Weatherford, Texas —
Fifty years later, we’re still suspicious.
A Gallup poll released this month finds that more than 60 percent of Americans believe others besides Lee Harvey Oswald were involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Over the years, more than 200 people and three dozen groups have been accused of being involved in Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, author Vincent Bugliosi recently told CNN. So it’s understandable that conspiracy theories of all degrees of plausibility have gained — and lost — popularity in that time.
“There’s a strong tradition in this country of cultures of conspiracy,” said Edward Linenthal, a history professor at Indiana University. “Very often, major events for some people are never quite what they seem. Whatever it happens to be, I think behind the surface appearance, there’s always some more interesting forces at work.”
In the case of Kennedy’s assassination, Linenthal said the magnitude of the event — the murder of the most powerful man in the world and one of the country’s most popular presidents — immediately led doubters to look for alternate explanations.
“The results of what (Oswald) did were so immense … I think that’s part of it, as well,” said Linenthal, who also works as a consultant for the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. “The idea that a huge, transformative event like this couldn’t have been carried out by one nobbish little man — I think that carries weight with a lot of people.”
Official attempts to settle doubts about the assassination — beginning with the Warren Commission report in September 1964, which concluded that Oswald acted alone — have only fueled alternate versions of history.
Answers to many lingering questions may lie in classified CIA documents related to the assassination that are due to be released in 2017. For many, though, the circumstances of Kennedy’s death will likely remain shrouded in mystery.
“It’s certainly a vibrant part of American culture,” Linenthal said, “and I don’t think it will stop.”
Here is a look at some of the more enduring conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination, according to Gallup and Wikipedia:
Weatherford, Texas —
Fifty years later, we’re still suspicious.
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