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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"
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Yesterday I posted an article on this blog about the controversy in Australia over amending the Racial Discrimination Act.
My particular concern is to regain and strengthen the freedom to discuss human history – publicly and without fear of persecution – within Australia (and elsewhere).
My blog post consisted of a few comments I’d posted to other blogs on this topic, woven together with some commentary. The main source of material for my post were comments I’d posted in New Matilda, a left-of-centre, green-leaning Australian blog.
One of these was an article by Guy Rundle. I want to discuss, in this post, the asymmetry in this often misunderstood debate about free speech and what’s been called, since the 1970s, ‘Holocaust denial’.
To re-cap, this is the comment I posted below Rundle’s article”
An array of organisations representing different ethnic groups in Australia have lined up to oppose changes to 18C, as is their right. All of them say they’re concerned that bigoted and xenophobic speech should not be encouraged by government policy.
They have a point.
On the other hand, others argue that free speech better protects minority rights in the long run, that bigotry and xenophobia cannot be legislated away and that the attempt to do so may be counter-productive.
I put myself in the latter category – siding with John Stuart Mill rather than Lenin on that particular issue. However, it’s a debate reasonable people can have. In our imperfect world, we probably should be having it. It’s a debate in which there can be plenty of common ground; left to run with mutual respect and goodwill, a reasonable and fair outcome should be achievable.
Then there’s another debate – the debate about whether people who have unorthodox opinions about history should be permitted to air them in public – or not.
It is, needless to say, an entirely different controversy about a quite different issue. Asked whether historical debate should be subject to censorship, most people DON’T believe censorship is appropriate. I gather from his remarks in this article that Guy agrees – so that he and I are on the same side in that particular debate.
So how is it that anyone spends a moment defending the part of 18C that I find most objectionable: its use to persecute unorthdox historical opinions, as in the Tobin case?
This is especially puzzling given that – as far as I know – only ONE of the ethnic lobbies supporting 18C has ever sought to use it to stifle historical debate.
That lobby is “the Jewish lobby” as Guy describes it. Of course, not every person in Australia of Jewish heritage necessarily agree with the peak Jewish lobby groups on this – but it is the position of the major Jewish organisations who have expressed a view on 18C, to date. They want a law in Australia to suppress historical opinions which they dislike – and have used 18C for this purpose in the past.
By contrast, Aboriginal groups have never been so boorish and unwise as to suggest that any particular perspectives on their own history should be protected by law. Henry Reynolds is free to publish his views about the extent of massacres on “The Frontier” as Aboriginals were brutally evicted from their ancestral lands. Keith Windshuttle is free to disagree. The ABC is free to report the debate, giving both sides an airing.
That’s how history should be discussed in a free society. Under weight of evidence and by strength of argument, prevailing opinions change over time. Under this process, we’re more likely to establish the truth – although it may take time and hard work to bring crucial facts and perspectives to light.
This approach has pitfalls, but they are less serious than the pitfalls of legislating for historical truth. It’s true some folk – such as people in complete denial about the violent behaviour of Europeans as they colonized Australia – might claim there were no massacres at all. It would be a foolish claim to make – easy to refute with solid historical evidence. Yes, in theory, extreme and highly improbable claims can be made – and sometimes are. Yet to their great credit, the Aboriginal people of this country seem comfortable leaving the truth about our past to open debate.
The question that should be asked of the Jewish lobby is why – uniquely – it wants legislation to defend its own preferred view of history?
If, as Rundle asserts, “Holocaust denial” is “based on no evidence at all” it should not be hard to refute decisively in open debate.
One might think that the mainstream view is especially in a society, such as ours, where it’s considered normal to exclude “Holocaust deniers” from any opportunity to present their case in the mass media – or to debate opponents in open forums.
But no, the Jewish lobby seems to want historical views it dislikes actually criminalized by law. This either indicates a unique certainty that they alone know the truth about history, a unique insecurity that open debate may not support their version of the truth – or both.
The Roman historian Cassius Dio, writing about the Kitos War in 115-117AD, stated that no less than 240,000 Roman citizens and others were massacred by Jewish rebels in Cyprus alone in that bloody era.
Personally, I’m sceptical about that figure. It may be acurrate – but I’d like more evidence before accepting it. After all, there have been many cases in history when victors have misreported conflicts – typically by downplaying their own atrocities and supersizing the alleged misdeeds of the vanquished.
