It takes Robin Ramsay until page 77 of Who Shot JFK, Pocket Essentials, revised 2007, to write:
Because there is enough evidence to plausibly construct an initial case for many candidates, the Kennedy assassination has always been a kind of mirror which reflects the researcher’s and reader’s own preoccupations and prejudices.
Don’t think anyone disputes that principle but detractors of Robin Ramsay would say he does just that, in pointing to LBJ as the man behind the killing.
Mark Lane wrote a book “Rush to Judgment” in 1966 and then proceeded to nominate his solution.
His book was vital because it caught the American imagination at precisely the time when the revelations about the CIA and Ike’s military industrial complex had also caught the public mood.
Much of what Lane wrote was right but much could also be attacked and was. And as is always the way, in came the trolls, the infiltrators, the money backed, slick journals which pooh-poohed the whole thing, tossing in enough “evidence” to start people questioning Lane and Co.
But even worse was this American predilection for forming camps. Every country does it but Americans make it an art form. One example is the End Times, the eschatology and at one time, I was reading all I could get my hands on, online.
What I realize now was always going to be the result was that people on both sides who would follow a logical path to a point, then dropped all pretence to logic and evidence in order to put down the other side.
Side? What side? Well there is no “side” but they constructed one and it became the Pretribbers versus the Posttribbers, that is – the good will be saved before or after the tribulation. And the texts? Revelation, Isaiah and Daniel.
With the best will in the world, these are ancient texts which have many questions about them and even the scholars have fallen into camps – the BCE and CE using modernist, right rationalists, plus anyone left, versus the traditionalist BC and AD users. What knocked this on the head, as far as dating goes, is that the liberal J.A.T. Robinson came out with a pretty airtight case for early dating and not the dating the modernist rationalist was trying to force into the ecumenical libraries, along with feminist tomes and the like.
But that’s for another day.
On JFK, the camps were at first SBT versus multiple rounds but this moved, by 1966, to Warren Report lone gunman v multiple gunmen, including the Grassy Knoll.
Time passed but the two camps had dug in and often, the most ridiculous “proofs” were put up, one I’ve written on before was a diagram showing sketches of the two Kennedys, Connally and wife from side on, sitting bolt upright in the car and a bullet trajectory at head level coming from behind, entering Kennedy, moving down, then changing and going up, then down into Connally and then up and out of the car.
It was so ridiculous that I gave up with these people and it illustrated the very thing Robin Ramsay himself railed against – how less than scrupulous scholars would crowd in and flood the net and the bookshelves with, at times, quite shoddily researched works.
Although Ramsay’s magazine Lobster includes articles on conspiracy theories, and he has written a book on the subject, Gareth Mclean writing The Scotsman newspaper, says that Ramsay “hates conspiracy theories”, quoting him as saying “The term ‘conspiracy theory’ is used by various intellectual establishments to dismiss people like me. It’s irritating but there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Man after my own heart. Though Ramsay certainly had a nominee, LBJ, as one who was deeply involved, if not the one who ordered it, his whole small book was devoted to the people who had written, presenting their evidence and going through it, not immediately dismissing it, not creating strawmen. In other words, he is a scholar who doesn’t mind whose toes he steps on.
For example, on the police tape which came to light, purportedly establishing that there were two shots at least, something which is obviouslynot inimical to his LBJ case, Ramsay writes:
How a tape consisting almost entirely of motorcycle noise can be treated to show not only shots but where they came from is beyond my ken … I know so little about this subsection of the assassination that I don’t even know what the status of the tape evidence is now among the researchers.
Notice he does not call them kooks nor tinfoil hatters, though there are many of those woven in with the serious researchers, nor does he insert adjectives like “serious” to make his point. Also, and you may well reject this, but a Scottish researcher is one I’ve seen in the past in education, dour in both his approach and output, which I like.
In the end, what Ramsay refuses to do is join dots in an extrapolated way or: “We’ve got this far, this is what it portends.” What he does is throw in all sorts of disparate evidence, writes what others have written or spoken about it and has gone into them. That is take-no-prisoners scholarship.
And most people are not interested, it’s not written in the racy, exciting style of a Lane or other major names; Lobster, his magazine, had an initial print run of 150 copies.
Who whacked JFK? What happened to Dodi and Di in Paris? Did Blair and Campbell tell us all porkies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and how many American troops are based overseas in foreign states?
