Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Oswald Did It and He Acted Alone?


With the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination just around the corner, we can expect the media to be inundated with solemn remembrances, first-person recollections, and extravagant revisionism. Alas, every heavy-duty plot and whacked-out account of the Kennedy administration will demand and very likely be given its moment in the sun.

The next time you’re at a social gathering and, masochistically, wish to have the guests pelt you with cheese balls, announce to everyone that you not only believe it was the hapless, 24-year old Lee Harvey Oswald who killed Kennedy, but that he acted alone. Then sit back and prepare to be attacked.

It’s rare indeed to find anyone who thinks Oswald acted alone. In fact, although no one can, with certainty, tell you precisely who did it, they’re positive of two things: (1) It wasn’t Oswald, and (2) it was either the USSR, Cuban Fidelistas, Cuban anti-Fidelistas, official CIA agents, rogue CIA agents, ex-CIA agents, official FBI, rogue FBI, the Mafia, the Trilateral Commission, Lyndon Johnson, or the oil companies. That’s a partial list.

Of course, I have no idea what I’m talking about. Like everyone else, I’m reduced to sifting through the wreckage, trying to make sense of it. All I know is what I’ve read. Another thing I know is that it’s futile to argue forensics with the “true believers.” The PBS show that aired last week (Nov. 12), featuring high-tech forensic evidence supporting the “single-bullet” theory, changed no one’s mind. Not only did it not change their minds, they smirked at it. They ridiculed it; they howled with laughter.

Personally, I think Oswald probably did it, and that he probably acted alone. My reason for thinking this is two-fold: (1) A Dallas newspaper had unwisely published in advance a map of the presidential motorcade’s route, and (2) the assassination went down the way most assassinations go down, so there was really no need to get all exotic about it.

I can understand why people reject the theory that Oswald could have pulled this off by himself. It’s hard to embrace the notion that this fool—this nobody, this loser—could single-handedly snuff out the life of the vibrant and charismatic leader of the Free World, and change the course of human history forever. But this is how most assassinations occur. It’s the Lee Harvey Oswalds of the world who do this sort of thing.

Political assassinations aren’t Hollywood movies, where shadowy international figures are paid millions of dollars and then get plastic surgery. Check the list: Charles Guiteau, Garfield’s assassin, Leon Czolgosz, McKinley’s assassin, Gavrilo Princip, the 19-year old who killed Archduke Ferdinand, Sirhan Sirhan, Guiseppe Zangara, Thomas Hagan, Yigal Amir. These were basically “average” or “below average” guys.

Also let’s not forget that Manson family member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was within two feet of Gerald Ford when her gun misfired. It was sheer luck Ford wasn’t shot. Then we have those unstable misfits and nut-cases: Mark Chapman, who killed John Lennon, Arthur Bremer, who shot George Wallace, and John Paul Franklin, who shot Larry Flynt. These guys just walked up to their victims and fired. They were Oswaldesque nobodies, and yet they changed history.

The sterling example of this, of course, was 25-year old John Hinckley, the man who shot Ronald Reagan. This happened in 1981, eighteen years after the JFK assassination, when presidential security was infinitely better than it was in 1963. Yet Hinckley, a former mental patient, walks up to Reagan on a Washington D.C. street in broad daylight, with Secret Service agents surrounding him, and gets off six shots. He misses Reagan’s heart by inches.

A subsequent jury finds Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity. But if a certifiably insane man, fresh out of the mental ward, can devise a plan where he walks up to the president in broad daylight, and fires six shots at point blank range, why is a confused (but sane) wannabe like Oswald deemed incapable of planning an assassination?

But what do I know? Like everybody else, I’m just guessing.

David Macaray is a Los Angeles playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”).  He can be reached at

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”