In 1995, John F. Kennedy Jr. started a magazine to launch a new era in American politics. Today, there is a conspiracy theory that he succeeded, two decades after his death on 16 July 1999. The theory hypothesizes that Kennedy's aim in naming his magazine George was twofold. In part, the masthead referred to America's first president, George Washington. But—the story goes—Kennedy also used the title to accuse the person who allegedly helped to engineer the assassinations of his father, John F. Kennedy, and possibly his uncle, Robert F. Kennedy. That person was the later head of the CIA, George H. W. Bush.
Dead Men Do Tell Tales
For grassroots populists and the alienated fringe, the Kennedys' Camelot is a lost dream. JFK's presidency represents a path not traveled in American and global politics. Instead of the Kennedys, the world got the Bush-Clinton generation of politicians.
A sub-theory hypothesizes that JFK Jr. was aware that the parties who assassinated his father and uncle had similar plans for him. To evade the same fate, he faked his death and went underground.
A branch of this narrative postulates that JFK Jr. has survived to become the secret pro-Trump 'QAnon' leaker and rumor monger. On 5 August 2019, The Washington Post scoffed at the pathetic basement dwellers who would bring JFK Jr. back to life and cast the lost scion as the avenger of the pro-Trump movement.
Ridicule from the establishment only fuels the rumors: Conspiracists believe that disgraced former President Richard Nixon was another victim of the Bush-Clinton cadre. They also think that Donald Trump was Nixon's private political protégé in Houston and New York City in the 1980s and that Trump's presidential bid was a long-planned project. This thread ties the political fortunes of Republicans Nixon and Trump to that of the Kennedy Democrats.
Other theories state that the anti-Kennedy assassins did indeed have the same plan for JFK Jr. and they successfully executed that plan in 1999. A sub-theory—denied by the mainstream press, fact check sites, and similar sources—claims that JFK Jr. was a favorite in the anticipated US Senate race for New York and that his death cleared the way for Hillary Clinton to become Senator in that seat on 7 November 2000.
JFK Jr. has won a posthumous online following and new respect. He was the Kennedy heir apparent, already beloved in the eyes of the public. He was a Democrat from the path-not-followed, and to this day, he still has unsullied political capital. For pro-Trump strategists, it wasn't a stupid idea to think that JFK Jr. could appeal to alienated Democrats and bring them over to Trump's side. The Trump camp discovered that as a shadowy hero in a Dark Web whisper campaign, JFK Jr. was worth more dead (or undead) than alive. Dead Men Do Tell Tales—of power games and assassinations! The Kennedy saga could have come from Ancient Rome, but in true New World style, it is embroidered with fantastical elements from Grimms' Fairy Tales.
Tech giants are censoring this kind of chatter. But it is hard to hide strange truths, sitting in plain sight. For example, there is a mountain range (the Harold Byrd Mountains) in Antarctica, which was named after the owner of the Texas School Book Depository (Col. D. Harold Byrd (1900-1986)). This is, of course, the building from which John F. Kennedy was shot.
It is curious that the owner of the Book Depository would be recognized, much less in Antarctica. The back story on that honorific is even more odd. The mountain range was named for Harold Byrd in 1929; however, the name was not actually registered with the US government until 1 January 1967—after JFK's death.
Harold Byrd was a cousin of Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd Jr. (1888-1957), who discovered the mountain range and named it for his younger relative. Admiral Byrd, in turn, is known for coming back from his Antarctic expeditions with crazy stories of a Hollow Earth and alien beings living at the South Pole. He claimed to have discovered 'Agharta,' the Land of Advanced Races. He was debriefed at the highest levels and unsurprisingly told to keep quiet. You can read excerpts from the apocryphal Admiral Byrd diary (here), in which he supposedly recorded his bizarre Antarctic discoveries on 19 February 1947.
Trump and the Deep State
A lot of this material either came from, or was capitalized upon, by Republican political consultant, Roger Stone. A Time story from 25 January 2019 summarized how Stone saw Trump as the new Nixon and the new JFK, rolled into one. Stone even has Nixon's face tattooed on his back! Apparently, this was not Stone's idea: it was Nixon who originally saw Trump as the new Nixon. The larger point here is that the grassroots, encouraged by figures like Stone, are actively revising Nixon's history. No longer do they see him as a disgraced president, who abused his power to spy on the Democrats. Richard Nixon has been re-imagined as a victim of the so-called Deep State.
Stone was convicted on 15 November 2019 of lying to Congress to protect Donald Trump's campaign connections to WikiLeaks. And WikiLeaks looms large in yet another conspiracy theory about how Julian Assange took aim at the Deep State and is suffering for it. In these ways, the Kennedy drama is entangled with current events from last week. American politics is now a place where anti-Deep-State whisper campaigns go head-to-head with anti-Trump mainstream media extravaganzas.