If these questions give you sleepless nights, speak to Robin Ramsay, editor, publisher and chief writer behind Lobster, the world’s most authoritative conspiracy theory magazine. You probably won’t have heard of it – Lobster only surfaces twice a year and it’s not available in WH Smith’s next to Loaded or Maxim. It doesn’t carry advertising or pictures, and it’s kept afloat by a small but dedicated band of subscribers.
Movie director, subscriber and occasional Lobster contributor, Alex Cox, is a big fan of Ramsay:
“Robin is the only journalist writing and publishing articles about the deeply dodgy Atlantic Alliance. The reason we are in such a mess today – the reason we went to war for American oil companies – is this alliance, and Robin is the lone investigator digging at the roots of it. His work, published in Lobster, will, in later years, be regarded as of vital importance in understanding these things.”
Quite an endorsement, and Lobster’s certainly a conspiracy theory magazine with a difference. While other publications might try to kid you that the Windsors are a race of super-intelligent space lizards (if only they were that interesting), or that Hitler ended up running ice-cream parlours in Buenos Aires, the Lobster credo is facts, figures and verification.
Every unpalatable truth featured in the mag is backed up with references, so if you think Lobster’s leading you up the garden path, you can examine the original sources and draw your own conclusions. It’s this standard of authentication that differentiates Lobster from the competition and explains why it’s still going strong 20 years after it first saw the light of day in a Hull back bedroom.
So though I don’t necessarily buy his LBJ, the way he lays out the evidence for and against all the other candidates is first class. A reviewer at Amazon who does not like his book:
This book assumes a considerable degree of familiarity with the JFK assassination – there are no timelines, no details about ballistics, no diagrams of Dealey Plaza. Its scope is not, in short, ‘the assassination of JFK’ but deals purely with a handful of the most likely cast and scenarios behind the assassination and cover up.
It does this in a very scant way by looking at a given aspect (the two Oswalds, the failings and agenda of the Warren Commission, the criminal past of LBJ), summarising the better (and poorer) books published on that aspect and including, at the end of each chapter, a lot of very good web references for further research.
What I liked was this sort of thing [p63]:
In his memoir The Last Investigation [Fonzi is discussed earlier in the book], Fonzi comments that Schweiker was ecstatic at the press reception of the report [p 163], so encouraged that he briefly seemed inclined to continue his Kennedy investigation without the backing of the Church Committee after its demise.
Then he was offered the position of vice-presidential candidate on the Ronald Reagan ticket for the 1976 presidential nomination and gave up his interest in the assassination.
The reason for running this post is to show someone who does not join dots at will but a man who jealously guards his scholarship and will not be drawn on speculating what something “portends”, as someone tried to sheet home to me with my posts on symbolism. If the symbols are right there before your eyes and there are copious documents going into usage of that particular symbolism and as long as I mention the alternative explanations, then that is the way to proceed.
Ramsay pointed out that the only thing a writer of this kind has is his reputation and so he must be constantly on his guard against those who would casually throw in the one weasel word or lightly create a strawman which slips through the net before it can be intercepted and refuted with evidence.
I’ve been privy to a conversation in the past few days [via email] in which certain bloggers are being accused of things the accuser himself is doing. I haven’t bought into it but from a distance, it is a worry. It’s not enough, therefore, to just present a case, one has to also be aware of and ready to hit the trolls who do this oh so casual and lightly flung assassination.
To not take this seriously is to buy yourself trouble.
Everyone has an agenda, everyone, often unstated and sometimes that agenda, for example a leftist one, tells that person that something a writer has said is wrong. Where a person of principle will go away and gather counter-facts, the troll just gainsays, denies in a bombastic way, sometimes trying to make out the writer as guilty of some personal, one-on-one vendetta.
This, people, is where the war is being fought, particularly in the blogosphere. This is why everything needs back-up, particularly if it’s known it will not be a popular angle. The words “lighten up a bit”, the third last refuge before “for the cheeldren” and patriotism, are to be stonewalled just as surely as an all-out attack.
The attacker has nothing to lose. In Robin Ramsay’s case, his very name is on the line with every single article he writes. He is the batsman in cricket being invited to drop his concentration for a second.
Coming back to JFK, Ramsay’s comments on many other matters along the way are also interesting, especially if they pertain to later things, e.g. Watergate, other assassinations, various political manoeuverings.
Let me leave you with a piece by Robin Ramsay on conspiracies theories in general [from 1996]: