expanded into three dimensions, the nuance of my political views could be better represented.
With three axes instead of two, a ‘political compass’ could distinguish between my wish for more effective environmental regulation and desire for less government regulation in other policy areas. It would show more clearly why I intend to give a higher preference to the Greens, not Labor (crucially, Labor has never had the courage to stand up to Big Coal, whereas the Greens are less constrained and more assiduous in pursuing environmentally-realistic goals).
A 3-D model would still have difficulty distinguishing between social libertarianism and economic conservatism (both tend to be placed to the right of a left-right axis, conflating two very different things). Nevertheless, three political dimensions inevitably allow for more subtlety than two.
In theory, four dimensions should do better than three – but there’s a problem. Humans find it hard to visualize four dimensions. How would a model represent a fourth axis? Could most of us conceptualize it at all?
Perhaps three dimensions represent the limits of this type of political metaphor?
Yet there IS a dimension to politics in Australia (and in the western world more generally) that’s actually well-represented by an axis that can’t easily be imagined. Our fumbling difficulty in defining, describing and even identifying this axis portrays clearly what needs to be represented.
There is a dimension of politics in our contemporary world that’s simply excluded from mainstream debate. Any attempts to include these ‘forbidden ideas’ are variously treated with horror, contempt or disbelief – if they’re acknowledged at all. In most cases, they are merely ignored.
It’s a dimension that THIS blog DOES discuss. For want of a better term, I’ll call this axis support for – versus opposition to – an inferred cryptocracy (which clearly has an egregious bias towards Zionism).
Cryptocracy means rule by hidden forces (human – not supernatural!) There’s no real need on this axis to distinguish between the three major parties in Australia – because ALL of them replicate the stolid refusal 0f mainstream media to even countenance that these are subjects worth discussing.
What subjects? A few examples..
Take 9/11 – the spectacular mass murders in the USA that took place on September 11th 2001.
No single event in this new century has had a greater impact on the world. It’s on the basis of 9/11 that massive budget increases for the military and so-called ‘security services’ have been justified. Wars have been rationalized as the direct consequence of 9/11; the invasion and military occupation of Afghanistan – ongoing after nearly 12 years – if the quintessential example, but there are others. And of course, the plummeting loss of our personal freedoms and the rapid growth of a surveillance state flows directly from the official 9/11 narrative.
Yet no-one prominent in Australian politics – Labor, Liberal or Green – has ever been willing to discuss obvious gaping holes in the official 9/11 narrative. This applies even to ‘fringe’ parties. Indeed, Julian Assange and his newly-formed ‘Wikileaks Party’ effectively play a gatekeeper role on this also (remember Assange’s glib one-liner, a few years back, that 9/11 was a “false conspiracy”).
It’s a classic case of the ‘Emperor’s Clothes’ syndrome. All our TV-promoted politicians behave like the Emperor’s sycophantic courtiers. Based on more than a decade of personal observation, the best that can be hoped, if one tries to engage them in a serious discussion on the subject, is silence and a pledge to “look into it”. They never get back..
Another example? Consider Australia’s very own “9/11″ – the appalling massacre at Port Arthur that occurred in the first month of the Howard Government in 1996. This was Australia’s worst ever mass murder – at least since the poorly-documented massacres on The Frontier of British settlement in the 19th century. Yet the Port Arthur has never once been subject to a Coronial inquiry, an Inquest or Ppublic Inquiry of any kind. The alleged murderer – Martin Bryant – did indeed stand trial – after he’d been kept in solitary confinement for several months, and after his lawyer was switched to a man who subsequently turned out to be a serious fraudster. In the end an isolated and confused Bryant pleaded guilty, so prosecution evidence was never tested in court.
Modern Australia’s worst ever mass-murder has therefore been treated with quite astonishingly little scrutiny – much less than would be normal in a regular single murder case that attracted little media attention. Is this curious fact ever raised by any mainstream politicians? It is not. Even our ‘mavericks’, such as the loquacious MP Bob Katter, are silent on this issue. The inadequacy of the official narrative about Port Arthur is as blatant as the flaws in the 9/11 narrative. The reaction of the Australian political class has been cowardly and complicit in both cases.
Of course, evasive and deceptive behaviour on these issues isn’t confined to politicians. Far from it. The talking heads of our mass media , if anything, are more demonically one-eyed than the political elite. There’s clearly a broad consensus, within that part of the intelligentsia that’s well-promoted and communicates with large audiences, to look the other way and if necessary deceive. The cowardly consensus encompasses players and commentators, ‘decision-makers’ and analysts.
Switching gears, let’s talk economics. Needless to say, it’s a topic about which there’s incessant chatter in the mainstream media, in our parliaments and in general public discourse.
Yet the mechanism whereby ‘funds’ are actually created – which is surely a central issue – is never subject to deep critical analysis by ‘mainstream commentators’. The assumption that new funds can only be obtained by incurring debt is never questioned. The possibility that elected governments could carefully issue finance to resource programs in the public interest – interest free – is never mentioned. “Governments can’t print money!” is occasionally used as a conversation stopper. Inquiring whether this aphorism must be true under all circumstances is never welcomed. Economists who do discuss it are marginalized in mainstream discourse and accordingly deprived of the audience their ideas merit.
Australian politics – and world politics as a whole – cannot be understood without consideration of the subjects hitherto relegated to a largely-suppressed “4th Dimension”. We certainly can’t explain the wars of recent years without exploring the cryptocracy’s suppressed dimension. These wars were promoted by, and served the interests of, the Zionist Lobby and the Anglosphere’s military-industrial complex (note that there’s a lot of overlap between the two). Without appreciating this, the series of bloody, offensive wars half a world away, foisted upon us by a frenetic media and go-along politicians, can neither be understood nor stopped.
In Australia’s three-dimensional political babble..
From where I sit, they all miss the main point: the Emperor’s suit is almost entirely see-through.
Viewing the beast in its gruesome geopolitical, financial and historical entirety is not a source of comfort.
Even so, I’d rather be able to make some sense of the world as it really is – and have a chance of discerning the best way forward – than abandon intellectual integrity for a chair on the gaudy, noisy and distracting carousel to nowhere.
Since Tony Abbott seized the leadership of the Liberal Party in late 2009, Australian party politics have become extremely polarised. The indecisive election in August 2010, which led to a hung Parliament and a minority Labor Government, didn’t reduce this polarisation; if anything, it’s increased since. There are clear differences between the two major parties (left-of centre Labor and right of centre Liberals) on a range of social, economic and environmental polices.
On most of these partisan debates I favour the Labor Party. I especially dread the prospect of an Abbott Government’s impact on environmental policy. Combined with gung-ho pro-development Liberal/National Coalition Governments at State level, I fear the likely direction an Abbott Government would take on ‘green’ issues. So in general, I favour the re-election of a Gillard Government at the coming general election, which is due by the end of 2013.
But while I prefer Labor’s policies on most issues, there are exceptions. Some of them are important to me. They’re more than mere “flies in the ointment” – I regard a few of them as potentially serious drawbacks to the re-election of the current Government. On those issues I’d like the current Labor Government to shift its position.
This article is about one such exception. I write not motivated by a desire to help defeat the ALP Government; I want to encourage it to change policy. If that doesn’t happen it’ll seriously detract from my enthusiasm for renewal of Labor’s mandate to govern.
Back in 1995 the Keating Labor Government was in power and Michael Lavarch was his Attorney-General. After intensive lobbying from Australia’s powerful mainstream Jewish/Israel Lobby, that Government legislated an amendment to the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).
Here’s the amendment in question:
Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin
(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
Note: Subsection (1) makes certain acts unlawful. Section 46P of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 allows people to make complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission about unlawful acts. However, an unlawful act is not necessarily a criminal offence. Section 26 says that this Act does not make it an offence to do an act that is unlawful because of this Part, unless Part IV expressly says that the act is an offence.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an act is taken not to be done in private if it:
(a) causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or
(b) is done in a public place; or
(c) is done in the sight or hearing of people who are in a public place.
(3) In this section:
“public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, whether express or implied and whether or not a charge is made for admission to the place.
On Monday this week, in a speech to the right-wing Institute of Public Affairs which he called ‘Freedom Wars‘, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott gave what for me was one of his finest speeches – a speech more in keeping with the liberalism of John Stuart Mill (which I respect) as opposed to the reactionary polices of Australia’s Liberal Party on a raft of other issues (which I oppose).
In ‘Freedom Wars’ Mr Abbott took a stand against the Finklestein Inquiry proposals for a new media tribunal. As I’ve written previously, I also regard Finkelstein’s key proposal for a new ‘media tribunal’ as deeply flawed and I welcome Abbott’s clear rejection of it. If that happens, on this rare occasion, to locate me on the same side of a debate as executives of News Ltd, so be it. In fact I’m glad, this once, to have powerful allies on what I regard as a very important policy issue.
His speech also clarified the Liberal Party’s position on the notorious 18C Amendment to Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act. Abbott said:
Abbott’s reference to ‘Bolt’ was to the prominent Australian political commentator Andrew Bolt, who was convicted in 2009 of infringing this notorious section of the RDA. Some of the nuances of the case were discussed by Jonathan Holmes on Media Watch before the court’s decision – see Andrew Bolt and The Herald Sun on trial. Mr Holmes also wrote about the case after Justice Mordecai Bromberg brought down his decision in September 2009: Bolt, Bromberg and a profoundly disturbing judgment. I found his coverage of the case insightful, fair and well-argued.
The feisty and (to me) highly irritating Andrew Bolt is not the only person to have faced the courts since the RDA was amended in the mid-1990s. Other notorious earlier cases had been brought by the organised Jewish/Israel Lobby against people it derides as ‘Holocaust deniers’. The most famous of those cases was that of Dr Frederick Toben, who was eventually jailed for several months for breaching court rulings made after he was found guilty of breaching the 18C of the RDA back in 2002.
Toben often uses polemical language that may well cause offence to Jewish people. But if his language offends Jews, it’s surely no more offensive than recurrent vilification of Muslims (and occasionally Christians) by some Jewish and non-Jewish commentators in Australia. Toben’s key ‘thought-crime’ appears to be his rejection of the mainstream narrative of the history of World War Two. The judgement against Toben makes it clear that it was that specific issue – a matter of historical debate – that was the nub of the case brought against him.
The judgement handed down against Dr Toben by Justice Branson on 17th September 2002 sought to restrain him from “further publishing information which conveyed the following imputations:
(A) there is serious doubt that the Holocaust occurred;
(B) it is unlikely that there were homicidal gas chambers Auschwitz;
(C) Jewish people who are offended by and challenge Holocaust denial are of limited intelligence;
(D) some Jewish people, for improper purposes, including financial gain, have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II and the circumstances in which they were killed.”
It was an extraordinarily illiberal judgement.
I’ll take the four points one by one:
(A) is meaningless without a precise definition of ‘The Holocaust’ which, as far as I can see, the judgement lacked. This term ’The Holocaust’ was rarely used to signify events pertaining to the fate of Jews in World War Two until the 1970s. In previous decades – the 1950s/60s – ‘holocaust’ was used mainly as a term to signify the much-feared prospect of a “nuclear holocaust”. Contemporary usage is actually quite recent.
“The Holocaust” is therefore quite different from historical events that were identified as such by protagonists at the time - such as the 1940 ‘Battle of Britain’ or the 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. Without a precise and generally agreed definition of what is meant by the term, to say “The Holocaust happened” or “the Holocaust didn’t happen” are statements so devoid of precise content that they are, effectively, meaningless.
(B) is a matter of historical debate. Judge Branson may not like the fact that numerous serious scholars have expressed doubts that the gas chambers in Auschwitz were ever used to kill human beings, as opposed to their overt function which was to de-louse clothing and bedding and hence help arrest the spread of typhus. But like it or not, it’s a fact that serious doubts have been expressed by numerous serious scholars. The debate over what really occurred at that time is ongoing.
In effect, Judge Branson arrogated to himself the right to determine historical fact. That’s a disgraceful thing for a judge to do. Courts of law are neither equipped to act as the arbiters of history, nor should they ever attempt the task. In the Enlightenment tradition, history is for historians and the general public to debate – not for judges to specify.
(C) is a curiosity. I can find no evidence that Dr Toben ever made such a claim. Perhaps someone can point me to the exact quotation/s which formed the basis of Justice Branson’s decision on this? However, even if Toben did make such a silly comment, its hard to see how that was not a legitimate part of public discourse. If you want to hear people insulting each other for being ‘stupid’, listen to Parliament, read the newspapers, get on Twitter or go the the pub. It happens all the time. If’s is a criminal offence to say people are of limited intelligence few indeed in our society are not guilty of it.
(D) the notion that some Jewish people “have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II and the circumstances in which they were killed” may cause offense to some people, but it’s extremely easy to prove that it’s a factual statement. The key word is “some”. There are numerous cases of demonstrably false claims made by some Jewish people on the events of World War Two. Some of those claims have been openly acknowledged as false by the individuals who originally made them. If Justice Branson wished to restrain free speech on this point, he was clearly seeking to restrain people from telling (a part of) the truth. Judges have no business to do this in a civilized society that takes honesty seriously.
In short the judgement made by Justice Branson in 2002 was an extremely poor judgement that – in my opinion – should never have been made. It would surely have caused a major media outcry at the time were it not that the great majority of journalists and public commentators such as Jonathan Holmes live in fear that their careers will be jeopardised if they fall foul of the Jewish/Israel Lobby. They may also regard Toben as a distasteful character - but I suspect that’s of secondary importance. After all, Mr Holmes is clearly no fan of Andrew Bolt, yet he felt able and compelled to speak in Bolt’s defence when the latter was on trial for breaching 18C of the RDA. Yet very few public commentators had the guts to criticise the earlier judgement against Dr Toben, which in certain key respects was an even more outrageous and sinister judgement.
Defending Toben’s right to make public statements about the (so-called) ‘Holocaust’ is not simply a matter of defending an eccentric’s right to express a unorthodox opinion. It’s not equivalent to saying that people should be free to express the view that the earth is flat. The events of World War Two have remained a dominant theme in public discourse to this day. They are mentioned incessantly in ongoing political debates. If nobody could discuss them openly that would be bizarre, but at least it would be symmetrical and ‘fair’ in a silly kind of way. But what the likes of Justice Branson appear to believe is that the subject matter commonly described as ‘The Holocaust’ can and should be discussed – as long as the content of discussion is within court-approved boundaries. That’s outrageous!
For what it’s worth, I no longer believe the mainstream narrative about the events of the 1930s and 1940s. Some people might call me a “Holocaust Denier” because of my views. I repudiate the term and never use it myself except within inverted commas, regarding it as a deliberately nonsensical and misleading meme, invented decades after the end of World War Two as a sneaky way to police opinion.
I used to share the now-orthodox view of what happened in German concentration camps during World War Two – indeed, until a decade ago, I never really questioned it. Then came 9/11 and my gradual realisaton that the official 9/11 narrative is a pack of lies. After that, I began to take a deeper look a historical controversies such as the JFK assassination and the (so-called) “Holocaust”. I spent some considerable time looking at different sides of these debates – reviewing for the first time perspectives and analyses that barely ever get aired in the mainstream Western media. Now I’m deeply sceptical.
If that expression of my opinions causes offence, I regret it. I try not to cause offence unnecessarily to anyone – but history matters and more generally, the truth matters. I’m offended almost every time I watch the History Channel or open one of Mr Murdoch’s newspapers. But that’s life. I don’t seek to censor people whose views offend me or ban the expression of their opinions. What I do demand is that evidence-based contrary views are not excluded from mainstream discourse. I want them expressed more freely than at present and without fear of persecution. I argue for that publicly. Oh.. and I don’t want one-sided, distorted history that may not be debated openly made compulsory in schools. In fact, when I was a boy, I was often told that was the kind of reason why Britain fought World War Two!
This article began on the theme of ‘exceptions’ – so maybe it’s appropriate to end it on the same note.
It’s not quite true that no ‘mainstream’ commentators had the guts to stand up for Toben’s right to free speech. An exception was Janet Albrechtsen. Like Andrew Bolt, she writes for the Murdoch media. Like Bolt’s output, I usually find her articles irritating, crass and well off the mark. But in 2009 she penned an opinion piece entitled “The Freedom to be Offensive” with specific reference to Fred Toben and his tangle with the RDA. She said a number of things in the article with which I disagree, but did express the view that Toben should not be jailed for his views.
However, Ms Albrechtsen used the long-established formula that makes the opinion that so-called “Holocaust Deniers” should be allowed to speak acceptable in the mainstream Western media. It’s the same formula used, for instance, by philosopher Peter Singer when he defended David Irving‘s right not be be jailed for his historical views.
Janet Albrechtsen’s trick was to thoroughly rubbish Toben’s beliefs in the same breathe as defending his “free speech”. She did this prominently in her third paragraph:
I detest Frederick Toben’s views about the Holocaust. They are wrong. They are stupid. They are offensive. But using laws to censor his views does not enhance our democracy. It diminishes our democratic fibre by suggesting that we are too precious, or too lacking in confidence, to confront wrong words with right words. Let the man speak. These foolish views will be defeated by facts in the end.
Without that sort of proviso, Ms Albrechtsen’s article would doubtless never have been published in The Australian. Without it, she’d probably never have wished to write it..
Janet Albrechtsen is quite entitled to her view – and to express it. But note she didn’t attempt to justify it in any way – not even by providing supporting references. She states it as a fact – something that her her readers are expected to take as given.
In its own way, that style of argument is another way of shrinking, rather than expanding, the domain of free speech. In general, it’s easier to police opinion by ridicule than via the courts. The key – and positive – difference is that the Albrechtsen/Singer approach does not land “offenders” in jail – although it does create an intellectual climate conducive to the marginalisation of the views they disparage.
What we really need – in my opinion- is full, respectful, polemic-free debate about the complexities of our history - especially the thorny subject of World War Two that seems to get even more emotion-laden and propaganda-ridden as time goes by (not less, as is usual with historical events). We need to look back at the catastrophic major conflicts of recent history and try to understand what really happened, free from propaganda and bias. Only then can we learn the real lessons from our past.
Preventing that from happening seems to be the over-riding priority of all these “acceptable” commentators, whatever their posture on the topic of free speech.