If the same principle was applied to the Kitos War as is applied to the Second World War, I would be labelled a “Kitos Denier” or some such term of abuse. I would never be given the opportunity to present my arguments in public. I would be publicly vilified, repeatedly and without right of reply.
There might also be a public debate about just how much I – as a Kitos War denier – should be persecuted. In this debate, my friends would argue that I should not be subject to jailing for my “malign and demented” views; those less friendly would push for criminal sanctions.
It is possible for societies to treat all history in this way – as a subject area to be affirmed or “denied”, with the latter subject to persecution. It is not possible for a society in the Enlightenment tradition to treat history in this way.
We can persecute “deniers” or we can uphold the Socratic tradition. We can’t do both.
This comment attracted a few responses, some favourable.
However, one of the New Matilda regulars took strong exception to my post. This is someone who posts under the pseudonym “O Puhleeze”, who often takes a passionate pro-Israel position when Israel/Palestine is the topic under under discussion.
I’d usually be disinclined to reproduce comments from another source here, but in this case I’m making an exception. The person in question posts anonymously so his/her privacy is in no way affected, while her/her posts are of more general interest.
This was the ensuring dialogue between ‘O Puhleeze” and myself. I’ve made minimal corrections for typos and added my emphasis to a few of my protagonist’s remarks:
SW: We can persecute “deniers” or we can uphold the Socratic tradition. We can’t do both.
I beg to differ. We can. There are laws upholding free speech, and there are laws criminalising assault.
Trouble is, the Holocaust deniers, like say, GF Toben and deniers of the Aboriginal holocaust, like K Windschuttle, are generally fond of getting attention, and such denial is an excellent way to get it. Moreover, if their claims are not answered to the level of detail they demand, their next claim is that said claims are unanswerable. Checkmate. The deniers run the game.
For survivors of either holocaust and for their relatives, this is an understandably intolerable situation, and to my limited knowledge, they favour criminalising such denial.
To deny either holocaust to a survivor, who went through it, or to one close to that survivor who has to live with the consequences of both the holocaust and the denial of it, the choice is to enter into endless debate with the denier, or to see the denier claim victory.
If there was any justice, a denier could be charged at least with assault, or better still, with being an accomplice to murder. Not manslaughter, murder. Because that is what they are. For the charge to stick, a court would simply have to become satisfied that such murder of Jews, Aborigines… had taken place.
Rather than face a stretch of porridge, the convicted defendant should be heavily fined, and the money used under the court’s direction in buying publicity for the victim’s case. In a just world, what goes around comes around. If you are a passionate enough believer, you should put your money where your mouth is.
Holocaust deniers can not be laughed off the way flat Earthers can be laughed off. It is assult on the victims.
@O. Puhleez: My parents did not fight in World War Two so there would be laws in years to come against the open discussion of that event. At least they didn’t think they did. Their narrative as conveyed to me was the exact opposite.
Tens of millions of deaths were directly attributable to World War Two. How do we honour any those folk by refusing to discuss that history openly and without censorship?
Why does the Jewish lobby feel it can police human history? What gives it that right? Why is it so keen to do so?
SW: Your parents fought the Nazi regime that gave the world the Jewish holocaust. I do not think they would welcome people mouthing off that their cause was all an illusion. Racial superiority was the basis of the whole Nazi regime; its invasion of the East, and of the death camps.
If I go around the place saying that Syd Walker should be exterminated, I am guilty of a crime already as far as I understand the law. Yet that is a restriction on my ‘free speech’.
I just suggest that Holocaust deniers should have to justify themselves before a court of law. That’s all.
O. Puhleez: Your argument is utterly spurious. I’m not inciting anyone to violence. I’m arguing that we must be free to discuss history.
The essentials of “The Holocaust” narrative that you now find such a need to defend were given to the British Parliament in a speech by Lord Victor Rothschild to the House of Lords in 1946, a few days after the Zionist atrocity of the King David Hotel bombing. They are not, however, to be found in the memoirs of Winston Churchill, De Gaulle or Eisenhower. In the current publishing environment, that would probably make Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower “deniers”.
