The Sixth Floor's Message to History: Just Hush Now

Someone with a lot of clout in this town thinks Dallas should clamp down on free speech at Dealey Plaza for the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination coming up next year. There's only one right way for free Americans to deal with that kind of thinking. Clamp down on Dallas.

In talking to assassination experts around the country for the past week or so, the phrase that pops up is "Occupy Dealey Plaza." I not only agree, I'd like to see what can be done to help make that happen.

So this column, in part, is an invitation. If anybody out there agrees with me, I will tell you how to get in touch. Let's do this thing.

Two weeks ago The Dallas Morning News published a story by Scott Parks quoting Nicola Longford, curator of the "Sixth Floor," the official Dallas assassination museum. She told Parks there should be no discussion of the shooting itself or the controversy, only a "moment of silence," which Longford apparently thinks should endure for an entire week.

That's a lot of silence. But maybe she thinks she can pull it off. The city has violated its own longstanding policies on access to Dealey Plaza by granting Longford a permit for a full week of exclusive control over the site of the assassination. The exclusivity of the permit, barring others from the plaza, is a first, according to people who have been involved in previous observances.

They have been told no one else can be given an equivalent permit that entire week, a fact confirmed for me last week by the city official in charge. Jill Beam of the city's special events office also confirmed she is directing all groups with questions about the 50th to call Longford, effectively making her the de facto commissar of all 50th-anniversary observances, even though she is the employee of a nonprofit that is not supposed to be a part of city government.

Longford does not come across as a commissar, more as a curator who has been put in a tough position, by whom we do not know. I can't help suspecting the same brilliant leadership that wants to build a highway in the flood zone along the Trinity River — aging affluent persons who may have tossed back too many toddies over the years.

Longford said: "This is something that Dallas has not embraced ever. We know the whole world is going to be watching in 2013."

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is supposed to be putting together some sort of JFK 50th "task force." I asked him if he thinks diverse groups should have free access to Dealey Plaza. He said in an email that any events must be "solemn" and "respectful."

"Rest assured," Rawlings said, "that Dealey Plaza, in particular, will be closely monitored to assure that that space will be in keeping with the above tone and message."

I believe I am going to take that, perhaps unfairly, as a no to my question about free public access. Rawlings doesn't come across as a commissar, either, but somewhere in this is some kind of very concerted push. Perhaps it is from the Commissar of Too Many Toddies — the one whose face we cannot see.

The words "solemn" and "respectful" do seem to crop up. In the recent Morning News story, Longford was quoted saying any event should be both solemn and respectful and should "put his death into context without reliving the details of what happened."

Yeah, but here's the problem. The context for Kennedy's death in Dallas was a violent public assassination. If he had come to Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963, and died of a massive coronary, no one would remember that he died at Dealey Plaza. Or in Dallas.

They blew the top off his head and splattered his wife with brains and blood. That's the context, along with an enduring mystery and a great deal of honest skepticism in many people's minds about who did what and why. Saying that we should just be quiet and have a nice dignified event to make the city look good is not the sort of thing any historian would say, ever.

History simply is debate. No one knows what happened five minutes ago. All we can do is debate what happened. That's what history is for.

When I first wrote about this issue in the spring of 2011, I talked to Conover Hunt, one of the consultants who helped design The Sixth Floor before its opening in 1989. Hunt, who is in Virginia now, is a real historian and authority on historic places. Hunt gets what these places are for.

"Dealey Plaza doesn't really belong to Dallas," she told me. "It belongs to everyone. And not necessarily just the American people.

"There will always be in any of our tragic historic sites where major history was made," she said, "a sense of collective ownership. It's neutral ground.

"People will go there, they'll go to Gettysburg, they'll go to Mount Vernon, to the Washington Monument, to these battlefields, the good history and the bad, and they will ponder the meaning of life, the meaning of government, and they will talk about it.

