The body of allegations and observations that make up JFK conspiracy lore, and the fiery debate concerning what it all means it, can best be encapsulated by a infamous list familiar to many Americans.
Not long after the assassination of President Kennedy, an irresistibly intriguing manifest of historical observations began popping up in classrooms, publications, and elsewhere in the varied topography of America’s mythological landscape. The list, which is of uncertain origin and authorship, details a series of amazing alleged coincidences between the life and times of our two most beloved fallen Presidents, Abe Lincoln and Jack Kennedy.
The list has appeared in diverse forms of varying length and detail, but generally reads something like this:
1. Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln
2. Lincoln entered congress in 1846, Kennedy in 1946.
3. Lincoln was elected President in 1860, Kennedy in 1960.
4. After their respective assassinations, both Lincoln and Kennedy were succeeded by a Vice President Johnson.
5. Vice President Andrew Johnson was born in 1819, Vice President Lyndon Johnson in 1919.
6. John Wilkes Booth was born in 1839, Lee Harvey Oswald in 1939. Both men have 15 letters in their names.
The list goes on for many more entries, some playful, some terribly eerie. Upon hearing or reading this fascinating compendium of observations, people generally have two reactions. The natural reaction is to say “Wow that’s amazing, I wonder I wonder what it all means.” The more incredulous portion of the populace usually says “That can’t be true, it must all be an urban legend.” As usual, the truth is less clear cut then the human mind wants it to be.
Much of the list is true, but the most exciting entry, the one that invariably tops the list, and the one that is generally responsible for attracting all the attention is only HALF true. Kennedy did have a secretary named Lincoln, but there is no documented evidence that Lincoln ever had a secretary named Kennedy.
Like the list, JFK assassination conspiracy lore is a staggering compendium of interesting tidbits of information. But like the list, this body of lore is also a mix of truth, half-truth, and un-truth. Most significant, conspiracy lore prompts the same two basic reactions in people as a list.
Some people believe everything they hear about JFK assassination theories, others unilaterally dismiss all theories as urban legend. JFK conspiracy lore has a lot of truth in it, but like the Lincoln secretary debacle, the juiciest tidbits are often only half true. In both cases, the enduring fundamental question remains, “what does it all mean?”