Your notion of charging people you label “deniers” as accessories to murder highlights just how nutty elements of the Israel Lobby are in this country – and what awaits us in the future if the rest of us just roll over and let bullies impose their agenda.
SW: The essentials of “The Holocaust” narrative that you now find such a need to defend were given to the British Parliament in a speech by Lord Victor Rothschild to the House of Lords in 1946, a few days after the Zionist atrocity of the King David Hotel bombing.
Say no more, Syd. Just a mention of the name of Rothschild in this connection proves that the alleged ‘Holocaust’ was all a Zionist conspiracy; probably hatched in some smoke-filled back room of a Rothschild bank. (Mind you, there is nothing in what you wrote above to prove that the alleged bombing of the alleged King David Hotel in whatever alleged location and in whatever alleged year, actually took place.)
They are not, however, to be found in the memoirs of Winston Churchill, De Gaulle or Eisenhower.
What more evidence does one need? It was therefore all a fiendish concoction!
In the current publishing environment, that would probably make Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower “deniers”.
Well actually, no. If I go into print saying that Syd Walker has got naturally green hair, I may be right and I may (more likely) be wrong. But if I go into print about Syd Walker and fail to mention his hair at all, it does not mean that he has not got any, neither does it mean that his hair is colourless, nor for that matter, that it has any particular colour. And, by the way, it could just be that it is green. Naturally green. That possibility is still wiiiiiiiiiiiiide open.
If Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower fail to mention the Holocaust in their memoirs, all that proves is that Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower have failed to mention the Holocaust in their memoirs. Nothing else follows from that. Nothing at all. Repeat: nothing.
I’ll conclude with few comments on this dialogue.
First, my reference to the 1946 House of Lords speech by Victor Rothschild is not fantasy. In Re-reading the Fifth Man I cite the entire Hansard transcript. It’s well worth reading.
Second, anyone curious about the absence of reference to homicidal gas chambers and other core components of “The Holocaust” narrative in the written histories of Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower, will find more information in an article called ‘The Detail’ by French academic Robert Faurisson.
Third, O Puhleeze demonstrates extraordinary vulgarity in purporting to know what views my parents would have now on the subject of World War Two and free speech, if alive today. I wouldn’t claim to know that with certainty – and I knew them personally.
Now to deal with “O Puhleeze’s” highlighted remarks:
“The deniers run the game”
It takes gall to stand the truth on its head and this choice little extract does precisely that, in trumps.
Let me make it plain; I don’t embrace the term “Holocaust denier”. I think its a loaded term that deliberately mis-frames the issues at stake. I can understand why others occasionally choose to accept the label – and doubtless to someone of “O Puhleeze’s” opinions, all this nuance is bunkum anyway. He/she presumably has us all branded as ”Holocaust deniers” without further discussion. After all, it’s hard to argue his/her crass case without using the label.
In any event, to state “the deniers run the game” is such a ludicrous inversion of reality the mind reels.
Over the last decade, to my knowledge, Australia’s mass media has NOT ONCE given favourable coverage to ANYONE espousing sceptical views about “The Holocaust”. By contrast, barely a day has gone by without one mention or another to “The Holocaust”, often on ways that bolster the “official” narrative (Six million dead Jews, via massive use of homicidal gas chambers under the direct orders by Hitler).
I’m not aware of a single interview in the Australian mass media in which someone branded as a “Holocaust denier” was even allowed to explain their position in their own words. Short, edited sound-bites wrapped in negative commentary is the most I’ve ever seen.
To complain that “deniers rule the game” is a case of an elephant made paranoid by a flee. Just how dominant does the Jewish/Zionist Lobby want its preferred historical narratives to be?
The answer seems to be: totally dominant.
Anyhow who thinks that’s hyperbole might consider the second highlighted remark by “O Pleeze”: “If there was any justice, a denier could be charged at least with assault, or better still, with being an accomplice to murder.”
I think I’ll not trouble to deconstruct that nasty little example of megalomaniac authoritarian fantasy. This is like the daydream of a tinpot dictator. It speaks for itself.
Here he/she goes again.. more twisted megalomania: “the convicted defendant should be heavily fined, and the money used under the court’s direction in buying publicity for the victim’s case”
Last but not least: “If I go around the place saying that Syd Walker should be exterminated, I am guilty of a crime already as far as I understand the law. Yet that is a restriction on my ‘free speech’.”
