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Monday, October 28, 2013

One Lone Psychopath-Lee Harvey Oswald and The Dark Side

The 50th anniversary of arguably, one of the most tragic moments in US history :- the 22nd Nov. 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, is very close as I write this. Much has been written about why Lee Harvey Oswald committed this infamous crime. Ever since the Warren Commission first concluded Oswald worked alone, numerous authors and investigators have tried to link him to a Soviet plot, the CIA, the mafia etc. all to no avail. In fact the last word must go to the most recent book on the subject, The Interloper:Lee Harvey Oswald Inside The Soviet Union, where journalist Peter Savodnik says :- "There is an overwhelming desire to cast Kennedy's life and death as a great mythical story. It's unsatisfying that he is brought low by some redneck, who had problems relating to his mother."

So, in a world first, I am going to outline a 'Life Cycles' forensic examination of Lee Harvey Oswald :- one lone psychopath. He wanted to leave his mark against capitalism. He believed fervently in Marxism. He had defected to Russia only to return. He had no real sense of right and wrong and was emotionally cold. He was a compulsive liar. He had failed in every episode in his life. He was a fair marksman when in the Marines. His family history was dysfunctional and he had a history of arguments and aggression. He had recently tried and failed to assassinate a retired General and prominent anti-Communist. In short, this was a lethal cocktail, but it still didn't mean he would kill the President.

Courtesy of extensive records of Oswald's short life I will be able give a glimpse at all of his 'significant years' (ie. ages of 7,12,19 and 24). So let's begin in the period when he was aged just 7 (Oct.18th, 1946 to Oct.18th, 1947). His mother had recently wed Edwin Ekdahl, an electrical engineer some years older than her, and who treated him like one of his own sons. They had then separated and soon re-united which had elated Lee, but it was not to last. They fought "every other day and he would leave and come back". In the late summer of 1947, his mother Marguerite suspected Ekdahl of infidelity and had the boys break into his lover's home to discover him there. Divorce ensued soon after. Oswald lived with chaos and saw his family security taken away very quickly. He would come to see his mother as the one responsible.

Let's skip now to when he was aged 12 (Oct.1951 to Oct.1952). There is one well-recorded incident in August,1952 (close to the exact time of year of the age 7 incident). This time Oswald and his mother came to live briefly with his half-brother, John Pik and his mother, in their New York apartment. Oswald became upset about use of the TV set and then threatened Mrs. Pik with a pocket knife. He also struck his mother during the argument. Oswald and his mother were told to get out or be thrown out. It is indicative of the dysfunctional mother/son relationship and his potential to act out his aggression.

OK, now to the single most life-altering year in Oswald's life :- his age 19 'Year of Broken Pathways' (Oct.1958 to Oct.1959). Oswald had been in the Marines since 1956 and had been court-martialed twice for fighting and for unauthorised use of a firearm. He had been demoted to private. He had failed in terms of making a career in the army. He returned to the US from Japan in Dec.1958, and from the earliest time after that, had become determined to defect to the Soviet Union. His nickname was Oswaldskovich because of his pro-Soviet sentiments. He had his name written in Russian on one of his jackets. He made remarks in Russian, addressed others as 'comrade' and played Russian music so loudly it could be heard outside the barracks. This is a classic description of how the 'Year of Broken Pathways' can unfold, bit by bit, and then you end up completely altered by the end of it. Did the Marines really want this man? I feel it's a question that should have been asked. We're talking the height of the Cold War here.

Anyway, he did not keep a dairy during this time so we will never know his innermost thoughts. However we know he did begin to tell many different lies, that like everything else in his life were largely unsuccessful, because his actions were so obvious. In March,1959 he lied to the Albert Schweitzer College in Switzerland to gain acceptance as a student of philosophy. He said he had a long-standing interest in psychology and that at school he had been in a "student body movement" to combat juvenile delinquency. In June he got accepted. What happened in August? Why do I study this? Because it is exactly aligned with events in his age 7 and age 12 'significant years'. So what did the records tell me?

They tell me that on August 17th he made up another lie to the Marines, saying that his mother, who had recently turned 52, needed help. He wanted a "dependency discharge". So his mother features again and this time it is as a convenient alibi. On August 28th the Dependency Discharge Board approved his release, as if the rest of his behavior wasn't reason enough. In Sept. he applied for a passport with lies about his study plans. He was about to defect to Russia just as he turned 20.

Needless to say this also did not work out. He complained that "there were no nightclubs and bowling alleys" to spend his small amount of wages on and came back to the US in June 1962 with his 19 year old pregnant Russian wife. In March, 1963 he purchased a rifle by mail order and in April he attempted to assassinate retired Major General Edwin Walker, who was an outspoken anti-communist. In May, against his own party advice, he opened up a Fair Play For Cuba office in New Orleans, with him as the sole member. He distributed leaflets, got into scuffles and made enemies. He always wanted to be a somebody, but he always fell short. When he left for Mexico at the end of Sept. and applied to visit Cuba, he was refused by a consular official who said that:- "in place of aiding the Cuban Revolution he was actually doing it harm." Were tragic events not about to unfold, it would have made a good comedy movie.

We are now at the commencement of his final age 24 'Year of Revolution', which lasted 5 weeks. He was by then a boiling mixture of rage against his country and love of Marxism. He fervently believed in Cuba's cause. He wanted back into Russia at least for a visit. He knew the route the motorcade would take, as it was well-publicised. He knew when and he knew he had an opportunity to do something. However, it was his decision alone to secrete himself on the 6th floor of the Book Depository building, where he worked, and use his marksman-grade shooting skills to deadly effect. In the end he was one lone psychopath, with a warped desire to leave his mark on history. He had never really succeeded at anything he undertook. He only ever succeeded in one thing :-his third shot. He fired three shots. The first one missed and the second wounded Kennedy and Governor Connally. The third shot hit the President in the head. He had left his mark on history with this one act of infamy. He was killed two days later in what I have come to refer to as "a revolutionary death in a revolutionary year", as it is by no means the only case.

We never did get to August,1964 to see how events might have played out. On October 18th (his very 24th birthday) the Cuban Embassy had belatedly approved his visa, but by then he had gone back to the US. Eleven days before the assassination he wrote to the Soviet Embassy in Washington saying had he got to Cuba as planned, he could have gone on to Russia. Would it were so. His whole life was a cautionary tale about not fitting into society. In wanting to bring the system down. Yet unfortunately he still managed to lie his way through life and abused the privileges of being a free citizen. Imagine, if you will, the same story played out in reverse in Communist Russia. Till next month :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune."