The Psychobabble Theory of Assassination

Age of Assassins: The Loners, Idealists and Fanatics Who Conspired to Change the World

Faber and Faber (2013)

Book Review

In essence this book is an encyclopedia of modern day assassinations. In addition to providing comprehensive details of more than a dozen political murders, Newton proposes a general theory of what motivates assassins. In my view, this aspect of the book is a total failure. Mainly because it largely omits compelling evidence of US intelligence/military complicity in the assassinations of Malcolm X, JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and John Lennon and the attempted assassinations of Reagan, Ford, George Wallace and John Paul II.

I also have a problem with Newton’s assertion that the era of assassinations began with the Lincoln assassination. Assassination via poisoning dates back to Roman times at least.

According to Newton, the Lincoln assassination inspired the Russian Nihilist movement and their numerous assassination attempts (which were ultimately successful) against czar Alexander II.

The Nihilists, in turn, inspired the Irish nationalists and the “propaganda of the deed” (see Why Social Studies Never Made Sense in School: The History of Anarchism ) tendency of the anarchist movement. The result would be a wave of attempted and completed assassinations across Europe and in the US.

The book contains a long section on the life of US anarchist Emma Goldman and the attempted assassination oshe plotted with her lover Alexander Berkman on Henry Clay Frick (hired by Carnegie to break the steel workers union) s. Although she would later renounce violence, her huge public following (according to Newton) would inspire Leon Czolgosz to assassinate president William McKinley.

The book devotes a long chapter to the rise of Serbian nationalism, the Black Hand and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the purported cause of World War I. It devotes numerous pages to the Armenian genocide by Ottoman rulers and several assassination attempts against Roosevelt and Truman.

I found the later chapters, beginning with the assassination of John Kennedy, a big disappointment. In my view, this section of the book is pure pop psychology and psychobabble.

Newton identifies three primary motives for assassination:

1) A desire to end the suffering engendered by capitalist greed.

2) The drive for violent retribution in reaction to other killings.

3) A desire to smash the state and other authoritarian structures.

This leaves out all the lone nut assassinations – in which misfits try to murder prominent political figures for no apparent reason at all. Except for the JFK assassination (Newton acknowledges Oswald had accomplices* ). Newton seems to be a strong supporter of the lone nut theory of assassination. He blames the rise of lone nut assassins on deep seated decay and alienation in US society, which he believes is aggravated by the motion picture industry.


*Based on an acoustical recording obtained from a Dallas police microphone, the 1978 House Committee on assassinations ascertain that Oswald had to have at least one accomplice. See  https://spartacus-educational.com/JFKassassinationsC.htm

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James Baldwin – I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro

Directed by Raoul Peck (2016)

Film Review

This documentary is based on the unfinished manuscript of African American author James Baldwin’s book Remember This House. Narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson (in the voice of Baldwin), the film explores the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin’s reminiscences of slain civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as his personal observations of American history.

The film combines film footage of the Southern civil rights movement, the 1965 March on Washington, speeches by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Baldwin himself, along with clips from various Hollywood films depicting a stereotyped view of Black/White relations.

In his unfinished book, Baldwin describes leaving the US in 1948 to live in Paris, seeking to escape a constant fear of racial violence that hampered his writing. He returned to the US in the 1960s when the civil rights movement started. He felt motivated both by an obligation to support the struggle and a desire to reconnect with his family and the African American community.

For me, the most interesting part of the film is Baldwin’s insightful analysis of the white neuroticism that underlies racism. Baldwin describes a total separation between the public and private lives of white people. Because they are so terrified of their private selves, whites build elaborately phony public lives. Guilty and constricted, they sink into what Baldwin describes as “moral apathy.” Incapable of seeing beyond their own selfish needs, they find it easier to project the ugliness they sense in themselves on a convenient scapegoat (ie African Americans).

Baldwin makes the point repeatedly that white violence against Blacks is just as prevalent in the North as the South.

The film includes footage of explosive debates in which Baldwin directly confronts white critics who chide him for being too bitter and too focused on race.