Yes, “O Puhleeze”. My regrets for any limitation on your free speech, but I would indeed prefer that you refrain from incitement to murder.
Your comment could be read as subtly-worded intimidation, but presumably that wasn’t your intention. No-one with the facts on their side would ever need to stoop so low, would they?
Despite all his rotten behaviour, I can’t stop liking Malcolm Turnbull, the once (and future?) leader of the Liberal Party in Australia.
Malcolm Turnbull is currently getting a hard verbal pounding from those of us outraged that a Liberal-National Government is (once again!) stuffing up telecommunications policy. He’s taking it on the chin – in his own blog! I joined the fray – mine are among the hundreds of comments that flooded in to Is it possible to have a rational discussion on twitter? The NBN and the outrage.
And there.. I put my finger on it! That’s why I like Malcolm Turnbull. One gets the feeling he’s actually interested in promoting rational, open debate.
That may be just an illusion Turnbull artfully spins; many of my friends on the Left believe so. In any event, I do like the way he uses his blog as a forum for debate. It elevates rational discussion in Australian politics – and God knows, we need it.
Turnbull’s latest blog post is entitled What do you think about changes to the Racial Discrimination Act – exposure draft seeks consultation. Once again, an invitation to discuss and participate is implicit in the very title of his article, which contains the text of the Government exposure draft on changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, a brief discussion on some of the issues it raises and useful advice on making a submission in the public consultation process currently underway.
Two days ago, I posted a comment to Malcolm’s article, reproduced below:
This is one of the few issues on which I strongly support the Government – and I’m disgusted by the way the debate over 18C has been misrepresented by many leading members of the Labor Party and Greens.
That’s not to say I trust the Government. Having kicked this ball in the air, there’s no saying where it will land. To me, the changes proposed in the exposure draft are an improvement over the law in its current form – but I dread that the final outcome might be even worse.
The most important proposed change, for me, is (4) – which seems to give a robust defense for anyone engaged in serious public debate. That is the freedom I want.
It’s noteworthy that the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council singles this particular amendment out for opprobrium – complaining it would be much harder to prosecute so-called “Holocaust Deniers” if this amendment is passed.
I don’t want, seek or need the “right” to yell sectarian abuse at a passer-by from a bus-stop. I DO want the right to debate and discuss history without fear of persecution.
Not one Australian elected politician or “mainstream” commentator – so far – has had the guts to openly defend the right of people to hold and promote heterodox historical opinions on the hot topic of the so-called “Holocaust” (I say so-called, because it is a brand-name applied to WW2 events as late as the 1960s/70s; when I was at school in the 1960s, “holocaust” mainly connoted nuclear catastrophe and the events now described as “The Holocaust” were typically labelled “Nazi atrocities.”)*
Yet for me, the freedom to study and discuss history is FUNDAMENTALLY important. If we can’t discuss the past without fear, we really do inhabit an Orwellian world.
Those who currently subscribe to the orthodoxy that all (so-called) “Holocaust Deniers” merit only contempt and persecution might care to check out this article by Paul Eisen, a very courageous British Jew of my generation: Why I call myself a Holocaust denier
They could also read my own article on the topic of 18C, written before the last Federal election: Abbott is right – 18C must go!
I checked again this morning. My comment has still not been posted. I suspect it must have been been snipped by the censor – even though it’s actually supportive of the Government’s initiative.
Unlike the open slather he permitted in comments to his article on telecommunications, Malcolm had the comment approval settings switched ON in this case. Someone’s checking comments before they’re posted. Presumably that’s done by Turnbull in person, or one of his staff.
I don’t blame Malcolm Turnbull if he declined to publish the comment (I’d be more annoyed if a staffer removed it – without Turnbull even getting to read it).
After all, Malcolm Turnbull is a prominent politician in a highly competitive environment in which there are strict, if unspoken, ground rules about what may and may not be said on the hot issue of “The Holocaust”.
Cowardice is the norm. The punishment for being seen to give even tangential support to heretical views can be dire.
For far less serious transgressions of Zionist orthodoxy, ex US-President Jimmy Carter was plagued by The Swarm. I suspect Turnbull, following a common convention in contemporary Australian mainstream debate, might feel able to publish a comment advocating free speech about “The Holocaust” which in the same breath asserts that “Holocaust denial” is “malign and demented”. But to publish a comment lacking some such gratuitous insult might prove seriously damaging to his political health. Free speech be damned – it’s just not worth the risk!
