My recent JFK-themed album American University ends with a song called “Gratitude.” The concept of “gratitude” as it relates to the story of President Kennedy came to me via a YouTube video of peace activist and author James Douglass reading from his bestselling book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, to the Coalition on Political Assassinations, recorded on 11/20/2009.
I couldn’t help but think of the video this year because Thanksgiving happens to fall on the 55th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in Dallas, on November 22, 1963.
Douglass’s book is the one piece of JFK literature that the entire JFK research community seems to agree on. I have yet to read a bad review.
Oliver Stone, who famously gave Bill Maher a copy of the book on his show, wrote that Douglass “offers the best account I have read of this tragedy and its significance… It is a book that deserves the attention of all Americans; it is one of those rare books that, by helping us understand our history, has the power to change it.”
Yoko Ono has also endorsed the book: “Right now, I ask all of you—please, please, read JFK and the Unspeakable! I cried all night reading it, and didn’t sleep a wink. It is a book that could make us stand up and change the world, right now. Maybe we can save the world before it blows up. Really.”
Douglass opens his talk with some background: “The doctrine of ‘plausible deniability,’ in an old government document, provides us with a source of the assassination of President Kennedy. The document was issued in 1948, one year after the CIA was established, 15 years before JFK’s murder. That document, National Security Council Directive 10/2, gave the highest sanction of US Government to a broad range of covert operations: propaganda, sabotage, economic warfare, subversion of all kinds that were seen as necessary to win the Cold War against the communists. The government’s condition for those covert activities by US agencies, coordinated by the CIA, was that they be, as the document says, ‘so planned and executed, that if uncovered, the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them.'”
The story goes, that when “Cold Warrior” president John F. Kennedy began to learn how close we were coming to Mutual Assured Destruction with the Soviet Union, he “stood up to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Military Industrial Complex” who were all pushing us toward nuclear war, and was “treated as a traitor.” “The doctrine of ‘plausible deniability’ allowed for the assassination of a president seen as a national security risk himself.”
“The CIA’s ‘plausible deniability’ for crimes of State as exemplified by JFK’s murder corresponds in our politics to what the Trappist monk and spiritual writer Thomas Merton called ‘the unspeakable.'”
After the Warren Commission Report was released, Merton wrote that “‘the unspeakable’ is the void that contradicts everything that is spoken, even before the words are said: The void that gets into the language of public and official declarations at the very moment when they are pronounced, and makes them ring dead with the hollowness of the abyss.”
Douglass says that “the void of ‘the unspeakable’ is the dark abyss. It’s the midnight reality of ‘plausible deniability’ that we face when we peer into our national security state’s murder of President Kennedy. And that, I believe, is precisely where hope begins.”
He continues: “I believe it’s a providential fact that the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination always falls around Thanksgiving, and periodically on that very day… Thanksgiving’s a beautiful time of year, with autumn leaves falling to create new life. Creation is alive as the season turns. The Earth is alive. It is not a radioactive wasteland. We can give special thanks for that. The fact that we are still living, that the human family is still alive with the fighting chance for survival, and for much more than that is reason for gratitude for a peacemaking president, and to the unlikely alliance he forged with his enemy.”
“So let us give thanks this Thanksgiving for John F. Kennedy, and for his partner in peacemaking, Nikita Khrushchev. Their story is our story. A story of having the courage to turn toward the truth. Remember what Gandhi said that turned theology on its head: He said ‘Truth is God.’ We can discover the truth and live it out. There is nothing, nothing more powerful than the truth. The truth will set us free.”
It may seem a bit extreme for you to hear that JFK saved the world from nuclear holocaust. But to find out how close we actually came, the risks he took to save us, and the price he paid for doing so, one must dig for that truth. Douglass spent years doing just that, and he reveals his findings in his incredible book.
I cannot recommend this video strongly enough. It’s 92 minutes long; roughly the length of a movie. Instead of watching a film this holiday weekend, why not watch this instead? Or if you are traveling, make good use of that public WiFi and put it on while on your plane, train or shuttle trip. You will be stunned by the truths that have been covered up by 55 years of propaganda designed to keep this story from you. As Douglass says toward the end of his talk, this is a story “whose telling can transform a nation.”
“On October 11, 1963 President Kennedy issued a top secret order to begin withdrawing the US military from Vietnam. In National Security Memorandum 263 he ordered that 1,000 US military personnel be withdrawn from Vietnam by 1963, the bulk of US personnel be taken out by the end of 1965.”
“After JFK’s assassination, his withdrawal policy was quietly voided. In light of the future consequences of Dallas, it was not only John Kennedy who was murdered on November 22, 1963, but 58,000 other Americans and 3 million Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians.”
Some say that dropping acid changes one’s sense of perception forever. I have never tried it, but for those of you who don’t know this story, I think it will too change your sense of perception forever — and it will be for the better, for all of us.
John Dissed’s new album American University tells the story of President Kennedy’s presidency and tragic death in music. To find out more, go to www.johndissed.com.