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37 comments
Aherne
Aherne

I might even get over Dallas next year, now that I read sensible posts here at DO. Is there a way to avoid Love Field. folks? A minor irony last time I was in your once better country, US. I had intended to return to DC to visit Arlington Cemetery after a 4 week pilgrimage to Cape Canaveral in Nov2008. That was the plan, until Southwest 'employee de jour' assumed he had the powers of Herb Kelleher. He was mistaken. Still, HQ office eventually replied(18 months) to the effect- "woops-too bad-fly with us again!. Not while there's a balloon service or any other airline, -with civil staff. 'til 2013 So long!

Aherne
Aherne

from my veritable homage webpages to an 'America/US' I grew up with- http://mosaherne.wordpress.com http://mosaherne.wordpress.com... TRUTH ,lies and videotape I remember in 1963-as a 7 year old-seeing JFK in Dublin Ireland. The tanned figure in a light blue suit lit up a city and a country. He was ’different’. Despite what some indolent revisionist scribes would like to purport; he was no more amoral than any red-blooded male might be if they had the added aphrodisiac of being the leader of ‘the free world’-as it was then. Not to mention, looking like ‘a Gatsby’ would have wished to look like. Evidently, women couldn’t help themselves either. Or actually some could and did! Similarly, unknown to me then, was the fact that the distant figure had, with wise counsel of his brother, prevented a thermo-nuclear apocalypse-some nine months earlier. Curtis LeMay, and other military ‘brass’ were eager to be as effective in late October ’62 :as they were ineffective, at the Bay of Pigs in ’61. It took more than wealth and charm from the President, to stand against this onslaught of hawkish power. I digress.... On that visit to Ireland in summer ’63, he expressed a wish that anyone visiting Washington(of DC) would be welcome to drop by at the White House. It was one of those invitations, rhetorical yet sincere, that was as likely to happen to me, I felt then, as we’ll say, the likelihood of an International Space Station orbiting the earth every 90 minutes, come late 20th early 21st century. It does! In the White House, albeit four decades later, with Senatorial invitation- it did! Similarly at the Pentagon. I stood in the centre of that ‘power house’; and to this day, I would view most people there as ’mortgaged and hard-working’-but often sinisterly misled. Remember the parting words of Eisenhower with regard to the ‘military industrial complex’ Many have not!

John Watson
John Watson

History is subject to debate? Did the Germans bomb Pearl Harbor?You want to occupy Dealey Plaza? Then go occupy the plaza next week. You have a full year to dream up more fantasies. In fact, meet over at Jim Shultze's house next week and start planning. You can stay at his place for the year so you can get it just right.

trudat
trudat

The "Sixth Floors'" attempt to shut down Dealy Plaza is a straight up attack on the very principles that this country was founded upon and cannot be allowed to happen without a fight. Whoever is responsible for this deserves an old fashioned (not modern day) ass kicking.

Joe L
Joe L

I don't think that there is really any thing that the CIty of Dallas can do to suppress things if people decide not to let them, or can materially change how the World sees Dallas.

Good luck with doing some thing interesting.

I was alive and living in Dallas when Kennedy was assassinated. What has occurred to me is that the City of Hate is still with us, but it actually has gotten better, despite the building of the George W. Bush propaganda mill at SMU. Believe it or not, I think right wing hate in Dallas in 1963 was significantly more virulent than now, although it continues to thrive. I remember Gen. Edwin Walker, the John Birch Society and H.L. Hunt... political extremist hate still exists, but enjoys less social acceptability. Right-wing extremist hatred was so bad and considered so dangerous back then that there was consideration of Kennedy not even coming to Dallas. When Kennedy was killed, Dallas was such a cauldron of right wing hate that a lot of people couldn't bring themselves to believe that a left-wing extremist was the assassin, not a right-winger. But there is very little doubt that that is the case despite a half-century of conspiracy fantasies, misinformation and disinformation.

I do hope some one will do some thing... or several things, meaningful on this momentous occasion, and not just let the city sweep it under the rug.