And that, of course, is the great danger at present. Not only has Attorney-General George Brandis opined that “Holocaust denial” will be illegal under the Government’s new version of the RDA. Even Tim Wilson, the self-styled “classical liberal” and recent appointee to the Australian Human Rights Commission, has been equivocal on the issue. Not one politician, I suspect, will have the guts to defend the right to free and open historical debate when the chips are down.
Australia could end up – after the consultation period and once the government brings new legislation into Parliament – with a narrowing of freedom on the crucial issue of whether we’re free to discuss human history without fear of persecution.
The only thing likely to stop this is informed, rational and effective dissent and there isn’t time to waste.
“Malign and demented” was the remark made by Guy Rundle in a recent article in New Matilda about the 18C controversy, entitled The Coalition Is Ancient And Disturbed.
One small part of Rundle’s article touches on the use of 18C to police historical opinion. Here it is:
“Just to add to the chaos, [Attorney-General] Brandis then claimed that “Holocaust denial” would come under the definition of “racial vilification”. This was a desperate and gutless sop to the Jewish lobby — since Holocaust denial, malign and demented as it is, and based on no evidence at all, is an argument about evidence, without a necessary racial character. So Brandis, in such a judgement, seemed to be going further than the existing 18c law…”
With the possible exception of any mention of “the Jewish lobby” that isn’t favourable, that’s the kind of comment Turnbull might well have published. It follows a well-used formula, a variation on the theme of “I find your views false, repulsive, ridiculous, vile, stupid, malevolent and despicable – but even so, I defend your right to say them!” I discussed use of this “acceptable” formula by other Australian commentators such as Peter Singer and Janet Albrechtsen in my 2013 article on this topic: Abbott is right – 18C must go!
This is the comment I posted to in reply to Rundle’s New Matilda article:
By contrast, Aboriginal groups have never been so unwise as to suggest that any particular perspectives on their own history should be protected by law. Henry Reynolds is free to publish his views about the extent of massacres on “The Frontier” as Aboriginals were brutally evicted from their ancestral lands. Keith Windshuttle is free to disagree. The ABC is free to report the debate, giving both sides an airing.
One might think that’s especially the case in a society, such as ours, where it’s considered normal to exclude “Holocaust deniers” from any opportunity to present their case in the mass media – or to debate opponents in open forums.
There might also be a public debate about just how much I – as a Kitos War denier – should be persecucted. In this debate, my friends would argue that I should not be subject to jailing for my “malign and demented” views; those less friendly would push for criminal sanctions.
It’ll be interesting to see if this attracts any replies.
New Matilda’s National Affairs Correspondent Ben Eltham also discussed 18C a few days ago – see How Bolt Sets The Government’s Agenda.
Once again, I was fortunate to have a comment published (see below).
In fact, the level of discussion that followed is quite rational. Australians are clearly capable of nuanced discussion about topics as “hot” as World War Two and Jewish power, given the least encouragement:
Brandis is right about maximizing free speech.
I’m someone who usually identifies with the “Left” on most issues and I’ve been a passionate conservationist for many years. I dislike bigotry, the Murdoch media and Andrew Bolt.
However, I find most of the current debate shrill, formulaic and partisan. When the Human Rights Commission was established in the 1980s, I remember feeling excited that it would help push the case for human rights in Australia. I was aware of the International Declaration of Human Rights and pleased to have a government body set to defend it. I was especially keen on Article 19 of the UDHR which gives a robust guarantee for free speech.
28 years later I am disappointed. I’m unaware of a single instance when the HRC has actually promoted free speech in Australia. On the contrary, it has acted to limit free speech. The 1990s amendment that introduced 18C was lobbied for by the Zionist movement. A few years ago, Jeremy Jones of the Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Council was actually given a HRC award for his efforts in securing this legislative change.
The Scully and Tobin cases followed enactment of 18C. Neither of these folk are well-regarded on the Left and that may be for good reason. Nevertheless, their human rights were shredded in the courts with the HRC a central player. Both ended up bankcrupted. The Tobin case was particularly egregious. As far as I’m aware, it was the first time a court in Australia arrogated to itself the right to specify historical truth, in some detail.
