Slightly-interesting-but-not-really item of the day

>> Monday, November 09, 2009

io9 passes along the news that somebody has done an elaborate computer reconstruction of the famous photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald holding a gun and newspaper and concluded that the photograph isn't a fake. This would be the photograph that some conspiranoiac nutjobs claim is a forgery--Oswald's body pasted onto somebody else's gun-toting, Marxist-literature-reading body.

Kudos to the techie analysis and 3-D modeling, but honestly: Marina Oswald not only swore up and down that she took the damn photo, but she sent at least one copy to a family friend (Russian ex-pat businessman and raconteur George de Mohrenschildt) before the assassination with a handwritten snarky comment on the back mocking her husband's pretensions as a "killer of fascists" (ironically, she was evidently unaware when she sent the note that her husband had would, in point of fact, attempted to kill retired Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker, a notorious right-winger and Bircher with arguably-fascist proclivities). Considering that nutjobs have managed to overlook Mrs. Oswald's testimony for nearly fifty years now, I hardly think the latest and greatest computer modeling is going to actually dissuade them more than first-person testimony. (I'm afraid that most conspiranoiacs I've seen advance the altered-photo theory don't even bother to call Marina Oswald a liar or a patsy--they usually don't even acknowledge her Warren Commission testimony about the photograph or the fact that de Mohrenschildt had a copy.)

Nifty stuff, the computer modeling and all that. But everybody who cares either already knows the photograph is genuine or has their head so rectally inclined nothing else matters.

EDIT: Ah, memory, fickle memory! I couldn't remember dates, but having checked Vincent Bugliosi's nigh-encyclopedic Reclaiming History, I needed to amend the above: the infamous backyard photograph was taken on or about March 31st, 1963. The attempt on General Walker's life was made on April 10th, 1963, and Lee confessed the act to Marina the following day (this and ballistics evidence being the key things linking Lee Oswald to the Walker assault). de Mohrenschildt's copy of the photo is dated April 5th, 1963; I'd also forgotten that Oswald signed it: "To my friend George from Lee Oswald." Oops. The comment on the back of the photo, "Hunter of fascists, ha ha ha," is not in Lee Oswald's handwriting, and while I'm not certain it's ever been conclusively established that it was in Marina Oswald's writing, there's nobody else it's likely to have been and the comment is consistent with the incredulous attitude she described having when Lee asked her to take the photograph on March 31st.

Again, not that any of this is likely to convince anybody inclined to believe the photograph is some kind of fake.


ntsc Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 8:13:00 AM EST  

"One man couldn't have killed the President"

My mother said that within 5 hours of the assasination. I don't think she ever gave up on that thought.

The conspiracy theorists started before the body was at Parkland and will not believe anything else.

Eric Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 5:58:00 PM EST  

I think you've hit on the bottom-line reason they've been saying that for forty-six years, too: there's an innate need some people have to believe that Camelot was brought down by some Mordred in league with a Morgan and their armies of darkness. To them, the idea that it was one screw-up who got off one decent shot, possibly by sheer luck, is like writing a version of Le Morte de Arthur where King Arthur gets done in by a random stableboy who decided one morning, while sweeping out the barn, that King Arthur was coming through in a day or two and was supposed to pass by his barn, so why not take his mail-order bow up on the roof and see if he could make a little history.

I suppose it's not just "one man," but that man in particular: had the President's assassin been some movie-villain type, an assassin of appropriate stature operating alone, maybe even that would be different for a lot of people. The idea that the one man was not only alone, but that he was a man who failed at everything else he did: his military career, his defection to Russia, his expected celebrity welcome upon repatriation, his marriage and parenting, his series of dead-end jobs, his career as a revolutionary and American dissident--that such a man could actually succeed at something just the once and it happened to be his third shot at a Presidential motorcade, well, the thought rankles a lot of people. They don't want to believe, so they don't.

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