4 November 2021
JFK Senior and Junior
And other conspiracies.
By Neil Tidmarsh
A small crowd gathered last Tuesday in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, where President John F Kennedy was shot in 1963. They were waiting for his son, John F Kennedy Jr, to appear and declare that he would be running as Donald Trump’s vice-presidential candidate in the 2024 elections.
John F Kennedy Jr died in a plane crash in 1999.
The people gathered in Dealey Plaza believe that he’d faked his death and were now expecting him to reveal himself and his destiny – to help Donald Trump return to power and save the USA – as prophesied by certain online posts. The assembled faithful were all followers of QAnon, conspiracy theorists who believe that the government of the USA has been taken over by the ‘Deep State’, a secret group of paedophile Satanists. Apparently, Donald Trump will launch ‘Operation Storm’ – a plan to uncover and overturn the evil ‘Deep State’ – as soon as he becomes president again. The revelation that John F Kennedy Jr is going to help him was just the latest prediction posted (by John F Kennedy Jr himself, some believe) on QAnon sites. Hence that gathering in Dallas a few days ago, clad in T-shirts bearing the slogan “Trump/JFK Jr 2024”.
They were sadly disappointed. John F Kennedy Jr failed to turn up.
It has to be said that other QAnon believers weren’t impressed by the prophecy. One of them complained that it was “making the movement look stupid”. So a conspiracy theory which insists that the US government is controlled by an evil bunch of paedophile, Devil-worshipping puppet-masters doesn’t look stupid anyway? Not according to 15% of Americans, if a recent poll published by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core is to be believed.
Another recent poll – by NPR/Marist – found an even higher level of belief in another current USA conspiracy theory: 68% of Republican voters believe that the 2020 election was rigged and that Trump really won. Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state and the election official who Trump ordered to “find” 11,780 Republican votes in his state, has christened it “the stolen-election myth”. He’s a Republican and voted for Trump, but refused Trump’s order and defended the result which every count, recount and audit confirmed – that “Biden received more votes than Trump in Georgia”. This week he announced that he’s prepared to take a stand against the Donald in court and has handed over material to prosecutors; the district attorney in Fulton county is investigating potential criminal charges of electoral interference against Trump.
But would a trial and conviction exorcise the “stolen election myth”? It’s unlikely. Conspiracy theories are astonishingly durable, even – or perhaps particularly – in the USA. Another article in the news last week took us back to Dealey Plaza, Dallas; this time about JFK Senior and the numerous and persistent conspiracy theories that live on long after his death. Some official documents relating to his assassination in 1963 have remained secret; last Thursday President Biden was supposed to have made them public, but didn’t. Their release has been delayed; some won’t be disclosed until December 15 and most won’t be disclosed until December of next year at the earliest.
The John F Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 set up an independent body to collect all government files on the subject and to make them public. Most of them were indeed released over the following six years but 10% of them – some 15,000 records – remained classified. These were supposed to be declassified and released in 2017, but President Trump kicked that can down the road without any comment or explanation. Biden’s White House said last week that this latest delay was due to Covid-19 (“classified material can’t be reviewed remotely”) and pointed out that the Act permitted postponement if disclosure would harm the country’s military, intelligence operations or international relations. The announcement that “the Biden administration is setting up a whole-of-government effort to ensure the maximum possible disclosure of information by the end of 2022” will no doubt do little to persuade the many JFK conspiracy theorists that they are deluded or that the authorities have nothing to hide.
President Biden wasn’t the only one blocking disclosure of records this week. Ex-President Trump has been fighting tooth and nail to prevent records of his activities, phone calls and meetings being released to the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capital, according to the National Archives and Records Administration. What does he have to hide? It doesn’t take much imagination to sniff out a conspiracy and a cover-up here… Or perhaps he’s just defending himself (with or without the help of JFK Jr) against the evil Deep State and its diabolical determination to frustrate his Operation Storm.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Wales, the knights of the Round Table are asleep in an underground cavern, deep beneath the Cambrian Mountains, where they’ve been slumbering for one and a half millennia. One day soon, King Arthur (yes, he’s still alive – his death was fake news spread by enemy conspirators) will return from Avalon, summon his brave knights out of their coma and save our country from the disasters of Covid-19, climate change, the EU, Brexit, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, devolution, stagflation…
It’s all on the internet so it must be true.