I have often thought that it would be appropriate to have a museum of the political right in Dallas to balance the Bush facility. Dallas has been the greatest center of the American right. The 20th Century Texas oil fortunes were in no small way responsible for the birth of contemporary right wing extremism.

Larry
Larry

Yes. reminiscent of Johnny Fever's, "Dump your garbage at city hall."

Let's do it. This tight ass overinflated ego of a city needs to be TOLD what is the right thing to do.

NONE
NONE

TWITTER ORGANIZED REPETITIVE FLASH MOBS...IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT OR TO STOP.

gdub
gdub

Abso-damn-lutely. Every word. Fine article.

OCCUPY DEALEY PLAZA!

John Peter Gill
John Peter Gill

Dear Jim, I have just read your article and stand behind you on what you have said,I am a British/Canadian who comes to Dallas Most years for the conferences held at C.O.P.A. and Lancer each Year,I have studied the assassination since 1963 and i am proud to come to Dallas and show my Thanks to a great president and world leader who was cut down in his prime,One way or the other i will be there in 2013.John.peter.Gill.Poole,England,U.K.

Joey Granati
Joey Granati

The 6th Floor museum is a joke to begin with, and their stance on this issue is as arrogant as it is ignorant. What else would you expect from people who live and promote a lie?Dealey Plaza belongs to the people of America who still believe in freedom, and to those who will never let the lie become an acceptable entity. Freedom of speech is the only acceptable issue here.

Bigeddy12
Bigeddy12

Hi Jim...I thought the same thing,just surge onto dealy plaza on Nov 22,2013..Im with you ,I am a JFK researcher that lives in Florida and comes to Dallas each November...What can I do to help ....ed

Joey Granati
Joey Granati

The 6th Floor Museum is a joke to begin with, and their arrogance is only exceeded by their ignorance if they think they can just implement their will upon this very sensitive issue.What else would you expect from people who live a lie and promote a lie? The First Amendment is the only issue here. Over 80% of the people of this country have always believed JFK was murdered in a conspiracy in Dealey Plaza. We deserve to honor that great man the way we please.

Joey Granati
Joey Granati

Dealey Plaza belongs to History...to America.

FrostyBubblePatches
FrostyBubblePatches

Still gonna smell like piss near the parking lot and there isn't a decent place to eat close by.

bcmarshall
bcmarshall

This is not a time for a moment of silence. There has been way too much silence for half a century. I wish the city would commemorate it by doing the investigations that it never did because its authority was usurped by the Federal Government, but it's pretty plain that it won't happen that way.

Occupy Dealey Plaza? Hell yes, although I think that should be considered a last resort. We should try all other means first, but in the end, if occupy we must, then occupy we will.

I'm reminded of lyrics from Paul Simon's Peace Like a River. It may be the ideal song for the movement.

And I rememberMisinformation followed us like a plagueNobody knew from time to timeIf the plans where changedOh, if the plans were changed

You can beat us with wiresYou can beat us with chainsYou can run out your rulesBut you know you can’t outrun the history train

I'm in California, but you can bet that on Nov. 22, 2013 I'll be in Dallas and I'll go to jail if that's what it takes. They can't be allowed to outrun the history train, and if we have to I guess we have to run them over with it.

Ctucci
Ctucci

Dallas has always had a false sense of importance. THe city can not accept the fact that it is managed by a cadre of people of some importance. Unfortunately, these people have a false sense of what is best for the mass populace.

Case in point is the Dallas Public School system. Same Sliding Billy philosophy.Lover's of what is right, unite!

Ricky Hollywood
Ricky Hollywood

I am definitely all for this. With all the trampling of 1st, 4th, 6th, etc amendment rights lately, it is high time we said, "Enough." Especially when some city gets too big for it's britches.

Replay
Replay

What was it Shakespeare said, oh yeah, "Me think he doth protest too loudly".

