Friday, March 09, 2007

Heeeere's Justice! (Den amerikanska smygfascismen är inte född igår!)

Från alltid tankeväckande Jeff Wells ochhans

Try to imagine Jay Leno devoting an entire Tonight Show to Michael Ruppert, and the topic of Dick Cheney's role in the attacks of 9/11. Or David Letterman conversing for an hour with Dr Nick Begich, co-author of Angels Don't Play this HAARP, on the weaponization of the ionosphere.

Because as bizarre and unlikely as those scenes would be, 37 years ago this month, Johnny Carson spent 50 minutes with New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison - and millions of Americans - on the subject of the state-sanctioned murder of John F Kennedy.

Audio files of Carson's Garrison interview can be downloaded from this page, but a big note of caution: distortion makes them all but unlistenable. If anyone knows of better quality samples (or even better, video), please let me know.

Considering today's total absence of serious mainstream dialogue regarding controversial subjects, the first thought that might come to some of us is Man, the past rocked! Well no, it didn't, regardless of how tempting it is to succumb to ill-founded nostalgia whenever we can rightly say Man, the present sucks! The awful truth is that America's media was compromised then as well, and riddled with Intelligence assets doing Mockingbird journalism. (See, for instance, James DiEugenio's essays regarding the obstruction of the Garrison investigation and the exposure of Jim Phelan in The Assassinations.)

In its favour, the media wasn't yet so dumbed down and concentrated in the hands of a few defense contractors. And on that account, Garrison was able to tell a prickly and incredulous Carson:

The function of the Warren Commission was to make the American people feel that the [JFK assassination] had been looked into so that there would be no further inquiries, so that the American people would not find out the involvement of elements of the Central Intelligence Agency, so that they would think the matter was closed.

Carson was uncomfortable with Garrison's material, and his performance so querelous and off-key that NBC issued a press release that said "the Johnny seen on TV that night was not the Johnny we all know and love. He had to play the devil's advocate, because that makes for a better program." Apparently Johnny was furious at the apology, and vowed Garrison would never be on his show again.

Not that there was much chance of a return visit, anyway. Carson and NBC had to be shamed by Tonight Show guest Mort Sahl into extending an invitation in the first place.

As Garrison tells it, in On the Trail of the Assassins:

The articulate satirist, who was spending an extended period of time in New Orleans helping the office in a variety of ways, was well aware of my problems communicating with the people through the news media. Even the simplest press conference involved a process of "translation," so that what came out in the media never seemed to be precisely what I had said. Sahl, being in show business, had access to places I did not, like the Johnny Carson show. One night when he was on the program, the conversation drifted to the subject of the assassination and my investigation. Suddenly Sahl turned toward the audience and asked if they did not think Carson should invite me to be a guest on the show so that I could explain my side of the case. The response was so demonstrably affirmative that it left Carson and the network with no alternative. A few days later I received a telegram of invitation, which I promptly accepted.

Sahl is one of my favourite undersung heroes of the Sixties, for having spent the capital of a successful career in the Quixotic pursuit of justice for the murderers of America.

From the cover of Time

to "conspiracy monger"

That strikes me as the trajectory of an honourable man.

There's an interview with Sahl a couple of months later in 1968, before the epochal one-two of Dr King and Robert Kennedy, that is as prophetic as anything I've read from that time:

ARGO: Why is the truth behind the assassination of President Kennedy the last chance of America for its survival?

SAHL: Because the evidence developed by District Attorney Garrison indicates that certain people had to take President Kennedy's life in order to control ours. In other words, as Richard Starnes of the New York World-Telegram said, the shots in Dallas were the opening shots of World War III. There's been a great change in this country since Kennedy. I'm afraid a great deal of our hope was interred with his remains.


ARGO: What would you say are the roots of this whole era?

SAHL: Fascism. It started with the death of Roosevelt. They moved in and they negated every treaty we made with every world leader who didn't fit the fascist/militarist mold. We went back on our word. As David Schoenbrun says very well, "I am not a dissenter for saying this. Those who betrayed American policy are the dissenters." We've gone back on the dream of national independence and we were the model for the rest of the world. Then when they followed our model, we attacked them for it. Shameful. No one has a right to stain the American flag. And unfortunately, we have people in this country who did it. If America goes, it will surely be an inside job.


ARGO: Why is the trial that Mr. Garrison's pursuing really the trial of the American people?

SAHL: Because we have to decide. Once the neo-fascists became bold enough to slay the President on the street, they showed their hand. They showed how arrogant they had become. Now it's a question of symptom. That crime was a national symptom. If we can turn our back on that, we will pay a terrible price. That will be the end of this democracy. As a matter of fact, it's been dying since Kennedy's death. We have to cleanse our soul. It's much the same as the French when they regained their national honor, not by framing Dreyfus, but by admitting that they did.

ARGO: What does Garrison mean: "The key to the whole case is through the looking glass. Black is white; white is black"?

SAHL: He means that the first thing the government did when the President was killed was to ratify his death and to appoint a group of honorable men to initial a fraudulent report. To eventually say there is no fourth bullet, even though there's a fourth bullet hole. The man was shot at from three sides, but there was only one side. In other words, the government decrees it is so. And that eventually the government may be forced to form a Ministry of Truth which will rule there was no John Kennedy, if it becomes convenient. That's what he means. When Lyndon Johnson says to us, as an example, "We have continually keep up brush fire wars to protect the peace." Well, that's Orwell. War is peace, and peace is war, and love is hate. And you finally sell it just that way; the contradiction. And you do it by making the American people mad because those are the mouthings of a madman. We can be driven mad; it's the same virus that bit the Germans.

Rest in peace, Johnny Carson.

Mort Sahl, where have you been?

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