It also makes reference an argument Baldwin had with Bobby Kennedy over his unwillingness to use troops to escort a Black teenager (to prevent an angry mob of white adults from cursing, threatening, jeering and spitting on her) on her first day at an all white high school. Kennedy declined to send troops, dismissing the deployment as “an empty moral gesture.”

The film can’t be embedded for copyright reasons but can be viewed free at the Maori TV website:

I Am Not Your Negro

Malcolm X vs Martin Luther King

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Face to Face

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

This documentary compares and contrasts the anti-racism campaigns of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X during the 1960s. It combines commentary from Black scholars and civil rights activists with vintage footage of the two leaders.

Malcolm was highly critical of King for strategies he claimed sought to win the support of white people. Malcolm frequently asked to debate him though King always refused. Malcolm opposed non-violence as a strategy, maintaining Blacks had a right to defend themselves when cops beat them up. He also disagreed with King’s focus on integration and voting rights. He believed asking Black people to trust whites was dangerous and alienated them from deep-seated feelings about the way whites treated them. Likewise he believed voting was useless so long as whites were determined to disempower Black people.

Unlike King, a Baptist preacher, Malcolm also rejected Christianity (“the religion of slavery”) were he became second in command at the Nation of Islam.

It was largely under Malcolm’s influence that African Americans became proud to be Black,  and “Negroes” began referring to themselves as Black.

The two men met only briefly in 1964 at a congressional hearing on Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act.

Following Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination, King seemed to become much more radical, as he took up Black poverty and the Vietnam War as key issues.

 

 

The FBI’s War on Black People

The FBI’s War on Black People

Directed by Deb Ellis and Dennis Mueller (1990)

Film Review

This 1990 documentary is based on interviews with Black Panther Party (BPP) activists who directly experienced Cointelpro. The latter was a secret FBI counterinsurgency program created and run by late FBI director J Edgar Hoover. Allegedly shut down in the mid-seventies, there is strong evidence it continues to operate under a different name.

The film begins by quoting directly from secret FBI memos (released under the Freedom of Information Act) detailing the official purpose of Cointelpro – namely to “neutralize: charismatic Black leaders capable of organizing effective resistance to the white supremacist power structure.

The film then explores the suspected Cointlpro role in the assassination of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King* and the proven Cointelpro role in the murder of Chicago BPP leader Fred Hampton. The latter was shot in his sleep by Chicago police with the help of an undercover FBI infiltrator who provided a layout of Hampton’s apartment.

The documentary also covers the less publicized FBI role in the Klan murder of southern civil rights leaders. During the sixties, again according to FOI documents, 25% of Klansmen were FBI informants or agents. Although the FBI nearly always had foreknowledge of these murders, not only did they fail to prevent them – but in many cases FBI plants pulled the trigger.

Surviving Panther members also speak bitterly about the role of FBI infiltrators in fomenting rumor campaigns and factional fighting within BPP groups and between the BPP and other activist organizations. Hoover was also directly responsible for the media’s negative portrayal of the Panthers as dangerous people who hated whites and wanted to hurt them.

In my view, the most powerful weapon Hoover deployed against the BPP was to deliberately frame and imprison their leaders on false charges.

The film contains rare footage of late political Geronimo Pratt describing attempts to frame him for one of Charles Manson’s murders before they framed him for the “Tennis Court” murder.

Pratt served 27 years until the phony charge was vacated in 1997. He died in Tanzania in 2011.**


*In 1999 the jury in a civil case brought by the King family, found the US government responsible for King’s 1968 murder. See The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King

**See Geronimo Pratt

Al Jazeera’s Take on the Robert F Kennedy Assassination

Who Killed Robert Kennedy?

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

This documentary presents the most comprehensive summary I’ve seen of important evidence that seems to exonerate Palestinian-born Sirhan Bashara Sirhan in the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F Kennedy. Sirhan, currently serving a life sentence in a San Diego state correctional facility, has been fighting for a new trial since 1994. Dr William S Pepper, who heads his legal team, also headed the defense of the late James Earl Ray, alleged assassin of Martin Luther King. In 1999, Pepper won a civil suit on behalf of the King family, when the jury found the US government (not Ray) was responsible for King’s murder. See The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King

Among the evidence pointing to Sirhan’s innocence:

  • There were 13 shots in the Ambassador Hotel pantry where Kennedy was killed, and Sirhan’s gun only held eight bullets.
  • The autopsy revealed the fatal shot came from behind and all witnesses agree Sirhan was in front of the senator when he fired his gun.
  • The Los Angeles Police Department tampered with and destroyed evidence and bullied witnesses to make them change their testimony.

