Not really food-related (though I’m sure some people will still think I’m a Prick), here I am in the Daily Telegraph talking Kennedy, conspiracy theories, and communism:
FIFTY years on, the question of who shot John Kennedy lingers. Despite all reasonable evidence pointing to Lee Harvey Oswald – ex-Marine, disaffected loner, Castro sympathiser and one-time Soviet defector – as the sole culprit, the Kennedy assassination remains the thinking person’s conspiracy theory, a game of chess to the chequers of 9/11 trutherism…
But the most powerful conspiracy theory – the one that simply will not die, because it is utterly non-falsifiable – is the one that holds that Kennedy’s death was not so much the work of a lone gunman as a sick culture in which Dallas, the state of Texas, and indeed the entire US was culpable.
This theory solves, for its proponents on the so-called progressive Left, two dilemmas: It is a magician’s distraction that calls the eye away from Oswald’s left-wing sympathies, and it is a bill of indictment on a society the theory’s advocates hold themselves apart from and wish to continually remake in their own image. Remember that for all the mid-century worries about Soviet domination, in the US (and Australia) then as now, much of the media and the progressive cultural left had a hard time believing communism was actually the enemy. Some, such as NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, still do.
UPDATE: JFK’s wonderful remarks at the 1962 America’s Cup dinner, below, with a long meditation on Australian-American friendship. Plus, a link to his speaking notes from the evening — fascinating to see the annotations, and the man’s mind at work — as well as video of the speech. Sounds like it was a good night:
“I know that all of us take the greatest pleasure in being here, first of all because whether we are Australian or American, we are all joined by a common interest, a common devotion and love for the sea, And I am particularly glad to be here because this Cup is being challenged by our friends from Australia, this extraordinary group of men and women numbering some 10 million, who have demonstrated on many occasions, on many fields, in many countries, that they are the most extraordinary athletic group in the world today, and that this extraordinary demonstration of physical vigor and skill has come not by the dictates of the state, because the Australians are among the freest citizens in the world, but because of their choice…
“This Cup has been challenged in the past by our friends from Great Britain. We are glad to see Australia assuming the responsibilities of empire in coming here, and we are particularly glad to welcome you in the year 1962. This is a trophy which the United States has held for over a century, unlike the Davis Cup…
“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it is because in addition to the fact that the sea changes and the light changes, and ships change, it is because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.
“Therefore, it is quite natural that the United States and Australia, separated by an ocean, but particularly those of us who regard the ocean as a friend, bound by an ocean, should be meeting today in Newport to begin this great sea competition. This is an old relationship between the United States and Australia, and particularly between Rhode Island and Australia.
“In the 1790’s, Ambassador, American ships, mostly from Rhode Island, began to call regularly at New South Wales. Their cargoes, I regret to say, consisted mainly of gin and rum, and the effect was to set back the athletic development, until the recent great temperance movement in Australia, for many years.
“In 1801, Governor Philip Gidley King, of Australia, complained to London, “Such has been the certainty in America of any quantity of spirits being purchased here that a ship cleared out of Rhode Island for this port with a very large investment of spirits, which I positively forbade being landed, in consequence of which she left this port with upward of 13,000 gallons of spirit brought to Australia for sale.” And he told the American Minister Rufus King to warn the Rhode Island merchants not to try to market their rum in Australia. I need hardly say that the Rhode Island merchants continued to do their compassionate best to quench this thirst which was felt so strongly in Australia.
“However, Australia became committed to physical fitness and it has been disastrous for the rest of us. We have the highest regard for Australia, Ambassador. As you said, we regard them as very satisfactory friends in peace, and the best of friends in war. And I know there are a good many Americans of my generation who have the greatest possible reason to be grateful to the Australians who wrote a most distinguished record all the way from the desert of North Africa, and most particularly in the islands of the South Pacific, where their particular courage and gallantry I think met the strongest response in all of us in this country.
“But I really don’t look to the past. I look to the present. The United States and Australia are most intimately bound together today, and I think that — and I speak as one who has had some experience in friendship and some experience in those who are not our friends — we value very much the fact that on the other side of the Pacific the Australians inhabit a very key and crucial area, and that the United States is most intimately associated with them. So beyond this race, beyond the result, rests this happy relationship between two great people.
“I want to toast tonight the crew, the sailors, those who made it possible for the GRETEL to come here, those who have, for a hundred years, defended this Cup from the New York Yacht Club, to all of them. As the Ambassador said so well, they race against each other, but they also race with each other against the wind-and the sea.
“To the crew of the GRETEL and the crew of the WEATHERLY.”