If the City of Dallas has nothing to hide, why not open the debate about the assassination? It really did happen, and it happened in Dallas at Dealey Plaza. On the other hand, if Dallas DOES have something to hide, then proceed with the dignified silence, Commissar!

bcmarshall
bcmarshall

John, you miss the point. In your silly analogy the question wouldn't be whether Germans bombed Pearl Harbor but whether FDR knew in advance that the Japanese would attack.

The majority of American people know we have not been told the truth about JFK. We want to draw attention to the lies we've been fed. We don't want the attention of the world to be diverted into some crap moment of silence. We've had 50 years of silence already.

We are entitled to both freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. Just because it's not politically expedient for the people who run the 6th floor museum or for the City is not our concern. Too bad. We have a right to let the world know what we believe to be true.

You sound like a good, staunch conservative. Don't you believe in the Constitution, or is it only in special cases?

And yes, history is most definitely open to debate. Let's not even mention 9/11.

D.K. Wilson
D.K. Wilson

"When Kennedy was killed, Dallas was such a cauldron of right wing hate that a lot of people couldn't bring themselves to believe that a left-wing extremist was the assassin, not a right-winger. But there is very little doubt that that is the case despite a half-century of conspiracy fantasies, misinformation and disinformation."

--------------------

The only fantasy is believing Lee Harvey Oswald could, at the height of the Cold War, defect to Russia, saunter back into the U.S. with a Russian wife whose father was in the KGB, hang out in Dallas with Russian ex-pats and their American intelligence agency-tied buddies, and be able to own a rifle, let alone gun down John F. Kennedy during an allegedly secure parade route (that's a laugh, albeit a very dark laugh), without anyone from the FBI and DPD tailing him every second of every day.

Frank DeBenedictis
Frank DeBenedictis

I don't think the Kennedy assassination would tag Dallas as a city of hate, although I feel that people should be able to express their ideas. There are some with an agenda to show what happened in Dallas, not as where the assassination occured, but what forces they KNOW took part. Dallas a a city of hate is no more true than Washington DC which was where LIncoln was assassinated is a city that doesn't care about the wishes of the people. Washington has its problems, but it cannot be attributed to the Lincoln assassination.

JimS
JimS

Please email me at jim.schutze@dallasobserver.com

james
james

so mebbe ya think they'll buy james files a permit to sell his story? the spot where he claims to have done the kill shot with the gun he claims to have used was actually doable, as opposed to the 6th floor window with that shitty innacurate iron.

Replay
Replay

You are so right.........and nobody has britches bigger than Dallas........this is PUBLIC PROPERTY......how dare they grant someone exclusive use of it for a full year! Who do they think they are? This is a complete abuse of power by local authorities.

John Watson
John Watson

My analogy is perfect. It answers the question of who bombed Pearl Harbor according to the conspiracy theorists and their answer is anyone except the Japanese. Ask any conspiracy theorists who killed Kennedy and they can't explain a single solitary fact. Not one conspiracy theorists can explain their theory. It's made up by lies, mental contortions and fabrications. Now the city of Dallas is trying to create a somber event that commemorates a fallen president. Jim Schultze is trying to make a mockery of the event exactly as what happened at the forty fifty anniversay which was a shameful zoo. It looked like a sideshow carnival with shucksters and shysters. You had almost fifty years of sideshow fraudsters on the plaza. It's time for the city to have one week to put an end to this madness. Please give the city only one week to end the laughing tourists standing on the spot that marks the end of the life of one of our presidents.

trudat
trudat

...please....comparing the post civil war Washington D.C. to the Dallas of 1963 is like comparing bourbon to Bar-B-Que...this is harder than comparing apples to oranges...it doesn't work, try again...

Marvin
Marvin

Just out of curiosity, I looked up James Files. Turns out he was in Chicago visiting his wife when JFK was shot. Of course, he has a perfectly reasonable explanation:

From http://jfkhistory.com/forum/in..."He said he had a twin brother, who no one knew about, and whom he met shortly before November 22, and who he murdered after November 22. He said it was his twin brother in hospital with his wife, not him. His wife, however, said there was no twin, and Kroll confirmed there was no twin."