Based on all eyewitness testimony, the defense team asserts Kennedy was killed by a second . The latter is identified as one of three possible individuals – Eugene Cesar, Michael Wayne (who left with the infamous girl in the polka dot dress* after the LAPD briefly detained him) and a third unidentified men who closely resembled Sirhan.

Like Mark Chapman, John Lennon’s alleged assassin, Sirhan has no recollection whatsoever of the shooting. He has been extensively examined by psychologists, hypnotists and mind control experts who believe he was subject to some kind of hypnotic mind control. Pepper presented this evidence at Sirhan’s final federal appeal in 2013 but filed to convince the appellate court.

Sirhan has been eligible for parole since 1980. His last, unsuccessful parole application was in 2016.


*See The Robert Kennedy Assassination: Why the Official Story is a Fake

The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King

 

The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King

by Dr William F Pepper

Book Review

This book is unique among the volumes of assassination literature. Unlike chronologies of the JFK and Robert Kennedy assassination, the majority of Pepper’s evidence is based on sworn witness statements – either from the lawsuit the King family won against Lloyd Jowers (one of the co-conspirators) in 1999 or the earlier grand jury investigation Pepper instigated in his unsuccessful effort to win James Earl Ray a retrial.*

There are many parallels between New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s unsuccessful 1967 attempt to convict Clay Shaw, one of the JFK assassination co-conspirators, and the civil suit Pepper filed on behalf of the King family. Both Pepper and Garrison targeted low level conspirators and used the power of the subpoena and discovery to ferret out those responsible for instigating, planning and financing these assassination conspiracies.

The strategy worked better in Pepper’s case, in part because he was a private public interest attorney, rather than an elected official who could be removed from office. By the time Pepper launched his lifelong effort to exonerate James Earl Ray in 1978, he had a far better understanding of the Deep State forces arrayed against him. He was extremely scrupulous about protecting the identity of his witnesses prior to presenting their evidence under oath. Pepper withheld the identity of the Memphis Police Department sniper whose bullet killed King until after his death.

Pepper gathered his most crucial evidence after Thames TV aired a TV trial of James Earl Ray in 1993, the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death. As Pepper was fighting to obtain a new trial for Ray, a host of witnesses came forward spontaneously, many with historical connections to the Memphis Police Department; the FBI, the 902nd Military Intelligence Group (which provided back up assassination teams); and the Alpha 184 Special Forces team, which photographed the assassination from the rooftop of the fire station across from the Lorraine Motel.

Some of the most astonishing evidence that emerges in The Plot to Kill King:

  • Hoover and the FBI collaborated closely with the CIA and military intelligence in spying on King and infiltrating the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
  • These agencies also collaborated closely in the King assassination, with Hoover funding and directing a civilian assassination team via Dixie Mafia. The latter had close ties with FBI Deputy Director (and Hoover’s lover) Clyde Tolleson. Several witnesses testified that Tolleson traveled to Memphis to make the payoff (totaling $1 million) for the Dixie Mafia to coordinate the assassination and cover-up. Some of these funds went to two members of King’s inner circle, Reverend Jessie Jackson and Reverend Samuel Billie Kyles. In addition to making payments to government informants within the SCLC, Jackson was responsible for ordering the room change that gave King access to the balcony. It was Kyles who lured him out on the balcony to give the sniper a clear shot.
  • The 902nd MIG had a second assassination team in place in case the Dixie Mafia team failed to take King down.
  • The head of the Memphis Police Department (a former FBI agent) and various members of the MPD were involved in setting up the civilians assassination team. The actual shooter was an MPD officer named Frank Stousser.
  • Ray was selected as a patsy for the Kind assassination while serving a 20 year sentence in Missouri State Penitentiary. Tolleson also made a $25,00 payoff to the warden to facilitate Ray’s 1967 escape.
  • Ray had an alibi at the time of the assassination – he was at a service station getting a flat tire fixed, as verified by at least two witnesses.
  • King was still alive when he arrived at St Joseph’s emergency room for treatment, but instead of taking him to surgery, the hospital’s chief surgeon ordered the the other doctors and nurse. One nurse observed this surgeon remove King’s tracheotomy tube and cover his face and neck with a pillow.

