--Tom Stone, Dallas"
Curious about Tom Stone, I looked him up and found an article from the campus paper at SMU--Dallas-based Southern Methodist University-- headlined "Students Study Kennedy Assassination." It describes Stone's class, in which he shows the work of another Stone, the film JFK by Oliver Stone. It quotes a student:
"'It was cool because you walked out of seeing the movie totally believing in this huge conspiracy theory,' junior Brian Fox said.
"'Then Professor Stone totally debunked the whole thing,' Fox said."
Just think -- Professor Stone debunks Director Stone.
What will happen to these students when they start researching for themselves and discover that Professor Stone is oddly unaware of, or uninterested in, the veritable mounds of evidence that Oswald either was not the shooter or that he did not act alone? How will they feel about the trustworthiness of SMU overall, and the education it provides?
Then we learn that SMU is to "Host Yearlong Series of JFK Programs on 50th Anniversary of Assassination":
"Southern Methodist University will partner with the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the Sixth Floor Museum to host a yearlong series of public programs that will begin on President's Day."
Oh -- and SMU's academic "heart," Dedman College, has a professor, Daniel T. Orlovsky, who is the George A. Bouhe Research Fellow in Russian Studies. Who was George A. Bouhe? He was one of the staunchly anti-communist Russian emigres in Dallas who bafflingly squired the supposedly pro-communist Lee Harvey Oswald during the period between Oswald's return to Dallas from the USSR and the shooting of JFK. You can read all about the strange relationships in Dallas's Russian community in my book Family of Secrets.
You can also read about how George H.W. Bush couldn't remember where he was on Nov. 22, 1963, and about the first President Bush's relationship with another Russian emigre in George Bouhe's circle, the intelligence-connected George de Mohrenschildt, who was Oswald's closest friend after Bouhe passed Oswald on.
One might note that, after other universities declined to host it, SMU became the home of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum -- a center of scholarship and celebration of a president who, most famously, lied his country into a war.
The articles cited above all note that SMU is collaborating closely with the Sixth Floor Museum, the main place we're supposed to go to learn what really happened on Nov. 22, 1963. For a sense of the reality the museum wishes to dispense, visit not just the displays, but also the bookstore.
On the day recently when I was there, I noted the prominent display given to Vincent Bugliosi's interminable and also wildly inadequate defense of the Warren Commission and its "lone kook" argument. I did not see any of the many notable books by journalists, scholars and the like representing the other side. There may have been a few copies scattered around, but they certainly did not register. Could this imbalance be accidental, a sign simply of incompetence? Or could it be something else? On another wall I noticed a display unrelated to the assassination, focusing on presidents, with special prominence given to George W. Bush's highly selective memoir, Decision Points.
While I was in town I read that the official Dallas ceremony on the fiftieth anniversary will feature the historian David McCullough reading excerpts from JFK's speeches.
One does have to wonder why the Dallas establishment chose someone best known for writing about Harry Truman, not JFK. With a little searching, they might have found a thoughtful person who could demonstrate that JFK's determination to do battle with corporate, military and intelligence elites -- not to mention the kind of folks who run Dallas to the present day -- was something more than "a whole-cloth fantasy" concocted ex post facto by Jackie and her acolytes.
Perhaps McCullough will point to the internecine warfare raging in the United States in the early 60s, and show how our democracy was so badly wounded that dark November day that it has yet to recover. Perhaps he will explain how many of the crusades that Kennedy set in motion -- restricting offshore tax shelters, regulating monopolies, doing something about the corruption of politics by big money, tackling Wall Street influence and the Federal Reserve, controlling militarism and reining in the national security apparatus -- are still being successfully resisted by entrenched interests.
It would certainly be a welcome surprise to see Dallas do the right thing, after all this time. But don't hold your breath.