I got a flier in the mail from The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas the other day, alerting me to an event scheduled for the end of this month. The event is called “Conflicting Conclusions,” and the museum web site has more info. I’m not going to link to it.
That flier bills the event as “a riveting conversation between two key figures from” the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassination, the two main government-led probes into the assassination of JFK, which reached the titular, opposing conclusions.
It’s a crock of shit, of course.
I bear no ill will toward the Sixth Floor Museum. Or I bear a lot of ill will. I can’t seem to remember which.
Oh yeah – it’s ill will, mostly; great gobs of it. Heaps of scorn. Total distrust.
Am I an ingrate? It is true I was once an invited speaker there, after the book that is the subject of this blog appeared. There I am, at left, in all my understated glory, blathering away.
But it is also true that the conspiracy that killed JFK succeeded, to the extent that it did, due to the promotion of confusion and mystery – aided and abetted by media sluts, and by institutions like The Sixth Floor Museum.
Shortly before the above photo was taken, some museum people sat me down with a big stack of my books and had me sign them all. You can’t return them once I ink ’em up, I cautioned. No probleemo, someone replied. Sign.
So I did. Supposedly Praise From a Future Generation is, or was, the sole pro-conspiracy (pardon the phrase) title in the museum bookstore. This little factoid, I think, made some people a little suspicious of me. Fuck ’em. I don’t know whether the museum still carries the book; probably not.
(Since I have never written it elsewhere, I’ll take a moment to note that among my Sixth Floor listeners was none other than Bob Jackson, who took the famous photo of Oswald being gutshot. Don’t know why he was there; he seemed totally underwhelmed.)
In any case, the Sixth Floor continues to promote confusion and mystery, and The Big Lie. I will never forget or overlook that simple fact.
The late Gary Mack, erstwhile Sixth Floor Museum curator, once scolded me via email for a rather bland commentary I wrote about the museum, and posted to the Internet. I made that post in the late 1990s, about five years after writing it. The comments were copied out of an otherwise forgettable essay I wrote about visiting Dallas for the first time in 1993.
And now, reminded of it all these years later, I will share here the remarks that irked Gary Mack. What the hell!
From “Impressions: The Sixth Floor Museum, circa 1993”
For someone who has no doubt there was a conspiracy to murder JFK, there is a lot to dislike about The Sixth Floor museum, where I went the day after the bus tour.
For starters, there is the fact that such a place is housed in the Book Depository, the cradle of the great lie. There is also the fact it is listed in the Dallas section of the AAA Tour Book for Texas, under the heading “What To See.” This gives The Sixth Floor the stamp of officialdom; the tour book states casually that it is “the site from which the shots that killed President Kennedy ... were fired.”
The once-cavernous sixth floor is now partitioned, and crammed with exhibits recreating the Kennedy Administration years, as well as the assassination. Like rats in a maze, visitors move from exhibit to exhibit, getting the official story. Many carry Walkman-style tape players, rented for an extra two bucks, which provide a canned narration of events.
It is difficult to view The Sixth Floor as anything other than a monument to the Warren Commission. The few references that are made to the idea of conspiracy – and admittedly, there are several – amount to little more than lip service to the notion; the scales remain heavily weighted against Lee Harvey Oswald.
There are no museum officials on hand to answer questions at The Sixth Floor. Visitors are not allowed to take photographs. Virtually nothing remains as it was on November 22 1963; even the so-called “sniper’s nest” in the building’s southeast corner window has been reconstructed.
Security is strangely tight at this museum, like security at an airport. All bags are either checked at the door or run through an X-ray machine. Visitors must step through a metal detector before entering. It is the sort of security one would associate with a live president – not a museum for a dead one.
Photos by Marshall Kelin