At the 1999 civil trial, the jury found that James Earl Ray had no responsibility whatsoever in King’s death. They attributed 30% of the blame for his murder to Lloyd Jowers (as the handler of the assassination weapon) and 70% to US, Tennessee and Memphis law enforcement personnel.


*Ray never went to trial. Like John Lennon’s alleged killer Mark Chapman, he was pressured by his attorney to plead guilty. He tried to reverse his guilty plea three days after sentencing.

Soundtrack for a Revolution

Soundtrack for a Revolution

Directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman (2009)

This week Māori TV showed the extraordinary documentary Soundtrack for a Revolution about the 1960s civil rights movement. The premise of the film is that black protestors who demonstrated nonviolently to end segregation and win voting rights knew they were risking their lives – but the enduring power of their protest songs gave them the courage to do so.

The film retells the story of the southern civil rights struggle, starting with the with Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and ending with Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. It combines great footage of mass meetings and protests, Martin Luther King speeches, commentary by former movement participants and leaders and major protest songs staged in a variety of settings (churches, concerts, mass meetings, etc). It even features a clip from a 1950s propaganda film explaining why Mississippi’s large number (greater than 50%) of Negroes in Mississippi made segregation essential to keep white people safe.

Prior to seeing this documentary, I was unaware of the major economic impact the civil rights movement had on the South. The Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted nearly a year, almost bankrupted the bus company. Likewise Woolworth’s took a major financial hit during the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins (1960). Because black customers occupied all the seats and Woolworth’s refused to serve them, their lunch counters in no revenue for weeks.

The film finishes with a moving tribute to the dozens of civil rights workers murdered by white vigilante violence in most cases anonymously as southern law enforcement – most were never investigated by law enforcement personnel implicated in the killings) during the 13 year struggle.

The film is available at the Māori TV website for the next two weeks: Soundtrack to a Revolution

Angela Davis on Donald Trump and the Movement to Abolish Prisons

The following is an eye-opening presentation for Martin Luther King Unity Day. In it, long time political activist Angela Davis explores the roots of the electoral college and the death penalty in slavery. Unlike more mainstream liberals, she doesn’t catastrophize about Trump’s recent electoral victory. Instead she faults both Trump and Clinton for failing to mention even once during the campaign the working class, inequality or climate change.

She goes on to emphasize that it isn’t Martin Luther King as an individual we celebrate, but the thousands of people in the civil rights movement who did the real work. She then highlights the myriad of movements Americans have formed to resist the oppression experienced by the working class Americans. She devotes special focus to the movement to abolish prisons in a country that incarcerates more people (in absolute numbers) than any other country in the world. In her view, the majority of inmates in US prisons have been deeply traumatized in childhood. All incarcerating them accomplishes is to irreparably re-traumatize them.

The goal of the prison abolition movement is to replace prisons with a system of restorative justice,* starting with youth prisons.

Davis starts speaking at 1:09.


*Restorative justice is a system of criminal justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large. New Zealand, which has no youth prisons, relies on a restorative justice process to deal with juvenile offenders.

The FBI War on Rap

The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders

John Potash (2008)

Review

In the video below, author John Potash uses a slideshow format to discuss his 2008 book The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders. The book is a compilation of years of research (based on court documents, news reports, archival photos and FOIA documents) into the FBI role in the assassination and false imprisonment of black political leaders and rock stars.

This presentation mainly focuses on the FBI assassination of Tupak Shakur in 1996, though Potash also briefly covers the FBI murder of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Fred Hampton, Huey Newton, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley and the CIA murder of Robert F Kennedy.