This is a prelude to Julian Assange's likely extradition to the US and subsequent possible show trial in 2020. Assange's quasi-girlfriend, Pamela Anderson, made a public appeal on 8 November 2019, in which she asked Trump to pardon Assange. She may or may not be a reliable figure. While she appears to care about Assange's welfare, her appeal links Trump to Assange at the very moment when a public connection between the two men benefits the US Democrats.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media have made much of the Roger Stone conviction, which insures that Trump cannot pardon Assange without damaging himself. In 2016, Assange's supporters largely voted for Trump. If Trump does not intervene and Assange is convicted, or if Assange dies in custody, then the publisher's followers will likely abandon Trump. All of this is a chess game leading up to the 2020 US election, in which key players from 2016 are being attacked, removed, or neutralized.
The larger conspiracy theory that the Deep State is behind electoral contests takes the narrative beyond conventional left-right politics into a larger contemplation of power. Unhealed political wounds from the 1960s through the 2000s are bearing fruit now. The Kennedy assassinations, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. did enormous damage. Trump's camp is depicting these events as actions of a fifth column inside the American state. The story of an out-of-control Deep State (with post-Nazi ties!) appeals to a popular frustration that the United States fell short of her starry promise. There was a fatal turn in the great Republic. Something went wrong and America did not become the global leader she should have been. The collective memory circles back, again and again, to the day things went wrong: 22 November 1963.
It does not matter if the Kennedy tales are the stuff of conspiracy theories. They appeal to the soul of the American people, who are alone in the world in that they will not bow down. It is a strange country, founded on the backs of slaves, but for that very reason and because of the Civil War, obsessed with liberty. Americans are trained from the cradle to refuse to accept power and authority at face value. It is this deeper conviction that seeks retribution against corrupt political powers. It demands, in biblical language, justice against intelligence agency principalities, especially the shadowy Deep State. Donald Trump's self-insertion into the Kennedys' evolving mythology was accepted by his base. That acceptance reflects a popular American yearning for a different political path.
Ideals, Rationality, Truth
Rumors about the Deep State partly originate in the suppression of historical documents. Trump promised to release all JFK documents on 26 April 2018. Instead, he ordered the US National Archives to release 19,045 documents and he held back more files until 26 October 2021. Incidentally, Martin Luther King Jr.'s FBI file just prior to his 1968 assassination was finally released in 2018, because it had oddly been stored among Kennedy documents. You can read it here.
The FBI file focuses on how King's civil rights work on behalf of his fellow African Americans became equated with his anti-imperialist stance during the Vietnam War. Both activities led to his political affiliation with Communists, despite the fact that he was a religious minister.
But the big red flag for the intelligence agencies was probably the FBI report (on page 15) that King was considering running for president, based on a confluence of American domestic politics (through King's contribution to the civil rights movement) and the US role in international politics (via the peace movement). Even more of a red flag was the money being funneled toward King's projects; this funding would provide a foundation for a possible presidential bid.
King's terrible fate reflects a perpetual American problem. Americans are, in the same breath, idealists and rationalists. The ideal City on the Hill wants its domestic affairs to be writ large and shared, in rationalized applications, in the history of the world. That makes the United States an imperial power, which, by its original definition, it should not be. US domestic politics is a study in blind spots around this fundamental contradiction. American statesmen and women are expected to reconcile that contradiction. They must act with the fervor of believers and the grit of pragmatists. Despite their own private moral deviations, the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. seemed capable of accomplishing just that; and they were lost forever to the American body politic.
"This country is able to produce King but cannot preserve King. You have him, and yet you do not have him."
Prior to King's assassination, the famous Vietnamese monk told King that he was "bodhisattva ... an enlightened being trying to work for the emancipation of other human beings." He said this at the height of the Vietnam conflict. Thich Nhat Hanh had seen America's ideal, embodied in one of its most promising political figures.
What remained after the 1960s assassinations was full-blown imperialism, in which an-ever-more-secluded political class used pragmatic ends to justify bloody means. What followed was an era of 'truth,' characterized by subterfuge, obfuscation, hypocrisy, and double standards. The political class said one thing and did another; they weaponized America's political ideals. The grassroots opposition to this movement, dedicated to the 'draining of the Swamp,' depended on 'truth,' built on strangeness and rumor. Neither the establishment nor the populists actually rationalized politics; instead, both camps have descended into mass manipulation and disinformation. And both camps are haunted by a pantheon of 'what if' figures, who hint at what American global politics could have and should have been.