None of these conspiracy theories can stand much scrutiny. Anyone who repeats that silly routine about bullets stopping and turning in midair is either dishonest, or doesn't understand the magic bullet theory. Of course they have a right to free speech, no matter how kooky, but there are limits.

I hate to compare anybody to the westboro freaks, but if these are the sort of "assassination historians" you're talking about, there is precedent for keeping kooks from disrupting a memorial service.

james
james

didja see big tex's britches at the fair?

Miko
Miko

To bad that both MLK and JFK had to be assassinated before these Civil Rights Laws were enacted LBJ. Shows the extents to which racist are willing to go. I hope Dallas goes down for its wrong doings regarding Civil Rights Violations.

Waynster48
Waynster48

Right on BC Marshall, its unfortunate that you had to mention all of the coincidents to this numbskull, I'm sure he will disagree with all you have to say because it allows people like him to live in there bubble with his head up his ass. Our country was stolen from us that day in Dallas and LHO was chosen by the powers to take the hit.

bcmarshall
bcmarshall

You're a fool. Who has ever seriously postulated that anyone other than the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor? Show me. I dare you. If you can't then you're obviously talking out your ass to make some point apparently known only to you.

Your fantasies have no place in a serious discussion, and your disdain for those you are calling "conspiracy theorists", with acid dripping from your fingertips, is evident.

You, on the other hand, are far worse. You are a coincidence theorist. Everything is one big coincidence. LHO went to Russia during the height of the Cold War and then was loaned the money by the State Dept. to come home? Coincidence, even though his tax returns are still a state secret.

He learned the Russian language almost fluently by himself with no help? Coincidence, I'm sure you'd say, except if you try it. I have studied the language in school and I'm fluent in two others. I know that it's not possible to do what was attributed to this po' boy from N'orlins.

Lee just happened to get a job along the motorcade route at the precise spot where, against SS rules the route was laid out so the limo had to slow to turn, and then he decided not to fire when the car was directly below the window but instead waited until it was pulling away (I suppose to give JFK a sporting chance!)? Coincidence!

The bullet that ostensibly went through seven layers of skin and broke two bones "falls out" onto a stretcher in pristine condition? Well of course. Coincidence!

The same guy (Allen Dulles) who was fired by JFK for bungling the Bay of Pigs winds up leading the investigation into his murder? It's just a coincidence!

The rifle that Lee "ordered" could not have been shipped to his PO Box because the name Alex Hidell was not an authorized recipient of the box, the rifle was sent without a clip, and apparently LHO only owned a grand total of three bullets since no others were found and no record of any ammunition purchases was ever identified. Does any of this bother you? Naaah. They're just coincidences, right?

He's got no money, yet somehow he gets an office handing out pro-Castro literature in the same space as one of the biggest anti-Castro gun-runners, Guy Bannister. Why, of course it's just a coincidence! What else could it be?

There are hundreds, if not thousands of these "happy coincidences" riddling the case from top to bottom, and they're critical to shaping the official story. Without them the whole shaky house of cards collapses.

I'll say it again. You're a fool because you seem to think that somehow the two word label "conspiracy theorist" is enough to erase decades of hard work by dedicated researchers who are looking for the truth. You're wrong. The label only matters to closed-minded people like you. The rest of us wear it as a badge of honor, except we call ourselves "conspiracy realists" or "conspiracy scientists". We're wise enough to see through the lies, while you're obviously dumb enough to believe them.

You'd do well to remember that your disdain for my opinion does not negate my freedom of speech or my freedom of assembly. I don't care if you like it. I don't care if the City of Dallas or if the Sixth Floor Museum likes it. We have a right to be in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 2013, and we will be there. I would actually expect you to agree. Unless, of course you don't believe in the Constitution either.

Replay
Replay

Yep.........not even close.

 
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