As background, Bishop also outlines the key strategies of Cointelpro the FBI war against the Black Panther Party.  In addition to assassinating their leaders, the FBI collaborated with police intelligence units to imprison multiple Panther leaders on false charges, as well as extensive infiltrating their groups.

The Panther 21 Trial

Both Tupac’s Black Panther parents were framed on fictitious charges in the infamous Panther 21 trial in 1971. Tupac’s mother Afeni, who handled their defense pro se, got all of them acquitted. Tupac, who had numerous Panther mentors growing up, would become president of the New African Panther Organization (NAPO) in 1989,

In 1992, he helped broker a truce between the Bloods and Crips, encouraging them to focus their anger on the white power structure. In part due to his growing fame, the FBI responded with repeated attempts to assassinate him, as well as numerous arrests on fictitious charges.

By 1995, his financial resources depleted by multiple arrests and frivolous lawsuits, Tupac was eventually framed by an FBI informant on a phony sexual assault charge. Although he was acquitted on a rape charge, he would be sentenced to four years in prison (on a $5 million bond) for “touching a woman’s buttocks without her permission.”

Death Row Records

What horrified me most about this presentation was learning about Death Row Records, a recording company run by three undercover cops from the LAPD intelligence unit. The latter used their position in the recording industry to traffic drugs (the president of Death Row was an affiliate of Freeway Ricky Ross who distributed cocaine imported to the US by the CIA Contras) and guns and to murder performers who attempted to politicize rap music.

Death Row Records was also instrumental in ending the Bloods/Crips truce by instigating a fictitious East Coast/West Coast rap war and collaborating with police “rap squads” in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere to frame truce leaders on phony charges carrying long prison sentences. They were also instrumental in breaking up Niggas wit Attitudes (N.W.A.)

Tupac was released from prison within days of signing with Death Row, which closely censored the political content of his recordings and performances. The FBI and the undercover cops at Death Row also instigated the phony feud between Tupac and rap star Biggie Small.

After Tupac left Death Row to start his own record company, the FBI organized his assassination and planted rumors in the press that Biggie Small had ordered the drive by shooting. They subsequently murdered Biggie Small to cover up the FBI role in Tupac’s murder.

Iranian TV Profiles African American Oppression

The Façade of the American Dream

Press TV (2013)

Film Review

This is a very troubling documentary by Iranian national TV about the present plight of America’s black community. It features a variety of African American voices, ranging from educators, lawyers and doctors to community activists. There are also four Caucasian faces – an economist, two anti-racist activists and the late assassination researcher John Judge.

The documentary is divided into four parts.

Part 1 This is Why We Have the Blues mainly addresses the problem of mental enslavement that results from being forced to adopt the culture of the dominant society. It goes on to address the plight of black youth when schools deliberately conceal their history from them and the campaign of assassination and incarceration of black leaders like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, George Jackson and Medgar Evers when they successfully mobilized black people to stand up against African American oppression.

Part 2 From School House to Jail House looks on serious drawback of public school integration, which has denied black students access to black teachers and a curriculum that endows them with pride in their history and culture. This process has been aggravated by national and state mandate for high stakes testing – which one activist compares to apartheid South Africa’s Bantu education. This was a system dedicated to preparing black South Africans for menial jobs.

Part 3 Lack of Wealth, Lack of Health focuses on the lack of access to healthy food and routine medical care in inner city communities. For many African American men, the only access to a doctor or dentist is in jail or prison. The result is a significant lower African American life expectancy (on average, black men live eight fewer years on average than white men and black women six fewer years than their white counterparts).

Part 4 You Ain’t Free explores the rise of mass black incarceration in the 1970s, which one activist views as a direct response to African Americans rising up in the 1960s to demand their rights. During the mid-sixties, the US prison population was 70% Caucasian – at present that percentage is 30%. Meanwhile the total US prison population has increased from 300,000 to 2.4 million, despite a significant reduction in violent crime. All the commentators link black mass incarceration to the War on Drugs and police policies that deliberate target African American communities with arrest quotas (see The New Jim Crow).