Lee Harvey Oswald
To the Editor:
Léo Sauvage’s article “The Oswald Affair” (March) is the type of journalism one sees far too infrequently in the press and on television, and no wonder: such searching questions and such curiosity have been steadily losing a place of honor in this country for years. A tragedy as great as the murder of John F. Kennedy cannot fail to bring out national flaws and strengths with great clarity. One such flaw in our national character . . . is the tendency not only to avoid embarrassing questions, but to “read out” of our national lifestream those who are in any way related to such questions. The way we have dealt with the Oswald affair is a case in point. . . .
In an article in the New York Times of January 26, for example . . . an interesting explanation was offered as to the alleged assassin’s motive—Oswald was insane. The article went on to state that this is “the only explanation now offered by authorities.”. . .
Part of the danger of such an explanation (aside from lack of evidence) is that it fits in too well with Senator Morton’s earlier hasty disavowal of any responsibility for the assassination on the part of “the American system or the American character.” Oswald was “a stranger to the American heritage,” according to Morton, because his mind “had been warped by an alien violence, not a native condition . . . What happened was not America’s fault.” Apparently Senator Morton does not believe that being born and raised in a particular country and serving in its armed forces qualifies one as a product of that country’s system and heritage. Nor does he give credence to the abundant evidence, statistical and otherwise, showing us to be among the more “violent” of nations. Others like Senator Gore and the editorial writers for some rather prominent newspapers agree with Senator Morton. All other things aside . . . one must raise questions about the nature of the disowning process here in operation . . . which is . . . similar to the pathological defense mechanism of projection by which one casts out from awareness and consideration possible “bad” personal qualities of one’s own and sees them as belonging to other people. . . .
This in turn allows us to find “reasons” . . . to carry out acts of retribution under the moral guise of self-protection. . . . The attention of the country is turned away from the source of the illness and the illness itself, which might be cured if recognized early enough, and focused instead on the “other,” the scapegoat, who may then be left unprotected at the very least, when not outrageously victimized. (It took the Warren Commission eleven weeks to appoint an attorney for Oswald, a consideration that the pettiest of alleged criminals can expect within a few days at most.) . . .
To speculate that the only possible explanation of Mr. Kennedy’s murder was that it was an act of insanity may be comforting, but it covers up far too much that requires thinking about. By calling him “insane,” the reasons for a person’s behavior are quite often automatically assumed to be unreasonable. It is just a short step from this position to believing that no reasonable person could possibly ever understand, much less be led to, such behavior. And what we cannot, would not do ourselves, we surely are not responsible for! . . .
If certain authorities choose to believe that Oswald was insane, it is their (and our) responsibility to make known upon what facts they base this judgment and precisely how the alleged insanity was related to the murder. . . . Insanity does not invariably lead to murder any more than murder always springs from insanity. However, both insanity and murder always occur within a given social system. That we cannot deny—try as we will. . . .
Until we know much more than we do about all aspects and parties to this horror, it is equally allowable, and to our personal and national good, to admit that Oswald was a part of “the American system” and did share in “the American character” just as Ruby does.
The great danger is that when we fail to seek out the true source of the murderous act, as well as the true identity of the murderers, we are further on the way to producing many other such acts. And in a “disowning society” it is possible that each of us at one time or other will be declared “out,” written off on no grounds other than the moral ease of other people. Then none of us will be either secure or protected. . . .
Robert S. Albert
Department of Psychology
Saratoga Springs, New York
To the Editor:
. . . I do not understand how a magazine of your caliber could print such a confused and irresponsible article as Léo Sauvage’s. . . .
Much as one might want to prove the Dallas police force not only negligent, but culpable; much as one might wish to find a more rational “solution” to the enigma of the assassination . . . (perhaps a political conspiracy of any kind, though depraved, might have some inner logic . . . anything to avoid the realization that a wild coincidence of time, place, and a single mad mind could make possible a crime that seemed to controvert the whole natural order); much as one might wish for a different set of facts, however, the arguments offered by M. Sauvage are biased, irrelevant, and illogical.
Though the writer sets out to validate Oswald’s innocence, all he achieves is yet another attack on the Dallas police. Though amassing a list of questionable evidence he leaves out any mention of the more positive evidence that still points to Oswald’s guilt. Why, for example, did the suspect flee the Depository building as he did? . . .
Since when, moreover, does such a tenuous psychological generalization as the idea that regicides always confess have any scientific validity? . . . The facts seem to indicate that the most difficult philosophical problem arising out of President Kennedy’s assassination is precisely how to accept its total irrationality and absurdity.
(Mrs.) Barbara Lefcowitz
Buffalo, New York
To the Editor:
. . . Léo Sauvage writes: “. . . there has never been any controversy about the direction of the bullet that struck Mr. Connally. Indeed, the trajectory of the bullet makes it the only one of the three which can be clearly traced back to the school book depository.”
If, however, Governor Connally was struck in the back only after he turned around, as he has been reported as saying himself, then the bullet which struck him could not possibly have come from behind.
Floral Park, New York
To the Editor:
. . . “The Oswald Affair” contained nothing new, just a restatement of points expressed by men like Mark Lane. There is no point in printing such speculation at the time the Warren Commission is hearing evidence. . . . M. Sau-vage’s article, moreover, cannot possibly be based on the full story, since the full story is still being collected. . . . Its publication at that time only served to prejudge the case.
New York City