Now we have boorish, unchallenged and multi-partisan vilification of “Holocaust Deniers” – while these peoples’ free speech is almost completey denied (they’re NEVER given a fairing airing in the mass media – not as long as I’ve been watching this issue).
Warren Mundine recently said “We had a Second World War about opinions!”
Like most people in Australia today, he’s so caught up in self-righteous assumptions about history he’s probably not studied in any detail that he can’t see the irony in making that remark – in defense of laws that have been used to crimanalize free speech about World War Two!!!
Is there anyone viewing this forum who’d like to explain why they believe the opinions expressed by the courageous British Jew Paul Eisen in his article Why I Call Myself a Holocaust Denier should be routinely vilified and subject to criminal prosecution?
I followed up with another comment:
While I think Brandis – and possible Abbott – may have genuinely held libertarian views about free speech, I don’t trust the Coalition on this issue (although sadly, I trust Labor and the Greens even less.. on this one issue).
The net result of 18C on the thorny topic of judicially-enforced historical ‘truth’ has been a handful of show trials (eg Scully and Tobin), while more-carefully worded querying of 1930s/40s history has not, so far, been persecuted.
But there has been a more important effect. That has been to give the mass media a rationalization for why they report and discuss “The Holocaust” with such egregious bias.
Roughly a decade ago, I emailed Phillip Adams to ask why, after an hour-long, utterly one-sided interview he gave to one of David Irving’s most prominent critics on Late Night Live, in which Irving was repeatedly vilified, he didn’t invite Irving to reply. Adams responded that he didn’t think Irving would dare accept. I emailed Irving to ask him directly if he was willing to be interviewed on Australian radio. He said he most certainly was – but doubted the offer would come to anything. He was right. When I emailed Adams again to say Irving accepted, he ignored my correspondence.
When I re-read Adams’ emails, he did at one time mention there might be ‘legal issues’. I presume he had in mind the Tobin case. As long as 18C is on the statute books, it facilitates wholly one-sided coverage of this important history in mass media, schools, academia and public discourse in general. Someone like Adams or his producer can avoid accusations of bias by claiming they are compliant with the law.
So what could be worse than 18C to someone of my views? That’s easy. We could have laws as strict as Germany, France or Israel – laws specifically and purposefully outlawing heterodox historical opinion. This often leads to extreme nuttiness. in France, for instance, it’s illegal to challenge the verdict of the Nuremberg Trials. Those trials, inter alia, found the Germans guilty of the Katyn Massacre. Yet over 20 years ago Gorbachev admitted that the Soviet Union was responsible for that massacre and apologized to the Polish Government!
My fear is that, when the dust settles on this debate, Australia may end up with more – not less – irrational laws on the judicial enforcement of historical fact, with all “sides of politics’ cheering loudly.
Doubtless New Matilda will editorialize approvingly if/when that happen?
It would be churlish to end without at least acknowledging that New Matilda is showing guts even publishing these comments. Doubtless it will be attacked anew by one or more members of The Swarm in Australia for doing so. The MP Michael Danby might be the man for that job. He’s attacked New Matilda before for alleged bias against Israel.
It’s not OK to be a bigot. Then again, it’s not OK to be fool.
But deciding who is what is something best left to open discussion.
One key danger of legislating in this area is that the strong, not the weak, are best placed to use legal machinery to promote their view about who’s a bigot and who’s not.
Zionists are doing this right now over the “pro-Palestine “BDS” [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] campaign. There’s a case underway to pursue Associate Professor Jake Lynch of Sydney University via the Racial Discrimination Act, because he’s supporting BDS in his professional work! New Matilda has followed this case too – see Costs Become Focus Of Lynch Case.
It’s true that the RDA case against Lynch is not endorsed by mainstream Jewish organisations. Nonetheless, the threat is obvious. The same folk who want to censor historical debate would also like to criminalize opponents in contemporary political debates.
This goes to the heart of our civilization’s core principles.
Do we believe in the Socratic principle or not – and do we have the guts to defend it?
* See Jon Petrie investigates the etymology of the word “Holocaust” in which his longer academic paper on this topic is summarized.
Please note I’ve made some minor edits to comments I posted on other blogs and reproduce here to remove typos and add clarity.
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.