Kennedy: 50 Years On, the President of the United States Is Still Alive

Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas 50 years ago. No one in the Kennedy family, including Robert and Ted, ever talked about the crime — not even once. Oswald’s name has never even been mentioned.

Nobody has forgotten the first images of Kennedy mortally wounded. Anyone who was alive and living in America remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing at that moment. Everyone else, wherever they were, vividly remembers what happened: a few sudden shots to Kennedy’s head that shocked the world. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas by overhead shots while he was greeting the crowd in Dallas (his wife Jacqueline and Governor Connally were riding in the same car as Kennedy when he was killed), but there is more about him than meets the eye. This event was so unusual and suspicious that not even the most devoted and credible biographers could explain what had happened. Kennedy made history; as he has continued to make headlines, he has changed history. This change has had to be stopped, as it threatened to spread over the long term. This has been done.

A few years later, during the time I followed every step of Bobby Kennedy’s primary elections, including the speeches he gave before or after his daily evening walks with his dog, I noticed that Bobby always referred to his brother’s assassination in the same manner. He would say, for example, “When they killed my brother …” or “The day they killed by brother …” but I never attempted to ask him, “They, who?” Why did he use the plural form? Better yet, why didn’t I dare to ask him? I realized that none of the Kennedys (not only Bobby, who was a passionate leader and able to talk about difficult topics, but also Ted, who was loyal to his ongoing service as a senator, and even Jean Kennedy Smith, who was a great supporter of political activism and involved in many charitable associations, and who was subsequently appointed as American ambassador to Ireland by Clinton, and not even Pat or Eunice, who were even more involved in activism than Jean, had never, not even once, briefly mentioned the crime, much less spoke about it.

Bobby Kennedy only spoke publicly about the crime on one momentous occasion, the only time he opened and led a discussion regarding the massacre (pieces of Kennedy’s brain were ejected against a background of blue sky) of the one and only person that captivated an entire generation. Martin Luther King Jr. had just been assassinated; Washington was in flames, in the grips of desperate race riots surrounding the African-American civil rights movement.

Bobby Kennedy initially stood on a podium mounted on a flatbed truck and then in the net of a playing field, with his only source of light coming from a beacon. He spoke into the microphone that one of us was holding high: “They killed my brother in Dallas. In Memphis they killed another brother, mine and yours. We are overwhelmed with grief. You can sympathize with my feelings just as I can sympathize with what you are going through. This is not, however, a reason to kill. Not here and not even during the times we act as the world’s peacekeepers.”

The crowd — first the youngest people, among them many children — started to cry out his name and repeated, “Stay here, stay here.” They held him high above the crowds. They understood that behind Kennedy’s words was an acknowledgement and protest against the crime committed in Dallas as well as the one committed in Memphis. His words, just two months later, would also apply to the crime committed at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

I never asked (now I should say, I never asked in time) Bobby Kennedy why he referred to his brother’s assassination in the plural form when he spoke about the shots that targeted the president’s head and disfigured it. He might have told me that in the American variant of English, the plural form could be used in an impersonal manner. To say, “The day they killed my brother …” doesn’t suggest that on that day, in that place, the accused gunman had really committed the crime and didn’t act alone. Over the past decades since the assassination, I certainly have never heard Oswald’s name being mentioned in conversation by any member of the Kennedy family. It is probably for this reason that I have always stayed away from talking about conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theories are both plausible and impossible to prove, as the official report regarding the circumstances of John F. Kennedy’s death (the Warren Commission) shows, as well as the circumstances behind Martin Luther King’s assassination (it was not certain that James Earl Ray was guilty of the murder and even King’s children called for Ray’s release years later). Robert Kennedy had won all the primary elections and was about to be elected president of the United States (with his subtle ways and the never-discussed truth about Palestinian patriotism) — his assassination became the nail in their coffins: This is their deaths.

We know all of the consequences and we have seen how both the United States and the rest of the world have returned to normal after the exemplary killings of John, Bobby and Martin Luther King Jr. We don’t know anything, however, about the assassins; the merry-go-round continues turning. This is the impression: The more it turns, the further away it gets. I have avoided discussing conspiracy theories in my conversations over 30 years with Arthur Schlesinger, always and forever my friend. It’s thanks to him that I know what I know and understand, and what I now wish to share. Whoever made the decision to kill that president had really understood that John F. Kennedy himself elicited a change that was not part of his plans for the country, but that was the natural result of his arrival and stay at the White House. John F. Kennedy was not a hero, but in the strange and mysterious relationship that formed between Kennedy and his citizens (not everybody of course, but a vocal and active part of them), “a big new tree was born in an old garden thanks to him.” It seems (and certainly in principle) that John F. Kennedy was less innovative than Roosevelt on purpose, but he nonetheless followed, with a certain witty intuition, radically new paths.

One such path was his relationship with culture — [a rapport] that never, neither before or after, had been in force in the White House. In order to understand, consider that for a certain period both Schlesinger and Kissinger left Harvard to work for the administration in Washington (even if little is known about the time Kissinger spent with Kennedy). Both McGeorge Bundy (former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard) and scientist Jerome Wiesner (he was not only the star of MIT, but also an outspoken activist) worked for Kennedy, as well as Walter Rostow, who can be considered the most well-known economist in American academia during those years. Their presence was stable, benign, not mined with tragic events (often an expedient of politics) and as reassuring as a guarantee. The other new path was his natural and instinctive rapport with young people led to Kennedy coining his party’s slogan, “New Frontier,” which was in reference to the memorable 1960s, from the Camelot era to Bob Dylan.

*Editor’s Note: The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.

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